battletagoneCof5#1879

27 December 2012

Old Raids, FTW

The best thing about 5.1?  For me, it's content from old raids. I am absolutely loving not having to form a raid to enter older raid content. I'm working on the Raiding With Leashes, but still not getting lucky on my drops for the pets.  However, I did manage some achievements I've been wanting for years. Yes, literally, years.

Did someone say Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker?
Woot! My first ever legendary!
Took several runs in Molten Core to get the bindings to drop, but after all they did finally drop.

I'm figuring out AQ as well.  Along the way, a nice boost to reputation:

Yay! The good dwagons like me!
And that pretty much sums up what I've been up to for the last month.  Working, casually slogging through old raids and just kind of puttering around. It's been low stress and quite fun.

Happy (belated) Winter Veil to each of you!

04 December 2012

Dead Guy Ale

I expect every forsaken rogue to be drinking this...  Thank you.
Sold in the Undercity and your local Kroger too

03 December 2012

Battle Pet Teams Widget

Just realized my widget showing the battle pet teams was incorrect. Blizzard changed the name of the id in their XML code from "battlePetId" to "battlePetGuid". I had to fix that, because without it there was no joy in Mudville.

Happy battling!

25 November 2012

Power Leveling Battle Pets

As mentioned before, I was a bit lazy with respect to pet battles. I pretty much relied on Beast types -- the combination of the DPS and the bonus against Critters (which I've found to be predominant among wild pets) meant that leveling up beasts was pretty simple.  My Ravager Hatchling used Devour to heal itself and minimize trips to the stable master.  My spiders would web and suck life.  Life was easy.

And then I hit the master tamers. Or rather, then I met the master tamers and they hit back. Hard. Yeah, this team of beasts ain't gonna cut the mustard anymore.

So, now I have to actually use the mechanics of pet battles and have an honest to goodness team of multiple pet families with varying abilities (i.e. my Fledgling Nether Ray which is a Flying pet that has Magic, Beast, Elemental, Flying, Undead and Dragonkin abilities).

Enter attempts to Power Level.

I've tried a few methods flopping about in comments on the web.

  1. Use two level 25 pets in Pandaria against level 25 opponents and just ensure the low pet (the power-levelee) does a single attack / buff.
  2. Use two level 25 pets and ensure the low pet makes the killing blow (dots are excellent for this).
  3. Use one level 25 pet and two low pets.
What I just read (check out the Experience Table on WoWWikki) makes me question this.  Unless I'm not getting something, it will probably be faster to simply level up a team of similar pets.   Essentially, you get bonus experience for leveling (i.e. the Difficulty bonus) if the pet(s) you're battling are two or more levels higher. In other words, if you are battling level 21s with a level 15, you would get the exact same bonus for the low pet if you were fighting against a level 17.

Plus, the experience earned in the fight is shared across each pet that participates. So, if all three of my pets participate, and two of them are level 25, there is absolutely no reason to use the max level because all they are doing is sucking up 2/3 of the available experience.

Hmm.

I think I'm gonna just pack a bunch of same or similar level pets and grind out battles near a stable master.  

I'll post back on how it goes.  Who knows?  I may even finally catch the damn Scourged Whelpling  that has eluded me to date!

23 November 2012

The Waterloo of Pet Battles

I've been chugging along lately, popping in here and there to complete some dailies and muck about with pet battles. And, despite what I am going to say next, I am enjoying pet battles as much as I was with the expansion release. I'm so not into iLevels and Raids, but I am into blue pets and pet related achievements.

I'm up to 6 or 7 level 25 pets.  I've completed a few of the safari quests. And then I started working on the taming achievements. Which is when I hit the wall called Okrut Dragonwaste.

Holy hell.

I can cruise through the other tamers I've tried; I pretty much don't need to swap out pets. But this Orc? His damn dirty undead dragons wipe the floor with me. Part of it's laziness on my end -- my 25s include the Celestial Dragon, but then I have pretty much all beasts. Face it, beasts are so easy to level against all the critters out there. And, I gave into the easiness. Now, my Ravager Hatchling barely makes a dent before he's totally overwhelmed by the opponent's DPS.

Of course, I did actually get them down by some freak, and then being an undead, the little bastard respawned and toasted me, so I still lost.  

Now?  Now I'm licking my wounds and grinding up my Pandaren Monk, my Flayer Youngling, my Little Fawn and my Marsh Fiddler.  

Hey Okrut!  I'm gunning for ya!

14 November 2012

Lost!

You ever get that feeling of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? The Game knew more that I did when I logged in.  See, I felt normal, but apparently I was in the wrong zone. So it told me so.

Wrong place, Wrong time!


Uhh... Ok! What zone should I be in?

11 November 2012

Achievement feed issue

If you're using WAFB to showcase recent achievements, you won't actually see the achievements themselves.

I'm looking into this, but when I check the Blizzard site I'm getting the same error. See, I'm using the Achievement API to display the specific achievement's name, description, criteria, etc.  There seems to be an issue getting anything to return on the Achievement API (official forum post here if interested).

I'll be monitoring responses and if necessary will make any updates.  My hope is that this is purely temporary and will resolve itself!

Happy achieving!

05 November 2012

Ding 90!

I'll preface this with a nod to truth written by Chuck Palahniuk in Fight Club:
You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.
In other words, I know I'm not the first, nor will I be the last. Despite that knowledge I'm chuffed to say... "Ding!"
Yippe kai-yay, Mother Clucker!
I'm very happy to finally ding 90. It took me much longer than I would have imagined. In both Wrath and Cataclysm, I was not a server-first kinda guy, but I was still max level PDQ. In MoP, I totally got sidetracked in the leveling process. First, it was a case of the "lookits",  Look-it that!  Look-it this!

Next, duh duh DUH.. Pet Battles.  I did not get an iota of leveling or questing done while the frenzy of pet battles was upon my brain. So damn addictive.  So damn fun!

Finally, quests.  I love what Blizzard has done with the quests in MoP. I can pop about like a cracked up bunny rabbit should I so choose, and in fact I did, which resulted in several un-finished quest lines. Again, this was a case of the "lookits".  Each subsequent quest line looked so cool I just had to get there.

Now that I'm 90?  It sure isn't gonna get any easier.  So many blue question marks! Cooking... reputation farming, some poser prince that claims to be Deathwing's kid... All very interesting and totally distracting.

What to do next?

24 October 2012

"Nice Pumpkins!"

That's meant in a non-creepy manner. Have you seen the Pumpkin contest? All I can say is that I wish I had skills like that. Very cool stuff!










All images sourced from Blizzard's contests page. Pretty amazing work from the players!

23 October 2012

WAFB Update

Expanded Details Example
As is the case, the more you muck about with something, the more comfortable you feel.  I've updated the WAFB gadget to include localization on the US and EU servers.  If anyone is actually reading this on the Korea (KR), Taiwan (TW) or China (CN) servers, I'd love feedback if you can actually use this or not. I simply have no means of testing on those servers.

The WAFB page has been updated with the new configuration instructions.  Thanks so much for all of the feedback!

