Tuesday, September 17, 2019

First Open World Death in Classic

I finally had a character die out in the world in Classic. (I did have a few deaths on my druid in a dungeon). As predicted, it was because of stupidity, rather than the game being hard.

I was on my level 13 Warrior, and I joined a group of around the same level to kill Defias. After that, the group wanted to kill gnolls, so I tagged alone. They went to the southern gnoll camps, the ones with level 16 or so gnolls. That's +3 levels, so high enough to be dangerous, but there were four of us.

Surely it would be easy enough if we pulled carefully.

After killing one mob, I turned around and noticed the healer had managed to pull four level 16 mobs and was half-dead. Like an idiot I charged in instead of running away. And shortly thereafter we were all dead.

Otherwise, I'm pretty much just making low level alts in Classic. I have 7 characters between levels 7 and 15. Maybe I should just give up on Classic. It hasn't managed to really capture my interest. It really feels like the best or most optimum way to play is to play in as tedious a manner as possible. And the game is already tedious enough.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Two Murlocs

There's a debate running in the WoW blogosphere about the difficulty of Classic WoW. I had an experience last night which may shed more light on the issue.

I made a Human Warrior and was running around Elywnn Forest doing the quest that requires killing murlocs. I came across the dead body of a paladin, let's call him Dave, near one of the murloc camps. A few minutes later, I came across Dave again. He had pulled two murlocs and was at half-health. I jumped in and helped him kill the murlocs.

Several minutes after that, Dave starts ranting in General Chat about murlocs, and how when you attack one in a camp another comes, and you keep dying. The reaction in chat was not particularly charitable, telling him to form a group, or attack the lone murlocs instead of groups.

So here you have two perspectives:

  • Classic WoW is difficult. If you get into a fight with two murlocs, there is a high chance you will die.
  • Classic WoW is easy. The solution is trivial. Don't attack two murlocs.

Both perspectives are true, but I think neither perspective encompasses the whole.

In some ways, it comes back to my old posts on Small Decisions. Attacking murlocs is a small decision. The solution is trivial, don't attack two, only attack one. It's very similar to having to deal with ammo. Don't start a fight when you are low on arrows, go back to town and restock. Many of the commenters on those posts felt that small decisions with obvious solutions were a bad idea, and just busy work. For example, killing lone murlocs isn't hard. But you have to patrol more to find them, and it is more tedious.

Modern WoW has smoothed away most of those small decisions, instead choosing fewer large decisions that occur less frequently. For example, the equivalent of two murlocs in Classic might be an elite in Retail, which may happen only once in any given zone.

However, it's not obvious that this was the right decision. Many small decisions with easy solutions, and yet obvious consequences, might be better for the game than fewer, larger decisions.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Throne of Eldraine Trailer

Wizards of the Coast released a trailer for their latest Magic: the Gathering set, Throne of Eldraine. Apparently, these high-quality trailers might be a regular thing from now on. The trailer for War of the Spark was pretty good.

This trailer is a little ... different.


As one person on Reddit put it, "I didn’t expect to be rooting for a gingerbread lady to kill Garruk when I woke up today, but here we are I guess."

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

WoW Classic Observations, Part 2

More WoW Classic observations:

  • Ragnaros and Onyxia have been killed already, pretty much putting a stake through the heart of the "Classic is hard!" crowd. As someone observed, Queen Azshara has about as many mechanics as all of Molten Core combined.
  • I was a bit surprised when Ragnaros died. I thought Hydraxian Waterlord rep would gate the kill. But apparently you can grind Hydraxian Waterlord rep in Silithus or something, so people were able to obtain enough Aqual Quintessence to spawn Ragnaros.
  • I'm really not feeling the druid. After playing a bit more and trying to analyse why, I think I just don't like shape-shifting for some reason. Druid is also the one original class I've never really been able to level on Retail either, and I think it is for much the same reason. Maybe it's part of my aversion to transmog, where I like seeing my character look change as I level.
  • I did try to tank Ragefire Chasm at level 12. This was probably a small mistake, as many enemies are level 15 and bosses are level 16. It did get better when I dinged 13 in the middle of the dungeon. Also, druid is completely missing AoE threat and a ranged pull in Bear form (at that level), so gathering mobs was a little difficult. Apparently you get Swipe at 16, in time for Deadmines or Wailing Caverns, which would have made life a lot easier.
  • I've been trying several other classes, but I really cannot pick a class to focus on.
  • We are beginning to see more and more posts suggesting that--for a lot of players--Blizzard was right when they said "You think you want it, but you don't." I think Classic is actually improving the view of Retail by highlighting the things Retail does better.
  • I think the wider WoW community is beginning to coalesce around the phrase "Retail is a better game. Classic is a better world." I've seen it posted in multiple discussion threads by multiple people, and it is always highly rated and gets positive responses. In a month or so, I predict this will be the accepted wisdom in the WoW community.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

