The Beta

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I had decided not to take part in the beta, but then I was offered a key, and … well, I took it.  I felt like I was opening my presents before Christmas, but I just couldn’t resist when given the opportunity.  So, I dove right in.  I got everything installed and patched, and immediately rolled my very first Death Knight.  I had to do so on the PvP server because neither PvE server was allowing new character creation.  (Must have been too crowded, I guess.)

First impressions?  It’s pretty cool.  I haven’t finished the whole DK starting area, but I like the new types of quests that are being offered, and the whole look and feel of the starting area is wonderfully dark.  The lag wasn’t bad, probably because it was the PvP server.  I did roll on one of the normal servers later, and the lag made it so frustrating, I didn’t even bother to finish the first quest.  I tried one of the PvE servers again more recently and it was fine, but If you find the PvE servers unplayable, do go check out the PvP one.  If you’re just doing that starting area, you won’t need to worry about the opposite faction.

I also copied my 70’s over so I could check out Northrend, and I explored there for just 30 minutes or so.  I’ve decided I’m not going to do any questing in Northrend because I’ll just have to do it all over again when the game officially releases.  Certainly being familiar with the zones could be an advantage when the expansion does come out, but 1) I still have plenty I want to do in the live game now and think my time would be better spent on that, and 2) I will not be rushing through Wrath.  I do not need to be the first person in my guild to 80, and will very likely plod along much the way I did from 1-70.  Actually, I’m sure I’ll be a little more focused because I will want to be able to run the new content with the guild, but it’s not going to be a mad race for me.  There will be plenty of time to pick up inscription and all that business, too.  I don’t need to do it the first day.

I think it’s interesting how people are responding to the beta and the expansion in general.  Some have expressed some ambivalence toward the coming content, with all its new changes.  I understand this. I’m looking forward to the new content, but in a way, I wish the expansion were a bit further off because I feel like I’ve only just arrived at the end game.  I finally have a pretty good handle on the classes I’m playing and I’ve begun to gear up my 70’s.  The expansion means learning new zones, figuring out how to play the classes with all their new skills and the changes to the old skills, and of course leveling again and regearing.  I got a small taste of all this when I first started with the DK.  I died and couldn’t figure out how to get from the graveyard back to my corpse.  For a moment, I pondered just starting a new DK because after about five minutes of running around, I didn’t seem to be any closer to my body.  It was frustrating.  I’m sure I’ll get my bearings soon enough, really, but it’s been a while since I’ve had that “where the hell am I?” feeling in the game.

I confess I have some reservations about the achievement system, too.  I understand why they’re adding them — it’s adding more quests without really adding more content.  I think many folks were good at coming up with their own achievements (grinding rep to get particular mount or recipe, fully exploring every area, etc), and now you will get to check these off a long list.  BRK denounced achievements in one of the WI podcasts as busywork, though you could say that of lots of things already in the game.  (My guess is that he’s already completed most of the currently available busywork and the issue is that he doesn’t want more.)  Honestly, I’m not looking forward to them because I’m going to feel as though I should do them (for the sake of completion!  Straight A Student Syndrome!) but I know I won’t have the patience or focus (or time).  I noticed in the beta that when you right click on another player’s portrait, in addition to trade and all the usual options, you can compare achievements.  Greeeeat.  So, some obnoxious kid on the zeppelin can tell me I suck because I haven’t done as many achievements as he has.  /ignore.  Although, to be fair, lots of folks were concerned about being bombarded by unsolicited “feedback” about their talent builds when those were first made viewable by others, too.  Outside of the first week after it was implemented, that has never happened to me.  I’m hoping the competitiveness with achievements won’t end up being as annoying as I fear it could be either.  (Between you and me, I hope this is as much the case with my guildmates as strangers on zeppelins. 😉 )

Despite all this, I’m really excited about the expansion, particularly since a lot of the folks in the guild seem to be off in the beta now.  Raiding guilds are certainly feeling the absence and disinterest of their raiders, but even our medium sized guild seems to have fewer folks around lately.   If you schedule something, people will show up, of course, but there are a lot fewer folks hanging around, leveling, or just randomly making themselves available for stuff in the evenings.  We rarely have the critical mass to run a regular instance, much less a heroic.  Wrath will certainly bring back the old regulars, and probably many folks we haven’t seen in a long time.  This is certainly one of the things I’m looking forward to the most.

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Where’d she go?

