Patch 7.2 is upon us

Well, the big news from yesterday’s Q&A is that Patch 7.2 will go live at the next reset. I suppose this is good news — the current content is getting a bit worn, although honestly I would be able to find too much to do in it for weeks or even months yet. Still, it is always fun to get new shinies.

No question in my mind, flying will be my main and most frenetic focus for the first couple of weeks until I get she achievement. I am heartily sick of bumbling around on the ground and being forced to take commercial air to get to far away places. Flight paths are still too roundabout for my tastes, and if I am going to take scenic tourist flights, then I want to be able to swoop down or stop at interesting points I see from the air.

Not going to lie, I am also waiting for flying to get some profession quest lines finished on alts. Some of them are too lightly geared to deal efficiently with mobs encountered getting to or getting out of quest areas. If the quest is to kill 12 bears, for example, I do not want to have also fight my through an area packed with spiders or rabid plant life, both entering and exiting the quest area. And I am also waiting on flying to level a couple of my more problematic alts (looking at you, Mage).

I have Pathfinder Part 1 finished, so it will just be a matter of grinding out the new rep and other requirements for Part 2. I am not really that happy with Blizz introducing an entire new faction for us to get rep with for this achievement, however. It just strikes me as Blizz once again — in what has become a depressing pattern — screwing with us, moving the goal posts just as we get close enough to think we are finished. To add insult to injury, no existing rep tokens count for the new rep.

Similarly, Patch 7.2 will permit (ok, “force”) us to increase the gear level of our class hall champions if we wish to use them for new missions. But all those gear upgrade tokens you have been collecting ever since your champions all reached level 850? Yup, you guessed it, worthless. There will be new ones we can grind for endlessly.

The other goal post that has been moved is of course the artifact trait one. I would not ever characterize myself as a completionist when it comes to achievements in this game, but there is just something mean about letting me get a whiff of success at maxing out my artifact traits — I am at 52 right now — then move that goal nearly out of range (there will be something like 50 more traits or trait levels in 7.2, and each will cost millions or even tens of millions of AP to get).

It just feels like Blizz ran out of good ideas and decided that redoing artifact traits, class hall quest lines, champion missions, faction rep, and class hall research was the way to go. Yeah, take what are arguably the most annoying parts of Legion and make everyone do a do-over on them and pass it off as new content….

I have not played the PTR lately, so I only have what I read to go by for some of the upcoming changes. In general, I kind of liked the world scenarios we got at the end of WoD as prep for Legion. They were fun to me because they really were completely optional. I am not so sure how much I will like them now that they will be a requirement for another achievement.

I don’t really understand the mechanics of establishing a new class hall base on a new island — this is beginning to smell like more garrisons to me. And I surely do not get the building mechanic. Apparently, each region and/or server group somehow “votes” for the kind of building (one of three possibles) they want. From what I can glean, you “vote” by collecting and giving up nethershards (something new to grind for, but remember Blizz hates collecting currency except when they don’t). At some point there are enough votes for the building to be constructed, it gives a local buff, lasts for 72 hours, gets destroyed by the Legion, then everyone gets to start all over again.

Forgive me if I am not jumping up and down in anticipation of what appears will be yet another depressing Sisyphean activity.

There will be some number of user interface upgrades in the new patch. Again, this is always nice, but the ones I saw were ones I have long ago fixed by using an addon. Blizz’s UI is generally poor, and they remain extremely lazy about fixing it because they know addons will fill in the holes until they get around to making a stab at it.Reading about the upcoming changes, it seems like my addons will still be leagues better than Blizz’s “fixes”.

I have not seen any updated official 7.2 patch notes yet, which makes me wonder if once again — like for 7.1.5 — they will only be published a few hours before the patch goes live, and even then they will be incomplete and straight out wrong in some instances. I would think if a new patch is deemed ready for prime time, that part of that includes having well-written and complete patch notes, but I guess this is not a priority for Blizz.

Still, for all my crabbiness about 7.2, I have to give Blizz credit for thus far sticking to their promise of continually pumping out new Legion content. I honestly did not think they would be able to do it, and I am happy to be proven wrong so far. In my opinion, “content” is at once the best and worst feature of Legion. The best because, well, there is undeniably a lot of it and it keeps changing and morphing at a pretty furious pace. The worst because too much of it is required rather than just optional — I say required because it is part and parcel of nearly every conceivable game goal for almost any player.

