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4.3 – Transmogrification and Void Storage

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic. Check out some great posts by other members of the WoW blogging community!

A whole bunch of news came out lately about patch 4.3 and what Blizzard is saying is the last big content patch of Cataclysm. While that news is interesting in itself, today I’ll just talk about two features that were some of the first to be highlighted: transmogrification and void storage.

We don’t know any timeframe for when 4.3 will be coming, but by the looks of things it won’t be for a while. Blizzard has said that it’s the biggest content patch that they’ve ever released, and I don’t doubt that. Some other things included in the patch will be the Deathwing raid, three 5-man dungeons, a revamped Darkmoon Faire, a Raid Finder tool (similar to the LFD tool), and likely many more things.

Looking at Transmogrification and Void Storage, it was originally teased for us with a picture called “Glimpses”, posted on the Warcraft Facebook page. The caption simply read, “Interesting”.

 

Before transmogrification...

Transmogrification (try saying that ten times fast)

Basically, this feature will allow someone to change the physical appearance of an item to something else. Have a new tier set that looks horrendous? Still have your old tier set that looks amazing? For some gold you’ll be able to have it look the way it was before, but still having the new stats of the new gear.

My first reaction to transmogrification was mixed. I really like the idea, and people have been asking for it for years… but my main is a Druid. While there are some sets that look great, they all suffer from the problem most Druids have: we barely get to see them. When I’m in combat, I’m always shapeshifted unless healing.

... and after.

Lately I haven’t actually been doing too much instancing, so this might not be too bad of a thing to work towards. I really like some of the sets that have come out, and I wasn’t able to get some of them while the content was relevant.

My Death Knight weeps at possibilities not able to be used… until I can get the starter zone stuff back.

Void Storage

This feature will allow people to store many items in an expanded bank, for a price. There are some restrictions on it, including the fact that it will strip away all enchants or creators’ name tags (which has been said is a technological impairment, nothing to do with lore at all), and that it will cost gold to deposit items. It’s meant for items that are kept in a bank and left for a very long time.

A while back I was able to complete “What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” to earn my Violet Proto-Drake. Because it requires completing all of the holiday events, that brings a lot of holiday items acquired over time. I am a packrat, so everything that I got along the way still sits in my bank.

It will be very weird to have my bank relatively empty, and use it as an extension of my bag space.

The Final Words

I’m looking forward to transmogrification and void storage. Both will have good features that I will use, but it’s not a make-or-break thing for me. Give me a way to have my cat, bear, or moonkin forms change with my armour and I’ll be extremely excited.

A Change in Scenery

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I have a great guild. I’ve been a member of it for my entire WoW career, and I don’t plan on leaving it anytime soon – not many other guilds would put up with my incredibly messed up schedule and still let me raid. Through this guild, I’ve met a number of people and formed some great friendships.

However, I’ve been looking at trying something different for a little while now. Every once in a while I’ll roll an alt on another server and see what happens, which eventually just gets deleted. I lose interest quickly, and just go back to my main server.

Rolling a new character somewhere that has absolutely no connection to people you know, gold, or heirlooms is very difficult. Not only does the new character start with nothing to their name, but also having no connections or a guild to talk to is quite lonely. Fortunately, there have been a few changes to make things a bit easier now.

Even though I thoroughly enjoy the low level changes to Azeroth, it still takes a good amount of time to progress through levels 1-60. On top of that, I’ve wanted to try out a Death Knight tank, so that’s what I decided on. Therefore Borble, the Goblin Death Knight, was born on the Earthen Ring server.

Many times, choosing a server is one of the most difficult choices that someone can make. Do you choose a low population server and have a tight-knit community? Do you choose a high population server for more people to interact with? What are the guilds like with their raiding? By going through server forums and guild websites, it’s possible to find something that works for you.

My choice of Earthen Ring was for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to try a role-playing (RP) server as I haven’t done much of it in WoW. I previously did a fair amount of RP in a previous game, but nothing so far here. (On top of that, creating this character also gave me a good idea for a submission to Blizzard’s writing contest.) Secondly, I’m a big fan of The Instance podcast and they have their mega-guild AIE on Earthen Ring. I’d love to be part of a guild like them after being in a small one for so long.

