Thursday, July 28, 2011

I think it's time for a change ... of professions.

My Disc Priest, fka Bank Alt, is coming up on level 85. Guildies have already expressed interest in having her start filling in as a healer for pinch situations. With raiding on the horizon, I need to seriously consider what perks that she can get to help her be best healer available.

While leveling her up, I made a few considerations. First, I wanted a profession that provided me a bit of gold. With Elk being an Alchemist/Herbalist, I had my transmutes and flasks covered. No need for those. Gathering professions didn't look good considering I was leveling solely up via the LFG tool. There is no way I wanted to go back to the starting areas and level up mining, or skinning (and therefore no leatherworking or blacksmithing). Inscription and enchanting seemed the perfect fit. I could DE while in PUG and create glyphs for big money. 

Looking forward, I think it's time for a change. Inscription is not the big money maker it was. In fact, I am not sure I really need a big money maker any longer. What I need is perks; perks that help me be a better healer, without making me revisit the starting areas again. My current consideration is Tailoring. This profession, besides allowing me to create a full PVP set for her, also has perks that increase my stats.

Leveling Tailoring. Starting over with a new profession means work. First off, you're going to need a bunch of mats, and sometime just sitting there clicking 'create' for each (group of ) item(s). I love the addon AdvanceTradeSkillWindow (ATSW) for this. (I know, I was looking at TSM, but I haven't gotten it configured yet...). ATSW allows you to queue up a series of recipies, then simply click "Process Queue" for each item to build. Additionally, it provides a nice clickable shopping list to all your toons.

What to create? Wow-Professions has a great guide for leveling. My friend/guildie has used their site a number of times to level several professions. I love that they have laid out the materials and # of each item that I need to level. Do read ahead on the list though. You will be weaving together items through the various levels, so don't throw away or sell extra items, until you reach the next training spot. For example, you are to create 130 bolts of linen cloth for levels 1-45, but don't use all of them until you reach skill level 100.

So, now the plan is made. I need to go get a kitten and sewing basket. Go to the local guild bank or, I mean auction house and start grabbing materials. Sit down in the corner and start whipping out bags, clothing and maybe a few carpets! If I am lucky, maybe I can sell a few of these items back. If nothing else, she can get a 'smart' looking top hat to wear (if it ever appears in game). 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Battlegrounds are (Mechanical) Ducks

Part of the reason is that Battlegrounds are like ducks. A duck looks like it effortlessly glides across the water, but their little feet are actually working madly beneath the surface to make it happen. Battlegrounds are the same way. They may look simple -- even static -- to a casual observer, but in reality there's an incredible number of very complicated processes going on behind the scenes. Part of the reason for this is due to a lot of technical hurdles that need to be jumped to make them perform as seamlessly as they do, battle after battle. As a result, it's actually extremely difficult to design Battlegrounds, partially due to the technical limitations that are currently in place. (source)

I loved this blue comment posted on the forums the other day. For one it gave me this wonderful image of a mechanical duck swimming around a lake. Looks like a duck, swims like a duck, but really it's a robotic duck patented back in 1738.

Second, it continues detailing the underlying complexity of designing a new BG. Mainly, if there is a technical exploit that can be had by either side (early start, tripping on floor transitions), someone is going to complain. "It's an advantage for the ___ because of this!!!"

I love a good battleground. The kind where the game is fair and both sides have an equal chance of winning. I don't want Blizzard to throw out a new battleground that has an exploit, especially when there is a high chance that it can fall into the random battleground cycle.

" the PvP community is ultimately more interested in having perfectly balanced and bug-free maps to play on"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shared Topic: If you became a NPC...

This isn't an official Shared Topic, but a question posted to the Blizzard Forums. I thought it would be fun to answer in the form of a song! haiku blog post.
What if one day, your character magically became an NPC?
What do you think he/she'd do? Would you be a quest giver? Would you make armor for the army? Would you be like Topper McNab, begging on the streets of Stormwind? 
I think if I became an NPC, I'd be a flight master :p (source)
When my friends first described the game of Warcraft to me, they talked about the ability to create things and then sell them to other players. As I mentioned before, this functionality intrigued me. I was coming from a FPS background, so having a player 'craft' something seemed surprising, and unusual. In that frame of thought, all players could act like NPCs; buying and selling items to anyone else in the game. This is the type of NPC I'd like to become, an eccentric vendor.