Some folks stop blogging because they run out of things to say, but for me, it tends to be the opposite.  I have too much I want to write, I just can’t seem to get it all down.  Some of this has to do with time — I feel like I have a bit less of it to put toward blogging lately.  Some of it is just being overwhelmed by the amount I wish to write, however.  I start a post, realize it’s going to take me hours to compose and tweak it, and then I just decide to play around with Be.Imba or the latest batch of WWS numbers instead.  Meh…

This happened with my personal blog, too.  Something big would happen, I’d take a big trip or there would be a day I wanted to record every detail about, and then I’d never finish the write-up.  Time would pass, the subject would get stale (or I’d just get too overwhelmed), and I’d instead post a one-line summary of the idea in a lazy list post.  (You’ve seen a lot of these lately.)  I’m not sure how to break out of this, but I know that if I don’t, I’m probably done with this blog.

Another issue is that I play almost exclusively with my guild now.  In the past, much of my post fodder came from slumming with the puggers, spending quality time with the silly, the noobish, and the unintentionally funny.  While I could air some guildmate stories here, I’d rather not.  It’s not the point of my blog, and it doesn’t really seem fair either, since none of them (save just two or three) know about my blog.  I’m purposely anonymous here.  I don’t want to hurt feelings, call anybody out, nothing like that.  Generally, I like to keep my main WoW life and my WoW blogging life separate. Well, generally.

I have had fun playing with other bloggers.  In fact, since leaving Pox Arcanum (the subject of another potentially lengthy unwritten entry), I’ve found myself scoping out other WoW and non-WoW gaming communities to join.  I daydream about rolling on Silverhand to join the Leftovers.  I’ve pondered creating a toon on Earthen Ring to check out AIE, and see what gchat in a really busy guild looks like.  Open recruiting for CoW is closed, but I’ve even considered picking up Warhammer to see what this community is like.

Hm.  It’s as though I’m chasing after community as much as anything else in these games, and that’s, in essence why I started the blog as well.  Oh great… another post topic!  Sheesh!

Briefly…

To be expanded upon in future entries…

1.  I didn’t volunteer for the beta through my account, but a friend offered me a key, and when presented with the opportunity, I couldn’t resist!  So, I’m in the beta.

2.  My holy priest is about half way to level 64.   Woo!  She’s also slowly making the primal mooncloth she’ll need for her set when she hits 70.  She’s been to a few instances so far, but none of them with a fully level appropriate team.  Hopefully I’ll get to do that soon.

3.  I read that the authenticators were in stock again yesterday, so I rushed over to the Blizzard Store.  They are already out of stock again.  I guess Blizzard just doesn’t want my $6.50.

4.  I tanked an instance for the first time last night.  I was in a ZF group with my feral cat drood, and the tank had to leave.  I have no stamina gear or points in talents that would enhance my abilities in bear form (since this is my former Poxing druid), but I did my best, and I think it went pretty well.  Although it was mostly a guild run, I can see why (based on the one pug person that was there) that tanks don’t want to pug.

5.  Our guild ran three Kara teams this past week!  Three!!  There were two “noob” runs, plus one speed run. My hunter attended the speed run (awesomely fun) and my mage went on one of the noob runs (also fun, but a bit of a different tone).  Mm… badges.

Non-WoW Weekend?

After spending nearly five full days of vacation immersed in WoW, I actually started feeling like I needed some time away from the game.  I had gotten a lot done, made a lot of money, run around with friends, and started a new little alt, and while I could feel the pull to continue all these activities in the evenings this past week, my interests began to wander. Late in the week, I did my usual tour of guild websites (there are a few I visit periodically), thinking maybe a new alt on another server might freshen things up a bit.  And then I started thinking about Spore.  Hmmm. 🙂  With Spore not coming out until Sunday, I figured I’d mess around with another game on Saturday.  I chose Civ IV.

I hardly played Civ IV when I first got it, mainly because my computers were just barely able to run it.  My PC at the time (the one I was initially playing WoW on) crashed all the time when I ran the game.  I could play it somewhat on the laptop, which was newer, but it made it run pretty hot and I feared a meltdown.  (I also used that computer for work, so it seemed a bit of a risk.  I’ve never liked gaming on laptops either — I like a bigger screen to enjoy the graphics.) So, I installed Civ IV on my new computer, downloaded the latest patch, plus a .dll file I seemed to be missing, and fired up the game.

