Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Still going!

I've just posted a whole lot of RP information for my wow characters on "The Team" page.

Wow is still a game that holds a lot of interest for me and I'm online when I can every few days but I have Real Life commitments in the form of a newborn daughter. I may post more game related stuff here when motivation strikes but it wont be anything like regularly!

Monday, October 18, 2010

not quite dead

Obviously I haven't updated this recently. That doesn't mean I've stopped playing WoW or even contemplating updating this place though. The release of the pre-Cata 4.01 patch is probably the most recent event for me - I should get back and revise my hunter pet information since a whole lot of changes have been made.

The other thing I've been doing in game has been Recruit-a-Friend and now dual-boxing. I now get to be a poor-ish player on two toons instead of one - but I'm having a blast doing so!

If anyone wants to chase me down I'm most often on Dath'Remar, Moon Guard, or Nessingwary servers.

I'm also still playing AION whenever the mood strikes me and have maintained my Eve accounts.

More updates "soon".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Disbelieving Suspenders

One of the key things in role-play and indeed any storytelling is maintaining the audience's "suspension of disbelief". This is perhaps all the more difficult when you yourself are part of the "audience". Suspension of disbelief is where an audience is willing to overlook certain aspects in order to be entertained. We as players of online computer games overlook many obviously unrealistic things in order to immerse ourselves in the story. Some of these are limitations with computer gaming - non-realistic graphics and sound, clunky keyboard/mouse interface etc. Others are inherent in the genre of fantasy - elves, trolls, dragons not being things we can experience in our real lives.

As players of an online fantasy game, we willingly suspend our disbelief in these things to take part in an enjoyable experience. Familiarity with other fantasy stories and movies means that we are unsurprised at non-human races, that dragons exist and can fly, or that magic has practical applications. All these are accepted as part of the new "world" we are involved in.

Where things break down however is the introduction of something well beyond our newly accepted framework. Instanced dungeons is one of the main "belief suspenders" in WoW and similar games.

How do you rationalise the "fact" that Ragefire Chasm and Stockades, instanced dungeons in the main Horde and Alliance capitals, are STILL full of hostiles, more than 5 years after WoW's release? Surely someone would have cleared them out by now?
How can my rogue claim to have cleared the place, and have an achievement to prove it, yet your priest also make the same statement, at a different time?

As you can see, issues like these can make or break your immersion into the story. There are a fair number of these issues imposed on us because of the nature of online computer gaming.

(not finished, but published so I embarrass myself into working on it later!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Musings on morality

This post is a part of my preliminary thinking for the backgrounds of my newest roleplay characters. A long term friend and officer on my Dath'Remar guild has convinced me to join his roleplay guild over on Moon Guard, so I've erased several alts on unused servers and created:

Cryptbred, a gnome male Deathknight,

Satrith, a gnome female Warlock,

Helacea, a draenei female Hunter.

Don't worry about their gear or levels; I've barely started working on any of that.

The guild The Tainted Legion has several members with well developed RP that I'm only starting to get my head around. The legion itself is pro-Alliance, but more willing to "do what must be done". It has a high number of deathknights and warlocks in its ranks, as well as disillusioned or fallen paladins. I had chosen my characters based most on what I enjoy playing rather than what would fit the guild but it looks like they will fit in easily. It will be a challenge to create distinct personalities for each that don't rely on too many clich├ęs.

Concepts of good and evil, honour, loyalty, duty, pride, regret, remorse, vengeance and others are all things to think about. Warlocks and deathknights use powers that are viewed as evil by most. Some warlocks are described as mages that were lured to the "dark" side by easy power. Deathknights were once significant heroes of their faction that fell in battles against the scrounge and were raised as minions of Arthas. Though now supposedly free-willed, their skills and powers are definitely of darker aspect. It would be fairly far-fetched to portray either class as a do-gooder. The best most can do is to minimise the harm done.

Cryptbred and Satrith are both gnomes, sometimes described as lacking understanding of good or evil. Most gnomes are not deliberately harmful to others but can be blindly focussed on their goals and cause destruction as a side effect of seeking what they want. In Crypt's case, hes been recently freed of evil control and is likely still seriously confused.

