It IS Diablo III!

Wooooooooooooo!!

I am so happy!  Time to send a few e-mails. 😉

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Me and Diablo III

I have fallen in love with (and become hopelessly addicted to) many games over the years. We had an Atari when we were kids, and even had a console specifically for playing Pong that was bought before I was born, but was still functional when I was old enough to start playing games. My oldest brother also had a series of gaming set-ups in the years that followed. He had a ColecoVision with Donkey Kong on it (woo!), an Amiga, and perhaps my favorite, the C64. We spent a fair amount of time watching our brothers game, but my younger sister and I also played quite a lot together. I actually started to list our favorite C64 games here, but it is a rather long list, so I’ll cut it down to the top three I remember. We were masters of Impossible Mission, we loved Hitchhiker’s Guide (imagine how much more we loved it after we finally read the books!), and then there was Hacker. This game was like a project for us. I remember parking our sleeping bags on the floor in front of the basement tv, with our sharpened pencils poised over fresh pads of paper to keep track of our progress through the game, determined that that night was the night we’d finally beat the damn thing. We never did, but it was always fun trying.

Our dad worked at IBM so we always had PCs around the house as well. The first PC game that I remember really diving into was called “Castle,” and sadly, I can’t find a link anywhere about it. It was an adventure game with very simple graphics. (Look out for that letter S! It’s a snake!) I also have really fond memories of Wishbringer. Oh my god, did we love this game. It was a text adventure, and because we’d gotten our copy of it from a friend, we didn’t have all the maps and other stuff that came in the box. So, we we drew the maps ourselves as we imagined them (we did this with later games, too, even if we did have the real maps). In this game, you were ordered by the postmaster to deliver a letter to a woman who lived in a magic shop at the other side of town. You had to use various tricks to navigate past the obstacles in town (go to the graveyard first to find a bone that you can use to distract a mean dog later, and also pick up a broom, though I don’t remember what that was for), and it had all the usual frustrations of a text adventure. You had to enter the commands precisely, and sometimes even obvious word substitutions were unacceptable. We never made it through the whole game until many years later (after finding a walkthrough on the budding internet) — we had always gotten bogged down at a particular part, because we couldn’t come up with the right phrase to get the game to let us continue. (I don’t remember what it was, ultimately, except that it was amazingly simple, and we were sure we’d typed the phrase in before.) We still had a great time playing the game though, and never minded starting over when we got stuck. It really sparked our imaginations.

We got a Nintendo system shortly after they came out, followed by the Super Nintendo, and my younger sister and I also played with these endlessly. I remember summers where she and I would come home from a long day at the pool, sit in front of the tv, and play the Mario and Zelda games for hours on end, usually while listening to Phantom of the Opera. (Hee.)

I was away at grad school when my sister bought the N64, and I didn’t own a console myself for quite some time. I still continued to follow her leads on computer games though, and the first PC game I bought for myself after I moved away from home was Creatures. The day I got it, I stayed up until 4am playing it and had to force myself to go to bed so that I would make it to work at a reasonable time the next day. I also remember buying 7th Guest, which had some good creepy stuff in it. I never got particularly addicted to it, but I liked the puzzles and it had a cool atmosphere. I never finished it either. Similar games that followed (Myst, etc) intrigued me, but I never pursued them.

After my husband and I started dating, I started playing games more regularly. He introduced me to Civ II (which I also played like crazy), and when he picked up the Blizzard battle chest to get Starcraft, and he gave me the copies of Warcraft II and Diablo that came with it. (Awesome battle chest, eh?) I didn’t get much into Warcraft II, though I did play through a couple of the scenarios. I knew from watching him play Starcraft and Command & Conquer that those types of games at higher levels required more tactical thinking than I was interested in, so I naturally gravitated toward Diablo. It really appealed to me from the start. I loved the mood, and sometimes would play at night, with my room dark and headphones on to totally immerse myself in it. I’ll admit I didn’t replay Diablo at all though. I played through the whole game once on one character and then put it away. My roommate showed me Roller Coaster Tycoon, and that became my game of choice for quite some time.

And then along came Diablo II and its expansion.

