Free To Play: Fail

I grew up in Everquest — the original one.  It was my first MMoRPG.  Times were tough, credit was “meh”, and I played with prepaid cards (like so many do) because I had to.  One day, Sony in its wisdom decided to stop selling Everquest cards in Canada.  And everything I’d worked for was for naught.  I left Everquest with much sadness.  In all truth and honesty, I never found another community like it anywhere.   I never found another game that could completely fill the hole left by EQ.  I never did.  Ever.

Time passed, and I jumped from game to game looking for something that would fulfill my gaming need.  I don’t remember them all.  I think City of Heroes was first.  Then Guild Wars.  Then Everquest II (what a complete and total disappointment).  Then a long run in World of Warcraft.  And recently when Star Trek Online went free-to-play I jumped into that.  And I think STO is  probably my second favourite game ever, and the closest to taking Everquest’s title.

So when I heard that Everquest had gone free-to-play, my heart literally leaped for joy and I downloaded the client immediately.  The server I used to play on doesn’t even exist anymore so I didn’t even try to get my old account back.  I think it was hacked anyway.  I started over and re-created the original Nenianae.  The character that “started it all” so many years ago.

BUT… not only could I not select the wood elf race as a free player, I couldn’t select the ranger class either.  Do you really think I’m going to fork over a credit card number that soon after starting a new game?  Of course not.  I made her a human warrior.  Except for size, I think she looked almost identical.

And I started to play.

It was immediately apparent to me that I had not played EQ in a long time.  I thought it would come back to me quickly but I found myself struggling to remember hotkeys, and dealing with interface panels I’d never seen before.  Plus I was in some sort of “global starter zone” that was completely unfamiliar to me.  I had no interest in it.  I planned a jailbreak.

I found a knowledgeable gnome who agreed to lead me to the Plane of Knowledge.  From there I figured I could find my way to a more familiar area to quest.  And I have to admit, my heart was racing a little bit at this point at the thought of being re-united with the tree city of Upper Faydark again.  I spent so much time there.  Even as a higher-level player.  Because higher levels used to hang out in starter zones and help.  That’s the kind of community we had in EQ.  I knew that zone like the back of my hand.  My mind was racing too, remembering all the connections from Upper Faydark, and figuring out what places I could go (at my ridiculously low level) without getting killed.

The gnome and I turned a corner and I saw a book on a pedestal and I started to get really excited.  I knew where the book connected me to.  I clicked the book and was back in the Plane of Knowledge — the central hub to get pretty much anywhere in EQ.  It was like a homecoming of sorts.

I ran to the other side of the POK.  I was almost as excited as if I’d won the lottery.  I found the Kelethin stone, and clicked it and voila… I was surrounded by oh-so-familiar trees, and the lifts on the ground that took you up to the tree city.

So I got on the lift and went up.  And proceeded to attempt to conduct a transaction with one of the vendors only for it to dawn on me — I wasn’t a wood elf — so she wouldn’t do business with me.  I was pretty bummed.  But at the same time I was at least in a familiar environment so I went and killed things in an attempt to level and maybe get some decent stuff.

Then I died.  And — you guessed it — I forgot to talk to the soulbinder.  And it teleported me all the way back to where I started.

By which time I’d lost interest in making the trip again.

So long Everquest.  I’ll really miss you.

No folks, my blog didn’t get hacked.

My spouse and I took a long vacation from WoW.  We were both pretty burnt out.  For Valentines Day, my beautiful stunning wife bought us two prepaid cards.  Now we just need to get a few characters in good level-alignment so we can actually use the gift to play together.  We had some fun today playing her priest with my paladin.

But I digress.

A few weeks ago, I took a massive crap.  In non-WoW vernacular, it was the “spinal tap” poop.  I felt like I was giving birth to triplets.  True story.  It was so excruciating, in a moment of Alliance-weakness, I yelled/groaned “FOR THE HORDE!!” (in my best gruff orc voice) as I made one last desperate push to drop the kids at the pool.  And thus, the joke was born.

