World of Warcraft: Give it to the Community

The latest patch demonstrates the problems with an online game like World of Warcraft. The main problem is that the game forces you to upgrade, whether you want to or not. If you don’t buy the latest expansion, you’ll be screwed because you’ll be behind. And if you do not want to partake in the expansion, you have no opportunity to just stick with whatever patch you want to play. For a game that has involved millions of fans, World of Warcraft makes me believe that allowing Blizzard to retain this much control over the game is dangerous considering the time investment for players.

A bigger question becomes: what happens the day someone pulls the plug on the game? What happens to all that effort? I dislike the notion of the “cloud” because you’re putting your assets in someone else’s hands. For some services like Facebook, you end up losing control over your data and always run the risk of others stealing or manipulating it without your permission.

So with regards to games, the effort you put into a game ends up being the property for these gaming companies. Essentially, you’re renting out the time for a game. This model is completely and obviously biased towards the publishing company, which is why I only have subscribed to one such game. That said, this recent patch demonstrates the mentality that Blizzard is moving towards, which I call the “Greedo Shot First” or “George Lucas” mentality. Meaning that the game and their makers have gone into denial and can’t see how badly their shit stinks.

In the South Park episode where the boys attempt to rescue an unnamed movie from Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Stan Marsh says that the work of an artist eventually becomes public domain. I feel that there is definitely a point in that statement where the community develops a huge emotional stake that has helped define and support a subject. Star Wars is one of those cases just as World of Warcraft because of how big of a pop cultural phenomenon they have become. In short, these artifacts to a degree have exceeded what the creators are capable of at this point.

I think with World of Warcraft, the survivability of the game and culture is linked to Blizzard’s eventual need to allow the community to exert more control over the game. Just like DoTA, the game needs to spawn its own ground by open sourcing the code so people can run it on private servers without fear of persecution.

Right now, the community and game at large are at the mercy of a few select people who are making rather unpopular decisions. These decisions though affect everyone in the community for better or worse (mostly worse) and there’s no real feedback loop until everything is too late.

If this continues along with the continuing drop in numbers (which Blizzard attributes to the age of the game as well as the inability to reach Chinese markets early), the game will continue to spiral downwards. However, Blizzard does not seem to see the repercussions of these few developers until much later when subscription loss clarifies everything.

More than likely though, Blizzard, in the CEO’s utter greediness, will never release the game to the public. So what can we do to save it?

Quite honestly, I feel that the game in the long term has little hope for being saved. The only thing saved are transient non-digital memories. Instead, what needs to occur is a new project that is not controlled by a massive corporate entity but it supported by the community and run by a community.

I do have a small side project that I’ve been working on from time to time. It’s at a non-coding stage and just describes the rules for the game that I’m envisioning. One thing I will need to do is develop the world, culture, history, geography, etc. But I hope to develop it more one day.

World of Warcraft: Quick 5.0.4 Impressions

I managed to give the 5.0.4 patch a spin tonight. Most of it was attempting to adjust my talents and figure out how to maximize the glyphs that were still available on my toons. I have to say that the talents and glyphs are practically useless. Talents overall seem more geared towards PVPers while glyphs don’t have any real function. The minor glyphs for the most part are visual effects and probably can be skipped entirely.

Originally, I was going to play my priest a bit because she is pretty close to acquiring a new trinket. When I went to the former valor point vender, I noticed that the priest trinket did not show but instead was displaying a tanking one. It turns out that they have a filter on items so this is obviously bugged. Still, the interface somewhat discouraged me from pursuing my priest’s trinket.

Instead, I switched to my rogue to give LFR a spin. Morchok was weird because my rogue took significantly higher damage than before, especially with the stomps. Previously, my rogue used some talent points to boost up her armor contributions. Not sure if that impacted the damage reception from Morchok. Damage output was higher as we seemed to slice through Morchok, etc. fairly quickly. If anything, the only difficulty was making sure my rotation still held. At least with the rogue, everything seemed okay. I did check out Noxxic to check on the rotation. There was a talent that supposedly could impact my rotation but I ended up ignoring it. Bottom line for that was the talent tree appears more cosmetic than anything truly useful.