Unfortunately, AIE isn’t accepting any new characters until October, so it gives me time to explore other opportunities until then. One nice thing about this is that I had my first experience with the Guild Finder option. I listed my name, gave a little bit of a blurb about myself and what I wanted to do, and applied to a few guilds that were on the list. A little bit later, I was invited and in the guild. Now I have new people to talk to and spend time with!

The majority of my time so far has been spent herbing and working on alchemy, while in the queue for random Burning Crusade instances. I just hit level 61, and have not stepped foot in Outland at all. I’ve only done instance runs while herbing in Azeroth, and it’s quite possible that I won’t do anything in Outland at all by the time I’m ready for Northrend.

Through this, I had my first experiences as a DK tank. I’m always terrified of trying something new – whether it’s trying a healing spec on my priest or druid, or tanking on this new DK. Because I knew that I’d never be completely comfortable with it, I decided to just jump in and see how it went.

Amazingly enough, it went pretty well. The first few pulls were definitely learning experiences, as I had only ever witnessed other DKs do the tanking while I do other stuff. Very quickly I found out that being disarmed is very bad and that runes will never refresh fast enough. The other downside of doing this tanking at level 60 and 61 is that I don’t have my regular taunt yet, and only Death Grip… which is on a 32 second cooldown. Many times I need something more frequent than that.

The first experiences have been good, and I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey on this new server. I hope to join AIE when possible, but until then I’m having fun in a completely new environment.

Five Things Gaming Can Teach

While browsing through Blog Azeroth not too long ago, a former Shared Topic caught my eye. Titled “What has WoW taught you?”, I realized that there have been a number of things that I’ve learned in my time playing World of Warcraft (as well as other online games). Thinking about it, I’m reminded once again how certain positions in online games warrant being mentioned on resumes.

People Management

If anyone has ever been a guild leader, guild officer, or raid leader, they’ll know that this is very true. Managing people is a very difficult task on any level, and something that may have been thought as small and insubstantial can easily turn out to be the opposite. Raid organizers from Vanilla will probably shudder a little bit, as filling 40 raid slots while maintaining optimal balance was extremely difficult.

As soon as people start voicing their opinions, or certain people want certain things while other people want other things – managing this and keeping cool is an incredibly important skill to have in any situation. Companies can have seminars and courses specifically on people management. Consider your WoW experience as the preliminary stages.

Time Management

So much to do, so little time to do it. I’d say a large majority of people have a set amount of time to play WoW. Whether that time is two hours after the kids are in bed or all day because you have nothing better to do, there is still a limited number of minutes to do what you want. Figuring out what to do in the ideal order can help organize things much more efficiently.

If you have certain daily quests to do, it might be better to start out with certain ones first because you’ll need to use your hearthstone to get out of there. After that, the other areas where you do the next sets of dailies might have a portal to go back to your capital city, so the cooldown on your hearthstone isn’t as big of a deal.

Every job that is out there requires some sort of time management. The average job has an eight-hour day, and there’s certain things that need to be accomplished in those hours. By prioritizing certain things, it can increase productivity and make life a lot easier.

Keyboard Skills

Before I played my first MMORPG, my typing was horrible. I was the typical “hunt-and-peck” person, and I hated the “home row” style that was trying to be forced upon me at school. The game I played at first had a focus on role-playing and required quick responses with good grammar. In not much time I was able to increase my words per minute and the quality and accuracy of what I was typing.

Any data entry or administrative job requires this. There may even be jobs that have a typing test as part of the interview process, and even getting the job could rest on these skills. Fortunately online gaming makes practice enjoyable.

Patience

The person who likes to collect things must possess a lot of patience. Whether you’re a hunter camping a rare spawn to tame or waiting for the Time-Lost Proto-Drake to spawn so you can get the mount, there will be a lot of down time. Learning to be patient is a very important thing, or else it’s very easy to go a little bit crazy.

