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Excrement Excavations and YOU! (or, worst quests in WoW)

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic – check out other articles about this topic from great authors around the WoW blogging community!

One of the very first things that anyone will do when they log into World of Warcraft on a new character will do is accept a quest. There’s a big shiny yellow exclamation point above a nearby NPC that draws you in and compels you to right-click them. Then, for whatever reason, if you kill enough pigs you’ll get a reward! How awesome is that?

More often than not, it’s very awesome. Even moreso since the Cataclysm old world redesign, WoW’s quest design has been amazing. Not too long ago, I did an article about some of my favourite quests in the game. This time we’re going the opposite way, to some examples of the worst quests that are out there today. Not surprisingly, they mostly come from Outland and Northrend – but this is partly because I haven’t done all of the new content yet.

RNG – the bane of all existence

The infamous random number generator (RNG) can be one of the best or worst things in the game. It is blamed for drops from mobs and bosses, block/parry/dodge/hit/miss chance, spawn rates, and quest item drops. There is a reason why the RNG is hated so much, and it’s because of the simple fact that it’s so very random.

Any quest that does not have a 100% chance to drop your item has the possibility to require you to spend an unhealthy amount of time trying to get what is required. Lately it seems that the drop rates for many quests have been improved, but there are many that are still very annoying. Good examples are in Zul’Drak, the quests to collect bat wings and spider ichor.

Isn’t killing a BAD thing?

Falling in line with the RNG is the “kill mobs until something happens” style. Apparently the leaders or commanders of certain groups of mobs only appear after a certain amount of people die. It makes me very glad that I don’t serve under them.

Three examples that came to mind immediately are all from Northrend. In Howling Fjord, you have to kill a number of Vrykul until the commanders show up for you to impale with a battle standard.  In Zul’Drak, shortly after going to Zim’torga, many trolls need to die in order for certain mobs to show up and take their shinies. I just did this quest again yesterday, and it took way more time than it should have.

Excrement Excavations

This post could not happen without some mention of the poop quests. First appearing in Burning Crusade, there has been some sort of quest like this in random places since. To this day, my wife won’t do the Hellfire Peninsula one.

The above-noted quest is called Shizz Work, and is given by a goblin foreman near Thrallmar. Part of a quest chain and open to both factions, it involves using a flute to summon a felhunter and digging through its “leavings” to find some keys. After digging through each pile, you get a debuff called “Stanky” that doesn’t do anything but give you a green smelly aura.

Good idea, but enough already!

Once Blizzard finds a quest mechanic that they like, they tend to stick with it. Sometimes a bit too much, at times. There are quests where it’s a fun mechanic, such as taking an abomination and blowing things up with it, but the amount of things required to blow up is a bit much.

A good example of this is the a quest in Zul’Drak for Drakuru to require a total of 60 trolls to be killed to draw out the three chieftains. I really enjoy things exploding, but it could have easily be done in half the amount of trolls and have the chieftains come with every 10 instead of every 20.

In closing…

Thankfully there is a good variety of types of quests in the game. Blizzard has done a great job, especially in the new Azeroth, of mixing things up. I hope that eventually we’ll see a revamp of Outland and Northrend, and with that we can see some of the new mechanics introduced to these areas.

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.

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.

Ways to Suck Less

One of my gaming New Year’s Resolutions was to suck less. Unfortunately, this resolution hasn’t been something that I’ve been the best at keeping. Fortunately I’m not failing completely, but I’m still in the process of learning my new role as a boomkin, so there is still that curve to adjust to. I was giving some thought to ways that I can improve, and I came up with the following three points:

1. Use cooldowns appropriately

Abilities have cooldowns for a reason – a decision has to be made as to when the most they will be the most beneficial. Don’t just use a cooldown when it’s up, make sure that it is put to the best use possible. Using Starfall in conjunction with Lunar Eclipse is an example of a small thing that can help boost damage without needing to do too much extra work. Along the same line, using Treants during the air phase of a dragon encounter isn’t really the best timing.

2. Many abilities, handle them!

I’m guilty of forgetting to use certain abilities, but at the same time I use certain others that my raid leader has looked at the combat log and said – “… and you threw in a few random typhoons, I see?” Basically, don’t forget what is available. My personal problem is forgetting to use Wild Mushroom, as I started out as feral and always thought it wasn’t a very good ability to use. The damage was low, the mana cost was high, it was useless. Then Magmaw came around, and I was told in no uncertain terms that I could have used them to help with the adds.

3. Be situationally aware

Again, with my switch from melee to ranged damage, this is a big key for me. Know what is going on around you at all times, and what could happen to you. Good practice for this is the first boss in Deadmines, which gives the achievement “Ready for Raiding” for a reason: if you avoid all the junk that he deals, it’s a good indication that raiding is on the way for you.

These three simple things will help anyone raid better, and hopefully I’ll be able to remember these things as well. Any class can benefit from these tips, once I have more experience under my belt I’ll try to make one that’s more boomkin-specific.

Long time, no siege

I have a tendency to be a slacker, procrastinator, what have you.  This is even more of a factor when something creative is involved – a blog being one of them.

That being said, I’m going to try to pick this thing up again.

Topic number 1: Blizzard and Real ID.  There are many many different articles already posted about this.  I, like the majority of people, was completely opposed to the idea of having your real name be posted on a public forum.  Unfortunately, Bashiok had to be the object lesson of just how horrible of an idea it was.  Maybe that was one of the factors that tipped the scales?  Who knows.