I will continue posting later but will publish as is to spur further ideas. feel free to comment!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


There are several theories out there about the best method for faster levelling. One theory is that killing "hard" monsters at or just above your level earns more experience per hour than killing easier ones a couple of levels below. I set out to test this theory recently on a couple of lower level alts. The results are inconclusive.

My testing was done on a level 25 warrior and 26 priest. Both were fully rested and have unexceptional gear. No heirloom items were used.

The warrior started out killing the level 20-22 humans at Durnholde keep. Syndicate Watchman for example. These guys showed up as green difficulty. After 30 minutes of slaughter, he'd gained about 12,000 exp. Unfortunately my noob warrior skills got him killed 3 times. The corpse runs were relatively short so should not impact too much on the end result.

After repairs and handing in relevant quests, the now level 26 warrior moved on to killing the farmers and townsmen over at Hillsbrad Fields. These guys are anywhere from 22-28 and the ones I was mostly killing were about level 26. After another 30 minutes of slaughter, this time with no deaths, he'd gained about 11,800 exp.

The easier kills earned slightly more exp, even with the unfortunate character deaths. Both grinding areas are fairly densely populated so there was little time between encounters.

I killed lots of the same farmers with the priest a little later. She kills things slower since there was a lot of drinking between battles. The kills were rated as green or yellow. I didn't record the starting values for experience so I'm not sure just how much she gained in the 30 minute test but it felt like a similar amount to the warrior.
The priest tried to move on to killing the tougher guys in the azurelode mines. The high density of mobs and the fact that they flee when low in health made this really tough. No deaths were suffered but the rate of kills was very much slower. I feel the warrior may make better headway in this area.

The numbers don't really come out clearly in favour of any strategy being superior. There may be a slight edge to killing the easier mobs since the higher number of kills offsets the lower experience per kill. I didn't test the effects of questing on the rate of gain. Again there is probably a slight edge to quickly completing the easier quests. Though its satisfying to kill orange and red mobs its just not efficient.

Monday, November 30, 2009


So, the harvest festival was pathetic. Pilgrim's Bounty more than makes up for it. I was busy with real life stuff until the last few days of this festival so just used it as an opportunity to level up cooking skill on all my main alts. Each of them are now at around 300 skill thanks to a single run of the dailies and associated cooking recipies. This one event has improved the tradeskills of my little army more than I have in the last year of mucking about!

The Pilgrim's Paunch achievement made me chuckle. Aside from the obvious greed stuffing your face at each cities' tables, nearly every recipe for these foods contained lots of honey. Very likely you WOULD become obese eating that much sweet and fatty food!

I've spent a fair bit of time recently playing Aion. My guys are all still relatively low level so haven't yet experienced the massive grind that others have complained about. Since I don't really care about levelling, a long grind for each level wont affect me much so long as there are still things to amuse myself along the way.
Tradeskills are one area thats annoying me though. Its a horrid time and money sink with little to show for it as yet. Standard crafted items are generally as good or slightly better than drops at the same level, and the rare special items are significantly better but the process to get there is hideously expensive. Crafting also involves a lot of different materials. Just the basic stuff I'm doing at the moment has mostly filled my limited bag space. Its much worse in this respect than the crafting in WoW.

Many of the people who started blogging about Aion at or before release seem to have dropped out, even though the game is barely 2 months old in the west. It hasn't grabbed my attention the way WoW did but so far is significantly better than the free-to-play games I listed in my earlier post. I've actually found that playing Aion has revitalised my Wow experience. At this stage I'm enjoying both!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


My three highest Horde characters have recently been working on their Ravasaur mounts. Here is a selection of screenshots.

First, Cryptography, a rogue, is considering a career change to hunter.

My Ravasaur pet was about 16 at the time. He grows a little more!

That shot was taken just before handing in the final quest. He's now a mount as shown below. My friend Nybor is there as well with her very young hatchling for comparison.