It took me a while to get my first civilization really cooking.  The Civ game that I played most was Civ II, and I still remember most of the keyboard shortcuts for that one.  Some are the same in IV, but it seemed safer to use the mouse for stuff, lest I send my units way off in the wrong direction.  I also remember the strategies from Civ II the best, which wonders I should go for first … all that was different by Civ III and certainly would be even more different in IV.  Rather than spend time with the built-in civpedia thing, I just dinked around and had fun with it.  I restarted a few times before I was happy with my civ’s location and was convinced I hadn’t wasted a bunch of turns because I’d accidentally turned off units or stupid stuff like that.  I played through what I thought would be a diplomatic victory and ended up winning the space race instead.  Funny, the diplomatic victory in Civ III was SO easy to get, I remember thinking it was pretty disappointing.  It requires a bit of diplomacy in Civ IV, evidently.

After my first win, I played through a second time and managed to get the space victory about fifty years earlier.  I didn’t do anything with my military (having turned off the annoying barbarian activity, I didn’t need them), didn’t build barracks anywhere, and only put effort toward science and culture.  After the win, I turned off production on all buildings and units, and just had my cities pumping out culture to see how many cities of neighboring civilizations I could absorb.  I picked up a couple of them, and then just after the year 2000, the smallest, crappiest civ (which was mainly on another continent) declared war on me.  The funny part is that I still had warriors guarding my big, booming cities.  Hehe… I had plenty of money to quickly upgrade my troops, build tanks and stealth bombers, and beat the crap out of them, though they did actually take over one of my cities briefly.  Now I’m wondering if I might actually enjoy trying a military victory.

Anyway, on the whole, it was lots of fun and it gave me a much-needed break from WoW.  I tell people all the time that if WoW (or whatever) starts feeling like a job or an obligation, they should set it aside for a while.  For me, it hasn’t been feeling like a job, but it has certainly started feeling like another life that requires a certain amount of maintenance.  Sure, I could just ignore these tasks waiting for me in the game, but it doesn’t make them go away.  Dealing with auctions and keeping my inventories clear is enough to make me want to just log out sometimes. Playing a game where there was essentially no commitment to anyone or anything felt like a vacation!  I was also so completely absorbed in creating and expanding my civilizations that I’d no sense of the afternoon fleeting by except when I got up to deal with laundry.  Oh, and whenever I needed to go take care of something, there was nothing tying me to the game at that moment.  If I didn’t take my turn, nothing moved on without me.  I got a this feeling when I played Portal, too.  Lovely.

I’m definitely stopping by Best Buy on the way home today. 🙂

Friday Meme: Where were you…?

Non-WoW content incoming!  I was tagged by Game Dame, so here I go…

September 11 Attacks

I was at work.  My husband came from next door to me that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers.  I had just ground some coffee beans and was pouring water in the back of the coffee pot.  I thought, “Huh, what an idiot,” assuming it was another one of the multitudes of small plane accidents that happens every year.  I imagined a little plane smacking into the side of the building like a bug on a windshield.  He told me that while the news was filming after it happened, they caught on film a second plane hitting… and I said, “Another plane?”  He explained that these were commercial planes, not little private planes.  I was stunned.

We managed to set up a small tv at work and watch the news.  We tried to get into the news sites on the internet,  but most of them were overloaded, so we just watched the little tv with bad reception.  We saw the reaired footage of the planes hitting and saw the Towers fall as it happened.  We gathered news from friends and family, managed to get in touch with our friend that lives in DC to make sure he was okay, sent notes to friends in NYC, wondering if they were all right.  Classes were canceled and most of us stayed at work anyway, just to be with people.

I’m still deeply affected by images of the Towers.  Seeing them in the background of an old movie or photograph of the skyline kills me.  When images of the Towers are exploited to try to push my emotional buttons, it makes me furious.  To me, this is unforgivable.

I can’t bring myself to watch any of the films about 9/11, but somehow I can’t wait to see Man on Wire.  (How did I never hear about this before?)  It looks amazing.

Challenger Shuttle Disaster

I was in sixth grade, and it was quite a big event since there was a school teacher going up in space.  They set up televisions in some of our classrooms and piled the classes in.

To be honest, I don’t remember if I actually saw it when it happened.  For some reason, I think I was out of the classroom that day, as I was part of a “gifted” program for advanced kids, where we were taken out of class one day a week to do various extra enriching activities (independent research projects, reading, etc).  I don’t know why they wouldn’t have had us watch the shuttle takeoff, too, but I sort of remember coming down the hall and hearing some boys describing the explosion, and I think that was the first I’d heard of it.  These boys were actually happy, yelling and smiling.  They thought it was pretty exciting that it blew up, like it had been part of an action movie.  I don’t think they understood the reality of what had happened.  I remember the teachers being upset, and talking to us all about it in the weeks after.  I know I saw the footage of the explosion many times over on the news, and the video (and audio) is pretty clear in my mind to this day.  I don’t think I was watching live when it happened though.