My NPC would be a little different. First off, I think I would want to roam around. One day, I'd be sitting in Orgrimmar, next time I'd be traveling to Thunder Bluff, possibly setting up a small table in the middle of Crossroads. I'd have a 'flight path' so you could hunt me down.

I'd love to sell pets. I want to be like Xan'tish the troll snake vendor and have little critters following me around. Maybe if you found me, you could pickup all the Horde vendor available pets. Ok, nah, that would be too easy. How about only those from Outlands?

I'd like to participate in the holidays. OK, sure they'd be limited supply items, but they're all non-buff items. Maybe a series of Woot inspired T-shirts (since that's my casual gaming shirt of choice). "I <3 Thrall anyone? Only available during Valentines!"

Finally, I would like a witty dialogue. I think it would be fun to act as a side-show barker and call out to players that run by.
"Hey (class), have you considered upgrading your gear? My I <3 Thrall undershirt is guaranteed to boost your DPS ... by 2 points ... during "Love is in the Air" ... while under the ..!"
It would be fun. If only I could, and then reap the gold that such a vendor would possibly make.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Companion Pet 106: Westfall Chicken

. Last night, our raid group had 12 people who wanted to go. Being one of the best geared DPS in the group, I gracefully dropped so that my guildies could get some upgrades. Of course, first boss down, and they announce they got Valor points for taking down Magmaw. (Yeah! There back!)

My #1 priority last night was to complete the "CLUCK!" quest. This hidden in-game quest has been available to the Horde since patch 3.1, but hey, I was busy. Prior to this patch, a horde player could only get this pet if you knew an alliance player to do the hard work, and you were there to loot it. As of 3.1, you could now buy the special feed from William Saldean (undead) in Brill.

This comment sums up the Horde process.
  1. Go to Brill (Yeah, Brill, not Westfall)
  2. Target a Chicken from Brill
  3. Spam this macro until it turns green:
  4. Get the quest
  5. Turn in in the same time (it requires the feed you already have) and wait for an egg
  6. Loot the egg
  7. Gratz for your new pet
 Some notes:
  1. If someone shared the quest with you, you'll have to abandon the quest and do your own chicken dance.
  2. I had to spam the macro probably about 30 times the first time.
  3. If you don't accept the quest quickly, the chicken will stop offering it. (wait on things like taking screenshots or annoucing it in guild chat).
  4. The egg is BOP, so only grab enough food for yourself.
  5. Do wait for the egg. I ran off to get more food, came back to the chick and an egg was sitting there, waiting to be looted (by ANYONE!).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday Tidbits: no LoS = SoL.

Have you started the new Firelands dailes yet? Me either, but the quest rewards look very appetizing. I did re-complete the rescue Thrall quest line again. This time, I was rewarded with the epic i365 back, nice upgrade from my valor point haunt of flies.

I did also start the quest chain for entry into Firelands. I finished the quests, picked up the first 2 dailies then said, "meh, it's late, another time..". I haven't been back, but I should. According to guild-mates, really quickly I can pickup about 5 gear upgrades. See, doing the entry quests, I picked up some 16 marks. Zen'vorka, resides in the area you reach after you turn in 20 marks. Next comes Damek Bloombeard, which requires a total of 425!? marks (fed from a growing number of dailies).
  • Phase 1 takes 20 marks to unlock the Molten Front zone (this has recently been hotfixed to be accessible the very first day).
  • Phase 2 takes 150 marks to unlock either the Druids of the Talon or the Shadow Wardens. ("you can choose which one to quest for every day - but you can only choose one")
  • Phase 3 takes an additional 150 marks to unlock the faction you didn't choose in Phase 2.
  • Phase 4 will consist of unlocking each of the vendors for 125 marks apiece. (source)
To get to Damek, you need to complete:
Calling for Reinforcements -> Druids of the Talon and Shadow Wardens  -> Additional Armaments

The other 2 vendors picked up from:
Calling the Ancients - Unlocks the Strike at the Heart daily, as well as the vendor Varlan Highbough who sells epic gear.
Filling the Moonwell - Unlocks Into the Depths, the vendor Ayla Shadowstorm (who sells patterns for 36-slot profession bags, as well as some gear), and an infinite supply of food in the Molten Front. (source)
Looks like if you complete all that, there's an achievement and pet reward!

