MoP Beta, adventures in Pandaland

Well the beta is here, though only sort of as far as I’m concerned.  SWMBO has her beta invite so I’m reduced to looking over her shoulder or using the account at other times.

Now let’s cover off a few initial points to make sure we’re all talking the same language.

  1. This is not paid for content
    Now this is going to be an arguable point as access to the beta is part of the Annual Pass, however those willing to actually read the detail of the agreement will almost certainly find some epic grade caveats about the beta shoved in there.
  2. This is not a demo
    Seriously, it’s not.  It isn’t filler content either.  This is a work in progress, it has bugs, it has problems, whole sections of the new content are locked out and may be only open for limited periods of time. 
  3. The dev team are mostly in America
    This means that a lot of the focused testing when they’re watching will occur at times to suit their working hours / schedules not those of people in Europe or elsewhere in the world.  Sorry but deal with it.  It’s their business decision on how best to use their developer time, which devs to keep in the office late etc etc.  See point #1
  4. We are here to test
    Ok, it is fun looking at the new content but this is our moment to find the problems in the game (yes scroll of pandageddon I’m looking at you) .  Whether they’re bugs, spelling mistakes (See point #3 when considering whether something is going to be considered a spelling mistake), holes in the scenery, problems with animation.  Everything.
  5. Report bugs
    and report them well.  At the moment our only option is the forum, report quickly, report fully, report concisely.  Include screenshots / other supporting information, but for the love of the panda gods report the damn things.

Finally I shall leave you with the first bug I encountered, a graphics glitch on the interface between the bridge and land.

ChromeGnome – Attempt#1

So, the first ChromeGnome turned out to be a Worgen Hunter (why can’t gnomes be anything they like? Gnomes are the definition of all that is good (and evil) in the world). Anyway, the first few levels were no different to normal, from ~7 onwards the greens start landing and went straight to Mr/Mrs Generic Vendor for some much needed funding.

The problem turned out to be more related to my choice of toon and the unpredictability of the Battle for Gilneas where the masses of mobs decided I was tasty and the NPC army slacked off and watched.

Thus ended attempt one at the epic adventure.

Minor other problem, because I didn’t take the BOA mounts out of the mailbox to save bag space I can’t delete the toon until I get to somewhere there’s a mailbox. Which is a pain in the arse, a big one.

Attempt #2 is being planned, this time with a gnome.

Enter Tony Stark!

Blizz have thrown down the gauntlet.  The Iron Man Challenge.

http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3659712/

So, I think I shall be nuking the little hordie I’ve been mucking about with on my home realm tonight or tomorrow and creating my little IronMan (or more likely a female ChromeGnome).  The question of course is “which class”, a mix of the ability to survive the inevitable mis-pulls / problems / fel-reavers with enough native “nuke” to make the combat go as effectively as possible.

I’m thinking that the prime candidates are

  • Druid (shapeshifting, what’s not to like)
  • Warlock (health through soul sucking, blueberry…)
  • Hunter (pets…)
  • Paladin (just because nothing says Iron Man more than the plate light dealing gods)

More on Project ChromeGnome as it happens.

Mission Accomplished

At the beginning of October I set myself a challenge of “just how easy is it to make gold in this game”, prior to this point gold had come in through a mix of dungeons, selling stuff picked up, flogging off stuff farmed up and so on.  Nothing special and over the course of the expansion I went from ~30k at the start to 100k.

From the start of October the money machine was put into gear, investing daft amounts of gold into ore, grinding it through the JC and Enchanter and selling on blue quality cuts and enchanting mats.

As of last night (just under four months on) the gold loving dwarf had half a million to go impersonate Scrooge Mcduck with.

Naturally the alts were not impressed with having their savings raided so he could strut his stuff, but would you argue with a plate covered tankadin on a mission to pub crawl his way around Ironforge (I say crawl, what I mean is dive into the first in and drink it dry and pass out of course).

So, where next.

Firstly to everyone who claims it is too hard to make gold, I respond “rubbish”.  Just from questing, farming and selling anything which moves everyone can have enough gold for mounts, riding skill and repairs.  The game is designed that way, long gone are the days of epic gold grinds to get that first mount.

Secondly begging in Stormwind, not classy particularly in the time you spend begging it is possible to make the gold through questing / dungeons etc etc.  Just get a grip and be self supporting.

Finally, yes I have plans for the gold.  No I’m not telling you yet.

Let’s talk gold

As a dwarf I have a certain affinity to the shiny metal.  As a guild leader I believe it’s my right, nay, it’s my duty to go skinny dipping in the guild reserves in a manner which is reminiscent of Scrooge McDuck.  Though the guild banker does mutter and curse about having to go in and polish all the coins after I’m done for the day.

