Archive for August, 2010


Through the looking glasses


Last week’s Shared Topic was about how I imagine my class is treated by NPCs. I have a small problem with that. I don’t play a single class. I’m also not very good at this sort of RP posts, which is why I originally wanted to skip last week. However, to get some blogging rhythm back, I’ll use that shared topic as a starting point.

My version of it: How do I see the world of Azeroth, depending on which class (and character) I’m playing?

Two classes are missing: Priest (waiting for a Worgen priest in Cataclysm) and Deathknight (highest character level is 36 so far).


The world is a stage, filled to the brim with an audience expecting a spectacle. It’s not only about killing mobs. It’s about doing it and looking good. Looking great. Impressive, even. Sure, you could go for a quick and efficient kill, but there are still four spells available on cooldown, better use them! Freeze, Blink, Blizzard, Evocation, Blast, Arcane Barrage and for the finale, Teleport and leave them standing in awe and envy.


Seriously? I’ve got no clue. If I knew, maybe my druid wouldn’t play the role of the unwanted stepchild.


When all you’ve got is a hammer and a Seal, the world starts looking like a giant nail. You’re still killing mobs, but you’re doing it with a purpose. You want to make Azeroth a better, safer place. You might even start to feel some regret, but never fear, because you are on the only true righteous path! Bless and heal passersby, then proceed to smite infidels with holy might.


The world is full of creatures. Always be on the lookout for a new pet to tame, a companion drop or a rare elite mob that you can add to your trophy board. And do I wish there was an in-game UI for tracking your rare kills, I have to do it manually. Also, practice your jump-shots! Show them off whenever you get a chance, to show you actually have some skills instead of facerolling the keyboard. Keep your pet on a very short leash – it’s not a bludgeoning sledgehammer, it’s a fine rapier to be used exactly the way you want. It’s much more impressive if you use your pet as an extension of your traps and skills than if you just let it loose on an unsuspecting world.


The world is my castle. See that spawn camp over there? Well, I’ll make camp over here, set up a dozen totems and then instigate the monsters into attacking. Yes, a Shaman is an offensive force, but their true strengths lie in defence. An aggressive turtle, so to speak.


A giant playground, full of challenges. And if there aren’t any, set some for yourself! Sure, you could just kill any mob standing between you and the target NPC, but see how far you can get unnoticed. See how many of them you can pickpocket. See if you can kill just the target, then Vanish and be amazed that the entire camp is up in arms and down one leader. Find new and creative uses for Sap, Disarm, Rupture, Gouge and Vanish. Leave your victim shaking their head, wondering what the hell just happened.


The world better bow down if they see you coming. Even if only because you’re a Gnome. But never mind! They bow down, they crawl at your feet. You are the master, they are the slave. And if you ever team up with another warlock, the world will tremble in fear. Rightly so. You don’t care about flash. You care about brutal efficiency, making the kill hurt. Pain makes stronger, yes, but it’s the other‘s pain that makes you stronger.


Besides the age-old question over two-handed, dual-wield or sword and shield, it’s pretty much about pushing yourself. How strong a mob can you take? How many mobs at once? How much damage can you deal in a single hit? How much a head start on damage can you give a mob and still win the fight? It’s not about winning, it’s about conquering insurmountable odds.


Stranger things have happened


When I’m stressed out or bored, I do strange things.

I’m very stressed out due to an unfortunate incident at the office. I’m also bored out of my mind when at home.

And to demonstrate that A && B := C, I clicked ‘join battle’ today and had a go at Arathi Basin. The first time was pretty much what I expected, complete and utter chaos, confusion and generally not knowing what to do. Of course I’ve read about Battlegrounds, chuckled about anecdotes and memorised basic guidelines. It all goes to hell, though, when instead of my normal ‘me vs. the World’ battles there are 20 characters running, jumping, casting, slashing and hacking away. Incidentally, we lost.