Of all the games I’d played up until that point, Diablo II was by far the most consuming. We played it for years. I think the main reason for this was that it was not just my husband and I that were into it, we had a couple of local friends that also played, plus my husband’s brother, and a couple of my siblings also dipped into it a bit briefly. Initially we all just played solo, but once we figured out how to use battle.net to play online, things really took off… we started playing a lot.

We came up with all kinds of crazy ideas for experimental characters and groups in Diablo II, just like we now do in WoW, and it always kept the game fresh for us. I recently stumbled upon an old e-mail exchange between four of us outlining a plan to get through to Nightmare difficulty (or maybe it was Hell — I can’t remember now), and start over in this more hardcore version of the game naked and untwinked. We’d always be partied when we played, and fight through the challenge of being terribly undergeared as a group. As I recall, it was a very short experiment because we totally got our butts kicked.

I didn’t get too much into the gear collecting aspect of the game, but my husband did. Nothing was soulbound in Diablo II, so you could pass even the best gear between characters. My husband and one of our friends were each trying to collect all the uniques, and had loads of gear stored across many characters on several different accounts. They would farm bosses (ask my husband how many times he killed Mephisto!) trying to get some of the drops. I did a bit of that, but what I remember more is farming chipped gems. I could put them into the Horadric cube with my sword to try and get the really awesome “cruel” stat set on it. I remember trying to collect all the runes as well.

When we weren’t playing the game, we were usually talking about it. There were lots of e-mail exchanges, like the one I mentioned before, and we had to be careful when we went to parties not to chat about it constantly. We’d make plans for new ways to play, talk about stuff that had happened in game, what had dropped, etc… sound familiar? 🙂 Our friend’s girlfriend (now wife) was one of the few in the group that didn’t play, and she said it was like we were speaking a different language.

If I recall correctly, I was the first to quit. I think I was a bit burnt out anyway, but the final straw was getting tradehacked by someone. It was horrible. I left the game just for a month at first, but I didn’t stay with it long after my return. It just wasn’t the same. I’d seen all the content, and given that the economy was polluted with duped items and eBayed stuff, I had no interest in collecting gear or runes anymore either. Other hobbies took over my free time, and I moved on.

I heard about WoW when it came out, but I didn’t rush out to get it since I hadn’t been a huge fan the other Warcraft games. I’d also heard WoW had similarities to Everquest, which I’d specifically avoided as it was often referred to as Evercrack. After finally taking the plunge into WoW last year, I reported to our old Diablo II friends about the game, told them how amazing and fun it was, and how Blizzard had built upon and refined much of what they’d offered in Diablo II (summed up very well in this post by Renata). My husband started playing a few months after I did, but our local gamer friends (some no longer local) decided not to get into WoW. The sticking point with them was (and is) that it is a subscription-based game. They say it’s too much money to pour into a game, though we’ve rationalized that part in the usual ways to them. (Even playing just once a week will make each play session cost less than the price of a movie ticket, one month of WoW is cheaper than an evening out for beers, etc, etc.) We acknowledge that the real cost of the game is time, and it is probably true that neither of them has as much free time as before, so we’ve pretty much given up on the idea of the band getting back together to play WoW. But, upon mentioning the prospect Diablo III to them in the past (and again in the last few days), they sounded like they might actually cave in for this one… it is, after all, Diablo.

So, in getting a hint that it could be Diablo III on the horizon, even if it’s only an announcement and it would be three years before I’m subscribed and looking at its login screen, I’m getting very excited and hopeful. I see people all over the place say, “but what would they do differently? would it just be WoW in the Diablo universe? wouldn’t another MMO compete with WoW?” Of course I would want it to be a great game, but I’m caring a bit less now about how exactly the game is different or what it accomplishes. Instead, I’m enjoying the intense nostalgia for a game I loved and the anticipation of playing with my old friends again. I’ll be doing my best to rope my younger sister into it this time, too.

Kara cleared!

I had a great weekend in the game…

It started lazily on Saturday morning, fishing and cooking on my Pox toon in Anvilmar, all the while chatting with Wara in vent. Fun!