(For example, running dungeons is required in order to complete zones, develop professions, do class hall quest lines, etc. There is no  path to accomplishing these activities without running dungeons. Just my opinion, I know, but to me this is cramming certain content down people’s throats, forcing certain very narrow play styles on every character.)

There is a ton of stuff in Patch 7.2, and I have not even touched the surface. It will be here in a few days, and at that time we will all be able to judge for ourselves what works and what doesn’t in it.

Apologies for the rather disorganized comments today, I am on the phone fighting with customer service over what should be a simple door opening mod to my new dryer, and I am at wit’s end over trying to explain the problem to what seems to be someone with the technical grasp of a carrot on the other end of the line. I thonk I see alcohol in my near future.

A place for us

A couple of disconnected blogs I recently read got me to thinking about the human need to feel at home, an innate need identified and studied by psychologists, behaviorists, architects, interior designers, novelists, retailers — the list goes on and on. Think back to your Psych 101 class and you will recall this need is so basic it was identified by Maslow in his Hierarchy. (I suppose there are psychologists who take issue with Maslow’s work, but it always made sense to me. If you were not paying attention in Psych 101, you can get the gist of his theory in this totally unofficial Wikipedia article.)

The first blog I read that started me on this chain of thought was Matthew Rossi’s regular Blizzard Watch Q&A from yesterday. One of the questions was from someone complaining that the Blizz crossover promotion between Heroes of the Storm and WoW was ruining HotS for him, because there were all these scrubs jumping in and being stupid about how they played.

I have never played HotS, never intend to play it, and getting some big old ugly chunk of 1’s and 0’s to ride in WoW does not make me want to try playing it. But I can sympathize with the questioner. Remember back in Mists when everyone had to win some number of PvP battlegrounds as part of the quest line for the legendary cloak? (Now that’s when legendaries meant something! And you kids get off my grass!) Anyway, I always thought this was a terrible idea — the regular PvPers hated amateurs coming in and ignorantly screwing up established tactics, and the non-PvPers resented having to be there doing something they had no interest in learning or ever doing again.

Here was a prime example of Blizz deliberately messing with the basic human need to feel at home. The regular PvPers felt their space had been invaded by ignorant and clueless strangers — like when your in-laws suddenly show up at your door — and the non-PvPers were thrust into a situation where they did not know the rules of behavior or the terrain or how to interact with others. Neither group felt at home. It was a guaranteed lose-lose situation.

Now, I suppose Blizz did it because having a robust PvP play option attracts more people to the game, and maybe they were losing these kinds of players so they thought if more people tried PvP they would actually like it, thereby increasing this aspect of the game. I have no idea how it turned out, probably some players did in fact decide PvP was kind of fun. No matter. The point I am trying to make here is almost everyone involved in this activity at the time disliked it. Why did they dislike it? Because suddenly a part of the comfortable little niche they had made for themselves in the game was gone.

I would argue that much of the angst we players express with Blizz is due to the sudden removal of some aspect of the game we have come to feel at home with, in the Maslow sense. This is deeper than just stodgy old players uncomfortable with change, this is akin to having your home destroyed by a tornado. More than once.

Each of us defines the central aspect of WoW differently, or to put it another way, we each establish for ourselves what we believe to be our “home core” in the game. We may not even know that we do this, and we might be hard put to describe what that core is, but it is there for all of us. When that core is shaken or demolished, especially if it seems to happen frequently, then we start hollering. This I think is why the hunter changes of the last two expansions have seemed so heinous to me — prior to WoD, I doubt if I would have defined being a hunter as the home core of my game, but when Blizz began to demolish first the SV spec and later the entire hunter experience, suddenly I realized the very foundation of my game enjoyment had been removed. I was left to find another home core or rebuild on the old one. For humans, both these situations are difficult, just ask Maslow.

Which brings me to the other blog that got me thinking along these lines — a piece by Bhagpuss over at Inventory Full on player housing and the dilemma MMOs face on the subject. The quick summary is that there likely is a Goldilocks solution as to whether or not to have player housing and if so how much or little it should affect the game, but that this solution is difficult for most game makers to arrive at. In fact, recent history for MMOs shows that few companies have succeeded.

As some of you may know, I favor the idea of player housing. I really liked my little Sunsong Ranch home. In fact I still go back there every couple of weeks, just as a place to log off from, with a cozy bed and a bubbling pot of stew on the stove. It gives me a peaceful feeling of being at home, of taking off my boots and warming my tired feet by the stove, anticipating supper and reflecting on the day’s adventures.