So I re-queued immediately. This time, our team was better organised, some people even using /bg chat. I went defence after capping the mill (see, I’ve still got the lingo down from years after years of team-oriented FPS gaming) and camped there for the remainder of the match, calling out incoming Horde and successfully defending the flag. I even had enough time to set up WIM to intercept battleground chat, which I hadn’t bothered with before.

The whole affair reminded me very much of playing on public servers in Counterstrike or Battlefield. I never liked the latter, but mostly because I’m a simulator fan and seeing tanks and planes so misrepresented caused physical pain. In this fantasy setting though, capturing a place like the mill or the blacksmith or the mine, seeing it actually come to live with people suddenly working there – it suddenly all makes sense. And it doesn’t feel like playing WoW, it feels like I’m playing my character playing a game. Which is strange. And fun. And this sort of controlled PvP is exactly what I like. Nothing I could do all day, but as a brief respite from questing, bring it on!

So I think whenever I’m too pressed for time to do serious questing, or don’t have any quests coming up that I like, I’ll go and stomp some Horde in the battlegrounds. Some honour-gear also looks like upgrades to my mostly green-blue quest gear, so that works out as well. I just wish there was a central honour-based vendor, instead of having to fly and sail all over Azeroth to get the particular piece of equipment I’m after.


A weekend recap


This weekend marked the first time in quite a few weeks that I had more than enough time to play WoW. So I spend two happy afternoons levelling my rogue, who was the lowest level of all my characters. That spot is now firmly in the grasp of my druid and, frankly, I don’t think he’ll relinquish that one any time soon. Even the Worgen priest (and I don’t like priests) who is forming in my mind has a fair chance of catching up once Cataclysm is out.

Take a long look - it's all going to change!

So, instead of boring you with yet another post on low-level content, I bring you my current favourite zone – Wetlands. A rare shot with one of my characters in it, unedited.

I also found out that MobInfo already does what I’m coding at the moment. Well, partly. Not exactly what I want, anyway. So, I continued working on my add-on and am happy to say that it now actually displays something that vaguely resembles a scrollable list. It also record critter kills, which came as a completely unexpected bonus.


LUA – Geekfaktor +20


I admit, I am a computer person. Obviously. I am also a software developer. And frankly, it shows.

While levelling my rogue, I had the urge to track how many kills of what gave me how many XP. A quick search on yielded no suitable results, though. However, coding an addon can’t be that hard, right? Right. Granted, there is no UI yet, but LUA scripting is easy enough, even if I couldn’t find a good, free IDE other than my trusty Notepad++. And so I wrote my first line of LUA yesterday.

And so, from a simple welcome-on-login script, to event handling to persisting structures in database-like tables and showing various bits and pieces of information in tooltips (How many kills of this mob? How many XP can I expect based on past performance?), code is growing. It is fun and strangely relaxing.

No deadlines. No feature requests. Just looking through the API for cool sounding functions and seeing if I can use them. Going over code-snippets on WoWProgramming and saying “Hey, that’s nice, I could change this bit and add that bit and then do something completely different altogether but thanks for the idea”. Seeing representations of my data structures flow by in the chat. Watch new lines magically appear in tooltips (but only when I want them to, i.e. with modifier key press).

Coding for the sake of coding.

My tip: If you’ve never done that, do it. Now. I mean, right now. Go to WoWWiki, API documentation and write an addon that does nothing more than pop up a messagebox greeting you with character title, character name and welcoming you back to the region you are in. Optionally address yourself with different wording depending on your character’s gender.

Ten minutes of code, endless hours of joy seeing your work appear in the game.


King Hogger


Yesterday, Eonar-EU was down for extended maintenance. This means I finally got around to update my character stats on this blog, but I also took the time to browse the web for a few Cataclysm updates. And boy did I find something. WorldOfRaids did previews of new (or renewed) instances, among them the Stockades in Stormwind. As I understand it, this instance currently isn’t very popular despite the convenient location due to generally low loot and boring design.

This is about to change.

For details, read the linked article, but the icing on the cake is this, the final boss of the new Stockades.