My wife is having somewhat of a rough couple of months and after a moment of frustration, she disappeared into the bathroom to take a relaxing bath.  It’s a girl thing.  I totally don’t understand. I don’t pretend to.  It only makes me look like a huge schmuck.  Oh wait.  I am.  But I digress.

She emerged from the bathroom looking refreshed, renewed, and somewhat radiant.  As she proceeded to log into the game, she announced to me that she’d had no fewer than three craps while she was in there.  Information I had not solicited, but I demonstrated interest because that’s the kind of renaissance man I am.  “How many of them were ‘For The Horde’ craps?”, I asked.

“All of them, if I was grinding in a water zone.”

I’m so getting WoW wood right now.  And she’s ALL mine, boys.  She’s ALL mine.

Addendum:  I just read the article to her, and we got into an ensuing conversation about what other WoW characters could be used as poop metaphors.  I suggested “The Fel Reaver Dump”.  She turned, cringed, and said “Ouch that would hurt with all those pinchy things…”  Oh baby.  The lovin is gonna be hot tonight.

First of all, let’s review Gweedo’s #1 Rule of World of Warcraft.  You all know what it is.  Let’s repeat it together.

“Greed and laziness are the the two constants of World of Warcraft.

Thank you class, you may sit down.

Why Undercutters Need To Die

It’s not the undercutters faults.  They have two things stacked against them and they are — you guessed it — laziness and greed.  Laziness because they’re too lazy to price their auctions themselves and they use an addon with the default settings.  And greed because they want to sell their items quickly instead of at the price that is good for the server and the other vendors on it.

I play the markets in WoW.  A lot.  My wife saw me handling, shall we say, “a large quantity” of coarse stone about an hour ago and her eyes just about bugged out of her head.  The market price had gotten too low because of idiots with addons and no brains.  Way too low.  It was getting to the point where the “market value” was almost approaching vendor price.  So I did what any self-respecting entrepreneur with a fat wallet would do.  I bought the whole damn market.

And This Is Why I Love Undercutters

I bought the entire market.  Over 500 pieces.  For less than 4 gold.  I inflated the price to what I thought was more “realistic” and re-posted the whole lot.  If I sell a quarter of it before the market deflates again, I’ve gotten my money back and then some.

What I want to emphasize to the people playing this game is that end-users are not the only buyers on the market.  People — like me — buy large quantities of stuff all the time.  If you sell your stuff for too low a price, you are putting money in the hands of people who are smarter than you who will derive profit from your work and spend almost none of their money to do it.  In short, it makes you a farking moron.

I’m not saying you should be expected to name prices on-the-fly for every auction you post.  But once in a while, would it hurt to post your prices at par with other vendors?

There’s enough gold in them thar hills for everybody.

Trust me.

I’ve taken a liking to Burning Crusade heroics lately.  Don’t ask me why.  Maybe it could possibly be because I’m sick of running Utgarde 30+ times in a row on my Level 71 Dwarf Holy Priest.  Yeah, that could be it.  Anyway, I’ve been running a lot of BC heroics lately to break the monotony.  Most of the time I find that most of the players doing heroics are in the high 60’s and appreciate a higher-level healer who can basically heal the instance with one hand tied behind his back.

So today I logged in, hit the random instance thingy, and ended up in heroic Blood Furnace.  NOT a difficult instance.  Even though Wetnap is dual-spec as shadow, I queued as healing exclusively because I don’t really love shadow all that much.  The moment of the first pull, I saw a binding heal fly over my right shoulder toward the tank.  I took a second look at the unit frames and sure enough, I was designated as the healer.  Meanwhile this “other” priest was going to town with his holy spells.  I spoke up after the pull and pointed out that I had queued to be healer.  The response was “So?”  Ok ok.  I get the hint.  I sat down and switched to shadow and drank up and the tank made another pull.  We wiped.  We reformed, took another stab at it, and we wiped again — less than five minutes from the previous wipe and no further into the instance.