In the end, the fact that they changed their minds and listened to what their fans and subscribers were saying is the most important thing.  It’s just too bad that they made the mistake of announcing it in the first place.

Topic number 2: My continuing altaholic-ness.  My wife and I decided to make new characters to level up together, which we had done previously.  I once again deleted the rogue that I had been using for a bank and auction house character, and made a new Blood Elf rogue.  I truly did forget how much fun I had leveling a character with my wife – it’s nice always having backup for the quests that are a bit difficult like killing Dar’Khan Drathir.

Along with this, I’ve been working on my Alliance mage again.  As of writing, he just hit level 66, and is getting closer to heading to Northrend.  Before I do so, I want to make sure that I see as much of Outland as possible from the Alliance point of view.  This guy is my highest level Alliance character, barring death knights.  I hate to say it, but I really like the Alliance architecture and aethetics for their environments.  Small things like the boat going from Stormwind Harbor to Borean Tundra – it looks awesome!  All the Horde gets is a Zeppelin with some lights on it.

Blizzard favouring Alliance?  I don’t think I would say that.  It’s more just how their respective factions just do things.  The Horde has always been the type of people to just use things without need for it being good looking, where the Alliance has humans.  They like pretty things.  But then again, there’s Silvermoon…

Topic number 3: Cataclysm.  Holy crap, do I ever want to get into the beta.  Everything that I’ve seen so far is amazing – and I especially can’t wait to start leveling up my Goblin priest (see, there I go again).  Supposedly another wave of invites is coming out this week, so I’ll be checking my battle.net account quite often.

In closing, I do hope to start updating this more often.  The problem is that I get ideas for a post at random times, and never remember later on what my idea was.  I need to start carrying my iPod with me so I can jot down notes.

Another game, another heartbreak

My best friend called me up saying that she had some tickets to the Oilers game on Friday against Dallas.  I love going to hockey games, and I figured that it might be the one where we actually won.  So far this season we’ve won against them twice, a third time shouldn’t be a problem, right?

I wish.

The last time I saw the Oilers win a game in person was when we went to BlizzCon ’08, and saw them play the Ducks in Anaheim.  (This was an amazing experience, and one I’d love to do again.)  I honestly don’t remember the last time that I saw the Oilers win at home in person.

Fortunately, the game was at least entertaining.  Near the end of the first period, there were a bunch of penalties called against us – only one of which was actually legitimate.  I didn’t actually see it, but my wife tells me Gagner did a great headlock on someone and pulled him down.  It was about a five minute penalty kill, and a two man advantage for a good portion of it as well.  Amazingly enough, they didn’t score at that point in time.

We ended up tying the game with one minute left, and was sure we were heading to overtime.  But of course, Dallas scores with 22 seconds to go in the game.  I tell you, it was the biggest emotional rollercoaster I’ve ever been through at a hockey game.  One minute we have hope – the next we’re getting ready to leave, very disappointed.

Oh well, there’s always next game.  If not, maybe we’ll get top pick in the entry draft this year.  On the way out of the game, people were chanting “First round draft pick!”

Taylor Hall maybe?  I sure hope so.

It’s painful at times…

Once again, I have to lament about being an Edmonton Oilers fan.  I love the team, and they’ll be my team whether they win or lose – it’s just incredibly frustrating that they keep losing.

I know there’s a bunch of injuries, the lines are all mixed up, but we have some great talent – there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be at least scoring more.  At the moment, I have no problem with Pat Quinn, as he seems to be doing a good job.  He’s doing what should have been done a while ago: not take any crap.  A fresh look into the team, someone without any bias or history with the Oilers.

However, it looks like all of that potential is being wasted.  Losing to Columbus again, at the bottom of the Western Conference, and second last in the league for points with 37 (only Carolina is lower, at 29 – funny that the teams who were in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006 are now both at the bottom of the barrel, eh?).

If only they could play like the Canadian IIHF World Junior team.  They may not have won gold, but they sure played great games.  It also makes me very glad that Jordan Eberle is our draft pick.

Oh well, if we continue the way we are now, at least we’ll be near the top for the draft picks this year.  Yay?

Disappointment

Being a sports fan is annoying at times.  I love my teams, but they frustrate me to the very limits of my sports-devotion.

Yesterday, the Edmonton Eskimos and the Edmonton Oilers made a great show of failure.  I’m huge fans of both teams, but the way that they played makes me want to reconsider that thought sometimes.  Oh, and again today, the Oilers lost.  Not just any teams – no, they had to lose to the Atlanta Thrashers yesterday and the Columbus Blue Jackets today.  Yeah, not like they’re real hockey powerhouses.

The Eskimos game yesterday wasn’t as bad, thankfully.  Amazingly enough, Ricky Ray didn’t blow it for them – it was a few bad penalties at the end of the fourth quarter.  Of all times to make stupid mistakes, that was not really the best.  Great field position, and you get 35 yards worth of penalties, and then Ray gets sacked.  Only down by three points at that time, a lot could have happened.  It’s the CFL for crying out loud, in two minutes you could have a bunch of touchdowns.

Oh well, the Eskimos will just have to hopefully regroup and get their acts together for next year.  As for now, all I can hope is that the Oilers will shape up.  As always, they started great – it just seems their downward spiral has started earlier than usual this season.

Fortunately for both teams, I’m not a fair weather fan.  I’m a huge fan of both, and will continue to be.  Go Oilers Go!  Go Esks Go!

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