I Still Hate Extremely Dislike Stonecore. Last night, I decided to play my healer alt again. She's only level 83, so this was a normal run. Still, the second boss, is NOT healer friendly. Her first dungeon total wipe in quiet some time was on this boss. See when Slabhide takes to the air and knocks down the stalactites(?), those immediately cause LoS issues. I tried moving to line up with my tank (who was barely staying alive, as is), but he'd move again and then I'd be SoL. Long cast and moving tank make for tank RIP and soon run from graveyard. Second run, I still had issues, now because I had to run to stay out of the pools of lava and the tank not moving.. Hence second dead tank, but at least this time, the DPS was able to take him down.

I talked with a fellow healer, and he gave what should be a wonderful solution. I will macro to party chat to the effect of:

/p If you don't want to {skull}, be a {star} and wait for me to regain some mana.


/p No LOS to %t. Incoming {skull}

She is coming up on 85, so I have under geared guildies that might start running dungeons with me. They'll be on Vent and I can let them know that they need to slow down. Also coming up on the possibility of actually raiding on this healer..

Just Announced: Real-ID Party Goes Test: This sounds like a cool idea. You're online, working through some content. One of your Real-ID friend's come online; possibly working on a completely different realm, possibly not even part of your standard battlegroup. You invite them to a party, plus those guildies local for a dungeon run. Jump on the Random Dungeon Finder to fill empty slots and have fun.

I see this being most useful when you have people coming back to the game after some time off. They start up in a new location (like my co-worker who came back to the game after a hiatus). She has toons on her old realm, but doesn't want to move them over, quite yet. With this, as long as her druid on that other realm is Horde, we can party up. Very sweet. Next step, Real-ID raiding!! :)

Unfortunately, Blizzard may consider this a premium service. So enjoy the test while it lasts...
Q: Will aspects of the Real ID Party system be premium-based?
A: We'll have information on the premium-based aspects of the Real ID Party system toward the end of the testing period.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Quest for Mr Grubbs

Saturday night, after picking up Wither's, I started the quest chain to pickup Mr Grubbs. This non-combat pet is maggot grub dropping from mobs in Eastern Plaguelands while under Fiona's Luck Charm buff. I started this adventure around 10PM and found Mr Grubbs around 2AM. Considering, I've heard of drop rates ranging from 5 minutes, to 5 days, 4 hours isn't that bad.

Based on the comments for Mr. Grubbs, I learned that the more quests you do, the 'luckier' you are. This meant to me, the drop is basically a reward for doing the quest chains in EPL. At level 85, the slowest portion of this running between the dead bodies and looting. (again, where's my loot monkey?).

Fly to Lights Hope Chapel and pick up the breadcrumb quest from Lord Maxwell. He has you fly all the way back out to the Bullwark and find the worgen Gypsy Fiona. She is the leader of  a traveling caravan. As you complete the quests in each area, you board her caravan and ride to the next quest hub; the various towers in EPL. (There's a nice running dialog between all your traveling companions while you ride. ) At each location, you'll need to complete about 10-12 level 40-ish quests before you move on. (all just target and fel flame to kill even the mini-bosses in the area) When you take a quest from a riding companion, they often will appear in that area and help you. Sometimes you'll pickup an additional person or two. (Note: There's an achievement for picking up all 8 riders.)

Working through all the quests in the zone, it took me 4 hours and 4 riders to get the drop. I was in the middle of collecting 30 eyes in Zul'Mashar (at least it was 2 per kill!) when the pet dropped. After the drop, I found looting the bodies pointless, so it moved quite a bit faster to finish the area. I still haven't finished the quests in EPL, but I did finally get the Argent Dawn Silver Hand recovery quest for Stratholme (mentioned in Loot Monkey article above).

I missed this back in December on Wowhead, but there's a nice writeup on the 6 pets that Blizzard put out with patch 4.03. Next, I want to start working on a tiny flamefly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blue's Chews

The Armory was the topic two Blue posts on Friday. First off, it appears that we now have a wowhead or WarcraftPets type view into our pets and mounts.
Still pursuing a particular pet? Mad for a magnificent mount? Just mouse over the object of your desire in the Companions & Mounts page and you’ll see information that should help make your next hunt a success. You can filter the results to make it easier to find pets and mounts from a particular source, or sort them by rarity to help you plan future collecting expeditions. (source)
One thing I really like about this feature is the advanced search functionality. I set my query to show all pets still available via quests. This brought up 2 pets that I had not known about; Withers and a raptor pet. For the Alliance, Withers is a quest reward in Darkshore. For the Horde, just go buy it for 30 silver from Apothecary Furrows. The raptor is from a short quest chain that starts in Stranglethorn, but ends in heroic ZG. This comment on Wowhead details the Horde's process (and later the Alliance).