If we had had just a few opportunities to customize that space — beyond becoming bff’s with whoever that was that decorated it for us — Sunsong Ranch would have been close to perfect as player housing in my opinion. It was completely optional, it did not in any way affect your game play beyond the initial zone quest sets, and it was instanced so that it was really just your own.But Blizz took this notion of an instanced individual space and made it into a monster in WoD in the form of garrisons, and into an annoyance in Legion in the form of class halls.

Anyway, my point is not to rehash all the problems with garrisons or class halls. (However, for crying out loud, can we get a lousy place to sit and maybe be able to buy a beer in the hunter hall??) My point is that some players — maybe even a lot of players, who knows  — really enjoy having a small space of their own, a place they can call home, even in a computer game. And Blizz has demonstrated they have the technology. The garrison technology was great — an individual instance that you could invite groups to, a few chances to do limited customization — it was just the typical Blizz overreaction that made it bad by requiring every player to have one and to develop it and make it the central jumping off point for an entire expansion, and by offering amenities like a bank and an auction house and portals so that you never had to leave it.

Maybe if Blizz gave us some decent optional and limited player housing — a place of our own — we would not be so quick to yell at them when they make huge changes to our class play style or professions or gear. No matter what they did , we could still come home at the end of a long day questing or raiding, kick off our muddy boots and put our feet up by a nice fire, and feel at home.

Maybe Blizz should dig out their old Psych 101 textbook. It might make them realize that always screwing with core player engagements like class and spec identity is more disruptive than it is helpful, and that maybe if they were to let us have a tiny space of our own in the game we might be happier. Just a thought.

Class halls – why?

Stopping in to my class hall on my main over the weekend, I realized that I rarely send followers on missions any more. Why? Mainly because the majority of rewards seem worthless to me. Just not worth the effort or the class hall resources — even though I am approaching 50k of those.

I still usually do the AP missions, but only if I can configure a team that will net me at least 75% bonus chance, because the bonus token is the one I want, not the paltry 30-40k main reward. Approaching 3 million AP cost per trait increase, it just doesn’t seem cost effective to take hours or days to gather 30,000 AP.

Once in a while, out of boredom, I will do the gold reward missions, but again only if I can get a very high percentage bonus chance, because although the 1500 gold bonus is decent, the baseline 400-700 gold is frankly not worth the effort these days. Too many other ways to earn gold in a lot less time. Heck, I can earn close to 400 gold just vendoring gray items and green gear from a bunch of daily world quests.

Dungeon and raid “special” missions? I have never gotten anything worth while from the chests awarded for completion. All these missions do, at least in my opinion, is clutter up my quest log. (And as a side note, Blizz, when are we going to get a larger quest log?)

Follower gear and tokens? Please. Some of them are of value early in the follower process, I grant you, but they are merely vendor trash once you have leveled your followers. I keep a few items in my bank just to outfit a team now and then for AP bonus missions, but otherwise — pfffft.

As a consequence of crappy rewards, my followers tend to sit around a lot. Except for Addie Fizzlebog. We go everywhere together, and though my hunter does not really need a bodyguard, I have managed to equip her with gear that nets me 150 garrison resources every time I complete a world quest. (In theory I should be able to get 200, but that other 100-resource token has been elusive for me.) 150 does not sound like a lot, but it seems to really add up — remember I am close to 50k resources and I do not usually do a ton of WQs every day. I should have enough to easily do the two new class hall improvement stages in 7.2. (Though why I want to do them may be another question, see below.)

(I will admit, though, sometimes I feel like smacking her if I have to hear her squeak one more time “I’m a real hunter now!”)

The fact that follower missions rapidly become fairly useless is to me emblematic of the whole concept of class/order halls in Legion. I just don’t see the point. Blizz seems to have gone out of their way to make sure we don’t spend a lot of time in them — no mailboxes, nothing that makes them places you want to hang out in, not even any particularly useful gear.

Recently there has been a spate of blue posts defending the class hall gear you can buy, but I think I have to side with the player complaints on this. It is true, I think, for most players, that by the time they have the level and rep and achievements necessary to buy a particular piece of gear, chances are excellent that they do not need it except possibly for transmog. I think the first piece I could buy on my hunter was useful, but after that not so much.