21 October 2012

Shared Topic: The Rules of Me

Matty over at Sugar & Spice asks:
The Rules of Me: What are your personal rules you wish others would know about you?
This is gonna be fun! I'm just gonna let it out on this post. So, in total stream of consciousness here we go:

  1. I can complain about the members of my family. But if you do it, I'm gonna get in your face and defend them. Rather vigorously, too.
  2. If you even hint at hurting my kids, you will become my mortal enemy.
  3. Sleep-over house guests are like fresh fish: after three days they start to stink.
  4. Repeatedly asking me the same question will not change my answer. However, it will make me quickly lose respect for you.
  5. Trade chat should require an additional monthly premium to utilize.
  6. Prefixing any in-game ability with "anal" does not make you clever or amusing. Quite the opposite, it showcases your idiocy.
  7. If you wouldn't actually say out loud what you're typing in chat to actual people in an actual conversation, then you probably shouldn't post it.
  8. "Pwn" is not a real word. Likewise, unless you're texting using a phone without an actual keyboard, there is no reason whatsoever to not type out the actual words "you" or "are".
  9. The word "Rape" does not mean anywhere near what you think it means as you casually refer to how well you just fared against that person in PVP. 
  10. "Your Momma" jokes were funny in the 80s.  It's not the '80s anymore. Move along.
  11. Words have power and should be respected accordingly.
  12. Stupidity that is later recognized and recanted via sincere apology may be forgiven; it's likely an honest mistake or a reconsideration once facts have been presented. Refusal to accept facts or other viewpoints on the same issue is just plain stupid.
  13. Unless specifically requested to do so by a leader in your group or raid, as a DPS class you never ever pull the mob -- even if you're just trying to "help the tank".
  14. Bitching at your healer as a DPS class puts you that much lower on the heal priority list.
  15. Constructive criticism helps me learn; nerd rage makes me /ignore you.
  16. An /assist macro should be a default function of the WoW UI and combined with an auto-focus function on the main tank.
  17. Don't get hissy with me if I don't respond to your un-solicited guild invite. If I wanted to join you, I would have asked you.
  18. Why must you assume I'm a RL Female just because my Human Priest is stacked like a stripper? And no, just because you tell me I'm cute does not get you WoW-sex. Ewww.
  19. Unless we're in the Inn at Goldshire in a bed together, do not friggin' /lick me.
  20. If a member of the opposite faction emotes a /spit at me, they will become my /focus target until the end of the battleground or they log off. 
  21. Just because you flagged PVP at the Crossroads and are now getting your ass handed to you by guards and level 90s from Orgrimmar, I'm there for other stuff. Don't whine at me for not joining your sorry self in pointless PVP.
  22. I'm entitled to my opinion, just as you're entitled to yours. Even when our opinions are at odds with each other, we can still get along. 
Holy schmoly, Matty.  I feel fantastic!  Thank's for the virtual venting!

19 October 2012

MoP: Mists of "Preoccupation"

I haven't accomplished diddly-squat in the game since Mists launched.  And you know what?  I'm totally cool with that fact.

One of the aspects of this expansion is the seeming departure from a focus on the "end game". Not that it's not there anymore, but that there are other things to do besides the end game.  My guild mates are in LFR, but I'm not.  I'm a freshly dinged 87 hunter.  Or a freshly dinged 21 pandaren monk rolling his way through leveling.

Unlike the Wrath and Cataclysm expansions where it felt to me that nothing good happened until you hit max level, in Mists I have so many choices of stuff to do that I am perfectly content dabbling in each area a bit at a time.

Simply stated: I have ample choices on just what the heck I wanna do in the game.

The impact?  Well, I missed Brewfest and I'm gonna miss Hallow's Eve.  Meh, been there, done that, gotten the mount. The recycled holiday content is not compelling to me. Sure, it's been updated a bit, and it has shiny new  uber-high-item-level drops, but that's not alluring for me.

What is alluring, however, is the totally new stuff:
  • Pet Battles
  • Farming
  • Food Network (Pandaria)
  • Archaeology (two BoA blues so far)
  • Progression Questing

I'm completely preoccupied with the inane yet entertaining aspects of the game. I have no focus on leveling as quick as possible, getting a iLevel up for LFR, or getting any kind of server first. I'm simply enjoying playing the game for the game's sake.

The real fun?  It's been simply discovering all of this content and possibility. I feel like a newbie again.

The game has completely captured me and it has yet again become this alternative universe that I can immerse myself into and simply disappear into that world for brief interludes. Contrast that to Wrath: during non-raid time I farmed for gold and mats to supply raiding needs.  Cata: log in and PVP on my way to 25,000 kills.  Mists?  Choices, baby! Choices! And I totally friggin' love it.

14 October 2012

Pet Battle Teams: Blogger Style

Yep. I wanted to show of my current pet team, so thanks to the data that's available from the Blizzard Community API now I can.  Enter the new gadget residing proudly in my sidebar.

For more details, check the WBPT page.

Blogging and Pet Battles.  They work well together!

08 October 2012

Spontaneity and LBR's

I caught a blurb on the news this morning about this blog called STFU, Parents.  It targets people without children and pokes fun at those with kids who do nothing but talk about their kids. It's all good: those without kids will not fully understand my life, and I get why some wouldn't want to hear parent stories.

Trust me, this isn't one of those stories.

However, I AM a parent. And as a result, my life has changed. It's no longer my own! No longer can I roll out of bed on a Saturday at 2 pm in the afternoon after staying up to watch the sunrise.  Those were fun times, but they ain't happenin' any more for me. Now I'm going to bed early so I can get up with the kids for the bus.

My free time is limited; I grab it when I can. I stopped raiding because I couldn't commit to WoW any where near what I want to commit to in my real life. I don't sign up for any guild raids. I rarely sign up for OpenRaids, especially since pandas and pet battles.

But sometimes, even Grown-Ups can be spontaneous. With some help, that is.

I want to give some public lovin' to JD over at Amateur Azerothian. I'm just settling down to waste away some time battling critters when my Real ID pings.  JD's wondering if I'd like to join a LBR crew in Mount Hyjal?

Ummm.  Heck yeah!

I had a blast. The folks in an LBR just rock. Everyone's there to have fun, chat, and collect mog drops or recipes and it's so... Woodstockian. Zen. Rad. Totally-flippin-awesome.  You get the idea.

During the run, I also picked up an achievement I've been grinding towards for a bit: 50 Exalted Reps. And in looking up that link, I now see there's 70 Exalted Reps with a new title:  the Beloved.  Yikes, I've got a new goal:  Cibolero the Beloved.  But, I digress.

Without that ping from JD, I would have had an ok time that night. With a little nudge from a friend, however, that okay time became a great time. It felt great to be invited. It was fun participating. It was totally unexpected. That's why this game is so damn addictive; you never know when greatness lurks around the corner, but it's always possible.

01 October 2012

Too many rares!

So I'm merrily gallivanting around Stranglethorn Vale leveling up my team to take on the next Pet Tamer when I see this:
One Blue Too Many!
Two rares in a single pet battle! Ugh! I waded through how many crappy gray pets to finally score a rare, and then I have to waste one of 'em?  I really loathe the ability to only trap one pet per battle.

I have to admit: I cried a bit while killing the rare water snake. But, I got over it quickly!

Color coded pets brought to you by Pet Battle Quality Glow.

Relearning the Game: Limited AddOns

First things first: I need to jump on the internet bandwagon and just simply give a shout out to the folks in Irvine. Blizzard just crushed with this expansion.

I feel like a new player all over again. I can quest with some amazingly detailed and entertaining quest lines as a former end-game player, or (as I have been) wander over the zones dabbling in the pet battle mini-game.

In the spirit of "freshness", I'm also giving a go of playing without AddOns. Well, how about mostly without AddOns. How about dropping from a peak of over 100 AddOns (back in TBC) to a recent average of 20 in Cataclysm.

My obsession with AddOns began during the Burning Crusade and started with Titan Panel, and has evolved over the years. In Cataclysm, I had 'pared' the list down to ElvUI (which replaced so many of my other smaller AddOns), raid encounter helpers like DBM and GTFO, and gold-making essentials like TSM.

Now?  The only AddOns I'm running in Mists are the pet battle related ones highlighted over the weekend, TSM for auctioning, and utilities like Postal and Bank Stack.

So "mostly without AddOns" really means "with only six AddOns". I'm back to the basics in my game play, and aside from a few helpers, I'm really enjoying myself. The base UI is truly functional for my needs at this point, and the extras I'm running enhance the game as opposed to modify existing functionality to a cleaner view.

To borrow my favorite Australian expression:
Good on ya, Blizzard!

28 September 2012

Pet Battles and Addons

Hi, I'm Chris.  I'm a Pet Battle Junky

The addition on the Pet Battles was something I scoffed at when it was announced. I was one of the seemingly few folks that wanted Pandas. Yet, pet battles?  I was never going to get into that!  I don't get Pokemon, and I assumed pet battles would be lame.