Anyway it would appear from the complaining on trade, level 85’s begging for gold and so on that making gold is hard.  That amassing enough for basic survival within the game is highly difficult.

To all those who don’t have gold I say “Stop drinking in Ironforge“, surely everyone knows by now that the innkeepers charge everyone, except dwarves, higher rates for beer.

Anyway.  Ways to make piles of gold.

  1. Levelling
    It really is that simple, a recent experiment with power levelling a warrior, ignoring professions, ignoring gathering, nuking through the levels as fast as possible left me with a level 85 sat on his epic pony at epic speeds and 2k in the bank.If I had done some more work, had him gathering through the levels and clearing Northrend and the whole of Cataclysm the pile of gold would have been much higher.
  2. Sell everything
    BoE items, check the AH, and see what similar items go for.
    BoP items, where you don’t need the reward always select the most expensive
    Pick up and vendor all greys
    Vendor any potions you don’t use, they don’t sell on the AH
    Cloth, if you’re not using it, slap it on the AH
    It’s pretty clear to see the plan here, everything has a value, the coppers add up.
  3. Bags, invest in them
    Invest in at least 16 slot bags as soon as possible, carry the minimum of equipment and other stuff, clear out the junk every time you reach a vendor or mailbox.
  4. Banking Alt
    This is a key, no one wants to break their levelling to play the AH.  So ship everything off to the alt and bulk list at the start or end of the session.
  5. Dungeons
    At cap these are worth a decent amount of cash, particularly for tanks and healers who don’t have the queue times.
  6. Professions
    There are guides a-plenty out there on making gold from your professions, however remember that for certain gold making schemes various professions link very nicely together (mining / blacksmithing / enchanting for example).  Experiment, look at what’s needed on the AH and how that can be provided.  Spreadsheets are your friend.
  7. You don’t need to be a millionaire
    For most players having 20k or so is actually more than enough.  Raiders can burn through more and feed back into the economy by spending large wedges of cash on gear at the start of each patch grabbing BoE items.  Work out how much gold you need, put in that much effort and be happy.  Gold envy isn’t important, having enough so there’s no repair stress is.

Blizzard itself finally responds

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3424798330

Dear members of the Blizzard community,

I have read your feedback and comments about this year’s BlizzCon, and I have also read the feedback to the apology from Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain. I’d like to respond to some of your feedback here.

As president of Blizzard, I take full responsibility for everything that occurs at BlizzCon.

It was shortsighted and insensitive to use the video at all, even in censored form. The language used in the original version, including the slurs and use of sexual orientation as an insult, is not acceptable, period. We realize now that having even an edited version at the show was counter to the standards we try to maintain in our forums and in our games. Doing so was an error in judgment, and we regret it.

The bottom line is we deeply apologize for our mistakes and for hurting or offending anyone. We want you to have fun at our events, and we want everyone to feel welcome. We’re proud to be part of a huge and diverse community, and I am proud that so many aspects of the community are represented within Blizzard itself.

As a leader of Blizzard, and a member of the band, I truly hope you will accept my humblest apology.

– Mike Morhaime
President, Blizzard Entertainment

Firstly thanks to Mike for getting the apology out, while there will be some people who still want more I think this is a good response.  It’s a clear apology and it makes no bones about where the buck stops.

On the US forum there are still those wondering what it was about, complaining about people being oversensitive etc etc, however I strongly suspect those are the same muppets we see spamming [Anal] in trade.  I doubt whether any of them will change their attitudes or behaviour for a few more years, maybe when they’re old enough to vote, drive, drink, have kids, be responsible etc etc their views will settle down and spend less time proving themselves through abusing others.

Could they have handled this better, hell yes.  The blues could have not knee-jerked so much in their rush to dismiss it all as a bit of fun, nothing to worry about, L90ETC could have written an apology which did just that without trying to explain themselves.

Blizzard could have crushed this issue within 24 hours by doing what Mike did overnight.

So here’s to a new dawn and the hope that lessons have been learnt, understood and will be remembered next time.

As Ratshag says we have other things to discuss, such as Pandas.  Epic leveling experience or a good source of meat and leather for adventurers?

Message from Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3424906852

Hey guys, we read and heard all the feedback from BlizzCon this year. The Corpsegrinder bit was never intended to be taken seriously. We are sorry that we offended anyone; everything at our shows is just meant in fun. Thank you all for speaking up. We’ll definitely keep this in mind for future shows.

Our humblest apologies,

Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain

I’m entirely happy with that response from L90ETC, in fact it’s better phrasing than we get from most companies and politicians who normally weasel with “We’re sorry you took offence”

Now.  Blizz.