Now… I won’t reveal the name of the player… but let’s just say that from the name he chose, he obviously took great pride in being a healer.  I thought to myself “How could this guy suck this much and have a name like that?”  I pondered silently switching back to holy but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and the “absence of purple” would be a definite tip-off.  One of the other players suggested trying two healers.  I agreed and switched back to holy very quickly.  The other healer asked if I wanted to be the “main” healer so he could “do a little dps”.  I quickly agreed, and the tank made another pull.  We only had two other deaths for the entire instance, and not a single wipe.

By about the fifth or sixth pull I was starting to get a fat head.  I was still wondering how badly this guy could possibly suck.  Since he was doing a little bit of healing as well, I kept an eye on things, but tabbed out to a browser and looked him up on WoWarmory.com.

  • His spellpower was a little higher.
  • His spell crit was a lot higher.
  • His item level was a good chunk higher.
  • His mana pool was probably twice as deep as mine, but he kept running out of mana and I didn’t.
  • He was discipline, I was holy.

This is the reason why I tell people SKILL OVER GEAR. This boob had ALL the toys.  He had every priest toy imaginable.  He was a walking priest jewelry store.

But he couldn’t heal to save his dieing mother’s life!  (Or in this case, the dieing tank’s life.)

So after the tank walked into a fist and we almost wiped and I saved the day, I started to get cocky.  This is a bad thing.  I sent the tank a somewhat tongue-in-cheek message explaining how badly I felt for showing this fool up, when he was obviously very proud of his non-existant healing skills.  Then I looked up and spun on my heel and started to read nameplates.  Three of them (including the tank and the healer) were in the same guild.


The tank started to rip me a new one.  He wanted me to explain my comment.  I told him that his friend just didn’t have the healing output to sustain a heroic.  “He’s in my guild!”, he protested.  “I don’t care if he wears Mickey Mouse ears on raids”, I replied.  I was waiting to be kicked out the group, but for some reason I wasn’t.

Always check name plates before shooting your mouth.  LOL.

The Bloodhoof Homecoming

The prodigal dwarf has returned.  Maybe.

A few months ago I made a couple of characters on Lightbringer in-a-sense to follow some friends of mine who had emigrated from Bloodhoof to Lightbringer.  Things didn’t go great with their guild, and I ended up in another social guild that has turned into Romper Room.  I love the core people, but it’s one of those guilds where the only requirement for an invite is a pulse and guild chat is driving me freaking insane.  As of last night, they were very close to the 800 member hard cap, but with only about 80 accounts.  Not that I have an issue with alts because I have a ton of them myself, but that’s a really high ratio.

So last night — on a whim — I asked my better half what she would think about moving back to Bloodhoof.  We still have the remnants of the guild (and it’s bank) there, and all of our characters we made on Bloodhoof are still there.  Then I got thinking… I hadn’t even touched the new Cataclysm questing zones because I was too busy levelling my new characters on Lightbringer.  We fired up my shaman and settled down over dinner and hit the underwater zone I forget the name of.  I think I made about 400g in two and a half hours.  That’s insane!  Seems that you make a lot more money questing than doing instances.  I ran the first two Cataclysm instances and didn’t make a ton of cash, but got a lot of gear.  I think my elemental shaman’s spell crit is somewhere around 32% now.  That’s just sick… compared to what it was anyway.

So I think we’re going to fart around on Bloodhoof for a while.  After all… why re-invent the wheel.  We don’t have the cash to transfer our Bloodhoof toons to Lightbringer, but we might bring one or two of the Lightbringer toons back to Bloodhoof.

Look for me to blog more.  Heh… I’ve said that before haven’t I?

Cataclysm Impressions


Angry Cat Is Having A Pre-Cataclysm Aneurysm


Yeah.  I’ve heard the “voice of reason” in the chat channels.  The voice that proclaims to the disheartened that “it’s too early in the Cataclysm deployment to see the big picture” of what the changes in yesterday’s patch were in support of.

Screw the voice of reason, I’m pissed.  (But at least I’m consistent.)