Boy, was I wrong!

I'm going to be hard pressed to get any leveling or questing or achievement hunting done because I'm spending all of my time battling critters.

Addons make this even better.  Three that I'm totally hooked on:

Can you pet battle without these?  Absolutely.  But, why wouldn't you?

25 September 2012

Tuesday Highlight

So far... hell yeah! Very much digging Mists!

I've rolled a Pandaren Monk called Foomanchoo, and I'm loving the starting area and the quests. I thought it was really cool when I learned how to Roll! Stop and consider that -- a pudgy character learning to roll! Too great!

So here I am rolling through the newbie area and I get a quest to burn some scrolls.  Maybe they gave bad advice or somehing?

I was floored by the 'wisdom' contained in my first scroll.
#Truth
Where's my monkey pet?!?

22 September 2012

Scars

As we get older, we acquire scars. Have you ever been with a group of friends and the "Scar" game ensues? Someone shows a scar, and then someone else tops it with a bigger or badder scar. Each scar has a story behind it. Pretty soon, people are lifting up shirts and pulling down shorts to show off their marks.

Harry had a pretty famous Scar, too
Personally, I can look over my body and locate plenty of scars. There's the incision scars from my appendectomy a year ago. The turf burn on my right elbow from college football. The diamond pattern in my right shin from a BMX pedal slippage incident... you get the idea.  Well, you get a few ideas: one is that I'm injury prone. The idea I want you to get is that each scar has a story.

For example, my right index finger is pretty damn ugly. It's scarred from 3rd degree burns from when I was four years old.  Before there were Beavis and Butthead, there was me, the a junior pyromaniac. One autumn evening, I was feeding bits of masking tape into a candle flame and watching them burn. After a few times, one strip failed to catch fire before my fingers got too hot to hold near the flame. In my four year old intelligence, I wrapped the tape around my finger and proceeded to place my finger in the candle flame. I can only imagine I thought that only the tape would burn leaving me unharmed... As you can imagine, the result was far different!  My mother, who was in the other room taking care of my infant sister, now describes the scene like this:
He came running into the room screaming and holding up his hand like Lady Liberty, complete with a burning torch.
Yeah, not a brilliant move on my end. Suffice to say, a trip to the ER and now I have an ugly right index finger.

But I also have a great story that accompanies that disfigurement.

Right, but this is a gaming blog. So how does this relate to WoW?

Well, it's a bit of a retrospective as we get ready to embark on the new expansion.

See, Cataclysm was all about scars. The physical landscape was changed. The Barrens was ripped in two, as was Stranglethorn Vale. Thousand Needles flooded. Deathwing's rise changed the landscape. The entire expansion was about reshaping: the landscape, the talents, the game mechanics.

One of my biggest complaints with the Cataclysm expansion has been that while we have these amazing physical changes to the world, the lore behind them are lackluster at best, and non-existent at worst. Mainly, I've simply never really cared about Deathwing. He lacks --- charisma? presence? An explanation as to why all of a sudden he's here melting Stormwind's towers? More like all of the above.

In fact, Cataclysm tries to tell a story with each of these scars. On some level, the changes to each of the zones from the quests in the zones is really quite successful. If you simply take each zone on it's own the new quests do tell a story for each zone.  However, these stores fail to come together into a whole main theme for the expansion as a whole.

On the other hand, I've thoroughly enjoyed the changes to the game in Cataclysm. The extension of LFG to LFR has been great for me, as have cross-realm raids.  So, despite a poor showing in elevating the final boss to an actual "final boss" status, the scars left in Cata have altered the way the game runs - mostly for the better.

There are also the invisible changes, however.  I like the LFR system because I am the target demographic for LFR. I'm not on a raid team. I'm a casual solo player, any my grouping experiences stem pretty much entirely from random in-game groups. Without LFR, I would never have seen Dragon Soul. I'd like to see LFR get extended backwards so that older raid content can be experienced as well, but that's a different post.

With cross-server raids, I can take advantage of OpenRaid and join in on raids that meet my own schedule.  I am not comfortable joining a regular raid team because I simply can't commit to logging in 'ready to raid' on a regular basis. If I did commit, I'd be letting 9 or 24 other folks down. I'm not gonna do that. So, the game has evolved giving me the ability to still experience what I can when I can.  I'm a fan of that!

All in all, I'm looking forward to putting Cata in the rearview and tackling some new challenges. I expect to pick up a few new marks as I re-learn the ropes of the game in the new expansion.

17 September 2012

Rolling Restarts...

OK guys... I understand you're making some really cool changes that I'm going to immensely enjoy with the deployment of Mists. And with that comes upgrades. Despite understanding that, it's not a maintenance day. I'm not expecting down time -- even for a software restart.

This is truly all about me, though. I had 20 minutes to kill between conference calls. As @Ghostcrawler has mentioned, one meeting ends early, and another is planned. I don't have enough time to really start anything, so I may as well do something.  But where Greg answers Tweets, I'll try to dig up some artifacts with the amazing changes to Archaeology.

And then I get....

Thanks for playing! Please try again, later.
Ugh.  No digging for me! I guess I really have to work, then. Bummer.

14 September 2012

Blog Fiddling, Redux

I really need to stop tinkering and start writing. I've spent more time on the web-coding and layout for this than I have actually writing content.

However, at this point at least, I'm finally happy with the look.  Who knows how it will sit with me, but I wanted to get to a lighter background and replace that worgen at the top.

Have a great weekend!

12 September 2012

Single-serving Friends

Photo by Nathan Cooke via Flickr Creative Commons
I find that I relate much of my real-life experiences to things that I’ve either read in books or seen in movies. Therapy would have a field day exploring that, but suffice to say that I find parallels in fiction. For example, Fight Club feature’s Edward Norton’s character discussing the concept of “Single Serving Friends” with fellow airline passengers.
Tyler, you are by far the most interesting single-serving friend I've ever met... see I have this thing: everything on a plane is single-serving...
This resonated with me personally long before starting to play Warcraft. I used to spend an insane amount of time on airplanes. No, I wasn’t driving them. I was a passenger, and I was visiting clients approximately 90% of my working hours. It all added up to an obscene amount of frequent flyer miles and time spent sitting in airplanes or in airports.

To paraphrase Chuck Palahniuk (the author of Fight Club), when you travel that much everything is a single-serving. Your airplane service features a single-serving liquor bottle, a single-serving slice of cheese, a single bag of nuts....In my experience, my airline trips sat me next to random strangers, and invariably we struck up a conversation for the duration of the flight, becoming a single-serving friend just as Palahnuik describes.  I’d never see these single-serving people again, and the pleasant experience was limited to that small duration.

Enter Warcraft

Specifically, enter the LFD system. Almost all of the instances that I now experience offer a single-serving experience -- either positive or negative. I can draw the angry tank who’s bitter about everything and criticizes everyone. He or she is a single-serving jerk. Or, I can get that group that just clicks and everyone is on the game. The tank is pleasant and helpful (the kind of tank I strive for if I’ve dusted off my pally or death knight). I enjoy this experience. So much so that I find I queue for random instances much of my time spent in WoW. Ultimately, it’s all a temporary rush.

Before you start to say “But, But, But...” I realize that Blizzard has indeed provided me with tools, especially with 5.0.4, that I can use to stay in touch with those folks from my random instances that truly shine. Before 5.0.4, I would have had to exchange RealIDs with folks; I’m not too keen on that. But now, with Battletags, there is no reason for me not to reach out to people. I’m not giving out an email, after all. I would be saying “I’d like to hang out again for a cross-server event so feel free to reach me whether I’m on this guy or any of my alts.” Er... that’s a bit long-winded. How about “I like you. Let’s hang out more.” Yeah, that’s simpler.

But I don’t say either of those things! I just move along.