After a quick shower, some cleaning, and some lunch, my hunter headed into Karazhan with my main Horde guild. It’s one of the many Sat/Sun split runs we’ve been doing, bringing in the lesser geared 70s do the first half, and then the better geared folks pick up the rest of Kara the next day. I’ve been signing up for both runs, since I fall somewhere in between. We cleared everything up to (and including) Curator. No troubles except for Maiden, which we managed to down on the third try.

After that I played around with some of the Midsummer Fire Festival stuff. I hate to say it, but some of it was just frustrating. The torch tossing and all that is pretty easy once you figure it out (and I did it very quickly later with my frost mage), but actually figuring out what they wanted you to do (and then how to do it) was really annoying. After looking at the rewards for turning in the blooms, I’m not sure how much more time I’ll spend on it. The non-combat pet isn’t very interesting to me, and although the dancing flame thing might be entertaining to pull out from time to time, I don’t know that it will be worth the time spent collecting the 350 blooms. Instead, I’ll just be taking advantage of the 10% additional xp that you can get for doing the ribbon dance. I’m with you on this one, Nas! (I’ll raid the cities to get the flames if folks want to get a big group together, because I know there’s xp to be had there, too!, but otherwise, the ribbon dance will be enough Festival for me.)

I spent much of Sunday morning doing exactly that — my frost mage danced around the ribbon until she got the 60 minute xp buff, tootled around Nagrand, and came back to rebuff whenever it wore off. She did quite a few quests, knocking off various beasts, ogres, and elementals, and although she got into trouble a few times when surrounded by respawns, I was impressed with how quickly she was able to kill things. I was afraid that at this level, killing/leveling would seem incredibly slow compared to my experience with my hunter, but I think it’s about the same, if not faster. She’s almost at 67 now! I’d love to press to get her to 70, but she’s almost out of rested xp, so I may wait a bit. I really want to get her rep up to get more jewelcrafting patterns, however. I shelled out a bunch of gold for the Delicate Living Ruby pattern in the AH, because my hunter could really use some of them. I’m hoping that she can become a jewelcrafting resource for the guild, since we recently lost the jewelcrafter that had most of the really good patterns. I’m finding that the patterns are expensive, but very good investments.

Sunday evening, I met up with the group for the second half of Karazhan. This is only the second time I’ve participated in the second half, and last time, we finished everything but Nightbane and Prince. (We planned to do those Monday night, but the run fell through because not everyone was available.) Our main tank summed up last night’s run: “the DPS in this group is just sick.” It’s true. (We had a rogue, two hunters, and three shamans.) We zoomed through the dungeon in what some suspected could be record time for our guild. We did have some well-geared folks, but not all of us had all our Kara gear yet, and several people came away with significant upgrades. We worked really well together and one-shotted everything, including both dragons and Prince. So. Awesome.

I must confess — I somehow didn’t think we’d be making it to Nightbane or Prince fight, so I still hadn’t read up on them. The Nightbane fight wasn’t too difficult (though my pet died twice — had to feed her lots of hellboar bacon after that), thanks to a really good explanation of it beforehand by the tank. He also briefly explained the Prince fight, though I don’t think I totally got it. I wasn’t sure what to ask or how to have my questions clarified, so I just ran in, followed the other hunter’s lead and hoped for the best, and apparently managed to keep myself out of trouble. I will definitely study a bit before next weekend’s run if it looks like I’m going to go.

The second half of Kara was scheduled for 7-10:30, and we were done before 9:30. Our main tank was just one badge short of his next upgrade, so five of us put together another group and did heroic Slave Pens. We summoned Lord Ahune, but he kicked our asses three times before we decided to just finish the instance and give him another try later. (He is very cool looking, but those adds… eesh! The funniest was during our last attempt… I was the last one alive, so I feigned death. The little white swirls still appeared under my body, and the giant ice stalagmite shot up beneath me and launched me into the air, as I remained in the “feign death” position. Hehe…) I know that Slave Pens is one of the easier heroics, but it was really fun to just cut through it like buttah and get s’more badges. (We need many steenking badges.)

Anyway, great fun all around. Woo!

