Tips for Garrison Gathering

February 26, 2015

We were chatting after the raid tonight and it seems like some people didn’t know about these tips, so I hope someone will find them useful.

You may not know:

  • The Peon’s Mining Pick is super easy to get to and works very much like the Preserved Mining Pick in that it greatly reduces your cast time while mining. As a bonus, the Peon’s version doesn’t need to be activated or equipped, and works in all areas of Draenor, not just the mine. This is picked up off the ground in the mountains by Southport (your garrison outpost in Spires of Arrak).
  • A pair of leather gloves called Gorepetal’s Gentle Grasp act in much the same way for herbalism.  They work in all of Draenor (including your garrison) and do not need to be activated or equipped to reduce your herbalism cast time. These drop off a “rare” in Nagrand.
  • Preserved Mining Pick and Miner’s Coffee now stack to 20 (instead of 5) and no longer have a max stacking limit (formerly unique 5).
  • The buff from Preserved Mining Pick now stacks with the bonus from the Peon’s Mining Pick. The Preserved Mining Pick‘s buff combined with the Peon’s Mining Pick puts your mining cast time at 0.2 seconds: now that’s some fast mining.
  • The buff from Miner’s Coffee now stacks with itself up to 5 times and should also stack with other movement bonuses (cat form, ghost wolf, sprint, etc.).

 

These items are all well worth the time it takes to get them, since they can combine for some pretty serious time savings on your daily chores. 1-2 seconds per node may not seem like much, but it adds up surprisingly fast.


Pet Updates

January 4, 2015

A guide to Unlocking the Menagerie should now be up under that name in the Pet Battles section. Let me know of any problems accessing it (sometimes I forget to link stuff).


What’s Wrong With WoD

December 23, 2014

I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about WoD who are unable to put a handle on exactly what is wrong with it. I’ve also seen numerous people complaining about the complaints, saying that they don’t understand what the problem is. So, in an effort to bridge the divide, I offer you one of my trademarked long-winded sermons/open letters to Blizzard. Enjoy.

First off, let me quash the ridiculous notion that the complainers are being wishy-washy. With very few exceptions, the people complaining about sitting around in their garrisons with nothing to do aren’t the ones who were sitting in one spot in a city to queue for things in MoP (and before). In years past, they (we) would queue for some group content (heroics, LFR) and then do some solo content to fill the queue time. We could fly around and gather resources, or do dailies, or archeology, or pet battles while waiting on the queue to pop. This minimized downtime and maximized efficiency, keeping us busy and productive while we waited. It was a good model.

The problem is that now, in WoD, most of those options have dried up. Yes, there is a recurring theme here regarding the loss of flight, and it is a major reason why the current model is bad, but it isn’t the only one.

  • There is no reason to leave the garrison to gather resources. The resources you gather from the mine and herb garden are sufficient for most people’s needs, especially if you have multiple garrisons (alts can get a productive level 2 garrison as early as 91/92). Add on to this the slow, tedious, and inefficient nature of ground travel through terrain designed specifically to waste your time and “making do” with what your garrison gives you is the least painful choice.
  • There is only one mainstream PVE daily available (the Apexis daily), and although this daily can suck up more time than a single MoP daily did, it isn’t likely to be sufficient to fill up your entire queue time for even a single LFR/heroic. Combine this with the fact that the quickest/easiest way to do this daily is to form a group (which throws a wrench in the works regarding queuing for anything, anyway) and you have another recipe for disaster. The content has no self-synergy.
  • Archeology, wild pet battles, and gathering suck without flight. These activities were designed with free and open access to the world in mind. They are spread out across vast spaces, often tucked into little nooks or crannies, frequently in hard to reach places, and almost always occur in spaces filled with trivial mobs. The problem is, we no longer have unfettered access to the world. Without flight, travel is gimped and you spend longer getting around and trying to do the content than you spend actually doing the content.
  • There are only 6 pet trainer quests (MoP had 11, not counting Beasts of Fable, Timeless Isle, or the PVP quest). Despite the fact that Pandaria was bigger and had nearly double the trainers, both continents take roughly an hour to complete. Inefficiency in action, right there. I’m completing half the amount of content I used to in the same amount of time because the designed inefficiency is doing its job and wasting my time on travel and trivial combat. The problem is I’m smart enough to know it and I resent the hell out of it.