More WoW Classic Thoughts

Tuesday was raid night in BfA so I didn't play much Classic. We did log on after the raid to set up a Classic guild, which was mostly a round of collecting silver and signatures from people running to Razor Hill. I did get a chance to play more on Wednesday. Here are some random thoughts:

  • It looks like Blizzard bit the bullet and drastically increased the number of layers per server. While this has greatly reduced queues, it will probably cause them grief when it comes time to collapse those layers. But I guess they're kicking the can down the road, and figuring that queues later are better than queues now.
  • I find it pretty funny coming across skeletons in Mulgore. You can tell that, yup, a lowbie got jumped by a few mobs and died here.
  • Speaking of which, I've seen some people claim that these deaths are evidence that Classic is hard, and I don't think that's correct. It's very easy to avoid dying in Classic. Pull carefully, don't attack more than one mob at a time, run away if a second one engages. It's more that people are impatient, and willing to push the edge. And then sometimes they misjudge and die.
  • I've got Corhal up to level 10, though I haven't done the druid quest (bear form, I believe) yet. I'm not really "feeling" the druid, though. I'm not sure if I should keep going, or try a different class. After all, I will have bear and cat forms eventually, and those might be more interesting than casting.
  • The one thing I really, really like in Classic is the chat. Now maybe this is just because it is launch, but it is very nice to see conversations going on. I do think that the amount of downtime does help, though. It's very easy to type something quickly while drinking or eathing to regen mana and health after a fight.
  • It's funny to see much of the lowbie conversation revolve around bags. Six-slot bags are the equivalent of epics in Mulgore.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Classic WoW Launch!

Yesterday, WoW Classic launched. There were major queues on many (if not all) of the servers. I was at work during the actual launch. When I got home, there was about a 90 minute queue on Atiesh. So I left it running and went and did some chores.

When I finally got in, I made a male Tauren druid named Corhal. In contrast to many of the other posts I've seen, the starting area was fairly empty. There were a few other people, but there was plenty of space for questing. It was also fairly quiet, with no chat, which I found unusual.

It's possible that I was one of the first to be assigned to a fresh layer, as it seemed like there were more people as time went on, and chat became livelier. One positive about the chat is that people seemed disinclined to talk about current WoW. Another amusing thing about Mulgore chat is that people keep losing the ghost wolf for the Rite of Vision escort quest, and have to be directed by chat to the cave with the quest.

In any case, I did all the initial quests, and grouped up with a warrior and a hunter to do the quests in Bristleback Ravine. We even found a quest in a cave that I had never seen before!

I ended up logging off when I got to Bloodhoof village, at level 5. Fun times. Hopefully the queues calm down quickly.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Social Addons in Classic WoW

Blizzard announced that they would take steps to break a Looking-For-Group addon for Classic WoW:
We’ve been closely following the community discussion around this add-on for WoW Classic, as well as analyzing it to make sure we understand how it works. After careful examination, we believe the nature of ClassicLFG is incompatible with our social design for Classic. Thus, in an upcoming patch (in the weeks following launch), we will be adding restrictions to the Classic add-on API that will significantly limit this add-on and others like it. 
In line with what we shared at BlizzCon last year, we intend to be very careful about allowing add-on functionality that might undermine aspects of the social dynamics that are core to the Classic experience, even in cases like this where it’s clear that the addon author had no ill intent and was simply trying to provide a service to the Classic community. Ultimately, if a streamlined group-finding system was something we considered compatible with Classic, we would have kept the modern Premade Group Finder tool rather than choosing to remove it from the Classic client. 
It’s difficult to articulate a clear-cut rule for exactly when an add-on crosses the line. However, when an add-on goes beyond presenting information or providing aesthetic customization, and attempts to create an interconnected social network that relies on other players also using that same add-on, we are likely to scrutinize it particularly closely.
I did predict that the addon community would attempt to replicate the "convenience" of modern WoW. But it is very interesting that Blizzard is going to take steps to stop them. In particular, Blizzard singles out the automation of social networks as perhaps the primary difference between Classic and modern WoW.

It is perhaps ironic that this is mimicking society at large. Facebook, Tinder, Instagram, Twitter. Instead of older, more manual methods like writing letters, assemblies/dances, writing articles for publication, etc.

I'm not really sure where I am going with this. Maybe the old, manual, ways were better for social cohesion. Maybe the modern, automated, ways are better as they make it easier to find like-minded people, or just to get things done without all the social maintenance required.

Either way, Classic is going to be a very intriguing experiment.