In the last months, the LFD instances also began placing a priority on players of the same server. So, increasingly, I’m finding myself grouped with other members of my server. This one’s brutally easy: I can simply friend that person. But I don’t even bother with that. How lazy am I, anyway?

I’m not using the tools the game affords me to stay in contact with players. I have no good reason, either. Is it a habit? Shyness? A joy of sticking with the transitory nature of an instance group?

There is something magical when you do group and get into that party makeup where everyone know’s their stuff, nobody is crabby, and the run is just plain fun. When that happens, it’s so unexpected (for me at least) that it’s treasured. I’m almost afraid to ruin the magic by placing some organization around it. Isn’t that crazy? I’m hesitant to continue a good thing -- because most of the reason why it was good in the first place is that it was a surprise. If I impose organization and then plan a run, the efficiency is now expected and I can only be let down. That’s pretty depressing, when you stop to think about it.

Bad Behavior

Am I alone in this? Perhaps... but it’s really interesting for me to consider why this behavior persists.

Before LFD (and to much more focused view LFR), my options for running a PVE instance were either hitting up guild mates or braving trade chat. Trade had it’s own perils. You had to commit to running an instance (God forbid a raid) because you had to brave the idiocy that is trade chat. It took effort to put a group together, and even then you still might get total buffoons. After all, the tank didn’t need to be nice. Tanks could get a group immediately if they dropped. Heals could usually regroup quickly. DPS? We were a dime-a-dozen and treated as such.

With the introduction of LFD (and LFR), the mechanics have evolved. Tanks still insta-queue. Heals less so. Blizzard even added the Call to Arms mechanic awarding tanks or heals a chance at extra loot when their role is underrepresented. In theory, a DPS could get this too, but really? That’s just not gonna happen.

So again, the DPS take whatever the tank dishes out. Sure you CAN boot somebody. A DPS is backfilled quickly. A Tank will take some time to backfill (even across servers). To some extent, I believe that part of the reason for piss-poor behavior in random instances or raids is based upon how easy it is to re-queue. There is no consequence, really. On a single server, a jerk would get a reputation and then trade chat would lambast them. In random, nobody on my server gives a hoot that someone from a different server was a jerk.

Without a consequence, there’s no discouragement other than social norms or even altruism to behave well in a random group.

I have come to expect poor behavior from random instances. That’s sad, but true. I expect better behavior from my pre-schooler than I do in instances or LFRs. It's a perpetual flash-back to Romper Room.

Even so, I find myself in the situation where I’m trying to quickly establish a rapport with 4 or 24 random people because I’m hoping for the best. I’m also on my toes because I need to perform to my best so that I’m not targeted for the Boot. I don’t want to do anything that would cause me to become a target.

There’s something in that experience -- I’m not exactly sure what -- but there’s something that is preventing me from wanting or even trying to reach out again to the other players in these random experiences. I know that I could; I’m just not.

Maybe I just really enjoy the anonymity and the transience of a single-serving friendship?

11 September 2012

Blog Fiddling

Hello maintenance day...

Since I'm not going to be logging into the game anytime soon, I spent some time fiddling with the Blog itself.

Character Roster (Alter-Egos Page)

As a side-effect of the Achievement Feed, I've been messing around with displaying my character information on the blog as retrieved from BattleNet.  I like the idea of showing a 'current' view -- at least as current as the last time I logged out on that character. (Note to self, add a timestamp).
Check out the page - it currently shows the equipped items and talents / glyphs.  It's a work in progress, but it's definitely an enjoyable work.

New Comment System (DISQUS)

I wanted to add a bit more interactivity to the comments. I adore those of you leaving comments -- it's such a concrete reinforcement that people are not only reading the drivel I'm writing, but in some fashion that drivel impacts them enough to actually reply to me!  I'm reminded of school crushes: I'd "like" somebody and then I'd be flabbergasted when they actually responded to me. It was giddy then, and it's giddy now.
I wanted to highlight that a bit and give it some pizazz; if there are any issues, please hit me up via Twitter (since if there are issues you won't be able to comment, will ya?)

07 September 2012

Shared Topic: Spell Envy

Arvash from The Crimson Hammer offers up this week's Shared Topic:
In the new Mist of Pandaria expansion, Druids will be getting a new spell called Symbiosis, which will allow them to "trade" a spell with another player, based on the player’s class and combat role and the Druid’s specialization.

So my question is, if you could have any spell you want from any other class, current spells or new ones in MoP, what would it be? How would you work it into your rotation, gameplay, etc.?
What a fun question! I'm going to look at this by role -- damage, tank and healing.

Damage

My choice on damage spells is not going to be based on putting out the highest DPS. It's about pure fun! The winner? The new form of priest Mind Control:  Dominate Mind. Perhaps I'm biased with the PVP I've been running lately, but I simply love this ability. Walking folks off cliffs or into lava... Such evil joy! I'm literally giggling as I imagine having an enraged spirit beast wailing away on a target as I'm lazily walking it towards it's doom!  Very Warlockian of me!

Tank

Well, I just got educated. I was going to say "Concencration" because that AoE holiness was such the effective aggro-magnet for a pally tank. But I just checked Wowhead, and it's gone.  A victime of 5.0.4?

Hmmm... When I'm tanking (in 5mans), what is my biggest issue?  AoE threat! What's the next best thing?  Death and Decay! It may no longer be fashionable, but when I was tanking on my dead knight, a drop of DnD pretty much stuck the pack on me and I was able to maintain aggro despite the best efforts of my AoE happy DPS members.

Healer

Once again, I'm leaning towards the Priest class.  My favorite healing spell got to be the frisbee (formally known as the Prayer of Mending). For those that never priested, you cast this on a party or raid member taking damage, and it heals for a goodly amount when that person is actually damaged. Then, it bounces to another party or raid member and does the same thing. It will sit there waiting for damage for up to 30 seconds, and it can bounce up to five times to friendlies before it expires.
In a single tanking fight where only the tank's taking the hits, the frisbee is "meh".

But, when there is party-wide or raid-wide damage, the frisbee bounces around and heals -- all for a minor mana cost. At that point, it's more a "yay!"

Imagine as a shaman, dropping a healing rain and tossing out chain heals along with a frisbee bouncing around as well!

Or, a tree-formed druid loading folks up with rejuvinations, life bloom stacks and tranquility and swiftmend, and then having that frisbee to bounce around as well. Holy AoE healing!

Sadly, I can't comment on pally healing -- I just don't know how it works. I guess I need to play my pally a bit more and experiment. One more thing to do!

Impacts of 5.0.4
Holy noobishness, Batman! My first reactions have all been changed with the new game mechanics! Mind Control is now a talent. Shammy Thunderstorm is gone! Pally concencration is gone! Uh... time to relearn and rectify the ignorance.

For that, I'm thanking Arvash!

06 September 2012

To Tome With Love


KILL THE WABBIT!

For those of you wondering WTF?!?  Check this...

05 September 2012

Calling for Fashionistas

Yet another case of Real Life echoing WoW...

While I have the base mechanics of dressing myself, I wouldn't characterize myself as stylish or hip. In fact, my son has told me I dress like "a Dad". I guess there are worse things, but that still sucks.  I guess I'm just partial to 20 year old styles.  Anyways, on with the post!

In Dire Need of a Makeover
In WoW, I would like to become a bit more stylish. I'm currently strutting around in i397 PVP mail and have quite the purple and greeen vibe going.  My hunter needs some fashioning up, and I'm the wrong man for the job.

Now don't get me wrong -- I am totally hooked on transmogrification or as the rest of the community refers to it: mogging. The idea of getting specific drops from instances, or working towards a look is fun.  The idea of changing how something can look is cool.  Having something else to waste time on is priceless.

To define any look, I've been told I need a cornerstone -- something to base that look off of. I'm totally digging the Beast Mastery spec with 5.04, and I'm never without Loque'nahak as a companion. How do I create a look that complements Loque?

What I lack is defining the look itself. I've wasted hours in MogIt and have yet to come up with anything that I'm happy with. I'm just not a fashionable dude.

Here's where y'all come into play.

Can you help a guy get a bit more hip?  Start with a male Worgen hunter and crafted or dropped items (no quests, no legendaries) what can you come up with?

01 September 2012

The Grown-Up Grows Up

I was listening to The Twisted Nether Blogcast (podcasts are the perfect companion to mowing the lawn, don't ya know). I'm wrapping up the back yard and come to the section where the newly announced blogs from Blog Azeroth were announced. Hey!  They announced me! Yay!

And then, they said something that impacted me.
Fimlys: That is the longest URL ever!
Hydra: At least he knew it wouldn't be taken!

Hey! That's me you're busting on, folks! As I thought about it, I realized something.  They're right.

What am I going to do about it?

Enter GoDaddy and a new shiny dot.com: http://www.thegrownupgamer.com.

For those of you awesome people that are receiving an RSS feed (trust me, it's a very heady feeling to see in Feedburner that people have actually asked to receive my feed and thereby read my stuff), it should automatically redirect.  If not, I'd dearly love to hear about so I can rectify.

For the Bloggers that have done me the honor of including me in your blogrolls (just as heady an honor because it's an implied recommendation!)  I'd be obliged if you would point my entry to the new .com domain.

Cheers!

30 August 2012

Finalized Achievement Feed for Blogger

Well... the brains at Google are reviewing my work to ensure it's acceptable, but I've submitted the achievement feed you can see off to the right over to Blogger for actual inclusion in the Blogger Gadgets.

In the meantime (or assuming it's rejected for some reason), you may add this by performing the following steps.

  1. Copy this source code (hosted on googlecode.com as wow-blogger-achv):
    http://wow-blogger-achv.googlecode.com/git/wow-achievement-feed-for-blogger.xml
  2. Open up your Blogger blog in Layout mode, and click Add Gadget in the section you want the achievement feed to display.
  3. Click "Add your own" and paste in the source above.
  4. Paste in URL

  5. Enter the configuration parameters.
  6. Enter your choices
    1. The Character information (region, server, character name)
    2. The formatting information (to keep styling consistent with your view).  The default styling is populated, but these are CSS style entries (Hex Colors, font-family, etc).
    3. If you do not want to show the full character name, un-check the Show Character option.
    4. If you do not want to show icons in the list, choose the 0px icon size.
If you experience any issues, hit me up here or on Twitter!

Thanks!

27 August 2012

Achivement Feed Gadget

I'm looking for some volunteers...

I have written an achievement feed in Google for use within the Blogger platform, and it works for me, but I'd love some feedback from others before posting it all official-like.

If you care to help out...

First, /hug. You are awesomer than awesome.

Second, please edit your blogger design and add a gadget to any sidebar / section area. So far, with me?   This is just like adding a regular gadget.

Here's where its different: Click the "Add Your Own" option.  I promise, there is no malicious code here. Nothing's gonna break your blog!

Copy this hosted XML (Go go google gadgets!):

http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file/104245060944445812083/wow-achievement-feed-google-gadget.xml 

Paste that into the box and click Add By URL.

There are fields you need to complete -- character name, geographic realm (I've only tried with US, so any EU players feedback would be simply fantastic) as well as some formatting so that it looks consistent with your overall theme.

Any issues?  Let me have 'em in the comments.

You guys rock!

24 August 2012

Shared Topic: Flavors of WoW

The weekly Blog Azeroth Shared Topic comes from Cymre:
It would not be uncommon to hear about the initial release of World of Warcraft as Vanilla or Classic. In terms of ice cream or gelato (which is my preference), Vanilla was once considered the most popular flavour of it’s time. So if Vanilla represents Classic WoW, what flavours could represent the following expansions?
Really?!? A post topic combining ice cream and Warcraft? Epic win!

Original

Flavor: Vanilla

Vanilla
First of all, I have to admit I'm partial to vanilla. Both in WoW and in ice cream. And, if I'm buying ice cream, I'm partial to Breyer's brand, so shameless liberation of images from breyers.com.

I really enjoyed the vanilla expansion set before it got 'remodeled' in Cataclysm. I leveled both Horde and Alliance characters, and I hung out in the Plaguelands all through my late 50's because that lore with the Argent Crusade was so cool.

My point?  There's absolutely nothing wrong with vanilla. It's perfect all by itself.

Burning Crusade

Flavor: Chocolate Chip

Chocolate Chip
So what happens next? Well, there's a new threat of the Burning Legion and a long lost space continent of the Outland.

Blizzard added some new races: Dranei and Blood Elves. These races led to additional enemies (Sunwell in particular for the Elves).

In my frozen dessert analogy, we've got a baseline of vanilla, and now we're adding some chunks to it.

Who doesn't like chunks in their ice cream?

Wrath of the Lich King

Flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip

Mint Chocolate Chip
That formula of Burning Crusade worked; you could level up in Azeroth and then hit the Outland for end game. Well, why not do it again?

I view Wrath as the same formula: Blizzard took the existing game, and mixed it up some more by adding a frozen continent back in Azeroth and a repackaging of the Plaguelands factions to battle the scourge.

This isn't a bad thing.  If I'm not picking up Vanilla at the market, I'm grabbing Mint Chocolate Chip. It's still damn tasty.

Wrath was FUN! I like the factions based on tabards. I liked daily raid and instance quests. There was a lot of good stuff to do in Wrath.

It's like Chocolate Chip, cooled with Mint. Get it?

Cataclysm

Flavor: French Vanilla

French Vanilla
For whatever reason, someone thinks vanilla is boring. So Blizzard tries to reinvent vanilla. We get a new talent structure. We get flooding of old zones. We remodel some capital cities.

It's vanilla, repackaged, but the final product isn't any better than the original.

Think back to the eighties (those of you around then).  Remember "New Coke"?  What a flop that was?  The back-pedaling the Coca-Cola company had to do once they realized that New Coke sucked?

That's Cata in a nutshell for me.

So let's get back to basics and add to the elements that work.

Mists of Pandaria

Flavor: Neopolitan (Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry)

Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry
Enter MoP.

If I'm a marketing guy at Breyers, I know that French vanilla bombed. Back to the old drawing board.

So what do people like?

They like vanilla. Well, lets add in both chocolate and strawberry to that mix.  We have always had Alliance and Horde. The've fought.

Put them back into confrontation on those classic lines; Chocolate is flavored vanilla. It's still a simple flavor, but it's a new twist.

Now, add some Pandas that don't know which side they're going to take and offer a disinterested position (the Strawberry).

We have an upheaval. A cleansing. (Seriously - take a bite of vanilla or chocolate, and then take a bite of strawberry.  The berry washes away the others!)

Now, here's where it gets fun...  When I eat a bowl of mixed flavor ice cream, sometimes I'll eat up all the vanilla, then the chocolate, then the strawberry. Other times, I'll mix 'em all up into one flavor and enjoy the soup.  MoP will give me that option! It looks to have flexibility to essentially do what you want to do.

Conclusion

Not only can't I wait for MoP, I need to make a run to the store for some frozen desserts.


20 August 2012

Discovering OpenRaid

Where the hell have I been? How did I have no clue that there was a group that coordinated cross-server raids? If I had only known this sooner, my inner achiever would be ever so much more satisfied, but alas! Ignorance prevailed. Huh?


Check out OpenRaid. The basic premise of this is to allow folks across servers to coordinate the available raids -- vanilla stuff like Molten Core or Blackwing Lair all the way up to the original cata raids (To4W, BoT, BWD).

This raises the possibilities in my raiding from slim to probable, and it's huge for me.  Why?  Simply because I can't allocate a consistent time each week to raid due to my personal schedule. It's not fair for me to ask a raid team of 9 or 24 other folks to include me and then not be available reliably to help the progression. As a result, the only raids I was able to run (outside of LFR) have been random trade chat encounters. Sometimes, those go well, and other times not so much.