(Also, I really want to roll a shaman…)

Mounts at 30!

Wooo!

You know, I saw this in some patch/expansion notes a while back (must have been before the 2.4 patch, because I’ve been ignoring the WotLK stuff), but I only saw it in one place on one list. This made me suspicious. I asked the other Poxers about it during one of our play sessions, and they couldn’t recall reading anything about it, so I just figured it was bull. Looks like it is true though, and will be implemented with 2.4.3. That is exciting. 😀

Two Nights of Pox (and why we are Awesome)

After a couple of missed weeks, the Purple Poxers were back in action this week, and managed to meet two nights in a row for instances. Monday night, we took down RFD. The idea was to just see how far we could get, since it was a shorter session than usual, but we finished the whole thing with time to spare. Woo! Last night we approached the Cathedral with the same mindset, and totally cleared out the place. We were all level 36, but managed to kill everything (including the elite 40 bosses) with no problem. It was awesomely fun, and just about the right level of difficulty for us, I think. When it’s too easy, we get a little bored. This was just tough enough to be challenging and interesting, but not so tough that an accidental pull of the next group (*looks innocent*) put us in peril. There was one point where Harisan tanked a pull of nine mobs with no extra crowd control. NINE! We are amazing. After we finished the Cathedral, we burned through the Library in about half an hour… awesome.

So, we talked a bit about why it is that we are so amazing at this point. Harisan has a great post up now, and Daxe is working on one as well. I’ll recap a little and add some thoughts to the mix.

I do think our specs have a lot to do with our success, as Harisan mentions. Daxe is holy, Harisan is prot, and in chatting with Sal and Wara, I know they’re experimenting with builds that focus on dealing damage and not worrying about anything that would enhance survivability while soloing mobs because we are never playing solo. This is a huge advantage. Having good gear also really helps — we’re all decked out in blues, for the most part, with new enchants as Daxe learns them. Our extra greens and blues go to him for meltage.

In addition to all the crowd control possibilities and awesome buffs Harisan mentioned, we also have a really good balance of types of damage in the group. We’re routinely dealing physical, holy, shadow, and fire damage. We have folks providing very high burst damage while all the dots also tick away. We have a couple folks that can resurrect teammates if something goes wrong, plus backup heals or tanking if we’re in a pinch.

Another major thing that contribute to our success, is that we all know, fundamentally, how to play in a group. We are good teammates. We all wait when the healer needs to drink, we don’t have anyone stealthing up ahead near the boss and accidentally pulling them when the tank is afk, and when people get aggro, they run to the tank instead of away into the next group of mobs. Nobody is trying to out-DPS anybody else (we only compete for the the mutton chops 😉 ). Everybody knows the kill order and adheres to it.

The other big thing is that we listen to each other. We pay attention. Some of this is because we do have a limited amount of time to play together, and we are motivated to progress and get things done. We also clearly respect each other as players, and have an interest in the whole team winning against the instance. We have an unselfishness that makes the whole thing run more smoothly. While Pox Arcanum didn’t turn out as anticipated, socially speaking, as an experiment in organized group play, it has been a wild success. I couldn’t stop smiling about this last night. It has been so much fun!! 😀

And yay! Daxe’s post is up — “What makes this Poxer group tick?”

I think Daxe sums up the magic ingredient quite well: Maturity. Perhaps there’s just no substitute. 🙂

And I also have to say, Daxe, that I have been having similar thoughts lately about another experimental leveling group (outside Pox Arcanum, on a different server). I would pick a different class, possibly try playing with fewer restrictions (or meeting much more often), but in greater isolation. (No expansive guild, just to simplify things.) But, there is always the issue of time and scheduling, and finding enough to accomplish everything I already have on my to-do list. We shall see… 😉

Rep Grindery

I played my frost mage almost all of Saturday and Sunday this past weekend. She finished all but one of the Hellfire Penninsula quests, and since it was a group quest, I decided to just move on to Zangarmarsh. (This is unusual for me — maybe it’s because I’m pretty sure I’m not going to want to go back, but I like finishing everything in Hellfire before leaving.) As I started completing a few of the easy Cenarion quests, I pondered doing the rep the “right” way this time, turning in all the plant parts to get to honored, and then resuming questing. Sure, why not…

If I’d been thinking ahead, I would have started collecting plant parts from the AH long ago, but I wasn’t. I bought the 40 or so that were in the AH upon starting this rep grind, and I got about 40 (offered unsolicited!) from the guild bank as well, so that gave me a great start. I then did some of the Swamprat Post quests that sent me to the Dead Mire to kill Bog Lords. The drop rate for the plant parts was decent, so after finishing the quests, I headed back to the Dead Mire and killed more of those guys for hours.