Hurricane Katrina

I don’t remember particularly where I was when I heard about the hurricane or the levees breaking.  I did follow the news a bit, and recognized how poorly it was handled and how out of control it became.  I had been to New Orleans for the first time in the years before, and I felt strangely grateful that I’d seen it before the devastation.  Some of the photos of the aftermath were pretty horrifying, though there were also reports of some people refusing to leave when transportation was offered.  Our local Humane Society received a fair number of cats and dogs that were found as the rescue efforts were underway, and I wanted to adopt them all.

Reagan Assassination Attempt

I was a very little kid.  This was when I was in kindergarten or first grade, and I remember hearing about it, but it didn’t really have much of an impact on me.  I became interested in it as a teenager, obsessed with horror novels and true crime stories, learning about Hinckley’s obsession with Jodie Foster, etc.  (My parents also apparently had a time share, or something like that, in Colorado that backed up to the place where Hinckley’s parents lived, so there was a bit of a real-life connection there.)

I do remember hearing about James Brady receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Clinton though, and this made me cry.

John Lennon’s Death

Again, I was too young to understand the impact of this.  I was in kindergarten and had no idea who the Beatles were.

Kurt Cobain’s Death

I was in college.  I was never particularly a Nirvana fan (I was more a Stone Temple Pilots kind of girl), and it had been pretty clear in the years before that Cobain was not a stable person.  In other words, I didn’t find it surprising.  I thought it was sad for his family, of course, but he seemed primed for a drug overdose any day.  He’d shot himself, though apparently had drugs in his system at the time.

I did know people that were wrecked by this, and for some of them, I imagine it still hurts them.  He just wasn’t someone I felt a connection with or attachment to, through his music or anything else.

There were celebrity deaths that happened during my formative years that do still get to me though.  River Phoenix for one.  Jim Henson is another.  (If you grew up with the Muppets, you must watch this gem that Wara sent me a while back.)  I also miss Christopher Reeve.

Ok, now I’m sad.  Heh… time to catch up on some WoW reading and writing.

I won’t tag anyone specific, but please share if you feel so inclined.

Level 26 Pants

When my level 58 priest was collecting her first Hellfire Peninsula quests, I noted there was someone in general chat saying, “Does some1 want to join for 1st quests?”  Er, no thanks.  “I need help with 1st quests, plz.”  Same person, over and over.  I decided I’d better scoot away from the Orcs and do the demon-killing quest so they couldn’t find me, but I wasn’t quick enough.  They approached me, asked me to party, and … I caved.  They were a level 59 ret paladin, so it would certainly speed things up.  If they were too annoying, I’d just log over to another toon after we were done with these quests.

So, we ran around a bit, killing Orcs and picking up the wood and metal for the collection quests.  At first I thought they might try to tank somewhat, but they weren’t following any logical pattern to their approach of the mobs.  They were running around a bit randomly, and a few times we picked up three instead of one.  Normally I’d think a paladin would be fine with this, but they weren’t casting consecrate or doing anything to hold the attention of more than one, so I just blasted away as though I were by myself. I took a look at my damage meter at one point, and saw that I was doing most of the damage, in addition to healing us both.  A level 58 holy priest out-DPSing a level 59 ret paladin?  Hm.

They had to go afk a few times.  “Phone.”  “PHONE again.”  “/sigh that was my drum teacher.”  Heh.  I was doing fine by myself, I didn’t care.

Finally, they got back and we continued killing and collecting stuff.  “lol sry my dps is low,” they said.

“Nah, no worries.”

“My gear sucks,” they explained.

“Well, I guess that happens when you run right out to Outland at level 58 or 59.”

“No I havent killed anything since level 49 lol.”

“What??”

“Im waring level 26 pants.”

“Recruit-a-friend?” I ventured.

“Ya.”

So, they leveled from 49-59 without upgrading any gear.  And wearing level 26 pants?  Sounds like they didn’t do a heck of a lot of upgrading before that either.  Guess that’s one thing they don’t put in the advertisement for that program — Outland is going to be a shock if you skip the later levels in Azeroth. I have a sneaking suspicion this was their highest level character, too.  It’s going to be scary to run instances with some of these new recruit-a-friend folks…