Enter OpenRaid. I can search for a time where I know I can be online. Then, I can either browse for raids being run (PVP or PVE) during that time and sign up. It's that easy.

Granted, there is some setup. You need an account with OpenRaid, and you need to prove that you own the character(s) you want to raid with. Depending upon the raids, you may also need ventrillo access, but I look at that as pretty standard stuff.

My only complaint? OpenRaid sends me an email when a raid leader approves my participation in a raid. I'm now all excited!  I was all set to run ICC 25m on Friday night. Well, you can also be un-approved if that raid leader needs to bring in guildmates or other friends. So, I was camped out at the entrance to ICC at 9:45 pm for my 10:00 start... and I waited... and waited... and waited... and at 10:05 I tabbed out to check OpenRaid. I had been un-approved (but there's a gap that you're not emailed letting you know that you've been un-approved).

I admit, I was disappointed that I had planned to be online and run a raid. After moping and cussing for a few minutes, I started searching more and found another ICC 25 last night.

Why it works?

I think the reason why OpenRaid works is that you have reputation points. Once your raid completed, you rate the raid leader AND the other participants. So if the Raid Leader was a jerk, downgrade them. If a player was cluelessly unaware and unable to follow any level of instructions, downgrade them. I believe that the online reputation points makes players perform at their best -- after all, you will be graded, right?

Oh if I only knew about this a few months ago, I'd probably have a few more meta's under by belt.  /sigh

Hoping to see you in a cross-server raid soon!

13 August 2012

Shared Topic: How has WoW Changed Your Life?

This week’s Blog Azeroth shared topic post comes from Effy at Effraeti’s RP:
Very simply:
How has WoW changed your life?
It's a simple question.  My answer is far from simple, however.

Consider this your warning: I'm about to blur... No.  Actually I'm about to absolutely obliterate the line between a blogger's opinions about a game and his life experiences while playing that game.

What you're about to read will be personal. It will be raw. Sad. Not just <sniff> <sniff> sad, but for me a level of sadness that has taken me to some very dark, scary and lonely places where I wasn't sure how the hell I was ever going to get back from. This may just be as difficult to read as it has been to write.

11 August 2012

Shared Topic: Are you playing in the WoW Beta?

This week’s Blog Azeroth shared topic post comes from Frinka from Warcraft Street:
Are you playing the MoP Beta? Why or why not? How much time are you spending there vs. the "live" servers.
When I subscribed to the annual pass option, I was guaranteed a MoP Beta key. That wasn't why I fired off the annual pass, however. I was going to be playing in some form or other, so why not get a free copy of Diablo 3 to muck about with at the same time. The account wide mount was okay too for up and coming alts. The beta key? Worthless to me. Absolute rubbish.

Paying for the Privilege to Beta

In my professional role ( switch talent spec to Project Manager), I find myself constantly beta testing either base software code or integrated data solutions within a standard software code base. In any event, I spend a substantial chunk of my waking hours ensuring things work as expected and advertised.

When I get free time, the last thing I want to do is ensure a game I'm paying a fee to not only purchase but also play on a monthly basis is also working as expected and advertised. I'm shelling out dollars to a company to develop that software, after all. I expect Blizzard to pay staff to perform that role.

Now, now! Don't get me wrong! The more exposure and the more people that are testing something, the better the final product becomes. Beta testing from a general public polishes the product into something better than Blizzard could have imagined or marketed in the first place. It's an open exchange of not only "can I log in and not blow up?" but also "the lore here doesn't jibe... what if...". I'm indebted to those folks that are beta testing! They are helping make my eventual play experience all that more seamless, magical and satisfying.

But, if I only have a few hours to play, I'm going to play the final polished product (even Cata in the doldrums of a pre-expansion period). I'm not going to pay Blizzard for the privilege of testing their software for them as well as purchase a copy of the same game I would have tested. It's a stand on principle.

Surprise Me

The other main factor on why I never activated my beta key? Surprise! When Wrath was being released, I was an avid reader of Big Red Kitty's hunter blog (c'mon, who wasn't?). BRK was communicating tidbits of the beta pets, gear, zones, etc. When Wrath hit, I felt like in all the focus of pre-expansion TBC on Wrath content, I missed  out of an element of discovery in Wrath of that same content for myself. In other words, I got so worked up on researching Wrath that I missed out on experiencing a part of Wrath. Part of the fun for me in a new expansion is exploring the new content. Learning (and failing) make it more fun.

You may notice in my reading list, however, there are blogs that cover the MoP beta. I am reading, but as posts get into the details and mechanics, my reading becomes a skim. I don't understand in the least, for example, how a pet battle works. I just know that there are pets that will now go all Pokemon as needed.

I also know there will be Pandaren, and they will start neutral, and somehow that Pandaren will choose to align with either the Alliance or the Horde.  I know there is a new class, the Monk, and that the class will be like a druid only in that it can be played as any of the three main roles: Tank, Heals or DPS.  Although there are sites covering this information, I'm not actively reading them -- again I want to experience this for myself.

By the same token, I know the talents are totally being revamped. I will review the class sites for my characters after I've messed around with talents on my own. By merely applying someone else's experiences to a new spec, I'm losing the ability to experience that on my own.
My favorite part of Wrath, hands down?  The Death Knight character experience from birth to graduation at 58. In Cata?  The starting zones for the Goblin and Worgen races. I don't want to risk spoiling any of the freshness MoP will add for the Pandaren or the Monk class with previews or guides.

So, no... you won't find me on the beta realm. To those that are there, kudos and thank you very much for your contribution! It's just not something I'm willing to do.

Illidan was right: I'm not prepared

and so it begins...
Patch 4.3.4 ...

and I had all these grand plans, absolutely none of which got done.

09 August 2012

Life Lessons from Questing

Mor'norokk speaks Truth

Rule to Live By

Stop it, you tiny angry woman! I'll tell you everything! What do you want to know?
Enough said. Following this truth makes my life much simpler. I have to believe I'm at least as smart as an ogre, right!

08 August 2012

Occupying my Time before Mists with Blog Tinkering

Lately, I have been neglecting my characters. I think I've been able to get online and actually play for about an hour since Friday what with vacations, work and the rest. That's not to say I haven't had any free time; I have. However, I've not spent that free time in the game world but rather in the Matrix behind the game.... Yeah, minus 50 DKP for mixing in a Keanu Reeves movie reference, despite the fact that it's one of my favorite films.

 Anyways... What have I been doing? Tinkering with the blog! I have added a characters page to the navigation bar. It's still undergoing some additional tweaks, but I've gotten myself indoctrinated in the language of the Armory and now I'm feeling comfortable in pulling character data to display on my own little corner of the world. If you check it out, I'd love feedback on what works and doesn't work (the whole detail section is to be coded). In designing something like this, I asked myself what do I care about when I hit Blizzard's Armory or Wowhead? And from that, I get current equipped items, current title, total achievement points, recent achievements, PVP stats and reputations. Cool! But, you can also retrieve all of you hunter pets. Oh that's sharp. And each companion and mount. Ummm... schwing! Progression? Cool!

So now I have entirely too many things I want to do out of game and in game before the expansion drops!

In game, my list is really only two things (though one is a two-parter):

  • I want to ding my mage and my rogue to 85. That will leave me with only a warrior and the eventual monk on my server. 
  • Apparently, I also need to make friends with a wealthy goblin because I have just learned about the Grand Expedition Yak (an upgrade to the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth or Repair Cow as I call it). Last I heard, this sucker was gonna be a 60,000 gold sink! Definitely need to multiply my gold base. Maybe I could place it all on a roulette wheel.... Yeah, if WoW had a casino, I'd never log off. In reading AH blogs, a few folks have pondered stocking up on bags.  With all the questing I'm doing in Outlands, Northrend and Cata zones, I should have plenty of cloth... perhaps it will work! 
 Hope your week's are treating you well!

05 August 2012

If my hunter lived here...