  • I just replaced my desktop computer less than a month ago.  The new (to me) Mac ran pre-4.0.1 as smooth as glass.  Now when I get on a taxi it feels more like a coin-operated bed in a sleeze motel than a form of public transportation.  Was it really necessary to push the hardware boundaries that far?
  • I did an instance about two hours ago.  A warlock cast Ritual Of Souls and 80% of the instance members computers (representing Mac and PC clients) locked solid.  Nice programming skills.
  • My (incredible) girlfriend just started playing about a month ago.  Her exact words were that it feels like she has to learn to play all over again.  As for me, I have nine toons to respec (one dual) and figure out where all the #&@*(! buttons go and figure out how the three gazillion passive abilities work.  There is so little left of the original game that I feel a little like Jillian does.  It’s overwhelming.
  • Framerates suck.  Again, there should not have been that much of a change in the progression of one version.  I seem to recall a “tip” that used to show on the loading screen that said “Do all things in moderation, even World of Warcraft.”  Apparently their programming department don’t read their own tips.
  • Shamans got hosed.  My main is (was) a shaman, spec’ed as dual spec elemental/restoration.  Figuring out where the heck all my buttons went was only the beginning.  Next was finding out we can’t cure poison or diseases anymore.  Thanks Blizzard.  That will really add to our value as healers in five-man instances.  It’s not all about raiding you bunch of nerf-bat wielding jackwagons.  Plus the fact that my dps numbers “seem” way out of whack.  I’d be willing to accept that maybe the numbers got rolled back across the board, but from what I hear mages only need to blow on something to make it die.  Thanks for yanking Totem of Wrath too, Blizz.  That was a real morale booster when my dps was already low enough.
  • Has anybody else noticed that the new tooltips for the new spells and abilities in 4.0.1 really suck?  I mean they sound like they were written by someone on crack.  Go check them out sometime.  “This is really important, so you should use it a lot.”  Gee thanks Uncle Bliz.
  • I touched on this before, but having to respec nine characters is just wrong.  And if you’re going to be bungholes and make us do it, you should at least give us two respecs instead of one, because after doing three or four respecs we’re going to get fatigued and just push buttons to make the nightmare go away.  Yes morons, you created a nightmare.  And you need to take ownership for it.

On the plus side…

  • Protection paladins are dancing naked through Ironforge.  Apparently you don’t even need to wear gear anymore to be a protection paladin, and you don’t need to dual-spec as retribution either, because it’s redundant.  (That’s what I’ve heard.  I haven’t taken a hard look at the numbers but I ran Jillian through Stockades earlier and I sure couldn’t find any part of that hypothesis to argue with.)  Because we all know that paladins have never been over-powered and they need a class buff to be viable.
  • Warlocks get felguards at 20?  ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND? I mean… the warlocks love it, naturally.  Jillian took her lock to Redridge to do the sunfish quest and sent her felguard into the water.  It looked like the murloc version of Fight Club.  It was freaking obscene.  I was standing there (on the water) with my Level 80 shaman expecting to lend assistance, but I was little more than a member of the audience.  Because GOD KNOWS that WARLOCKS have never been-overpowered and they need a class buff to be viable.

Ok… so there isn’t really a positive side.

Or if there is, I haven’t found it.

What about you?

I’ve been in big guilds.  I’ve been in small guilds.  And yes, for a very short time, I was in Alea Iacta Est which I honestly believe is the largest World of Warcraft guild in existence.

AIE – as it is referred to – was started by the folks over at The Instance podcast some time ago.  If the posts I read today are correct, they have over 7,000 characters in their guild.  You heard me.  Seven THOUSAND.  That’s more characters than the population of some towns I’ve lived in.  Of course I can’t imagine more than a few hundred online at any given time, that’s a lotta people and a lot of accounts.  They’re all fans of the podcast, and whether you agree with the monstrosity they’ve created you have to give them kudos for doing what nobody else has done.