Kytlin is an orc hunter. She came across a heart-rending scene in Ungoro:

Two orphaned Ravasaurs standing by the corpses of their parents crying piteously. Bite marks on the adults probably came from one of the giant T-rexes that patrol the crater. Kytlin enticed the twin ravasaurs with tidbits of food then took them to Tanaris for a proper feed.

Bug Eggs are great for the growing Dino! They also wanted slabs of dinosaur flesh and crunchy bits from the silithids in Un'goro. They even wanted to dress up like the adult raptors and demanded feathers from the biggest birds in the area, Tanaris Searing Rocs. Some time later, they traveled to the goblin city of Gadgetzan.

Cryptoknight, an undead Deathknight also has a ravasaur pet but he's camera shy. All ravasaurs are now on day 20 and can be handed in for the mount training. A 20-day grind for each but well worth it. I just wish we could keep the pet as well as the mount!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Non-Warcraft Adventures

World of Warcraft is the game that occupies most of my online time but is far from the only game I play. I have a lot of older PC games that I play when I'm not feeling particularly social. One example is X2:the threat, a space sim I picked up at the bargain bin recently for $3 or so. Pretty cool title.

I also dabble in a number of other MMO games. Even before I took up Wow, I was and continue to play Eve online. This well established space game is pretty awesome. Its not one for the faint-hearted though, as the PvP can be pretty full on even in the "safe" zones, and the cost of death is much steeper than in most games. Eve is great fun when you get yourself into a decent corporation. Solo play is fine too but it can be hard and lonely. Most of the web reviews for this game are many years out of date; the game is much more stable and polished now than it was back near release. I maintain three active subscriptions to this game even though I'm currently not playing it a lot.

As a person with a pre-order in for AION, I was able to play in its latest closed Beta this last weekend. The visuals in this game are absolutely beautiful! Gameplay seems ok too, though at barely level 13 I've hardly touched the surface. AION features flying characters once you ascend at level 10. This adds another interesting aspect to fights and travel. My little taste in the beta has got me hungry to try more though I doubt it will steal me away from wow for too long.

I've also investigated a number of the free-to-play MMO's. A long time ago when my PC was old and pathetic, I played Runescape. People seem to hate this game and taunt anyone who plays. I re-activated my account about 6 months ago just to see how it was going. Its visuals have improved somewhat but its gameplay has all the annoying features that made me leave ages ago. I guess there's still some appeal to people since the server was quite busy and the price is right but I doubt I'll be back.

Another free to play game is Archlord. This game has been out for a few years now. It got mostly terrible reviews in the gaming press. I think it's been judged harshly. Its graphics and music are pretty good. It features PvP very heavily, with siege combat and control of castles by guilds being a big part of end-game. My rampant alt-itis is a big problem here since I never spend enough time on any one toon to progress very far. Archlord suffers from having poorly translated quests and lore. I couldn't make any sense at all of the storyline on the game's main page and quest text in-game is hardly better. The rewards from questing seemed fairly poor too compared to what I'd obtain from drops. The resulting grind-fest was tedious at best. Once a character gained some AOE abilities, usually around level 14, things went along better. WoW is leagues ahead of this game but if "free" is your price limit, its decent enough.

Also out in "open beta" now for a long while is 2Moons. This game is a fair bit more polished than Archlord is but also seems to be a grind-fest. Quests, while at least readable, aren't terribly engaging. All of the available character types seem viable and mostly fun to play. Graphics and audio are pretty nice, perhaps better than Wow in some ways but movement can sometimes be jerky and there doesn't seem to be any jump/swim third dimension.
I haven't played either this or Archlord consistently enough to be a member of a decent guild so a lot of the social aspects I've encountered so far have been negative ones. A lot of selfish dickwads on these free games. There was some licensing issue with 2moons and it seems that this is now restricted to North American players only, but since my account was created before the lockdown it still works fine.