A few months back, I caved into frivolous spending desires and purchased a Mekgineer's Chopper for my hunter. I've already purchased or won over 108 mounts for him, but I had been having a pretty good run on the Auction House and Blizzard announced that mounts would be consolidated across servers. I immediately figured out how to rationalize such a large out of pocket expense. Spending 14,000 even in pixelated gold gives me pause. However, across 10 characters, the expense becomes only 1,400 gold per character. With Mists, I'll add an 11th so it drops to 1,273g per character. I was convinced, and it's been great fun tooling around.

What If?

But, a curious question has popped into my brain. What if somehow the situation were reversed? What if my hunter actually logged into RL? The mounts in my RL life are far from sexy; you have your choice of a ten year old Honda Accord or a Honda Odyssey.

No way would "P" mount up on a minivan, even if it does have a movie player. Nah! So not his style. He's a Hunter! A stalker! Something much more rugged and sporty.  He's also been around the block a few times, so there's no need to be flashy. Hmmm...

I've got it! Without a doubt, he would would get himself a Ford F150 4x4 complete with a camouflage paint job. And a gun / crossbow / bow rack for the back window.

Can you picture a worgen and a wolf tooling around in this?
I can totally picture a Bloodthirsty Gladiator's Rifle hanging on a roof rack and a Wolf or a Bear sitting in the passenger seat with their tongue lolling about as they cruise down the road listening to ZZ Top!

Now I'm wondering what my other toons would drive?

04 August 2012

Crazy %$#^ You Only See in WoW

Druid Porn?
Ok, so I wanna know what was going on in the minds of the devs when they designed Mount Hyjal. This may be seen in the Grove of Aessina. I've run 6 different characters through here (and saved the poor fawns each time), but I just noticed this the other night. /boggle

Not to be obvious, but they could have chosen different flora for the ground cover, couldn't they?
I'll spare you the picture, but from behind this poor tree has a large vertical crack at it's base. /speechless

03 August 2012

Shared Topic: Professions

I discovered Blog Azeroth the other day and among all of the great resources offered, the shared topic intrigued me. This week's topic was offered by Effy who asks:
Professions are fun for some and a necessary evil for others. Some of us have farming professions. Some of us have crafting professions. Some of us have a little bit of everything! Professions are leveled because they fit our style of play, help us in raiding, allow us to outfit our alts, and make us money. What professions do you have on your main? Do his/her professions fit their personality? Why did you choose them? If you chose professions based on your character and not on gaming needs, would that change some of their professions they use? (This can include the secondary professions of archaeology, fishing, cooking, and first aid too!)

Primary Professions

My Hunter began life as a skinner and a leatherworker. They just seemed to fit, you know?  He's out, well, hunting things. The whole "waste not want not" mantra repeated for him - if you have skins, use them to make yourself cool things. Up to Wrath, I wouldn't argue that my hunter got much of a benefit game-wise from either choice. My favorite reason for  a max level leatherworker in BC was the Stylin' Hats, but that's just because they looked awesome. I forget now which expansion added the bonuses (thinking Wrath), but all of a sudden skinning offered a Master of Anatomy bonus to critical strike rating, which became a nice benefit. Leatherworking now had an amazing wrist enchant for agility and a cheap leg armor enchant, so there were gaming elements there that were nice bonuses.

Recently, I dropped skinning and learned engineering. Why? I was at 16,000 honor kills and had my sights set on reaching the 25,000 kills achievement prior to any account-wide consolidations. The combination of a Disengage and Parachute Cloak! I will never PVP again on a hunter without my disengage macro that also fires the 'chute; the next thing you know I'm flying from the ramp of the Ally stronghold in Twin Peaks to the bridge. So much fun! The other perks to engineering for me have been less of the cogwheel enhancements and more having Jeeves and Moll-E. They are great when you're out and about farming old content!

As far as alts go, I've maxed all other primary professions.  The priest has enchanting and tailoring, the paladin is a blacksmith, the shaman is an alchemist and a jewelcrafter, and the warlock is an inscriptionist. Of these, the priest was my first alt, and again I felt like tailoring would fit (being able to make my own robes was cool). Enchanting was also appealing for the bonus to spellpower on rings (more so in TBC).  The rest of my stable?  Their professions were chosen not as much for fit as for gold grubbing speculation. I love being able to craft most of the items in a profession and shoot it to an alt (or guildmate). I also like being able to craft things as suggested by TSM and make a bit of gold. It adds a nice layer to the game!

Secondary Professions

I am a completionist. I have maxed out all secondary professions: archaeology, cooking, first aid and fishing. However, no other alt has even bothered to learn secondary skills.

Archaeology has potential. You can dig up some great stuff from it (the mount and the pets). But, the downside to me is that it's only in four places on a continent at the same time. That's too much travel time to be flying all over Kalimdor to then prospect a dozen times only to mount back up and fly across the continent. I wish digsites were more plentiful and didn't include so much travel time, and my complaints would lessen.

Cooking wasn't necessarily bad. Prepared food offers nice buffs as you're leveling and the good old 'feasts' are part of the ritual of raid preparation. I actually really dig that; before you and 9 or 24 of your friends attempt to down some bosses, you engage in a communal breaking of bread. It has a bit of ritualism, doesn't it? When it came to alts, however, I just can't be bothered with leveling up cooking.

First aid has it's uses. As a hunter, the ability to heal yourself is nice. While leveling, it's a nice outlet for all that cloth that drops from humanoids. I'm running into a priority conflict; do I consume that embersilk cloth for bandages or zip it to the tailor...  And for my AH speculations tailoring is a clear winner.

Fishing has improved a bit in the base UI, but it's still a matter of spending hours doing absolutely nothing other than clicking and listening for the fish ding.  All I can say is multi-task. This is a drag!

Why did you choose them?

Back to what I interpret as Effy's central question.  Why, indeed?  For my hunter, the profession choices are about gaming. In PVE, he got a bonus to crit from skinning and he got the bonus to agility on wrists.  For PVP, he gets the mobility of the cloak plus retained the wrist enchant.
For all the other alts, it's about opportunity: the opportunity to craft most items for myself without having to pay premiums in the Auction House as well as the opportunity to craft many items and then sell them at a premium in the Auction House!

How about you?

02 August 2012

Your Very Own Blogger Achievement Feed

I've been struggling with Blogger to display a feed of recent achievements for my main character. There is a gadget available that other WoW Bloggers are successfully using, but no matter what I tried it just wasn't working for me.

Maybe I could make one up? Some Google searches led me to Blizzard's Website and Mobile Feedback forums. There are some great examples of tricks which are mostly PHP solutions to retrieve from the Blizzard APIs.  However, without my own server, PHP is not an option. I needed a JavaScript option to stick into a HTML / JavaScript Gadget. A post by Brawrz outlined a method for realms. Now we're cookin'!

After some trial and error, I'm happy to have an achievement feed over on the sidebar for my main character, a Worgen Hunter.

The Achievement Feed Source
Should you wish to recreate this for your own Blogger site, here's what I did.