Anyone who has ever worked in customer service has good experience with this. You’re ringing through their order, and they take forever to count out the change in their wallet while there’s a long lineup behind them, all tapping their feet. There are times where you just have to take a deep breath and go with it.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Crap happens, deal with it. Very few things ever go according to plan, and it’s essential to be flexible and work with what life gives you. The perfect raid composition can still end up being a bad experience because people may not know the fight, people might disconnect, among other things. Just roll with it, keep on keeping on, and all those other phrases.

Life is full of surprises, and there’s nothing we can do about it. If an urgent file is dropped on your desk with 15 minutes to go before you leave, we have to deal with it one way or another. How you deal with it, however, is up to you.

Conclusion

If you’re the leader of a level 25 guild and have been running things for a while, I think that it would be a great thing to put on a resume. Everything that I just mentioned are very real skills that can be transferred over to any life situation. Hopefully one day employers will realize this.

Who says geeks don’t know how life works?

Screenshot of the (mid) Week – July 13

I am having a complete mental and creative block. I’ve been trying to think of a topic to write about, but I’ve had no inspiration lately.  Therefore, we get a mid-week screenshot!

Click for full size

My very first night of working on Al’Akir – as expected, we wiped a lot.  This was before 4.2, so there were no nerfs and we were trying to get him down properly.  Unfortunately it never worked out, but at least I got a neat perspective of the area while flying back indefinitely.

Inclusion vs Progression

A little while ago, something happened that caused me quite a bit of frustration. In essence: I love to raid, but I was denied the chance to raid. I was mad at first, but after having the chance to reflect upon it I have some thoughts to share.

Being in a guild comes with rules attached. This is even more important for guilds who raid, as there are the intricacies of determining who gets loot, discipline for people being jerkfaces, attendance issues, among other things. What is the rule for who gets to raid?

Some back story to begin with, as my situation is a bit weird. I’ve mentioned before that I can’t raid as much as I used to, due to real life circumstances. I am married to a wonderful woman and have a great son. Unfortunately I don’t make enough money to support us all by myself, so my wife has to work part-time on weekends and some evenings. As it happens one of the nights she usually works is a raid night, and the other raid night is one where I work late every second week. Therefore, due to our work schedules there have been many times where I have been unable to raid because of having to look after our son or because I’ve been working.

Prior to The Spawn arriving, I was a regular raider. From Vanilla all the way through Wrath, I was there for a majority of our guild’s raids, so I have good experience. I’ve been in the guild since it was formed, so I have tenure. Plus, I enjoy raiding as it’s my version of a “guy’s night out” or poker night.

It happened that this certain Friday, I wasn’t working late and had been given the all clear to sign up for the raid. We’re doing 10-man raiding right now and eleven people had signed up – since I’m a DPS class, my role is always one that’s fought over. This was my first time being able to sign up for a raid in over a month, but I had experienced most of the content in the expansion thus far. The night’s agenda was to go to Throne of the Four Winds and work on Al’Akir, as he’s the last boss we need for the Guild Glory of the Raider achievement.

I logged on, asking if I was going to be able to raid that night. The decision was made to have myself and another DPS do a /roll with the low roller sitting the night. Ultimately, mine was the low roll and I was out. To say I was mad was an understatement.

The arguments came to my mind very easily: I’ve been a member of the guild for years! If it wasn’t for my situation, I would have been there for every raid! I deserve equal chances to participate in the raid! Other people go to every raid, but I have the rare chance! Why do they go but I get shut out?

Almost a week later, I’ve looked back and realized that the decision was made properly. I wish that it was made ahead of time so I would have known, but that’s beside the point. It was a progression raid, and the people who have worked at the content for weeks deserve the chance to get a guild-first downing of a new boss.

There needs to be a balance for inclusion of all members who want to raid. I’m not suggesting that just because you’re a warm body means that you should go, but given a chance. If the raid agenda was to do content that was being farmed, my anger would have been justified. Since it was a progression night, it was not my place to take the spot of someone who has been there all the time.

The Dilemma

Who gets to raid?