The most recent free game I've tried has been Runes of Magic. This game is often described as a WOW clone. It certainly does have a lot of similarities but here are enough points of difference to make it interesting in its own right. Its a very polished game compared to others I've seen. I love the dual-class mechanism where you can access some of the secondary class's skills while in a different primary class, eg priest healing while a warrior. Quests, audio and visual, as well as game community seem generally better than the other games I've listed here. I've linked to the US site, but there's one for Europe as well on different servers. The micro payment options for this game are its weak point however. They are much more blatant about it, sending regular in-game announcements of "special" offers. It looks like spending some RL cash will be necessary to go far in this game. Other free-to-play games make items available for purchase that make life a lot easier but RoM seems to be making lots of "must have" items as part of their payment system - and they are hideously expensive. The player imbalance that results from this is a very undesirable aspect in gameplay. The game itself is the best of the free ones I've sampled here but this blatant cash grab is a real turn-off, to the point where I'm reluctant to play any further.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pet choice for the levelling hunter

Here I am expanding on what was an already long comment on Mania's latest RFC: whats-the-weakest-leveling-pet. I am slowly in the process of revising my own pet reviews and this RFC is something I feel fully qualified to comment on.

My original comment is number 59 on Mania's site. I've reposted it here and expanded some.

Back in October last year I wrote a review of every pet family available to low level hunters. Blizzard have made several changes to pets since I last updated my post but it is still broadly relevant now.

The reviews are at:

The main changes since then have been the change to +5/+5/+5 to family stats, adding thunderstomp as a talent for all tenacity pets and tweaks to furious howl and rake.

Mania specifically asked – “For this post, I am mostly interested in levelling and questing before level 40 (although I would love to hear your thoughts on higher levels as well). That’s pre-exotics, and also pre-Thunderstomp for the Tenacity pets.”

Pets get their first talent point at level 20. The first few points make little difference to pet usability, its only when a bunch of talents stack up that it is really noticeable – usually around level 40. The biggest factor then in the lower levels is the pet’s family skill.

Diet can be removed as a factor in pet choice by use of the minor Glyph of Mend Pet. Spam mend pet a few times out of combat and your pet is happy again.

So, what factors make a good family skill for use by a low level “noob” hunter?
– aids in threat management.
– has a short cool-down or longer uptime.
– ease of use.

So, in the 3.1 environment:-

Poor: (5 families)

Bats – Sonic Blast
- 2 second stun and small damage on 20 yard range, long cooldown. Sometimes seems to stutter.

Birds of Prey – Snatch
- limited single target/ humanoid only effect on long cooldown.

Moths – Serenity Dust
- Heal over Time and 10% attack power boost on long cooldown. If left on autocast its often too little too late. Tied to a macro its much more useful. The healing is at best 20% of the pets health for most of the level ranges considered here. Rated poor because its tricky to use well.

Tallstriders – Dust Cloud
- Causes all attackers within 10 yards to miss one attack. 8 second duration, 40 sec cooldown. Hardly worth the effort. What I hadn't considered here is the AOE threat generation. In my testing last year I found they couldn't hold aggro very well on a single target compared to others in the same talent tree.

Crabs – Pin
- a 4-second channelled pin that does little damage on a longish cooldown. This skill is never available when you need it and it's channelled nature makes it more difficult to use successfully. Like most of the immobilise moves, it gets better when tied to a macro.

OK: (7 Families)

Dragonhawks – Fire Breath
- smallish direct damage and 2-sec DoT on fast 10-sec cooldown. The problem with this skill is its 20 yard range - the pet has a tendency to "stutter" into range before it eventually gets its attack off.

Ravagers – Ravage
- decent damage attack, with a 2-second stun. The long 40 sec cooldown is the main issue here. Like other stuns, its better bound to a macro.

Spiders – Web
- 40 second cooldown, 4 second immobilise. Its a bit better than bat's Sonic Blast, simply because its more likely to fire off at a useful time and lasts longer. Much better when bound to a macro.

Wind Serpents – Lightning Breath
- 20-yard range, 10 sec cooldown smallish nature damage attack. The 20-yard range and stutter effect are the problem here.

Boars – Gore
- decent damage, 10 sec cooldown melee attack. Its special bonus is tied to successful use of the charge talent, so should go off about every 2nd fight. Rated as OK simply because other pet's specials don't require talents to be effective.