Hogger, King of Gnolls

The quest entry for the Gnoll King

That’s right, Hogger is back, bigger and badder then ever. Apparently, he finally got jailed for killing millions of low-level Alliance characters. And since those must have netted quite some XP, he got a power-boost as well. That means no more ad-hoc Hogger raids with two dozen level one characters, but Stockades are now worth a trip for nostalgia and retribution alone.

Elwynn Forest most likely will get a new bounty quest, but I doubt it will prove as memorable as the old Hogger. I even went as far as approaching his hideout from the coast of Westfall in a few cases, since that meant easier access without having to deal with hordes of Gnolls.

There seems a bit of conflicting information here – the instance is there, but according to the Elwynn Forest wiki entry, Hogger remains there as well, at Forest’s Edge.

However, there is hope – this expansion, King Hogger the dungeon boss. Next expansion, Hogger as true raid instance!


Swamp of Sorrows – Renders hidden pass revealed



Imagine you’re a casual little level 35, questing away in Desolace. You chose to help the Gelkis centaurs by doing the Strange Alliance questline. Pretty soon, they will give you a quest called Ongeku. Which has a target located in the Swamp of Sorrows.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, the only obvious way to reach the swamp is to travel through either Deadwind Pass, or the Blasted Lands – both a rather hostile and quite fatal environment for your level 35 character. What to do? Surely the writers could not expect you to wait until you can cross those lands safely, and try to sneak past those areas is an exercise not in patience, but frustration.

Fear not, however. There is a way. A secret pass, mentioned briefly on WoWWiki. But even with those instructions, the pass is hard to find. So I racked up my expenses bill and after successfully climbing it with my level 35 hunter (who coincidentally is questing away causally in Desolace) I sent my mage there to take you on a short tour. I hand the word over to Belenor, famed magician of the impressive level 30.

The Tour

1. Blackrock Orcs mark the spot.

You start off easily enough by traveling to Redridge Mountains. That means we’ll approach the Swamp from the north instead of the documented ways that enter the area from the west or south. South of Lakeshire is a small trail called the Lakeridge Highway – leading to the Orc fortress on the eastern shores of the lake. Instead of climbing the hill towards the fortress, steer off the trail and into Render’s Valley. Here, at [72, 80], is the entry to what I dubbed Render’s Pass.

Follow the faint vegetation into the mountains – there is a troublesome spot that is very narrow and could drop you smack in the middle of the Orcish encampment below, but otherwise nothing spectacular.

2. A dead-end awaits.

Soon, you will arrive at what looks like a dead-end near the top of the mountains. This is a ploy. You look south because you want to go south towards the swamp.

2. Look west and up.

But instead, at roughly [75, 91], there is another hidden spot, a small gap between two peaks. Finding a way up there is not easy, but trust me, there is a way.

4. It is a tiny gap, but you can make it across.

Depending on your girth, you may have to wiggle a bit to get through, though. Or if you’re wearing dresses… er… robes. Robes. Yes, robes are not ideal for mountaineering.

Climbing there affords you a nice view over Redridge’s Render’s Valley.

5. The Swamp of Sorrows beckons

Or, you could turn south and have a look at the treetops of the Swamp of Sorrows.

There even is a way to get down, but I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out how to do it without being, you know, a mage.


The images above are provided full-sized on click for a better view of coordinates and mini-map.

Render's Cliff has claimed many lives - unless you're a mage

This pass has been in WoW, as far as my research tells me, forever. And given the obvious vegetation and the quest that leads to the search for it, I can’t imagine it being anything other than planned.Even if you die from falling down Render’s Bluff, you spawn at the Swamp of Sorrows graveyard and have only a short, ghostly walk to recover your corpse.

The question is, will it still be useful in Cataclysm? Yes, it will. Unless the level requirement for the quests changed dramatically, you still will be around level 35 – not high enough to go through Blasted Lands or Deadwind Pass, and not high enough to be able to fly yourself.
With the zone geography changing however, it could be that Render’s Pass will be gone. Or the Blackrock Orcs that get a boost in the zone will make getting there much, much harder.