Sunday, June 06, 2021

Updates

This move has really caused me to fall out of the habit of posting regularly. Not that I was doing a great job before, but still.

Life is a little weird at the moment. I'm still working on Pacific time with my current company, so that's really 12 noon - 8 pm. Ontario is also still locked down, so the grocery stores close at 8, and most other stores are not open. So mornings are my time to get non-work chores done.

I'm also still raiding with my guild, which means 10 pm to 1 am on a couple nights.

Gaming-wise, nothing much is going on. I'm actually trying to avoid playing new games, as I have a couple other side-projects I want to finish. I'm just adding games to my Steam wishlist, and hopefully I'll remember about them in a couple of months.

I also feel like I missed some important news in the MMO space. Crowfall is coming out next month, which I found out about through a Kickstarter backer email. Then I went over to /r/mmorpg on Reddit--usually a mistake--and everyone there is claiming that it is a mistake to launch at the same time as so many other launches. (In addition to pronouncing the game dead-on-arrival, which is normal for that subreddit.)

I thought we were in an MMO drought? Where did all the other launches come from? Actually, what are the new MMOs launching?

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Gaming Log - May 12

With the move and everything, I haven't been playing a lot of games lately.

World of Warcraft

My guild got Ahead of the Curve: Sire Denathrius while I was away. So I got it when I was able to rejoin the raid. It's a pretty interesting fight and one where it seems relatively easy for things to fall apart quickly.

Heh, on one attempt, the raid leader called a wipe in P2 and we all jumped off the side of the platform. Just then Sire did his death grip, and pulled us all back to him.

Diablo

I'm casually leveling a Demon Hunter in Seasonal to try out the companion changes. The big problem is that I don't particularly like Lyndon the Scoundrel. I would prefer to use Kormac the Templar or Eirena the Enchantress. But the Scoundrel uses Dexterity, like the Demon Hunter. So almost all the gear that drops has Dexterity, and most of the weapons that drop are bows or crossbows.

Now, most of the time the D3 change to have most gear drops tailored to your character is a good decision. It's only the solo player who wants to use a different companion who has issues.

One amusing thing is that the armor inventory graphic changes based on your character's gender and class. It doesn't change when equipped on your follower. (The in-game character model doesn't change with gear.) So Lyndon's character sheet looks like he is wearing a leather corset!

Friday, May 07, 2021

The Burning Crusade Classic

Blizzard announced the launch details for The Burning Crusade Classic. June 1st launch, May 18th pre-patch.

The weird/interesting part is this:

Before that, however, every hero must make a choice. Beginning on May 18, after each regional scheduled maintenance, the Burning Crusade Classic Pre-expansion Patch will be released, and each character must choose whether to advance onward to Burning Crusade, move to a Classic Era realm, or use the Character Clone service to play in both games.

I have to say that I don't really understand the purpose behind this. People have played Classic for a couple of years now. They've gone through all the phases of content. I rather imagine that most players are ready for something new.

So splitting the playerbase seems like a bad choice. The classic servers will probably be pretty empty. Classic is a numbers-intensive game. Maybe all the guilds that have 5 or so people left on a Classic server will band together, and be able to farm content.

If it was up to me, I would have done something like:

  1. All current Classic Realms advance to The Burning Crusade Classic.
  2. Six months later, open a handful of fresh Classic realms (maybe with #SomeChanges) and start the content release cycle over again.

The other contentious part is the Deluxe Edition for $70, which many people think is too much. For me, I've already discussed the issue in Cosmetic Versus Content Pricing. Expensive cosmetics and cheap content makes the game more accessible, but offends our sense of value.

In any case, I didn't get very far in Classic, maybe level 30 on one class. I'll probably give TBC Classic a whirl, maybe with a Blood Elf Paladin. I kind of expect to end up stopping at about 30 as well.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Player Choice and Power in Shadowlands

In Shadowlands, there's a lot more player choice which has to do with power than in the previous couple of expansions. We have:

  • Covenants
  • Soulbinds
  • The path through the soulbind tree
  • Conduits
  • Legendaries

In contrast, Battle for Azeroth pretty much had:

  • Azerite powers
  • Corruptions (at the end of the expansion)

Legion had:

  • The path through the artifact weapon tree. This was a temporary choice, however, as you could fill in the entire tree.
  • Legendaries

If you look at what people are complaining about in Shadowlands, the biggest complaint I believe is about these choices, especially covenants. By and large, all the extra choices aren't really doing anything as most people are following the main theorycraft and guides.

I wonder how Shadowlands would have looked if Blizzard had offered less choice. For example, suppose your class dictated your covenant. All paladins and priests get sent to Bastion, all druids and hunters join the Night Fae, etc. 

Blizzard would only need to focus on tuning one ability. The soulbinds could have functioned more like Legion artifact weapons, with a temporary tree that could be completely filled in.

I don't think the results would look all that different from what we have now. Most classes have one definitive covenant, and people use alts to see the other covenant stories.