They’re still dodging

Thank you everyone for your feedback regarding the closing night performance at BlizzCon. While we had some other messaging worked up we were going to post, the members of band wanted to instead address it themselves: – Bashiok

Blizz, admit you also have some culpability in this and accept you need to look to yourselves in how you setup the shows, agree with the performers on what’s go and what’s no-go.

Stop dodging.

Edit:

Something I wasn’t aware of until I read Ratshag today

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlizzCon

The closing ceremony had a performance by Blizzard’s own in house band, The Artist Formerly Known as Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftains (TAFKL80ETC), who changed their name mid concert to Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftains (L90ETC). Foo Fighters performed afterward.

Which puts another spin on the whole thing, L90ETC are not some band Blizz can distance themselves from, nor can they claim that “they didn’t know”, because they are Blizzard in all the senses which matter.  In much the same way if I as a blogger put a trash piece against one of my employers competitors out on the company home page.

So Blizz, I say yet again, pull your heads out of your collective arses and accept you screwed up, and accept that as Blizzard not by shuffling it off trying to wash your hands of the affair as some in house company prank which went wrong.

 

So,Blizz. You certifiable, crack-brained, dumbkopfs…

Let’s open up with the uncensored version of the rant which was shown to all the attendees and virtual ticket viewers at this year’s Blizzcon, the bile begins to spew at around one minute in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW_Lv0r-l4c

Now some commentary from a couple of other sites:

Piercing Shots & Huggywuggles

Now the Terms of Use Blizzard require us to abide by:

Section B
Rules Related to “Chat” and Interaction With Other Users. Communicating in-game with other Users and Blizzard representatives, whether by text, voice or any other method, is an integral part of the Game and the Service and is referred to here as “Chat.” When engaging in Chat, you may not:
(i) Transmit or post any content or language which, in the sole and absolute discretion of Blizzard, is deemed to be offensive, including without limitation content or language that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, sexually explicit, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, nor may you use a misspelling or an alternative spelling to circumvent the content and language restrictions listed above;

(vi) Harass, threaten, stalk, embarrass or cause distress, unwanted attention or discomfort to any user of the Game;

Some blue responses to complaints regarding the broadcasting of the video:

http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/203999/official-alliance-hate-from-blizz-at-blizzcon
http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/203994/complaint-about-blizzcon-closing-concert

Now apparently no one at Blizzard has seen the uncensored version before, all they’ve seen is the bleeped version used at Blizzcon.  To be honest I call bullshit.  Can anyone seriously believe the lawyers weren’t all over that? Well, thinking further about it, I actually can because they and the PR people should have looked at it prior to the broadcast and shouted loudly “this is a disaster waiting to explode in our faces”.  Given how much the mainstream media like to paint gaming companies in a bad light I’m surpised they’re not all over this (though given that it’s about some semi-celebrity using abusive, homophobic language and not cute girls wearing very little getting hit on by “nerds and geeks”, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised).

This isn’t about the inter-faction rivalry, though there is a whole other post there and how much responsibility Blizz has for behaviour outside the game (verbal attacks, physical abuse, spitting and the like).  Some morons will be morons and take things far too far, always.

Whether it’s Horde / Alliance; Rangers / Celtic; England / France; Ale drinkers / Lager drinkers.

Slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging, fuckwits will ever be the same.

However, large companies do have to weigh their actions because of the sheer numbers they broadcast to.  With Blizzcon 2011, it has been estimated at 26,000 attendees[1]. What we have is a company which, in it’s ToU, demands a certain level of behaviour from its customers, which is fair enough.  Then it goes and smashes their own Terms to pieces and implicitly endorses the levels of mindless thuggery and abusive crap seen day in, day out in the /trade and /general in-game chat channels.

So, Blizz, that was a first class move on your part. Do you have an encore?

It does reinforce the view that you are run by sub-25 year old males who’ve not yet got a relationship with anything that doesn’t have staples and are still fapping off to images of Jaina without her clothes on. The type that have to stress how masculine they are by putting [Anal] in trade and hitting on anything which appears to have boobs in the game.

I know you’re not a stupid company, stupid companies do not keep businesses of the scale of Blizzard running successfully for so many years.  However big companies can have their reputation trashed and, given the way – as I mentioned above – that the media likes to blame the evils of the world on computer games, I would have thought more business sense would have kicked in.

So…  Stop hiding, stop claiming “it’s a joke”, stop telling yourselves and others “it’s not serious” and start acting like you belong in the business world and not staring at dirty mags behind the bike sheds.

Edit: Online petition