Arguably, some classes spend more time just getting to their class hall than they do actually transacting business there. Which brings up another point — what was cute and intriguing in terms of getting to a particular class hall in the beginning becomes tedious and annoying very quickly. This was brought home to me over the weekend when I spent some time leveling my rogue. I don’t really care that the rogue class hall is in the Dal sewers, but the whole requirement to run through Dal, into the shop, lay down your coin, have the secret door open, run down stairs and take a left, run down more stairs and take another left, then run through the sewer and across the bridge, then open another secret door — all just to get to your class hall — is, to put it mildly, FREAKING STUPID AND ANNOYING. I know some devs at Blizz think it is clever and fun, but honestly they must never have done it more than once or twice, because — no, just no.

Hey Blizz, how about doing something really nice for quality of life in Patch 7.2, and give everyone a class hall hearth like we had for garrisons, or if you don’t want to call it a hearth, call it an “instant portal” like a couple of classes have?

Class halls do have target dummies, but that brings up another ridiculous head-scratcher — why are there none in Dal? We are told the city is in hiding from the Legion, it will serve as the launch pad for the final assault, and it must be defended at all costs, yet there is no way for its defenders to train?  Honestly, between this and the ridiculous engineer-only auction house, Dal pretty much stinks as a hub city. I say let the Legion have it.

I am sticking by my theory that the only reason we have class halls in Legion is that Blizz originally planned to keep the WoD garrison idea for at least one more expansion, and it was too late to undo that plan by the time they figured out garrisons had a lot of unintended — and bad — consequences for game play, not to mention a lot of players voiced loud complaints over the whole idea. By the time it was clear that WoD’s garrisons had flopped,  Legion was already sketched out in some detail, and there was no good way to remove them with out trashing much of the rest of Legion’s design. So Blizz made a few passes at removing some of the things they perceived to be problems with them, and thus we got these relatively worthless class halls.

Blizz, for the love of all you hold holy, unless you intend to give us guild halls or player housing, please ditch the whole idea of garrisons or anything remotely similar in the next expansion. Though it might have looked good on paper, it turned out badly — cut your losses and move on. It is a complication that adds nothing to the game. And who knows, without it we might get another raid tier! 😉

Dare we hope?

Short post today, summer lazies have overtaken me. Also, about the only thing going on for me in the game now is clearing out banks, selling gear, rounding up some glyphs from vendors, and the ever-popular RECONFIGURE YOUR ENTIRE HOTBAR SCHEME AND UI FOR EVERY FLIPPIN’ ALT. Not that I’m annoyed….

Anyway, that’s not what today’s topic is. Today’s topic is manners. Hold onto your hats and take a deep breath, because I have noticed that

Trade chat, LFR, and the general tone of the game has noticeably improved.

image

At least on my server. I have no idea how long this will last, but I am loving it. I am not a big believer in coincidences, so I have to think that Blizz’s new Cone of Silence rule has had some effect, if only temporarily. Fingers crossed.

Trade chat has become bearable again. No, it’s not where you go for intellectual discussion, but it is no longer toxic, and the bile-spewing hatemongers have either become almost civil, or they have disappeared. The usual summer influx of bored children showing off all the dirty words they know has not happened. People returning to the game after long absences ask questions, and others actually answer them without heaping flames of shame upon them.

Speaking of which (returning players), I have noticed quite a few of them since the patch. I did not notice any influx of new players as a result of the Warcraft movie, but the patch does seem to have enticed quite a number of players back. I don’t know how long it will last, but it is refreshing to see them (not to mention a tad amusing to witness their befuddlement with all the changes). Stormwind has become populated once more, and it seems like the long garrison exile is over.

My guild, too, has become more active, with probably double the number of players active every night now compared to the number we saw before the patch. I am hoping some of these returning players will need gear, pots, gems, and enchants, because it would be nice to put all those crafting cooldown mats to good use before Legion.

In short, I am seeing a tentative return to a sense of community, and I like it. I really hope it is the start of a rising trend, not just a temporary upward blip in what has been a descending spiral.

Tonight we are going to try a guild fun run through HFC. It should be a real circus, as we are all still learning our new class and spec changes. I am expecting a lot of really spectacular fails, with accompanying choruses of laughter.

Blog admin note: I will be taking some days off periodically until Legion goes live, cutting my posting back to 2-3 times a week. I feel like I need to get a short break in before the mad whirl of a new expansion is upon us. Plus, it’s summer, and summer is made for relaxing. Hammocks and sprinklers and beaches and barbecues await!