That’s basically the problem in a nutshell. The effort-to-reward ratio is off. Inefficiency may not be the worst thing in the world, but it’s not a pleasant sensation. After I’ve spent an hour playing a game (one that is ostensibly for recreation) the last thing I want to feel is wasteful. Happy, productive, bad-ass, even pleasantly drained? Sure. But angry, wasteful, incompetent, and annoyed? Not the right direction, Blizz. I’m not opposed to the principle of having to work a little to get the reward, but this is a *game* not a second job. Currently we’re expending more effort than the fun is worth.

So, since you didn’t seem to get the right message, Blizz, let me spell it out for you. People didn’t complain in MoP because there were too many dailies and rep quests available. No, really, they didn’t. They complained because dailies and rep were too necessary to progression. They might have said “OMG, too many dailies,” but what they meant was “I don’t like that the only way to spend currency I’ve already worked to earn is to unlock reputation vendors by doing even more work.” That’s the effort-to-reward ratio coming into play again. No one would have cared that there were half a dozen factions with half a dozen quests each day if you didn’t have to grind rep with all of those factions in order to spend your JP/VP and get gear. It was the amount of gating that bothered people, not the amount of content. Guess what? You replaced the content with still more gating and expected this to somehow fix things. Seriously, Blizzard, if you aren’t trolling your playerbase, then you have some of the most insanely incompetent employees conceivable.

At the end of the day, what most players (heck, most people in general) want is options. Let us choose whether we want to do rep by grinding mobs, running dungeons, completing quests, or some mix of all of them. Let us choose whether to gather resources from the garrison or out in the world (instead of giving us free resources to replace mining and herbalism). If nothing else, we’ll feel better about the whole thing because we will feel involved in the process and empowered by our decisions. It seems like you must at least be aware of this concept because you gave lip service to the idea, but you failed to deliver on it. We were promised interesting choices, but we were given a game with only one track and the rails weren’t even hidden.

This game has some of the best story/lore and art to date. Really. It’s been an absolute joy watching the story unfold. I feel attached to the characters, and for the first time I feel like my character is actually an important part of the world in which he lives. The artwork and the voice-acting are superb. The landscape, the models, and the cinematics are breathtaking. Heavily stylized, yes, but visually stunning, nonetheless. Some of the new technologies you have developed or implemented are truly extraordinary. Phasing has come a long way. I love watching my actions change the world. (Hey, those monsters I killed are still dead and the encampment I saved /built is still alive and flourishing.) There is a lot of good to love about this expansion. Yet, somehow, you’ve managed to take all of that and turn it into one of the worst expansions ever because of bad/incompetent choices regarding game design.

The most earnest and heartfelt advice I can give you, Blizzard, is simply this: Get out of your own way. Do what people like George Lucas and J.K. Rowling could not do. Set aside your ego, and your feeling of artistic entitlement, and realize that you are not bigger than your creation. Sometimes you have to sell the product your customers want instead of the one you had envisioned. That’s ok, though. Some of the greatest icons in the history of popular culture have been the result of collaboration and compromise. Superman, Wolverine, Mickey Mouse, Luke Skywalker? These characters are not who or what their creators originally intended them to be, but all of them are far better because of it.

Be bold, Blizzard, and take my advice. Build us a world and let us choose how to play in it. That’s all we want. Just give us a playground and stand back. We don’t need a teacher with a stopwatch standing over us, rotating through the swings, the slide, and the monkey bars on a strict schedule. This expansion has great potential, but the presentation and implementation has really sucked the joy out of it. It’s not too late to fix it, though. When the quarterly report comes in and your 10 millions subscribers has dwindled back down below the 7.4 million you started with, just stop and remember that it is not the artist that we love, but rather the art he makes. Then make the game worth playing again.


Pet Menagerie Updates

December 22, 2014

Please bear with me as I continue to work on the pet battles section. Please be aware that even a single write-up/strategy is a time investment of an hour or more and I do not always have a spare hour or two on every day. Even on those days when I do have spare time, writing pet battle guides is competing with activities that may be more fun for me, such as leveling alts or playing non-WoW-related games. I will continue to work on the write-ups and the strategies as time and interest permits.


Pet Menagerie

December 13, 2014

I’ll be posting strategies for the pet menagerie daily as I get the chance.