Unfortunately the filters are not class specific. When I go and search for items still available from Vendors, I see a number of the Alliance Argent Tourney rewards. I guess technically, I could buy these, but it would not be for 50 tourney certs, but 5000 gold on the AH.

Reminder to self, go finish the pet quests that go into Blackrock Spire. I still don't have those pets.

The second blue post is about the title mixup. As of Friday, characters are showing up on the armory with various titles that may or may not exist. For example, my Alchemist/Herbalist has a GM Miner title. A guild mate is showing up with "Of the Ebon Blade" which was a Wrath Beta-Only "realm-first level 80 DK" title.
Even more interesting when your character has a title for a capital city from the opposing faction, like mine does!
Anyhow, we're aware of this little glitch and we'll look into it.
Looking at the forums, people are finding that the titles reliably wrong.
I logged in.. and out quite abit and tested all of my titles, this is the outcome:
My title => Armory title
Bane of the Fallen King = Obsidian Slayer
Blackwing's Bane = None
Brewmaster = Doctor
Champion of the Frozen Wastes = None
Conqueror of Ulduar = of the Alliance
Defender of the Shattered World = None
Dragonslayer = None
Flamewarden = Rival
Jenkins = of Quel'Thalas
Patron = Grand Master Jewelcrafter
Starcaller = Champion of the Frozen Wastes
Twilight Vanquisher = Prophet
of the Ashen Verdict = the Immortal
of the Four Winds = of Sen'jin
of the Nightfall = Grand Master Miner
the Argent Champion = Grand Master Enchanter
the Astral Walker = Ambassador
the Explorer = Conqueror
the Kingslayer = of the Nightfall
the Light of Dawn = Patron
the Patient = Matron
the Exalted = Scarab Lord
Flame Warden = Rival
the Noble = Conqueror of Naxxramas
of Gnomeregan = The Seeker
This would be wonderful if the titles actually granted the status or achievement that created it. For example, if my orc really did pickup the "of Stormwind" title and could go purchase those Argent Tourney pets. In actuality, it is probably a simple fix. My guess is that the table that keeps track of titles is corrupted. Now the game title index no longer matches the website title index. (sorry for geek speak). This will probably be fixed on the website before this posts lands.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Don't Help the Gold Farmers

About 2 weeks ago, I posted that I thought my account was hacked. This happened after Blizzard publicly changed their security policy to no longer request the PIN on authenticators when they see people consistently logging in from a similar location.

Today, I'd like to point out a legitimate hack. Skimming through my top secret warlock email, (yeah, we all get those) I received a notification that my Blizz account info has been changed. Nefarious deeds definitely at work here. I bet it was those Mages; mad that we got sparkly soul harvest.

This is an automated notification regarding your account. Some or all of your contact information was recently modified through the Account Management website. If you made recent account changes, please disregard this automatic notification.

If you did NOT make any changes to your account, we recommend you log in to Account Management review your account settings.Log in link below, fill in your account information and other relevant information.

If you cannot sign into Account Management using the link above, or if unauthorized changes continue to happen, please contact Blizzard Billing & Account Services for further assistance. (snip)

I followed the URL to investigate and was presented with a Battle.Net website. The site has all the links buttons and wording that I am familiar with on the Blizzard sponsored page. Looks good. Well, sort of. When I look down at the localization for the site, down in the lower-right corner, I see that the localization says "International". Interesting. I like to think of myself as worldly, but International?

Let's investigate. How about the hover-over? Being a little curious at this time, I hover-over some of the links that are embedded in the site. When I put my mouse over the link for "Forgot Password", I am presented with a URL that matches my International side, but considering I am accessing the site from California, most wouldn't consider it exotic. I went to a "US.Battle" website, but I am redirected to an resource for changing my password. Definitely fishy.

As a final straw, I open the site using the URL that I know and love. Once there, I see one more thing; the hacker did a really good job, but they missed the favicon. The site is using a blank page icon, where the official site has used the logo.

My point? Trust no-one. Don't click on links in emails, go to the website by hand. Look twice before you enter personal information into any website, including ones that look official. If you simply copy and paste the URL from the email, READ IT carefully. Looking closely at the URL, it references a non-Blizzard site. This website, very likely will not ask for a PIN, but by then they have your Real-ID username and account password. How long til they find a way to actually get your authenticator removed. Finally use an email solution with a good spam filter. This warlock uses GMail, it does a wonderful job of filtering out the sludge. (Also is a blogger's best friend as a free provider)

It's not news. Google claims to "Don't Be Evil", but still manages to get into a lot of trouble. Warlocks everywhere, protect yourself from those more practiced in shadow magic than yourself. You can ninja-loot from those mages and priests in-game, just don't let them return the favor outside the game. 