Artifact weapons – still uneasy about them

Yesterday was another in Blizz’s series of dev interviews on Legion. You can see it all by going to this MMO-C site. The subject for this one was artifact and order halls in Legion, as presented by Craig Amai and facilitated by the irrepressibly positive and optimistic Josh Allen. I still give Blizz good marks on conducting these weekly sessions, I just hope that they will continue through at least the first few weeks of Legion. There were no startling revelations in yesterday’s session, nothing anyone who has been following Legion development did not already know, but I am sure it was informative for those who have (probably wisely) not been following it.

Even though Amai gave us nothing really new, I was struck by one constant theme: Artifact weapons will be THE all-consuming gear chase for the entire expansion. In spite of a few limited “catch-up” mechanisms, each artifact weapon, on each spec on each character, will require months to “complete” — even if the definition of “complete” is something like 75% of an artifact talent tree.

Think about that for a minute. If you have even just a couple of alts, or if you like playing hybrid classes, you will likely spend the entire expansion chasing artifact weapon power/knowledge/gizmos. Everything you do in the game will have a tie-in with that infinite chase — leveling, world quests, dungeons and raids, dailies, class hall missions, gaining faction rep, every game activity. This is not to say that these activities will not be fun or engaging, I do not mean to imply that. But it means that everywhere you turn in the game, on every character for every activity, you will bear the burden of your artifact weapon. It will be Legion’s albatross.

I said a few months ago that I question the wisdom of making a single piece of gear the central feature of an entire game, and the more information we get about the process the more I am sure this move by Blizz is a mistake. It would be less of a problem if Blizz had implemented it so that it was more spec- and alt-friendly, but they clearly do not wish us to pursue more than one spec on one character as an accepted way to play the game.

Yes, I know that their words tell us otherwise, assure us that of course they want us to be able to have fun with other specs and with alts, but their actions not their words speak their true intent. If indeed they wanted to promote multi-spec and multi-alt play in the game, they would not have crafted the artifact mechanisms the way they have. They would, for example, have made it so that having attained a certain number of talent unlocks on one spec, if you switched to a different spec it would automatically receive the same number of unlocks. They would have made the artifact power catch-up mechanisms account wide instead of character-specific. They would have allowed you to purchase an alternate spec weapon at an equivalent level on a character if that character already had one on another spec — similar to the way you could buy an alternate cape in Mists or legendary ring in WoD.

I am not complaining about the fact that “completing” the artifact weapon on your main will take months™, there is nothing wrong about making such an accomplishment a reward for intense game play, nor is there anything wrong about using it as an incentive for participating in content. What I do think is a mistake is requiring basically the exact same process over and over again, a virtually endless cycle of grinding content in order to grub out maybe one more talent unlock for your third or fourth alt.

As they always seem to do, Blizz has taken a perfectly reasonable mechanism — the idea of pursuing a powerful weapon that will last for an entire expansion — and stretched it out of all proportion, turning it into an uncontrollable behemoth that will consume most of the game. This is why I call artifact weapons the garrisons of Legion, because in that instance Blizz could not control themselves and made what started out to be a very nice side concept into one absolutely central to major aspects of the game. We saw garrisons start out as “completely optional”, then morph into “completely optional after you have established a baseline Level 1 garrison” and finally into “required to have a Level 3 garrison and expand it into a shipyard if you want to see the new patch content.” I can hardly wait to see how Blizz will expand the already-extensive role of artifact weapons in the course of Legion.

Now, of course, my criticisms of the length of time necessary to pursue reasonably-filled-out artifact weapons in Legion is based on Blizz’s stated intent to adhere to a 2-year expansion cycle. If we expect Legion to last 2 years — 24 months — then players with a lot of alts will just not have time to outfit all of them with artifacts at an appropriate level. (Even if they pursue several simultaneously, grinding content is still a linear activity.) But what if Blizz is hedging their bets on the expansion cycle? What if they think Legion may have to be stretched out for 3 years? In that case, having very long artifact chases may keep some players engaged for a few extra months. Just a wild theory….

And on that tinfoil hat note, I begin my weekend.

Leveling strategies for Legion?

The past couple of days I’ve been thinking about how best to go about spending my time for the first couple of months in Legion. Clearly, there is no “one size fits all”, but I think I’ve isolated a few factors to consider.

