Dances with Beta (spoilers)

A light night on the beta, I finished off the goblin quest line (picking up from the mine & cola quests), all pretty solid though I have to agree with some of the comments out there.  Going from “we’re going to kick the living ____ out of the trade prince” to “of course you can still lead the Goblins, we still love you” was a bit of an anti-climax.  I’m not entirely sure about the “rip the heart out of your cheating ex” quest, while it’s right within the chain it feels like a slight step too far.  Though I don’t follow the comments from some beta testers that this encourages violence against girlfriends, ex’s etc, to be frank that’s so much bullshit.  If players were going to be influenced to murder their ex based on Warcraft they should be leaving a bloody trail of animals and people behind them already and trying to coax panthers into wearing a saddle.

The rest of last night was spent on the live getting the weekly done (forgot to hand in, so I can’t do this week’s on my main) a heroic and a first stab at Zombiefest.  We were close but need to tune it slightly.  It’s ours next time.

Beta plans from this point.

Some more levelling on the Paladin, see what the new end game content is looking like and seeing what bugs I can find in the low level questing zones.  I think Westfall deserves a look, and coming back to Worgen and Goblins in a few weeks when there’s been some more work done on them and to see if the bugs are fixed.

Oh, and Blizz.. please fix the bug reporting bug.

Cataclysm: Goblins (spoilers)

Or as they are more properly known “Cute little horde gnomes”, anyway that bit of Horde baiting aside I have to confirm that Blizzard does indeed love the horde and the Goblin zone rocks.

So the high points

  • Hotrod, I want the engineering pattern for my Dwarf, it rocks
  • Kezan, a good solid zone, lots of fun, the pacing is about right as is the build up to the main event
  • Knocking over the pedestrians, I suspect I could spend all day seeing if I can make goblins fly
  • Lost Isles, the pacing feels a little on the slow side to be honest, most of the quests are in sequential rather than parallel chains, however again the build up through the Pygmy attack, zombies and the volcano blowing is perfect.  First time through there is a definite build up of anticipation.
  • Working in the Horde (orcs, Thrall), nicely done.
  • The volcano and changes to the island…. wow…

Problems, as I mentioned above the pacing on the Lost Isles feels off until the pygmy attack kicks off, however speeding things up might break the build up of events towards the killing of the big fire turtle (it took me a moment or three to notice the entrance had caved in behind me and that it wasn’t going to despawn).

So, I will be rolling goblin when this ships, no I’m not going to faction change, I like the Alliance thank you very much, but goblins are huge amounts of fun.

Latitude

Google Latitude, it’s cool technology, I have nothing to dispute there.  It’s the technology and capability my teenage self dreamt of.  Today I got an invitation to share my location with someone I know (someone who I do count as a friend, not the lobotomised definition that Facebook, Livejournal et al have given us).  However I have to ask myself the question.  Why would I want to share my location, it’s amazing that my phone can work out where I am within a very small margin of error, translate that into global co-ordinates, send it back up into Google who track and log the information and present that information on a map for people to view.

What is the benefit to me, what is the benefit to the person I know?

I can think of a few specific cases where I’m trying to meet up with someone but the need for the databases of my position and the like just aren’t needed.  So for the moment I won’t be sharing my location, if you need to know where I am, ask me then and there.  If you need to know where I’m going to be, ask me.

Cataclysm, the new launcher

There has been some discussion over on the Beta forums about the new launcher, mostly centering around the impact on testers to have to download the entire beta again.  While I can understand their gripes this is going to happen at least once more during the beta, there are times when it simply makes more sense to scratch install rather than to try and put effort into coding the tweaks needed to upgrade from one dev build to another.

More importantly how good is the new launch system?

It rocks, certainly for those of us with a good sized pipe, as you can see from the screenshot the game was playable after only a few percent of the entire 15Gb download, and it was playable.  I can only assume there is some seriously sexy technology behind it doing some pre-emtive prioritisation of content based on where the player is in the world.  The only problem I encountered was being booted out of the game when I tried to enter Gnomer, however on relogging I zoned in with no problems.  This may or may not be related to the ongoing download given the stability of the servers at the moment (world server crashes at least hourly).

So, I for one welcome our new launcher overlord and what it means for future patch days.

Cataclysm

Beta key?  Yes we can.

Thanks to the last minute adhoc Team Pirate group photo (standing on the water in Booty Bay with our parrots out [all underwater]) we all got Beta keys.  So this is your warning I’ll do my best to flag beta material, shove it behind “read more” links and the like but I’m going to be talking about the beta, posting spoilers and generally moaning about the number of bugs.

So initial thoughts with zero spoilers.