Turtles – Shell Shield
- 12 seconds per minute of 50% damage reduction. Its pretty nice in an emergency, but on too long a cooldown for general use, plus it doesn't help retain aggro.

Raptors – Savage Rend (Demoted from "good" for this revised post!)
- 1 minute cooldown medium damage + medium damage DoT. Its extra damage boost only comes into play when the pet gets a crit hit using this ability. Low level hunters will not see the benefit from this.

Good: (8 Families)

Serpents – Poison Spit
- 30 yard range, 10 sec medium-high nature damage DoT (8 seconds uptime). It also has a slowing effect on casting times. This ability is great. The 30-yard range means the pet gets off its first shot at the same range the hunter does most times. It has a short cooldown and is effectively up 80% of the time. The anti-caster effect is an added bonus.

Carrion Birds – Demoralizing Screech
- 10-sec cooldown AOE Attack Power debuff (that generates threat) to all in melee, with 100% uptime AND a single target medium-damage attack (also generating threat), thats also available widely at any level you like? Sign me up!

Cats – Rake
- 10 sec cooldown, low damage, low DoT melee attack that has almost 100% uptime. Easy to use, decent ability that can occasionally be paired with a successful Prowl.

Hyenas – Tendon Rip
- 20 sec cooldown low-medium damage melee attack with a 6-second slow. Like all disabling moves, this would be better on a macro but even autocast the combination of duration and cooldown means its ready to go when needed most fights. The damage it does is a nice threat boost too.

Raptors – Savage Rend (moved to OK section for this revised post)

Wolves – Furious Howl
- 40 sec cooldown, 20sec duration Attack Power boost for both pet and hunter. For most fights this is a better than 50% uptime DPS boost that is fairly easy to manage. This skill was reworked somewhere between 3.0.3 and 3.1. It is a much better levelling skill than when initially reviewed.

Bears – Swipe
- 5 second cooldown (!) AOE melee damage. Uncomplicated and deadly. It appears that the front-facing limitation has been removed in a recent patch. One of the best skills available for a levelling pet.

Crocolisks – Bad Attitude
- 2 minute cooldown, 45 sec uptime melee AOE medium-high reactive damage. This skill is interesting. Every attacker that hits the pet takes damage. Every single attack, for 45 seconds. Great for AOE aggro generation and generates significant damage in the right circumstances. Probably better taken off autocast and tied to one of the hunter's attack buttons so its not triggered too early.

Scorpids – Scorpid Poison
- 10 second cooldown medium-low DoT nature damage with 100% uptime. Simple to use. Rarely resisted. Sustained aggro generation.

Not available to low levels: (12 Families)

Chimaeras – Froststorm Breath
Nether Rays – Nether Shock
Silithids – Venom Web Spray
Sporebats – Spore Cloud
Core Hounds – Lava Breath
Devilsaurs – Monstrous Bite
Spirit Beasts – Spirit Strike
Wasps – Sting
Gorillas – Pummel *lowest level gorilla is level 32.
Rhinos – Stampede
Warp Stalkers – Warp
Worms – Acid Spit

By the time a hunter can get one of these pets, they and the pet have significant talent points to spend. Individual family skills make less difference in most cases than appropriate talent choices. The exotic pet families usually combine skills that are similar to others reviewed above. Also by this stage, most hunters have learned a thing or two about playing their class, further smoothing out the rough edges in family skill differences.

What pets would I recommend? Probably Bear and Carrion Bird for most playstyles. Both are AOE, but only in melee range. Serpents are awesome if you are regularly going against humanoids. Thunderstomp for tenacity pets, available at the earliest at level 44, is an awesome addition. Ferocity pets become essentially unkillable once they get bloodthirsty by the mid-30's.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hunter Pet Reviews -Revised Edition 3.X

I had a partially complete review of all pet families as a draft post. I referred to it in a couple of other places but since its now superseded by the release of wow 4.0.X I've trashed it and will just post this place-holder. I intend to put up a review in the revised world but this is likely to only get done well after Cataclysm is released, so sometime after December 2010.