Update the Template

First and foremost, we need to add an external script to the template. In Design mode, select the Template option. Then, Edit HTML. You'll be cautioned against this route, but go ahead and proceed!
Search for the ending of the <head> element in your template.  Just before that </head> element, insert these lines:
  1. <!-- JQuery Script -->
  2. <script type="text/javascript" src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.5.2.min.js"></script>

Create the Gadget

Back in Design mode, now we need to go to the Layout option and add a new gadget: HTML/JavaScript. Give this a title and then in the Content section, place the following code (replacing your realm and character name in lines 7 and 8):
  1. <div id="charProfile"></div>
  2. <script type="text/javascript">
  3. var intMax = 10; // define maximum number of achievements to display
  4. // assemble the JSON URL
  5. var bnetRegion = "us";
  6. var bnetUrl = "http://" + bnetRegion + ".battle.net";
  7. var bnetRealm = "REALM_NAME"; // borean-tundra or velen for example
  8. var bnetChar = "CHARACTER_NAME";
  9. var url = bnetUrl + "/api/wow/character/" + bnetRealm + "/" + bnetChar + "?fields=feed&jsonp=?";
  10. $.getJSON( url, function( data ) {
  11. // format the base character profile data
  12. var strCharProfile = "<div><h4>Total Points: " + data.achievementPoints + "</h4></div>";
  13. // write the string to the div
  14. $(strCharProfile).appendTo("#charProfile");
  15. // initialize counter at zero
  16. var intCount = 0;
  17. // loop through each feed entry in the JSON source
  18. $.each(data.feed,function(f,feed){
  19. // only output the feed entries that match the ACHIEVEMENT type and
  20. // ignore the loot drops and boss kill entries.
  21. if (feed.type=='ACHIEVEMENT') {
  22. if (intCount < intMax) { // this is an achievement, so ensure we haven't exceeded our max
  23. // assemble the icon image source url
  24. var blizzIcon = "http://us.media.blizzard.com/wow/icons/18/" + feed.achievement.icon + ".jpg";
  25. // assemble the wowhead.com tooltip lookup
  26. var wowheadUrl = "http://www.wowhead.com/achievement=" + feed.achievement.id;
  27. // format the achievement entry string - icon and link
  28. var strFeed = "<div class=\"charProfile\">" + "<img src=" + blizzIcon + "></img>" + " " + "<a href=" + wowheadUrl + ">" + feed.achievement.title + "</a></div>";
  29. // write the achievement entry to the div
  30. $(strFeed).appendTo("#charProfile");
  31. intCount++; // update our good count
  32. }
  33. else { // we hit more than counter so terminate the .each loop
  34. return false;
  35. } // end counter if
  36. } // end ACHIEVEMENT match if
  37. }); // end $.each
  38. }); // end $getJSON
  39. </script>

Define the Output

First, we define a container in our gadget to contain text. Line 1 creates a <div> and assigns a unique ID to that <div> called "charProfile".  Later, after we've created a string of text and formatted that string with HTML markup, we add that string to the existing <div> with the ID of "charProfile in Line 14.
By the same token, we format another string with the actual achievement feed data and add that string to the existing <div> in line 30.

Get the Data

Next, we're lookup up a character's profile using the Blizzard Community Platform API. Years back, you used to be able to retrive character data from an XML / RSS feed.  No longer! It's all good, though. The forums have some great examples on how to use JQuery to grab the JSON data from the API.

In this case, I wanted the summary of total achievement points and the ten most recent achievements completed.  So let's get cracking.

The URL for my character and region is created in lines 5 to 8, and then line 9 retrieves that data from BattleNet and saves it in an object named 'data'. Great, we have data! Uh, we've got a lot of data. Let's pick out what we want.

Rinse and Repeat

Line 18 starts looping over the results; specifically the 'feed' entries in the results.  For each 'feed' entry contained within the source 'data', we have a function that does something with that selected feed (and it's children). This is where you get the achievement's ID, icon reference, timestamp and other bits.

Validate Selection

However, the 'feed' contains a combination of achievements, boss kills and loot drops. We don't want all that, so how do we skip the unwanted result entries? I'm sure there are more elegant ways, but we're going with the if ... else construct. Line 21 checks if the current 'feed' entry selected above in line 18 is for an achievement. It it is, let's handle it. If not, don't do anything and loop back up to select the next 'feed' element.

But wait, there's more! Not only do we only want achievements, but we only want up to a maximum of ten to show. Otherwise, the entire side bar is achievements!  Line 22 checks that we have not already selected more than our maximum value.  If we are over our max, we don't continue looping through each remaining 'feed'. Nope! Line 34 terminates the loop as soon as we've successfully read our maximum entries.

Display the Goodies

For the output, a sub-heading is written to the gadget first, and then we'll write each selected achievement read during the each loop. Furthermore, with the graciousness of Wowhead's tooltip script, we can link the achievements in a nice pretty tooltip. We're borrowing Blizzard's media by using the reference to the icon within. That's the function of lines 23 - 30.

All in all, I'm happy to have an achievement feed in Blogger. I'm sure that there are more refined ways of accomplishing this, and I may give an actual Google Gadget a go, but for the moment I'm happy.
Thanks for stopping by!

30 July 2012

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck

Unless you're oblivious, Blizzard made a small official announcement last week that the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria, will be released on September 25, 2012. With that announcement, Deathwing is officially a Lame Duck, joining other has-beens like Arthas - The Lich King and Illidan Stormrage. According to Wikipedia, a Lame Duck is:
... an elected official who is approaching the end of his or her tenure, and especially an official whose successor has already been elected.

Cyron on Flickr via everystockphoto
Well, almost a lame duck. Deathwing wasn't really elected; he sort of proclaimed himself as the new bad ass on the block and melted a few towers in Stormwind to prove his superiority. The comparison falters further when you consider that his successor is not really known, either. With MoP, we know that Deathwing will fade into past-expansion obscurity, but what we don't know is who (or what) will replace him as the end-game bad guy. The character development of that end-game bad guy will dramatically impact my enjoyment of the game during MoP.

Bosses are Goals

When I started my addiction playing WoW, it was just after the release of TBC. I leveled up in Vanilla zones when most of the veterans were already going after 60+ content. Sadly, by the time I dinged 60, nobody was running older instances. I had heard all about Ragnaros and C'Thun, but I never got to fight them. As a result, my experience in Vanilla zones has just been about leveling.

Instead, I jumped into the Outland kept on chugging. But, with all the lore that I saw in Outland, it all pointed to Illidan. The trailers told me I wasn't worthy. The majority of Shadowmoon Valley quests pointed me towards an ultimate encounter with him in the Black Temple. Sure, there were other raid bosses, but Illidan was the star. After I finally dinged 70, the goal became to get into a raid group to actually work towards the final progression of fighting Illidan. There was a clear end goal to reach with the expansion, and that goal was reinforced as the primary story line.

Fast forward to November of 2008 and Wrath is released. I loved how in Wrath, every single Northrend zone had an element of foreshadowing the ultimate encounter with Arthas. Not only was he the star in the trailer, but you saw him as a character element to quests everywhere in Northrend.  Arthas' fall from grace even had an instance dedicated to it (The Culling of Stratholme). Similar to the BC expansion, in Wrath you knew exactly who the end boss was. But unlike BC, you actually saw that end boss in your leveling experience before raiding was even a possibility.

Part of my ambivalence in Cata has been that it lacked, in my view, that in your face reinforcement of Deathwing's superiority and why he's the end dude. Cataclysm totally changed the environment of the old world, and you know that Deathwing is the end boss because he's on your login screen and the star of some cool trailers. Also, you can get crispified if you're lucky and get an achievement for your death at his 'hands', but other than that the only time I really saw Deathwing was by going back and leveling alts. The quests in the Badlands with Rhea and the hysterical variations of The Day that Deathwing Came are awesome. But I never saw Deathwing on my level 80 as he was going through the 'newer' level appropriate content except on a brief tour of Mount Hyjal when Ragnaros rose.
In cata, I did know that Deathwing was the boss, but I rarely saw him the way I did with Arthas in Wrath. It lessend his importance to me as an end boss.By the time LFR was introduced and the final encounter with Deathwing released, I just didn't care.

Hopes for MoP

So I'm looking forward to MoP and a new end game target. I'm really hoping to see Blizzard develop a worthy villain and that my questing experience introduces me to that villain's rise to power -- as well as provides justification on why he needs to be dealt with. I'm taking encouragement from the direction of zone-based questing -- I won't have to complete an single quest line story within the zone, but I'll complete multiple (smaller) quest line stories within the zones.

I'm really hoping that Mists expands the best elements of Wrath; questlines and lore that diverge but yet all lead up to a worthy villain. As far as possibilities at this point on who (or what) the end boss will be? From teasers and press, it looks like Garrosh Hellscream will fill at least a minor role, and I can't wait to see how that develops. I've never liked Garrosh. He's a bit over the top, even for an Orc.