An Answer At Last

December 5, 2014

After months of skirting the issue, leaving non-committal answers, and yes, even flat-out lying to its customers, Blizzard  has finally given a clear answer to the possible return of flight in 6.1:

http://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comments/2ob6ut/wow_developer_ama/cmlhent

And that answer is a smug and self-entitled NO. Basically, they like wasting your time in the hopes you won’t notice that there isn’t enough new content to last for the duration of the release cycle. Not entirely surprising, but disappointing nonetheless. As such, I have cancelled 2 of my 3 accounts. With the changes being what they are, I have no need of extra accounts or extra alts. I haven’t cancelled my main account yet, but it is something I am considering. After over 6 years of playing the game religiously I just don’t enjoy it anymore. We’ll see how or if that changes moving forward, but if their new design model continues to be to waste my time, I can’t see myself sticking around. Until this expansion, every iteration of the game has left me with enough stuff to do that I always had a way to *spend* my time without the need to *waste* it. Now, it seems like upkeep is all I ever do anymore and I’ve never been a fan of “busy work.”


The Expansion So Far

November 26, 2014

Thus far, the expansion has been the least fun I’ve had in WoW. I began playing towards the end of Burning Crusade and WoD is hands-down the worst playing experience I’ve had in any expansion, and by a wide margin. Granted, a lot of its problems stem from the same thing – the lack of flight – but that is far from its only problem.