Gear level at the start of the expansion. My first premade character in the beta was a template hunter, which started out with 680 gear. It felt very underpowered and indeed died several times during the quest line to get the baseline artifact weapon. After the artifact it felt a tad more sturdy, but with combined gear level still hovering around 690, attracting more than 2 mobs at once can get dicey.

Once I was able to do a character copy from live, I tried an ilvl 720 hunter, and there was vast difference for the better. So I think I am going to try for a minimum of ilvl 700 for all my alts before bringing them into Broken Isles. That is really not difficult to do — 695 Baleful gear along with some crafted pieces at 715, maybe a Conquest ring or shoulders, and some valor upgrades should easily do it. In fact, spending the time to get the valor upgrades may be superfluous.

Profession leveling. Right now my sense is that it will be just as easy to level professions at the same time as I do each character. It might ever so slightly delay reaching 110, but I do not think it will be enough to notice. With zone scaling, there is really no advantage to waiting until level 110 to go back and pick up profession quests — mobs do not die more quickly, and we still will not have flying so getting around will take the same amount of time. And I think the sooner I can level my critical professions the more it will help in gearing up my characters.

Artifact weapons. Right now I am thinking that I will initially pursue only one artifact weapon per character, which implies I will pick one spec and stick to it for a few months. This is chancy, of course, because Blizz really cannot be trusted to not “balance” your spec into oblivion at the drop of a hat. I have two hunters that I usually level first in any expansion, so if one is BM and the other is MM, that gives me a little insurance. Not much, but a little. And having only one artifact weapon eliminates the problem of dividing your accumulated Artifact Power, of having to decide whether to have two mediocre artifact weapons or one high powered one.

Leveling order for alts. This one is tricky, but I think, once I have picked a main, then the order for alt leveling will depend on their professions. Whichever ones seem to be most valuable for my main will be the ones to get leveled first. My main hunter has LW/skinning and my alt hunter has JC/mining, so those seem to be no-brainers. After that, I’ll just have to see. It may turn out that just getting alts past the baseline artifact weapon quest will be sufficient to get them to useful production for professions with a few quest lines.

Zone plan. Here is where zone scaling is really nice. I get bored rather easily with grinding through the same series of quests more than once or twice, so my plan for zones in which to level is that I don’t have a plan. For some, I will do one or two levels in a zone then move on, for others I may try to exhaust quest lines in a single zone before moving on. Part of the quest line for eventual flying in Legion involves what boils down to completing a large portion of the quests in every zone anyway, so at least one character — probably my main — will start working on that as soon as possible.

Class hall stuff. Yeah, in spite of what Blizz says, these are basically watered down garrisons, with all the annoyances but fewer of the perks. The fact that they are the main quest hub, yet Dalaran is the place where you have to be for things like bank, profession quests, etc., is just bothersome. And not for nothin’, but I absolutely do not feel like I am the Big Dog Main Hero Hunter in the hall, when there are a dozen other hunters running around with the same artifact weapon and the same Hati. The fantasy fails spectacularly for class halls, in my opinion. For that reason, I am not going to spend a lot of time developing class hall quest lines for my alts until relatively deep into the expansion.

LB-Too many Hatis

We are all special…

 

Things to save for later. Eventually I will go back and do some of the things I intend to skip during the first few months. I will probably do an off spec and accompanying artifact weapon on at least my main and a couple of alts. I will max out every profession. I will probably get at least one of my healers raid-ready. I will explore the areas I initially skip. I will tame a few Broken Isles beasts for my BM hunter and maybe my MM as well. At some point I will roll a Demon Hunter just because.

Honestly, if Blizz sticks to their new schedule of an expansion every two years, I suspect there will not be enough time to do all things I want to do in Legion, so as usual I will not be bored or complaining about lack of content.

(And now I realize I may have just talked myself into pre-ordering Legion.)

What about you — any special plans for the first few weeks of Legion?

Crazy versus cute

Today’s post may be a bit scattered, I am dealing with contractors and estimates and so am pretty distracted. It’s a good chance to deal with a couple of quick observations, basically unrelated to each other.

Findle’s Loot-a-Rang, I see from one of the forums, will only work in Draenor once Legion goes live. This is one of those things that just makes you scratch your head and wonder why. It is one of those minor quality of life improvements that everyone pretty much approved of. I certainly have not seen any ranting about “It’s way too easy to get your loot now, we need to get rid of that Loot-a-Rang thing so people have to walk over to far away corpses again, and hopefully it will be near a boss so that they will pull the boss in the process!”