The loot system was more frustrating though. I do feel as though I scored more money potentially, but it’s hard to say because I never sat down to calculate the exact amount. Now, just like in older instances, you get a loot bag. If you’re lucky you get an item. However, if you get an item that you don’t need, you cannot trade it as all items dropped by the bag is considered soulbound. So really you’re at the utter mercy of the cruel RNG gods when it comes to loot.

Another subtle change was only allowing people get 150 JP for a single LFG run. You can still run LFG but the payout for JP will be lower. If you’re still not 85 yet, that might hurt slightly although you will be able to purchase 397 gear with JP. As a result, it really becomes up to you with regards to effort for gearing. You could run HoT Heroics all day and completely gear up your toon with the max JP gear.

The loss of the range/relic slot was fist shaking frustrating, especially for my hunter. I managed to get the polearm and bow. But the polearm in itself was a pain to get for a while. The fact that Blizzard trivially got rid of that slot altogether is a huge slap in the face to players who grinded for months attempting to fill out all their slots.

Going back to LFG, the rotation issue surface as a result of no add on working at the moment. It was somewhat confusing having to deal with Blizzard’s piss poor base UI system in figuring out which buffs/debuffs you have. So hopefully, these developers for 3rd party add ons will quickly deploy updates. It might not be worth it though considering how close we are to the real expansion.

On the side though, I saw many guildies login briefly. It felt as though people were eager to check out the updates. However, once they saw the mutilation done to their toons, they pretty much quit. I have a feeling that this expansion will cause even more players to quit. The main problem is simply the unnecessary revisions done to toons. Honestly, why fuck around with something that was working before? It really feels like the PVPers QQ’d so much on the forums that Blizzard ended up bowing to them for an entire expansion.

I think the only way this upcoming expansion will succeed is if the content is satisfying and engaging enough to retain people’s interests. For myself, I tried the beta and didn’t see anything that really compelled me to spend that much time. The only thing I did pretty much was check out the talents (which obviously were a huge disappointment) and wandering around the new continent.

I have a feeling that the content itself won’t be that great. The only features that might be interesting are the pet battles and the new landscape. The remaining stuff is just more of the same. I feel that Blizzard is just out of touch at this point with World of Warcraft and their focus on forcing people to grind is wearing everyone out. Each expansion it feels as though Blizzard is killing its legacy and that the wrong people are running the show.

Well, hopefully Blizzard can end WoW on a more uplifting note. Right now, the future is pretty dim.

World of Warcraft Patch 5.0.4 Out Today and What to Do

Today is the day for the first major patch in the World of Warcraft since patch 4.3. After several months of no content, this one signifies a great deal of changes, the most important being the talent changes. Having been checking my toons since this morning, I noticed some odd issues such as the change in ilvl (which looked incorrect) as well as the (unfortunate) removal of the range slot. Tonight I’ll start to give the new patch a try.

Of course, this all signifies the move towards the end of this (phail) expansion and into the upcoming expansion and getting people back into the game to check out the changes. That leaves an interesting question: what to do until the expansion comes out?

While I managed to hit my major goals for this expansion, there’s still some room to do more. At the moment, my priest is sitting at a nice ilvl 378. With the conversion from VP to JP and cap removed, you can make a nice push to grab all the vender (397) items using JP. For someone who lacks gear like my priest, I can (in theory) run HoT Heroics indefinitely and farm JP while grabbing any 397 gear. Same thing with my rogue who is at 384 ilvl.

Also, my priest and mage still haven’t maxed out their professions. I started working on my priest’s tailoring. It’s somewhat redundant considering that my shaman already possesses max level tailoring. But the idea is to maximize the amount of cloth that my toons can gather in the future. I found myself resource drained quite often when it came to cloth. So in the expansion, outside of having four miners, three herbalists and two skinners, it will be great having three tailors.

Another thing is to use my existing mats and orbs to craft gear. My guild still is far away from the epic crafting achievement and I’ve probably contributed the most of everyone. But I think it might be worth spending some time crafting items for guildies, especially those that do not have the opportunities to raid or have enough gold to purchase items on the AH to get into Heroics, etc.