  • We’ve a long way to go
  • Bug reporting is bugged in game
  • Camera flight path on the Gnome cinematic is “interesting”
  • Worgen Cinematic has no voiceover
  • L80 talent purchasing is broken
  • No skills are implemented yet
  • Two majorly bugged quests in one of the L80 starting zones
  • Water…. it’s… wonderful

So on that final note I give you a screenshot behind the cut, no spoiler related material included (unless you count a shot of water and the sun).

Continue reading Cataclysm

Is there enough content?

I don’t think so, ICC has now been open for eight months, most of the players who want to be in there have cleared all or most of it, heroic modes aren’t keeping guilds going and Ruby Sanctum is enough to keep progression guilds interested for a month, two at the outside.  Most guilds who raid regularly will have cleared normal mode already, the trick is in the phase 2/3 twilight realm movement.

All the current estimates are putting Cataclysm at October (optimistic) and probably somewhere from mid-Nov to early Dec.  That’s three months or more away.  Some players are off playing SCII, which I don’t think is a co-incidence, neat timing by Blizz, get the hardcore gamers spending money on another major title while they’re waiting for the next expansion but that only keeps a certain number happy.

So my plans, try and get more raids going with Team Pirate, most of the team hasn’t seen anything beyond Rotface and we’ve only just cleared the minibosses through to Halion.  Continue levelling the rogue (got to the current levelcap for lockpicking last night, that was a boring as sin grind) and the Warrior.  I might even dust off the Shammie again, but I’ve been having problems with him.  Beyond that I’m not sure.  The raiding guild feels like it’s imploding at the moment, but that’s a subject for a different post.

Here’s hoping the re-taking of Gnomer comes sooner rather than later.

Equal opportunity mob killing

There is an excellent post by the Mental Shaman on the various issues around sexism in wow, generally I can’t find anything to disagree with though there are a few points which I don’t disagree with I do have a differing viewpoint, this is probably not surprising.

However it did get me thinking a bit on how it is inconsistent within the universe we play in that there is such a split between the genders at the top levels of society.  The position of men in the round world we live in largely originates in the fact that the male ape was physically bigger and stronger than the female and it’s a sad reflection on us as a species that we’re still stuck at that level of development to some extent.  Ok we’re getting better but decisions on who does what need to made on ability not on who has which parts.

Anyway, back to Azeroth and Outlands, we have a number of races and those races have some racial specifics which mean that some races have a little more health, or a way of getting rid of poison / bleed effects and so on, but they are, in the scheme of things, minor differences.

Let’s look at physical attributes for a moment

  • Gnomes, short but this doesn’t mean that they can’t tank King Dred
  • Dwarves, also short, ditto
  • Humans, less massive than Tauren but this doesn’t mean that in an equal fight (gear/experience) the human can’t leave the cow eating floor
  • Orcs, tusks, but they don’t put their own eyes out.
  • Belfs, there’s a race which should be completely non-viable but yet…

Face it, take a flat arena with one of each race, playing the same class (any class) in equal gear and driven by equally skilled players.  I can’t predict which one is going to be standing at the end, can you?

Note that so far I’ve not mentioned gender, there’s a reason for this, it’s irrelevant.  In the Aerothian universe the genders are equal, the only diamorphism is in physical shape (ie males are physically larger and females look like they’ve been taken out of a top shelf magazine and then put through some horrible plastic surgery).

I would argue that it’s not entirely clear within the universe who actually is the gestating gender, simply because there is no solid evidence.  The only evidence I can think of at the moment is “boobs” (aka newborn food source) but given that in real world human female these organs have developed in size beyond the physical function I see no reason why the male of the species shouldn’t also be a viable option.  So even the argument that “females can be taken out of the loop for 9 months” (or more, what is the gestation period for a gnome?) as a reason for lack of progression in the heirachy of their chosen class / royalty is pretty weak.

So taking the above there there is no reason within the universe as defined that females shouldn’t be at the same level as males.  They can hit as hard, heal as hard, melt faces with equal vim and vigour, bash metal into armour with the best of them, craft potions and so on.  It is a universe where there is true equality of potential, there is no reason within the universe that males and females should not be equally represented at the top table.

For example Tirion and Jaina, both go toe to toe with the big plate ugly in Wrath, it’s clear that Jaina is a mage of massive power and capability (I have issues with the way she’s protrayed as flighty muppet who’s mooning after Thrall and Varian [1]) but where is she when Tirion is in his ice cube while a battle is raging around him?  Off mooning with Varian, come on guys you can do better plot than that.

I doubt things will change within Azeroth, but as I hope I’ve explained there is no reason within the mechanics of the universe given to us that the genders shouldn’t both be doing the same thing.

[1] Dear Blizz, can I have a different leader of the Alliance?  Varian is a moron, hell I reckon Garrosh would be an improvement.