Of course, in that alternate reality, we'd probably be complaining that Blizzard should have allowed us to choose our own Covenant.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Moving Back To Ontario

It's been quite a while since I last posted. After spending around 15 years in Vancouver, British Columbia, I decided to move back east to Ontario. I took some time off work, and made the journey by driving across Canada, stopping at various motels (usually a Motel 8) for the night.

It was a pretty interesting trip. Here's a Google Maps showing the route I took. Mostly following the Trans-Canada Highway.

Day 1 - The moving company came and took my belongings around noon, and I left Vancouver shortly after that. I started in my old 2003 Nissan Sentra. I made it to Kamloops, BC.

Day 2 - Just after leaving Kamloops, the "Service Engine" light came on. When I got to Salmon Arm, I searched for the nearest Nissan dealership. There was one in Vernon, so I detoured south and asked them to take a look at it. They said there was leak in the fuel system, and it might catch fire. They also didn't have parts to fix it, and the parts were on back-order across North America.

In the end, I bought a new car! A rather unexpected purchase, but the old car was 18 years old, so it had a good run. I was debating between another Sentra and a Kicks (compact utility vehicle). In the end I went with the Kicks. Compared to my old car, it has a ton of gadgetry. I do like Car Play though. It is interesting how the car companies just let the phone take over.

Day 3 - I picked up the new car from the dealership at noon, and continued on. Pretty much lost a day and a half. I ended up having to take a detour down to Radium Hot Springs and then back up to Banff due to construction. Radium Hot Springs has some gorgeous scenery. Actually all of this part of British Columbia is quite beautiful. I ended up stopping for the night in Canmore, Alberta. This amused me because I used to watch Royal Canadian Air Farce back in the day, and one recurring character was "Mike from Canmore."

Day 4 - I drove to Calgary, and then stopped to visit with a friend from high school for an hour or so. Calgary is a really weird city. It has like a grid of "arteries", main roads which traverse the entire city. However within each square it's very suburb-like, with lots of curving roads and cul-de-sacs. For a stranger, it's kind of hard to tell if a large street is an artery, or just the entrance to the grid.

After Calgary I drove to Swift Current, Saskatchewan. I really should have stopped at Medicine Hat, but I pressed on. One of the hard things to judge on these long drives is when to stop, especially as the towns are so far apart.

Day 5 - I drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba. This drive was all prairies. The element you notice here is the sky. It dominates the view, as the land is so flat.

Day 6 - The stopping point here was Thunder Bay, Ontario. Northern Ontario is really big. As well, the speed limit was lower up here, around 90 km/h, where it had been 110 km/h for most of the western provinces.

Day 7 - I went around Lake Superior to Sault Ste. Marie. This part is all Canadian Shield, with the lake on your right, popping in and out of view. Quite pretty, but might be better in summer, rather than just coming out of winter. I probably could have kept driving to Sudbury, but stopped a little early.

Day 8 - Drove to my parent's place in Brantford. Toronto traffic was a less than pleasant experience after the previous seven days on the Trans-Canada Highway. Still, it was good to finally make it to my destination.

That was my trip across Canada. I've always wanted to drive it, so that's one item crossed off my list. It was very enjoyable. Sometime later, I would like to drive to the Maritimes, or maybe across the United States.

Having to get a new car was a bit disconcerting, but I really like the Kicks, and I think it worked out well in the end. Maybe I should make more decisions quickly, rather than contemplating for a long time.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Heroic Stone Legion Generals Down!

My guild killed Heroic Stone Legion Generals tonight! 9/10 Heroic Castle Nathria!

Actually, it was decided to drop Normal entirely, so we started on Heroic Tuesday. We got through the first 8 bosses fairly smoothly, even with a couple new people on Council and Sludgefist. We even got a few attempts on the Stone Legion, and laid down our strategy.

So tonight we went in focused on them. It took a few pulls, but we killed them after an hour or so. In Heroic at least, it's just a matter of doing all the mechanics, and making sure to clear the various bleeds that you can get.

Then we started doing Sire Denathrius attempts. Phase 1 is very finicky, so it took us quite a while to get that smoothly and start seeing Phase 2. On the last attempt of the night, we had a very clean pull, and ended up pushing him into Phase 3. Three-quarters of the raid was dead at that point, though, and the rest followed shortly.

Still, quite good progress. A couple more weeks of practice, and we should get him down.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Magic: Universes Beyond

Magic: the Gathering is introducing "Universes Beyond", a new initiative to go heavily into cross-overs with other franchises. The first new products will be Warhammer 40k and Lord of the Rings.

Here's the announcement.

Such cards will be mechanically unique, look exactly like regular Magic cards and will be tournament-legal, at least in the non-rotating formats. Wizards did this last year with a special package of 5 cards from the television show The Walking Dead.

Needless to say, the enfranchised fans on in the internet are not happy.

I don't know, maybe it will work out for Wizards. Maybe they'll get more new people to buy in on the strength of the external IP, and most enfranchised players will stick with it.

Personally, though, this feels to me like the moment Magic jumps the shark.

A funny comic from Cardboard Crack: