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Posts Tagged ‘World of Warcraft’

The Road to World Conquest: Cataclysmic tidings!

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Obviously, the end of the world is nigh: On Wednesday, I went to the doctor for my annual physical.

I don’t like doctors. Nothing against all you doctors out there – it’s totally irrational. I’ve never been diagnosed, but it feels like borderline iatrophobia. I think it comes from the fact that I hate hearing bad news and past experience has suggested that, more often than not, when one visits the doctor, one doesn’t come away with good news.

On the other hand: Preventive medicine is a good idea. I’ve still got a few weeks of Icarus-provided insurance left. And Catherine would like to make sure that I don’t die anytime soon.

So, I went to the doctor on Wednesday.

The first two things they did: Weighed me and took my blood pressure. I’m still hovering around 215 pounds – about 30 pounds to go before I’m absolutely happy with my weight. Blood pressure reading made me panic, though: 145/95. That’s in the neighborhood of hypertension. Well, there you go, I thought. The bad news starts.

The doctor didn’t say much about that at first. We moved on. I got a flu shot, then she checked my heart and lungs. Made me say “ah.” Looked up my nose and in my ears. Eventually, when I seemed relatively calm, she re-took the blood pressure for a follow-up reading. This time: 124/80. Much better!

After that, she gave me nothing but good news: Heart and lungs sounded fine. Nothing bad, skin-wise. No suspicious lumps or potential malignancies.

Then I went down to the lab and gave three blood samples for metabolic and cholesterol testing. As of Saturday, I haven’t heard any bad news from those tests so far.

Maybe I won’t be so terrified of doctors anymore.

***

World of Warcraft released its newest expansion, Cataclysm, on Tuesday. I’ve been playing through the new content.

On the first day, I spent much of my time in the new goblin starter area with a character on the Earthen Ring server named Gizmik. The goblins bring some much-needed whimsy to the Horde side of things. They’re tacky, trashy, and reckless. They blow stuff up with alarming regularity. They ride rockets as mass transit. What’s not to like?

The next day, I took my Level 80 tauren, Stamp – the only character I’ve ever gotten to the former level cap – out to the underwater high-level zone.

The day after that, I created a new worgen named Dillahunt so that I could experience the new Alliance werewolf content.

All three experiences echoed with one striking similarity: At a time when many MMO players are calling for more “sandbox” content as opposed to linear storylines, WoW is taking the linear storyline model to a whole new level using the phasing technology that they introduced in the Lich King expansion. For me, it mostly works because the devs are creating a more immersive and personal experience, while keeping some sense of serendipity and surprise with quests that pop up, seemingly at random, while you’re out playing in the world.

Things I liked (Goblin Edition):

* The tacky sprawl of the goblin town of Kezan.
* Getting a car right off the bat to zoom around the starter town.
* The moment when Deathwing makes his appearance over the island.
* The repeated use of familiar characters from Kezan in later goblin content, giving a greater sense of your persistence and impact on the world.
* The goblin rocketway in Azshara.
* The raptor rescue quest in the Secret Labs, where you end up covered in hissing and growling baby raptors. Glorious!

Things I didn’t like (Goblin Edition):

* More poop quests? Really? Granted, it doesn’t come until Azshara, but the big reveal about where those shiny crystals come from made me roll my eyes.
* The faux Jersey accent.

Things I liked (Stamp Edition):

* The sense that the world changed and evolved based on what I did as the missions progressed. I enjoyed this feature in WotLK. In Cataclysm, they just amped it up everywhere. It’s quite an accomplishment, making an MMO feel personalized. It’s something that I thought Lord of the Rings Online did quite well, and Blizzard seems to have taken some cues from what worked for the Hobbits.
* Quick travel option with the seahorse mount in one of the early underwater quests.
* The “astronaut” run animation along the sea floor.
* Huge whale shark!
* Getting chomped on by a grouper.

Things I didn’t like (Stamp Edition):

* Felt like I was in an aquarium, not the deep blue sea.
* The Jaws/Pirates of the Caribbean quest. Sorry! I think I’m just burned out on quests that just blatantly draw off pop culture. It felt lazy.

Things I liked (Worgen Edition):

* Enjoyed the starkly different mood of the worgen starting area, with its Victorian style and gloomy forboding.
* The “Running Wild” ability, which makes it possible for a worgen to be their own fast transportation.
* The option of switching between human (albeit without combat abilities) and worgen form.
* The new and improved murloc-killing quest in Darkshore, where you use a special robot to blow the hell out of the annoying critters.

Things I Didn’t Like (Worgen Edition):

* The opening storyline that takes the player from Gilneas to Darnassus seems to drag on a bit long after a while.
* In the beta, worgen didn’t need special knives to skin creatures – their claws were good enough! Now, even worgen need knives.

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Cataclysm stole my life!

December 6, 2010 4 comments

Tomorrow, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm finally hits the shelves. I’m still trying to decide whether I should sue Blizzard for stealing my life for their own profit!

Want proof? Well, okay. Here goes:

In Cataclysm, the world is ripped asunder by a vengeful dragon. In reality, a conniving harpy tore my world apart.

In Cataclysm, some statues were broken during Deathwing’s rampage. In reality, a couple of my action figures suffered a little damage in transit.

In Cataclysm, talent trees got tweaked. In reality, I had to retool and update my resume.

In Cataclysm, they added new starter zones. In reality, my starter zone is changing from Cary, NC, to Huntsville, AL.

In Cataclysm, they’ve raised the level cap. In reality, I made it to Level 44 in September and now I am proceeding toward the new current max of 45. I’m optimistic the cap will get raised again.

In Cataclysm, you can now fly mounts everywhere! In reality, I’ve been trying to train Huck to fly like that dog in Neverending Story.

So, what do you think? Do I have a case?

Vacation Achievements

January 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, it’s back to work at the apocalypse tomorrow. Time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished during the past week or so now that I’m rapidly running out of time to slack about. Here’s what got done during the vacation:

* Visited with the folks, my brother, my adorable nephew, my grandparents, and my second cousin for a few days after Christmas. It was a very concentrated sort of visit – two full days of driving hundreds of miles in a rented Shoebowl on either side of a couple of days of hanging around the homestead and gorging myself on turducken. I also owe a visit to some folks in Fernandina Beach. I’m hoping time will allow in the very near future!

* Added about 100 pages to the new OtherSpace Wiki.

* Tweeted a bunch.

* Picked up a new iTunes FM transmitter for the Juicebox and the second season of Babylon 5 at Best Buy.

* Got No Son of Hekayt, Book I, online for free download at http://www.jointhesaga.com – a move that I made because I’m more interested in drawing newcomers to OtherSpace MUSH and the book’s a more tangible hook than a plain old invitation to explore the abstract concept of an online roleplaying environment. I also tweaked the main website a bit, adding buttons to link to the Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress pages – as well as the new forums, the Wikis, and the old community site. (If you’d be so kind as to become a fan of Jointhesaga on Facebook, that’d be great! And if you want to follow me on Twitter, that’s also cool.)

* Scored the Loremaster of Outland achievement on World of Warcraft. That’s Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, and Outland finished. Now to wrap up Northrend so that I can claim that Loremaster tabard. Also, got Stamp much better geared and statted for the DPS role that I intend him to play, thanks to a lot of pick-up group runs. (Got the Perky Pug pet too. Best virtual pet in the game, if you ask me.)

* Leveled in Fishville and Mafia Wars, but Farmville is slow going. I may be losing patience for the farm. Feels like such a grind.

* Got Huck a full dental workup, grooming, and a blue kerchief. He looks great, but will be on antibiotics for a couple of weeks to clear up some skin issues.

* Saw Sherlock Holmes – twice. Once with my brother in Orlando; second time with Karen at Southpoint in Durham. It didn’t seem as good to me on second viewing, gotta admit.

* Saw Avatar, again, but this time in IMAX 3D. Big pretty is still pretty, although the story’s definitely very formulaic and simplistic.

* Watched Terminator Salvation, finally, on Movies On Demand. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

* Watched UP again, on Movies on Demand. Sad part is still sad, but the movie’s still very enjoyable. Classic work.

* Wanted to watch O Brother, Where Art Thou? again, but discovered that the DVD is SCRATCHED. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! Must get a new one ASAP.

World of Warcraft: Loving the PUG

December 31, 2009 6 comments

So, you know those dungeon adventures with random pick-up groups on World of Warcraft that are almost entirely chaotic and run counter to the strict guidelines set down in every strategy guide found on the Internet?

Here’s the thing: I really enjoy those PUGs, ESPECIALLY when things go a little haywire or spiral completely off script. It’s probably sick of me to feel this way, but there’s only cold comfort in pursuing trip after trip through these same old dungeons, following the normal rote tactics, and doing it flawlessly. No doubt, this makes me a bad raider and a questionable dungeoneer – particularly now that the system on WoW is designed for farming emblems to earn better gear so that you can move on to the bigger and better dungeons. Nevertheless, I kind of get a kick out of unhinged situations when a tank fails to hold aggro or someone inadvertently pulls the boss too soon or someone forgets about that bad guy’s Whirlwind ability and forces me to get my butt into gear to pick up the slack after they go down like a sack of hammers.

It’s only when the adventure doesn’t go as planned that I feel challenged and excited about it. Otherwise, it’s just monotonous – lather, rinse, repeat. Give me some unpredictability!

December 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Merry Christmas from Stamp@World of Warcraft!

WoW Dungeon Finder: On the other hand…

December 15, 2009 1 comment

After a couple more days of playing with the Dungeon Finder on World of Warcraft, I came to the conclusion that my quibble about the renewed capacity for ninja looting really doesn’t amount to much of a complaint at all, because the purpose of dungeons on WoW no longer seems to be getting the gear dropped by bosses – it’s about getting the emblems that can be used to purchase much better gear from vendors in Dalaran.

And I’m absolutely fine with that.

Bring on the PUGs!

WoW: Dungeon Finder downside

December 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Not so long ago, Blizzard introduced a feature with bind-on-pickup loot that allowed players who may have accidentally ninjafied the item to give it to a needier party member within the next couple of hours. That was a great move.

However, it seems to have been largely undone by the new Dungeon Finder tool, which randomly groups you with players who are often from other servers.

Yesterday, I participated in a PUG in Gundrak. It was rough going. We got about halfway through, killed a troll boss, and one of our members – a warrior – need-rolled some cloth boots while the rest of us were greeding. He grabbed them, dropped group, and went happily back to his server. Luckily, none of the rest of the party really needed the item, but it illustrates a minor flaw in the Dungeon Finder system.