This is the core of the problem. When I was an officer back in Burning Crusade, we were getting together people for a Gruul’s Lair run, and we were short one DPS. We had a player log on, one who wasn’t around very often, but was raid ready. They joined the raid, and after killing Gruul we had the Dragonspine Trophy drop – for the first (and eventually only) time of the expansion for us. At the time, our loot policy was to /roll and high roll wins. This player ended up getting the highest roll… and quit the game a week later. (Loot rules are a whole different ball of wax)

Because of the above reason, there is definitely a reason to put the proper people in a raid. Whereas I may be someone who knows what to do, I truthfully didn’t deserve to take the spot on that night.

Obviously there are times when it’s not possible to be picky. If there’s only 10 people on who can raid, you have your raid. Depending on the skill and gear levels of the people involved, that will determine what will happen that night. Progression may not be possible, but it will likely be possible to bring up other people to the point of being able to progress later.

If there’s 15 people who want to raid, there are going to be five people who will have to do something else. Should the plan be to progress through raid content, the obvious choice is the people who are ready for the content.

However, there must be a chance given to people who want to raid. It’s just the timing that needs to be decided on. Firm communication between guild leadership and the members is key. If the plan is to do progression, make sure people know that preference will be given to those who are geared and ready for the fight. For farm nights, some preference should be given to people who need to gear up.

All of this must be done within reason. A whole raid full of people who need to gear up won’t go very far in a raid. I’m not saying that those who can’t make every raid must be given a spot on farm nights, but to take their situation into account.

Conclusion

I love to raid, as it’s something that I enjoy doing with the friends that I have made through World of Warcraft. My schedule limits the times that I can raid, because of the schedule my guild has established.

I was wrong to have been upset at being sat out for a progression night. Hopefully things will work out and I’ll be able to raid again soon. I’m looking at you, people who set my wife’s schedule. /glare

In the meantime there are PuG raids that I could join, there are Zandalari heroics, and upcoming single player content in 4.2 that could make me pass the time. Lots of things to do, and hopefully raiding with my guild will be one of those things again in the future.

Death Penalties

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.  Check the thread out to see posts from other great blog authors!

There are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. Fortunately there isn’t a monthly gold fee to pay to Stormwind or Orgrimmar to pay for the services you get there – that’s why you have to pay for repairs and the auction house fees. However, death is rampant in WoW. There are very few people who can say that they haven’t died at all while leveling, and if doing dungeons or raids is your thing it’s a given fact that you will die at some point.

One big question stands out: how does a game deal with a character death? This question has been mulled over, thought about, and discussed a great many times as everyone has a different approach to it. I’ve played a few games which have all had different ideas about it, which I will explain and then give my own thoughts.

The first MMORPG I played was one called Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds. Penalties for death included losing half the experience you had (over level 99), as it was used as a currency to purchase better health, mana, and stats. Also there was a “death pile”, which consisted of various items that the character was carrying, and certain items broke upon death. Prior to level 99, the character would lose a portion of their current experience.

After Nexus, I played Final Fantasy XI. Their death system worked similarly, with the exception of the items being dropped in favour of a more steep experience penalty. When a character dies there is a large experience penalty, and the chance that the character can actually level down. I had experienced that many times, when I was in a group killing stuff and recently leveled and then we all died… and I was suddenly the level I was previously.

Full disclosure: I haven’t played either game in a very long time, so their death systems may be different now. What I explained is how they worked when I played them.

As many people know, in World of Warcraft the penalty for death is fairly low. In essence, the taxes that I mentioned in the first paragraph are the penalty for dying in WoW. Equipped items are charged 10% durability loss with every death, in which the repair bills add up quickly after a night of learning a new raid boss.

If it’s decided to use a Spirit Healer, then an additional durability loss is charged to ALL items that are carried – whether they’re equipped or in the inventory. A character who has multiple sets of gear will go through great lengths to avoid using a Spirit Healer. On top of that a debuff called Resurrection Sickness is applied to the character for a period of time, which reduces health, mana, damage, and healing done. Basically, if you don’t go to recover your corpse you can’t do anything but travel for a while.

The death penalty is charged to discourage people from not caring about dying. Blizzard wants us to care about our characters, and try to keep them alive. At the same time, the penalty isn’t so steep that if a death happens we aren’t so discouraged that we throw our computers out the window.