I remember being in their guild during the inaugural session of their “Running of The Bulls” event when they ran Level 1 Taurens from the Tauren starter area to the Undercity.  It was ridiculous.  There had to be nearly a thousand bipedal cows trying to get on the zeppelin at Orgrimmar at once.  Shortly after that, I’m pretty sure there were rules handed down by Blizzard about events like this that put undue load on the server.

Now the word has come down from Blizzard that guilds with over 1,000 members will be allowed to continue to exist but they won’t be able to invite new players to their ranks until they fall below the 1000 member level.  No word is given about whether this means 1,000 warm bodies or 1,000 accounts — but does it really matter?

I’m sure AIE will continue.  In fact, I’m sure it will thrive.  It’s not going to die anytime soon.

But if you were them… wouldn’t you be pissed?  I know I would be.

There’s gotta be a better way.

I hear it all the time in Trade chat and it makes me nauseous.  It really does.  I don’t know what it’s like on your server, but on Bloodhoof every half hour after school is out there is a debacle in trade chat about how so-and-so is a “ninja” and that you shouldn’t group with him because you will lose the gear you rightfully earned if you take him or her on an instance with you.

B-u-l-l-s-h-i-t.  Hot, steaming b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t in fact.

I’m sorry.  I know that last bit will have offended someone, but I just don’t care anymore.  Just because you disagree with the Master Looter, doesn’t mean the person who got the loot is a ninja.  I’m getting sick to death of Azeroth being turned into an episode of Hook where the children scream “Kill the lawyers!” every ten minutes for the sole purpose of their own entertainment.  But before I go off on an adult-only server rant (which I’m sure I’ve done before), allow me to digress.  The doctor told me to lower my blood pressure anyway.

Blizzard Customer Service – in their infinite wisdom, glory, and acute level of helpfulness – published a link today on their Twitter feed to a document outlining their stance on ninja looting.  Being the sharp and astute individual I am, as soon as I saw the title, I wondered if they were going to branch into a tutorial of the mechanics of the looting system and lo and behold my prayer was answered!

Continue Reading »

The aforementioned article looks like it isn’t going to happen.

The screenshots just didn’t really capture the things I was trying to capture.  It’s kind of dumb.  You assume that when you take a screenshot of something it’s going to capture everything that’s on the screen when you click the shutter, but apparently it doesn’t work that way.  There were times I took screenshots in particular places for particular reasons to show specific things and they just aren’t legible in the screenshots.  I don’t completely understand why, but I imagine it must have something to do with 3D.

Apologies folks.  The best laid plans.

Inexpensive low-end computers with less-than-optimal RAM and/or integrated graphics cards are a fact of life.  Sometimes you can’t afford the machine you’d like to play on.  Blizzard has — in my opinion, wisely — made the game we love so that it will play “reasonably” on even the most budget computer setup.

We’ve all heard the big podcasters talk about the WoW experience “as it was meant to be experienced”, with the graphics slider cranked all the way to “Ultra”.  A lot of them talk about (or even plug) systems that cost thousands of dollars that are targeted at the gamer market.

Are you a player with an entry-level machine who has wondered just exactly how green it is on the other side of the fence?  Tonight I will be spending a number of hours playing on a computer that can do “Ultra” with one hand tied behind it’s back that cost about $1000 Canadian to build.  (At the current exchange rate, that works out to about $962 US).  I’ve checked the fps button on it several times, and seen numbers in the 160-180 range, although these numbers have fallen since my friend switched from a standard monitor to a (gorgeous) 24″ Samsung widescreen.  My intention is to take screenshots in a variety of places around the World of Warcraft, and through all of the expansions.  And then take the same identical screenshot (as close as I can) on the ultra-compact laptop I usually play on at home with an integrated graphics card and show you the difference a few hundred bucks can make.

I think it will be an interesting article.  I look forward to writing it, and I hope you enjoy it.  It should be up by tomorrow at the latest.

P.S.  If you have suggestions as to what locations or locales you want to see in the featured screenshots, by all means leave them in comments.  I will try to do as many as I can!