  • Travel is terrible. Being grounded sucks as much or more than I knew it would based on the beta. The fixes they promised never came (there’s a shocker!) and we’re left with a slow, convoluted mess when it comes to getting around. Despite having the smallest zones of any expansion so far, travel takes longer than ever. Flightpaths still weave across the map like a drunken albatross, so it’s just tab out and wait. And they rarely go to where you want them to be, anyway, meaning that even after your taxi lands, you have a long, winding slog through trivial and irrelevant mobs and ridiculously mountainous terrain before you get to where you need to be. False paths and dead ends abound, meaning you will waste literally hours of your life trying to find the right path up the mountain. Oh, and don’t think being trivial means the mob won’t daze or dismount you. It might be green and have no chance of killing you, even with 10 of its buddies, but it will still gladly waste your time in the attempt. It just flat out sucks and there’s no way to sugar-coat it.
  • Jump puzzles are meh, to put it politely. Even if you complete it correctly the first time, the sense of accomplishment/reward is minimal: they simply aren’t that much fun. Sorry, guys, but if you’re left with a sense of frustration after completing the puzzle correctly, it’s just bad game design. And heavens help anyone who makes a mistake. You take 5 minutes to travel from the nearest flight point to get to the dot where the item is supposed to be, only to discover that it isn’t there. It’s really on some other strata of the map, perhaps dangling from a tree over cliff, or hidden in a cave, but there’s no way to tell that from your map. So now you’re going to spend another 10-15 minutes running in circles looking for the cave entrance or the path leading up the mountain. Now that you’ve finally found it, you can actually attempt the jump puzzle. Hope you didn’t mess up, or you’re going to have to run up the mountain to try again. On the bright side, now that you know the way, it’ll only take 5 minutes to run back up. In short, the jump puzzles simply take more trouble than they’re worth, and the effort isn’t the challenging or fun sort, it’s the boring, tedious sort. In the end, it’s enough drudgery to suck even the simple joy of collecting things out of the event, leaving you with something that is, best-case scenario, an annoying exercise in frustration.
  • Gearing is a pain. I was really excited to have hit 100, and after finishing up a few quests to clear out my log, I went to queue for normals. I knew I didn’t have the gear to queue for heroics yet, but I was prepared to start in on the endless chain of normals that I knew I would have to do to get there. Imagine my surprise to discover that I couldn’t queue for normals in my quest gear. No, really. Despite having finshed half of the final questing zone (Nagrand), I was still 12 ilevels shy of being able to queue for a normal dungeon. Really, Blizz? That’s just really, really bad game design. I shouldn’t have to do over 12 hours of questing, grinding, and rare hunting after hitting level cap in order to get the gear to queue for a normal dungeon, but that’s exactly what it took. On the plus side, now that I’m able to queue for normals, the pacing seems quite nice, so kudos there.
  • Mobs hit too hard, swarm too much, and have too much CC while leveling. The relative power level of mobs may fade quickly after you reach level cap and gear up a bit, but they’re not so trivial while leveling. This may simply be a case of having an under-tuned class (my hunter handles swarms easily and barely needs to use mend pet), but I think probably not. While leveling up, my shaman spent as much or more time healing as she did dealing damage in her elemental spec and still died with some frequency. I’m a fairly good elemental shaman, and I used all of my tricks (earth or fire elemental totems, capacitor totem to stun, thundershock to buy time with knockback, hex to CC a mob, interrupt/grounding totem to minimize damage), but quite often it simply wasn’t enough. I would be fine when I could pull small (say 3-4 mobs total), but there were many times that I would get hit with more than that. That’s just ridiculous. And that’s without getting into mobs that have CC or other annoying abilities (shadowstep, disarm). There were a few packs of mobs that felt like PVP because of how much I was being chain-CCed (I’m looking at you, packs of wolves in Nagrand). Those annoying abilities may be mostly avoidable when you are fighting 1-2 of them at a time, but when they travel in a pack of 5 and dismount you from range, that’s not exactly an option. At that point, one stun and you’re chained forever. The next stun will go off before the first is over, and unlike PVP, there’s no rule of diminishing returns, each and every one will hit your for full duration. All I can say is I hope what I experienced was a bug, because if that is working as intended, it’s really, really bad game design.
  • Garrisons are not quite right. Most of what Garrisons are, they do well, but it’s a bit frustrating. Overall, I enjoy them, but they are simultaneously too much and not enough. I think this conundrum mostly stems from how mandatory they are. Garrisons seem to be too big, too involved, and require too much upkeep to be an optional thing, so you can’t fix it that way. But for something that is mandatory, it doesn’t do enough to cover all of the bases. Even adding on a plot or two wouldn’t solve the problem on its own. A big part of the problem is that certain buildings have bonuses that are so good that they’re practically mandatory (Lumber Mill, Salvage Yard, Dwarven Bunker), so that I end up choosing them for the sake of progression instead of things that seem like more fun, but are mostly optional or cosmetic (Inn, Stables). Another is that certain quests require you to complete certain buildings (Barracks or profession buildings) to advance in the garrison.  Even if you know that you can change these later, it’s a waste of resources that is difficult to absorb, especially early on. This is a basic design flaw in the decisions process. Choosing between fun and efficiency isn’t a fun or meaningful choice. Instead, we should be choosing which aspect we want to make more efficient, or choosing between which fun thing we want. I think the best solution would be to make some of these buildings (the barracks and lumber mill, perhaps) “baseline,” meaning that they do not count towards your plot limits (like the mine, herb garden, fishing shack, and menagerie). This way you still have the options aspect intact, but your bases are better covered. The other option would be to do more to equalize the usefulness of the buildings, but that’s a much harder thing to balance (as evidenced by how imbalanced they are to begin with).
  • Alt-friendliness is at an all-time low. After the MoP fiasco I didn’t think Blizzard could conceive of a less alt-friendly system, and I had also thought they had learned their lesson on that account and wouldn’t try to do so, anyway. Boy, was I wrong on both counts. There is so much upkeep on a single toon that I am struggling to keep up without ever even touching an alt. I am hoping that this is somewhat alleviated later, when I’m not so busy with the gear grind, but until then, I am simply left to sit here and ponder “good lord, Blizzard, why do you hate altoholics?” Back to Garrisons, again, and we see the problem. The Garrison is such a time sink that it’s hard to keep up with more than one. Having a single account-wide garrison would be too much of a shortcut and leave you with too few options… unless! What if leveling the Garrison on your alts unlocked additional plots to your account-wide Garrison? Perhaps you could unlock access to the account-wide garrison where you would normally unlock access to your personal garrison and then just continue to gain extra plots or perks where you would normally unlock personal garrison abilities. For example, the point where you would normally unlock the mine would grant you access to your shared mine (at level 2 or 3 or whatever it is leveled to) and slightly increase the yield (say 10% or something like that) instead of creating a new one at level 1. Instead of building a new barracks, you unlock access to the shared barracks, and for the same resources that you would have spent to make a new level 1 garrison, you expand your current garrison and increase your follower limit by a small amount (let’s go with 10% again and say 2). And so on and so forth. Granted, these sorts of sweeping changes would be hard to implement now, but I can’t imagine that nobody suggested something like this during the creation process. Why wasn’t this hashed out before launch?

 


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