Given how much I enjoy listening to podcasts, the farming wasn’t that boring. I was also hoping to level my jewelcrafting a bit, and there were several adamantite nodes that respawned in the zone periodically. I’d grind until my bags were full, go back to Swamprat and sell the junk, and then go turn in the plant parts. Lather, rinse, repeat. I remember doing the math to determine that I’d still need 180 plant parts, then 100, then 40, and finally 0! I came away with quite a bit of gold from the junk, a few stacks of ore, and many motes.

Shortly after this, a friend in the guild asked if I had a particular gemcutting pattern, and I didn’t, although my jewelcrafting was high enough to learn it. I just needed to get friendly with the Consortium. *waggles eyebrows* So, I wandered to Nagrand, introduced myself to the Consortium, and did the repeatable crystal fragment turn in quest until I reached friendly. Easy peasy. Since you can get the crystals via harvestable nodes, plus the mobs right by them, getting 100 of them was no problem.

So, I got the pattern and cut loads of gems for my friend. My jewelcrafting is now at 356. Woo!

And my mage is almost to level 65. She still has a fair amount of double xp left, and when that runs out, I think I may start leveling my troll priest again (finally). I’d love to get both of them to 70 before the expansion hits! Not to mention my alliance mage. She is currently at 41, and I’m waiting for her to get a bit more rested xp before I play her again. I had lots of fun taking her questing with my husband and Wara‘s warrior in Stranglethorn on Friday night. 🙂

But tonight, we Pox! We’ve been off for a few weeks, so I’m looking forward to playing with the Purples again. I believe the plan is to hit RFD. Our time will be shorter than usual, but it will be fun to see how far we can get.

Good stuff!

1. Warlock TherapySomething Cool about the Blue and SK’s World First. Really cool post about the downing of Kil’jaeden from the Blizzard point of view, as they watched it happen. Also, if you haven’t seen the SK Gaming video, definitely go check it out. I didn’t watch the entire fight, but I flipped through to catch the various phases, and when they actually down him? Chills. It is awesome.

2. 4 HaelzAge, Gender, and WoW. Thought-provoking, from the point-of-view of a young WoW player whose parents are concerned about who she plays with.

3. BBB wonders, How do you find the time to play when you’re a married gamer? I meant to respond to this, but got distracted… I might put together a post over here in response to the question. More great stuff from the Big Bear, with excellent reader responses.

4. New batch of articles at The Daedalus Project! Yay! This time, the subjects include social architectures in MMOs, what people want from MMOs, kids and MMOs (including some interesting stuff about perceived risks for young people in MMOs), plus surveys on crafting, trading, and the importance of pets.

5. Petoholic’s AnonymousWTS “like new” guild. Very amusing story, complete with screenshots.

Why We Blog

I’ve been thinking lately about my blogging style, the other WoW bloggers I know and read, why we all blog, and why I read what I read. My feed reader overfloweth, but much of it just gets marked as read after a quick scan of the post titles. I can see patterns in who I preferentially read based on the kind of blogging they do, and why they seem to blog.

To write.

We all like to write, otherwise, why would we bother blogging? I do sense different motivations for writing, several of them described below, but on the whole, I’ll bet if we weren’t all writing about WoW, we would all be writing or blogging about something else. This is certainly the case for me.

To provide a resource.

I often hear “I started playing a [class] and there weren’t many resources, so I started a blog to help others looking for information.” These are great blogs, don’t get me wrong, but I confess I don’t often read them. I bookmark their suggestions for leveling builds and gear lists, but most of my toons aren’t advanced enough that the subtleties of builds and theorycrafting are going to make a difference in my game play. Kudos to you guys that do the math and write these blogs, however.