Apparently an engineer can still use one in Legion, but everyone else will be out of luck.

Why would Blizz do this? They are once again “fixing” something that works fine, everyone likes, and so far as I can tell absolutely no one is complaining about. Is this yet another “immersion” item that some dev thinks takes away from the game? Will it be replaced with a Legion-only version just to give engineers some way to make gold?

I saw someone offer an opinion that it might be being removed because to make one in Legion will require legacy mats, and new players might be inconvenienced if they had to do so. ????? To that argument I offer one word: Jeeves. ‘Nuff said.

This is one of the things that Blizz habitually does that just makes me crazy. What can they be thinking? It’s like they cannot stand it when people actually really like a feature, they just have to screw it up. They did the same thing with the really nice guild perks like guild summon, with getting next-level loot from garrison missions, with scenarios, with the ability to change talents on the fly, with a lot of nice features. But no, every activity must have an annoying aspect to it! And if Blizz can’t just add an annoying aspect to a popular feature, then naturally they have to get rid of it. Can’t have people actually enjoying this game, for crying out loud!

What’s next, remove the “loot all” AoE, so that you have to walk around and loot every corpse again? Institute a “no running” policy so that now in addition to not being able to fly in a new expansion you also will not be able to run, you will have to actually walk everywhere? Require you to buy a bank slip every time you want to deposit or withdraw something in your bank? Require you to pay money to relearn every glyphed mechanism you already know? Remove the ability to efficiently optimize your gear’s secondary stats and replace it with a complete random process?  (Oh wait …)

On the bright side, I have been noticing some of the small nice touches once again. I spent a lot of time in my garrisons last week, and I noticed a lot of the very cool detail that went into them. It struck me that the whole garrison experiment was a kind of a good news bad news sort of thing. For all the annoying, frustrating, things about garrisons, there were a ton of very creative things, too.

I still get a kick out of sending all my followers on missions, then going out to the garrison gate to see them off as they leave. This little animation was, in my opinion, a real stroke of creativity. It’s the one activity in WoD that actually makes me feel “immersed” in the whole garrison commander fantasy.

I like that my pets rove around randomly, and even if I was forced to do pet battling just to complete the Menagerie so this could happen, I like the result of seeing them wandering around. It’s cute, in a way that isn’t in your face. (And speaking of “in your face cute”, I hope if Blizz is going to disable Loot-a-Rang in Broken Isles, they also disable Pepe and that stupid nasty little pug. Just sayin’.)

I like that my garrison has practice dummies, it’s a very decent innovation. I actually use them, especially when I am brushing the dust off an alt I haven’t played in a while.

Although I would have liked a choice in garrison architecture, I like the detail of the little out of the way houses scattered about (but I can’t for the life of me understand why there was not one designated for the commander….). I like the artwork for the alchemy and other profession huts, and I like the fishing area and herb garden. They are just chock full of beautiful artistic and animated details.

I also like the moving NPCs, there is a lot of detail in their movements. One thing I have noticed, though, is that they sometimes sit down alone at the eatery and commence to have a conversation with themselves, gesturing and all. That’s a little weird… I also like that they “notice” your presence and talk at you or salute or something, and that they actually navigate around you if you are in their path. Heck, they will even come to your aid if they are close and you are attacked by an herb garden creature.

The one thing I have noticed missing in garrisons is weather. I don’t think I have ever seen it rain there like it does out in the rest of the world.

I think when I look back at WoD, I will consider garrisons to have been a net plus for the expansion. I wish they had been account-wide, and I wish there had been some rudimentary player housing, but overall I liked them. I think much of the dissatisfaction with them was due to there being very little repeatable world content in the expansion, so people focused on their garrisons. Also, in typical Blizz fashion, they took a good idea and tried to make it The Ultimate Idea, so they went way overboard on the garrison’s centrality to the whole game. (Like they are probably going to do with Artifact Weapons in Legion, I am afraid.) This is a shame, because I think what Blizz took away from the experience is that players hated garrisons, not that their integration into the game was flawed.

So I doubt if we will ever see anything approaching garrisons again in the game. Sadly, the good things about them will become as yesterday as Findle’s Loot-a-Rang. My worry for Legion is that Blizz will institute class halls that have none of the cute, fun things that garrisons had, but that will retain an unhealthy centrality to game play that will cause them to become as unpopular as garrisons were.

In Blizzland, no good fun thing goes unfixed.