In comparison to the other games, I believe that the penalty is exactly where it should be. It’s not so huge that we are mad beyond all reason, and not so small that we don’t care about dying at all. I can attest to the fact that after a night of learning a new encounter in a dungeon or raid, seeing my repair bill sure makes me want to have less wipes the next time I go.

Premium Dungeon Finder

Today there was some news released about something Blizzard is working on that will be quite game changing.  No, it’s not the dance studio.  A “premium” service which will allow someone to use the Random Dungeon Finder (LFD) tool to group with friends on Real ID.

At first glance, I think this is an excellent idea.  With WoW being so big across so many servers, there are people who want to group together but don’t want to take the time or money to level an alt on another realm or transfer a character over.  By being able to bypass the tedius or expensive effort that these entail, it will allow friends to do dungeons together and have fun much easier.

The biggest thing that will cause most people to call foul is the fact that it’s a premium service, which is an extra fee on top of the monthly fee we already pay.  To be honest, that was the first thing that caught my attention as well, but I’m going to wait for all the information.  We don’t know any pricing or how exactly it is going to work, apart from the fact that only one person needs to have the service – that being the person initiating the group.

If this feature will be included in the current premium package which allows remote auction house and remote guild chat and keeping the price the same, I can see a fair amout of people using this.  I could even see myself possibly signing up for this feature.

One big question I know a lot of people will have is whether this will support cross-faction groups along with cross-realm.  Many of my friends are not only scattered across different servers, but between the Horde and Alliance.  As much as the Alliance are scum (as far as my characters think), I’d like to group up with the people behind them.  To me, I think this will be the selling point: if I’m able to do cross-faction groups, I’ll pretty much be sold.

Since this is still very early in the cycle of the feature, we’ll definitely be given more information later on.  I’ll be very curious to see what the final version of this product will be.

Power Auras for Boomkins

This post will be about two versions of Power Auras – the one that is built in-game from Blizzard, and the addon that inspired it: Power Auras Classic.

A while back, I had installed the Power Auras mod and played around with it.  My raid leader had told me about it, and at the time my DPS as a feral cat druid was lacking, so I wanted to try whatever I could.  I loaded it up, and very quickly became confused with it and didn’t bother trying it again.  Not too long after, Blizzard decided to incorporate their own version of the system into the game itself, with not nearly as much customization.

Basically, Power Auras is an alert system that can tell you a number of things.  Things like a spell alert which is being cast on your target, when a cooldown is available to be used, or if a certain debuff is not on your target are some small examples.  By using these alerts, it can make you that much of a better player by being able to focus on what you’re doing without having to look at too many different places.

Click for full size

I personally use a combination of the spell alerts from Blizzard supplemented by Power Auras.  I know many people who use one or the other, but out of sheer laziness I decided to go with what was given by Blizzard since it would be less work for me to set up.  To set up the in-game spell alerts, simply go to Interface Options, the Combat screen, and enable “Show Spell Alerts” (see graphic at right).  The opacity slider simply decides how transparent or not the alerts are.

There will be a number of pre-loaded things that will happen for certain events, such as Shooting Stars which procs and instant cast Starsurge.  If you haven’t used these before, it would probably be a good idea to use them for a bit so you know where they are on your screen and what they look like.  If you don’t like them then you can customize those events into Power Auras, and if you don’t mind them like me you can leave them.

The spells that are covered by the Blizzard spell alerts are:

  • achieving Solar Eclipse
  • achieving Lunar Eclipse
  • proccing Shooting Stars for an instant cast Starsurge
  • proccing Clearcasting for the next ablility to cost no mana

In my opinion, why fix what isn’t broken?

Power Auras - Boomkin setup

This is my Power Auras setup, which is nothing too fancy.  I’m a big fan of doing as little as possible to clutter up my UI.  Starting from the top middle and working clockwise, this is what the different elements mean:

  • Starsurge off cooldown and available to use
  • Insect Swarm is not on target
  • Force of Nature (treants) off cooldown and available to use
  • Starfall off cooldown and available to use
  • Moonfire or Sunfire (depending on which Eclipse phase I’m in) not on target.