There’s been some thoughts to level alliance toons. At this point, with this proximity to the expansion, I think more than likely that won’t happen. It’s just too much effort, although I would like to see the other side’s quests.

Also, I’m considering gearing my toons’ other specs. For instance, I’ve managed to collect quite a bit of gear for my warrior, paladin, death knight, druid and shaman when it comes to their protection (or elemental) side. I would like to try, for instance, my shaman side. It would be great considering that he has quite a bit of gear. So to fill in the blanks on that side might be fun. I won’t go as a tank, but I’ll continue to pick up tanking gear. That’s useful when soloing older instances or when I need to run guildies/friends through instances.

Finally, there’s the PVP aspects. Not sure if I’ll get back into it but I do miss the old Tol Barad events. Most of that was just massive zergs but I guess that’s the real fun parts of WoW.

Missy Hyatt and Sensational Sherri Thoughts

I was bored the other night and decided to look for random things on the internet. Ran across missyhyatt.net and various videos, etc. related to Missy Hyatt. Looking over the site, I felt somewhat sad in some ways in missing the good old days of pro-wrestling. A lot of my life has changed over the years, especially in the past decade. So sometimes I’ll reminisce about my favorite aspects of my life growing up in nostalgia. With regards to pro-wrestling, I often enjoy finding images, articles, videos, etc. on older performers.

For a period of time, I became utterly fascinated with the world of Japanese female pro-wrestling. That led me to becoming more involved in Japan than I had imagined. But prior to all that, I was still a fan of some of the original pro-wrestling divas back in the 80’s. My favorite two of all time back in the day are Sensational Sherri and Missy Hyatt.

For me, Sherri will always be my #1. She had it all, the looks, the personality, the craziness and the abilities in the ring. I thought the world really lost someone special when she passed away. For myself, the tragedy of knowing that I would never have the opportunity to meet one of my favorites in this world was truly heart rendering. Whenever I see videos of Sherri posted, the REAL Sherri, she always comes off as genuine, spunky yet respectful of everyone. Her WWE Hall of Fame speech is an instant classic and immortalized the person that everyone has come to love. To me she seemed like she would be an incredibly fun person to hang around and it’s a shame that a jabronie like myself will never get the chance to really find out.

That leads me to my other favorite, Missy Hyatt. While Sherri was the professional wrestler improving herself in the 80’s, there were other divas who made a tremendous impact on us pre-pubescent kids watching Saturday morning wrestling. You had Miss Elizabeth (everyone’s perennial favorite). But her fame is known mostly through her association with the Macho Man Randy Savage and the WWE. However, I never really saw much in her except the quiet, country girl next door type. Besides her, you also had Baby Doll, Sunshine, Precious and Missy Hyatt. Baby Doll made an impression more through her size while Precious was a perpetual accessory that hung around Jimmy Garvin. I never really cared for Sunshine for some reason. However, she was always paired up in cat fights with Missy Hyatt back in the WCCW days.

I remember seeing one match with the Fantastics and her team (which included John Tatum and someone else I do not recall). I believe at one point Sunshine had grabbed an audience member’s chili hotdog and smeared Hyatt all over with it. The Fantastics jerkishly insulted, “Hyatt, you look so good!” as she threw a temper tantrum and egged her team to destroy the Fantastics. But I ended up siding with her (I found Missy to be far better looking than Sunshine). From that day onward, I became a Missy Hyatt fan and tried following her wherever she went during the 80’s and part of the early 90’s.

In my nostalgic runs, I discovered her various social networking platforms and started digging up stuff on her both current and older interviews and matches. I have to say one thing about her: she doesn’t hold back. Or if she did, then you wouldn’t be able to tell because she’s quite blunt about everything. Perhaps, part of her bluntness is her love for garnering attention. Perhaps, the other part is because she doesn’t need to hide anything. Either way, there’s a kind of respect that I have for someone who is forthcoming like that.