Some of these folks also appear to want to use blogging as a launchpad to something else, perhaps professional blogging or journalism (perhaps about gaming, perhaps not). With these bloggers, there is a lot of emphasis on proper blogging style, and the “right way” to present things and do things (inside and outside the game). If there is something considered news about WoW or Blizzard, they always post about it. They will weigh in on all controversies, and recap/repost all patch notes. I don’t read this stuff either.

My blog is not intended to be a resource. I may accidentally make suggestions with my various etiquette and wasn’t-that-guy-a-jerkface posts, but I doubt I’m bookmarked anywhere for the usefulness of the content of my blog.

To keep a record.

My blog falls into this category. I have kept blogs for lots of my hobbies because much later, after I’ve moved on to other interests, I like to go back and read about what I did, my opinions of what was going on, remember the people I met, and the funny things that happened. (The blog from my Scrabble days still makes me laugh.) I remember the main points of events, but it’s the details that I enjoy when I go back and read something I wrote. I look for these same details in others’ writings, the little things that seemed important enough to preserve at the time.

I’m a nostalgic person. One of my favorite things to do is exchange stories with friends about things we did when we were kids, stuff we got in trouble for at school, first heartbreaks, worst dates, trips to the emergency room, and most embarrassing moments. Love. It. Tell me a story. (With details.)

To confess.

I know this isn’t just me… you do something really dumb, accidentally ninja something, embarrass yourself in front of your guild, or discover something you feel like you should have known a long time ago. Then you confess all these sins, publicly, in your blog. I do a fair amount of this, I realize, and I love reading other people’s confessions as well. It’s like we’re keeping ourselves honest, reminding ourselves that we’re human.

To vent.

Sometimes, I see bloggers apologize for letting off steam in their posts, and I say, don’t worry about it. It’s you’re blog, and you can vent if you want to. Seethe about that annoying person in your guild or that same faction jackass that stole the ore while you’re clearing the mobs from around it. Even if it’s a story I’ve heard over and over, it can be the most engaging writing that a person produces because there’s so much emotion behind it. It’s great stuff!

To connect with people.

Some write blogs because they want to be part of the blogging community. It has been a great way to meet other folks who also like writing/thinking about WoW, and although I have had some non-blogging folks consistently leave comments, most of the comments I get come from other bloggers. I’ve met some really cool people through the WoW blogs, some that I’ve actually gotten the chance to play with now, and I look forward to many years of gaming/writing with them, with WoW and whatever comes after. These bloggers that I “know” are the ones that I read every day. Doesn’t matter what they write — when I see their blogs come up on the feed reader, I click right away and read the posts in full.

And on that subject, I’ve noticed myself become less anonymous in the last several months. (Usually my blogs are almost completely anonymous.) I post all the time now about playing with Pox Arcanum and Sidhe Devils folks, and I happily chat away on vent with all these folks. I’m still choosing to remain secretive about my main guild, however, as having some amount of anonymity makes me less self-conscious about what I write. Maybe that will gradually dissipate, too, though.

To get attention.

Blogging is an exhibitionist thing. If we didn’t want attention, we would write our thoughts and keep them on our hard drives never to see the light of the internet.

Honestly, I admit I do like the attention. And don’t you? Isn’t it exciting when someone discovers your blog and links you? Isn’t it cool when a blogger you admire, maybe even someone famous in the WoW blogosphere like BRK, links to your blog or mentions one of your posts? When my blog was recently mentioned on one of the MMO podcasts I listen to, I sat around all afternoon with stars in my eyes, not believing (yet basking in the idea) that these people had read and enjoyed what I had written enough to mention it on their show. Frickin’ cool. I don’t think I’d personally go so far as to write something specifically to get attention (I do steer clear of the controversial stuff, for the most part), but to feel a little bit famous, even within a small circle on the internet, is nifty. As bloggers, we want an audience, and to feel that we’ve got one (even a small one!) is gratifying. This is what keeps us writing.