Armory Glitch today granted me
a title for a profession I don't have.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Your Very Own Horde Balloon

So, you like pets and you see everyone with those great balloon pets, but haven't asked where to get one? This pet is a reward from a strange little gathering quest, seems like a good candidate for Children's week, but hits closer to the State fair.

Ok, go find Jaga. He's standing right out side the Drag, near the little pond. He's a young orc boy. Jaga has a low-level quest for you. He's lost his balloons and they flew away (in town). Go get all 5 for him.

The balloons are easy enough to find. Look in corners of the Drag. I found all between him and the cooking trainer. The furthest out was by the mailbox out by the stairs at the far end.

Once you hand over all 5 balloons, he lifts off and thanks you for allowing him to see the world. I followed him up to the top of the zeppelin tower, then he disappeared.

I wonder if we'll see Jaga again out on the country side? Maybe trying to build himself a zep of his own?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Positive Platitudes for RL Vacationing

Here in the States, it is that time of year, when we love to get away from it all. Take some time and enjoy the summer season to visit far off places. Our kids are out of school and away from learning. So, what better excuse than to take some time away from the gaming keyboard and mouse, to visit the beach or the House of Mickey Mouse.

Outside of the positive health benefits of getting a little sun, there are (IMHO) a number of positive benefits to take a week off from the game.

A Time to Rest
The purpose of vacationing, is to get you away from your work and let you forget for short time. Let your brain recharge from the work-induced coma and wake up. While enjoying your time off, you recharge, ready to face the long fall and winter seasons back behind the keyboard, tucked into a cubicle with no windows and that rattling vent over your head.

While leveling up an alt from 0 to 85, personally, I like to take advantage of every +XP bonus available. The one bonus that Blizzard has had since early on is "Rested Bonus". Implemented as a means to limit game play, it also adds as a wonderfully nice +% XP gain for every honorable, monster killed. Running chained dungeons is a quick way to burn through your rested bonus gained over a single night. Let that one night stack to a long weekend or even a full week, and you could have a full level worth of Rested bonus to burn through.

Wrong Kind of Crowd
 PUGs are inevitable in this game. Leveling up a toon via the LFG tool, you can easily hit the same group of people night after night. That may or may not be a good thing. Take a few days off and that group of people will level on passed you. Leaving you with a completely new group of players to complain about. That DK tank who doesn't seem to be able to hold aggro? Gone! The hunter who seemed to 'fall asleep' at the entrance portal after clicking 'accept' into the dungeon. Gone!

Bad Options Don't Make Good Job Security
I work in the computer industry. Been doing this job, in one form or another, going on 15 years. One thing I've learned is you never want to be the only person in the office who knows how to do something. If you leave on vacation, and they don't know how to get your job done, they'll either never do your job or they'll call you on vacation and tell you to do it while you're out ("Make sure you bring your cell.."). Definitely no growth from this type of security.

This goes for raiding. If a raid group feels that they don't have anyone else to fill your shoes, they'll just sideline and never progress; other guildies who are willing, may never get asked to participate. The guild will never progress, and many players may eventually quit, looking for more reliable raiding options. Don't make yourself too secure, be flexible and make sure your guild knows. You could even suggest a substitute DPS while on vacation?

Putting Your 'Family' First
As a dad of 2, I know that my wife and kids must come first. Their time off from school is short, and we must take these moments, enjoy them. The game will still be here when you return. I've been playing this game since my son was born (5 years now). He's gone from a 1 month premie to kindergartener in that time. All along, I've been actively playing my ''casual" style. If I were to close my eyes just a second, he'd grow up much too fast. All your guildies, if they are also parents, should understand, otherwise, they too are going to burn out.

You Deserve it.
Overall, take time off. Don't feel obligated to pick a vacation spot just because it has a good Internet connection. Don't succumb to your raid leaders request to purchase more RAM for your laptop, just so you can run your raiding addons. Don't turn down that invite to hang out with your family during the fireworks display, simply because it overlaps the guilds hundredth attempt on that X of Y raid boss.

Taming MOAR Pets

WFH means Work Warcraft From Home Monday was a work from home kind of day, so I worked on a little project of my own. I saw this on Twit...