However, what’s sad is the comments people make about her. She’s very direct about her desire to make an easy buck and has no qualms about the way she’s doing it through her website. Yet people (presumably guys) often degrade her with names like “whore” etc.¬† and knock her appearance (she’s not in her teens anymore people). But the same people will take her to bed given the opportunity and/or worship her early days.

That whole thing bothers me quite a bit. I guess when you’re famous enough, you’ll always be subjected to the masses and their opinions tend to be low unless you manage to live a completely pristine life. But even then people will find things to degrade you.

When I look at Missy (or people in a similar position), I think about my own situation right now and begin to realize that at a certain point you have to make sacrifices to move ahead with your life. Certainly, there probably are times when she did things that she didn’t feel too proud of. But anyone trying to climb up that ladder has their own demons; that’s simply how you move forward in life. In Missy’s case, she was physically blessed and decided to use those attributes. Honestly, if put in a similar circumstance, I would do the same and not have any shame about it.

Despite all that, I tend to ignore the so-called fanboys and smarks and focus exclusively on the person. In Missy’s case, I was listening to her discuss Luna Vachon and I think the way she described her relationship put a slightly different light on Missy for me. I think most people perceive Missy just as a money grubbing bitch who uses men to get to the next level. That could be true but there is also a human with feelings like anyone else. I appreciated her sentiments about Luna as it showed what little we really know about the pro-wrestling business, especially about the people involved.

My feeling is that at this point in her career, she’s immune to a lot of things like the pettiness of the internet and is more focused on using her legacy to continue to press forward. Some people feel that she looks terrible but I mean for her age, she still is doing quite well.

The way I look at things is that I feel fortunate she’s still around. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to meet her. It would be nice to have a real date with her, just talking about her life in retrospect to see how things were compared to now. The thing is that you gotta do these things while people are still around and appreciate them before it’s too late.

World of Warcraft: What I Accomplished in Cataclysm

Today I pushed my priest to 85 and geared her to tackle HoT Heroics. I already completed part one of LFR and am waiting on part two as I write this. At this point, I have 10 85s of all classes. I will make an attempt to finish part two of LFR tonight, thus giving all my toons the opportunity of beating Deathwing during this expansion.

Looking back now, I feel a sense of accomplishment as patch 5.0.4 nears for this Tuesday. The main accomplishments were to maximize my toons in terms of levels and professions. Although I doubt I’ll be able to finish gearing them all the way up, I do feel satisfied and confident that once the expansion comes out I’ll have a reasonable time getting through it since all my toons have decent gear.

Another major thing I felt I accomplished was getting the chance to play each class (but not each spec) to the max. It was a great opportunity to get to see each classes’ capabilities and push them¬† to the end game. I know many people who never make it thus far and only make it to a certain point or drop off entirely. So for me it was a nice challenge.

More than likely, I’ll never have a chance to raid with my guild nor on my realm, Saurfang (except for the occasional BC ones). So for me LFR was the high point in this expansion. And getting to experience that aspect on each toon has been fun. I can appreciate each class a little better, despite having certain favorites overall.

I am not looking all that forward to the patch due to the change in talents and abilities. We’ll still have about a month before the new expansion is released so in the meantime, I’ll get used to the new abilities and see how they work with LFR, etc.

Shadow Priest Now is Level 82

I pushed right through Northrend this past week in trying to hit 85 before the expansion comes out. At the moment, I managed to hit level 82 on my Shadow Priest and am about to start the Deepholme quest chain. Once I hit level 85, it will mark my 10th level 85, giving me the full range of classes at the moment in the World of Warcraft. I decided to blog about my experience thus far in retrospect as I aim towards 85.

First, the shadow priest definitely is one of my least favorite classes in the game. Of course, you might be wondering why I even bothered leveling one in the first place if I disliked it. The point was to experience the class and see if there were any benefits to playing it. Thus far, I found the class to have been one of the least enjoyable overall mostly because other classes surpass everything the shadow priest can do.