Between the base spell alerts and Power Auras extra information, I rarely ever have to look at my action bar to see if things are off cooldown, unless I want to see how much longer until I need to use it.  I have other mods which tell me specific times on cooldowns that I have as well as duration left on the target, so between these different things I’m pretty much set.

If anyone has any suggestions on ways that I can improve my setup or things that I have missed, please let me know in the comments.  I’m always looking to improve, and would love to hear from you.

Melting Faces and Taking Names

Once upon a time, it was said that Shadow Priests can melt faces. After testing out this theory for myself, it turns out that the information presented was indeed correct. For the first time in my World of Warcraft career, I’m playing a “squishy” class without actually being squishy.

When Cataclysm hit, I had my sights set on making a goblin priest. I’m not sure why exactly I wanted to do that specific race/class combination, but it seems to be working for me so far. The first bit I decided to try to level entirely by using the dungeon finder, and it worked – for a while.

Levels 15-35 were fairly uneventful, with decent groups being able to go through a dungeon in a good amount of time without much drama. After that, it seemed every second group would either be completely full of idiots, or people who don’t know what they’re doing. If I was really fortunate, it would be a nice mix of both. I was really hoping to continue leveling through the LFD tool to work on my healing, since I would likely be doing this once I hit max level. However, this didn’t end up happening, and at level 42 I decided to start questing again.

Unfortunately, since this character had been parked in Orgrimmar from levels 15 to 42, I didn’t have any flight paths other than Bilgewater Harbour and Razor Hill. Thankfully I had epic riding skill, so the drive down to Dustwallow Marsh to pick up the Thousand Needles breadcrumb wasn’t too big of a problem. I changed over to my dual spec of Shadow, and promptly began to melt the faces of Grimtotems, pirates, and anything else that stood in my way.

Since then there has only been one circumstance when I switched back to my Discipline spec for use, which was to heal a tank so we could duo Durn the Hungerer in Nagrand. Apart from that, I’ve only switched over to spend the talent points that I had earned. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any need to do so.

While I was leveling my enhancement shaman I found I was able to solo most things, including some group quests which I had never been able to do before. Out of curiosity, I decided to try this in Hellfire Peninsula on my priest. I had gotten the feel of the class by this point, and was comfortable in what to do for an elite mob. After some preparation and making sure I had the proper buffs, the giants for the Colossal Menace quest were destroyed efficiently.

I was honestly quite shocked – a clothie that can solo group quests this easily? It was different from what I had expected. (For the record, I have leveled a Warlock previously and they did well for group quests – but having a Voidwalker or Felguard will help quite a bit! Warlocks aren’t that squishy, but I don’t have any experience with one since originally leveling through Outland back in Burning Crusade.) Not having a pet or something to tank an elite mob, while I was able to still do very decent damage and have self-healing… it was a nice feeling.

Going through Outland, I was able to solo all group quests in Zangarmarsh and Nagrand (with the exception of Durn). In my brief time in Howling Fjord I’ve been able to solo the one group quest that has come up which has always presented me with problems on other characters, which is March of the Giants – elite giants who do heavy damage, along with a hard-hitting damage over time debuff placed on you. Fortunately a priest’s arsenal includes Dispel Magic, which saved my hide a number of times through the course of that questline.

I was able to hit 70 before completing the quests in Vengeance Landing and Camp Winterhoof in Howling Fjord the other night. Originally, I was expecting to level by healing the dungeon finder groups I found with a Discipline spec. I’m extremely glad that I decided to make the switch.

It will be interesting to see how things go through Northrend and Cataclysm content. I’ll be wanting to get more healing experience, but being able to melt faces is just so much fun. Rolling this priest as an alt seems to have been a very good idea.

Screenshot of the Week – April 9

Spring may have finally arrived in Edmonton. I just got a car wash, so I hope that it’s true.

Click for full size

Today’s screenshot of the week comes from the Goblin starting zone of the Lost Isles, going from the smaller island to the bigger one.  You go across the channel in style, by means of a slingshot-propelled rocket.  What can go wrong?

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