Some may argue that the shadow priest’s damage can make them a top DPS in raids. Ignoring that aspect for the moment, I want to focus just on the play style. The class primarily is thought of as a dot class. Some compare the shadow priest to an affliction warlock. I tend to disagree. I found that the class is closer to a boomkin. You’re really just managing two primary dots on a target while racing to get 3-4 long casting abilities up. If anything, the main difference is that the shadow priest can do an AoE heal rather than just a self-heal. So perhaps in that regard, the shadow priest plays more interesting in a group setting.

However, one of the worst things I’ve found about the class is just a lack of AoE abilities until hitting level 74. Sure, we get holy nova, but that really isn’t practical. That made instance grinding a nightmare, especially when confronted with a lot of mobs. Another element that I dislike about the class is the general slowness as a class. Only at the highest levels do you start seeing some movement boosters. But compared to death knights, hunters, paladins, mages, etc. you really don’t get much and often times find yourself running desperately to catch up to the rest of the group.

Another huge problem is mana. For the most part, you’re going to be mana starved. Once again, until you start hitting higher levels, you’ll be constantly waiting around drinking. Earlier today, I was in an instance with another shadow priest. Her mana was constantly depleted and she wondered just how I managed to keep near full. My trick mostly was in one of the major glyphs, combined with a rotation that allowed replenishment. I think once my shadow priest hits 85, the glyph no longer will be relevant so I might start encountering mana problems again (then again certain talents like Dark Evangelism might solve it along with putting more talent points in reducing the cost of instant cast spells).

Next, we really have no interrupts and good CC. If you want an interrupt, you have to spec into one to gain silence. But then why should you be forced to take a dedicated spec just for a few specific encounters? And the CC for a shadow priest really sucks. We do get an AoE fear and a certain glyph will hold our enemies in place. However, we’re required to be close to our enemies in order to use that. In some encounters, that just isn’t practical, especially considering that we’re a ranged class wearing crap armor.

Of course, old school shadow priest will claim that mind control is the ultimate form of CC. Again, I think that aspect is more geared towards PVP oriented play. I have read how some people will use mind control in Heroic Cataclysm instances to manipulate healers. But as a DPS class, I am not allowed to focus on other mobs while channeling mind control. So for me, this form of CC is useless.

The only thing I do like is the Power Word Shield ability. That has saved my ass on a lot of occasions. That to me is the difference maker in many encounters. Combine that with healing abilities, the shadow priest can shine in their own light.

At any rate, I hope that by next weekend my shadow priest will be at level 85. I will try to make it before then as I would like to run Cataclysm HoTs and LFR before the next expansion comes out. My ultimate purpose though is just to get a chance to really play each class to their fullest and see how each class feels.

Level 70 As A Shadow Priest

I managed to make it to level 70 as a Shadow Priest. My first comment is that I still feel that Shadow Priests are the worst class to level. The fact that you’re single targeting and lacking any kind of cleave and/or AoE ability until level 74 (I discount Holy Nova btw) makes instancing a real pain in the ass. I’ve noticed that outside of boss fights, my priest’s DPS is sorely lacking. I know for a fact that shouldn’t always be the case as I’ve seen quite a few Shadow Priest in LFR hit the top of the damage charts. But at the moment, it’s been an endearing effort.

The play style is quite similar to a warlock except you really don’t get a permanent pet. However, the dots are simpler in that you mostly worry about two main ones. The one thing that does bug me is that long casting time for vampiric touch and mind blast. Quite often I’m finding that by the time I’m about to cast mind blast, a mob will die too fast. So I end up utilizing far too much mana using the raid rotation.

I think the only aspect that might be interesting as a play style is the AoE healing that a priest does during single target mobs. But in terms of leveling, this aspect does not feel very useful. I think with Cataclysm and all the party-wide damage that occurs, the AoE healing makes shadow priests more interesting to play. But during the leveling process, you really miss out.

Finally, there’s a lack of movement that you don’t get until higher levels. Probably, the only benefit is levitate but even mages get that. If anything, you’ll get perhaps a single point to enhance your movement at best.

Overall, I find the shadow priest a very frustrating and non-rewarding class to play of all the toons I’ve leveled so far. I’m still going to continue pushing until I can hit 85 just to compare the play style. But it’s been a real pain and certainly not at the top of my list to hit level 90 when Mists of Pandaria is released.