The Winds Are Changing…Again.

4 06 2009

I apologize for the extended AFK, but things have been shaping up for more changes!  Nothing is official yet, but it looks as though I might be closing down NEA and joining Xandarr’s The Experienced Noob blog as a weekly feature.  The details aren’t worked out but that is just formality.

The real reason for the move is because Xan and I are working on bringing The Experienced Noobs Podcast to reality.  Thats right.  Podcasting ftw.  We’ve teamed up to brainstorm some things and it looks good so far.  More details to follow and when the official announcement is ready to be made, I’ll post back.   I might even submit my stuff to Xan and still keep NEA around and just post my entries.  Who knows.  Times are exciting though. 🙂





Blizzard Unborn

26 05 2009

The puzzle is starting to come into shape.  While listening to podcasts and gathering my own information, I believe I’ve narrowed down whats going on with releases.  I am probably totally wrong, but lets just take a look at the evidence.

buildingBlizzard said they wanted an expansion a year.  They made this announcement a little before BC launched.  They’ve obviously not followed this model though.  Then they merge with Activision and it is stated that the new Activision-Blizzard wants to release one Blizzard title a year.  Keyword being title, not expansion.

They’re are also unconfirmed rumors of patch 3.2 launching in October with 3.3 coming out in February or March of next year.  Someone posted this on the official forums and it was met with a blue post reply stating the dates were a little far off.  What does this mean? 

Arena Season Six just wrapped up (I believe, I don’t mess with arenas at all).  Normally there are one to two months of time between seasons.  Arena Season Seven starts with patch 3.2.  So does this mean 3.2 launches in a couple of months instead of October?  If so, its clear Blizzard has stepped up the content production time (lets just hope its not super buggy like 3.1…).

Taking all of this into consideration.  Here is a very possible scenario.

  • July-August 2009 – Patch 3.2 launches
  • December 2009/January 2010 – Patch 3.3
  • Q4 2009 – Starcraft 2 launches (taking 2009’s “new blizzard title”)
  • Q2 2010 – WoW expansion (likely to be announced at Blizzcon)
  • 2011 – Diablo 3 launches (or maybe Starcraft 2 expansion)
  • 2012 – Either WoW expansion or the next-gen MMO

Its far out and who really knows as things can change.  We do know that they’ve been working on the next-gen MMO for at least a year.  If they follow the typical four to five year time table that an MMO takes, that would put its release somewhere around the 2012 timeframe.  No matter what, it doesn’t look like Blizzard is going to ever meet the ‘one expansion per year’ model they want.  I have no idea why a company like Turbine can do it and Blizzard can’t though.  Knowing Blizzard’s past track record, I would say 3.2 coming out in July or August is wishful thinking…





Weekly Diary #1

23 05 2009
While I have a few articles I’m writing, I also wanted to include a weekly “State of Jeg” post.  This will be more of a generalized diary of my adventures in the World of Warcraft.  I apologize if this bores you, but it will only be once a week or so.  🙂

holytreeIf you don’t already know, I play a Priest.  Shadow Priest to be exact.  Of course when raiding, Holy is more valuable.  I’ve made no secrets with my guild that when I finally catch up and hit 80 I’ll be the Holy Priest of the guild.  Being poor I didn’t have dual-spec.  Keyword being didn’t.  Last night a guildie gave me alone, almost against my will.  As much as I hate being in debt, I hate having offer to heal a 5-man after offer whispered to me only to say no.  Can I heal in shadow?  Sure I can, but not as well as if I were holy…

So I spent the first part of the night setting up my bars and trying to get used to holy.  I’ve played two priests to at least 70 and raided with my Undead Priest.  I had never touched the holy tree though.  Sites like Raider101.com and TalentChic.com got me started and pointed me in the right direction.  I grabbed Healbot, a mod I had never had use for.  All in all I felt like I was taking a pre-made and trying to figure it out.  As long as I’ve played a Priest, the holy tree might have well been written in French.

After setting all of my bars and mods up, I immediately got a whisper from a guildie looking for a Nexus run.  This was his first real tanking experience and my first healing experience.  Wow, did it ever show!  He would pull too much or I’d lose line of sight or he’d tank in a bad spot and I wouldn’t pay attention and then I’d stand in a bad spot.  It was a very valuable play session and I can honestly say it breathed new light into an old MMO.  Back when I was tasked to heal in the Horde days, I would always target heal.  It just wasn’t that hard in my opinion…  Getting used to Healbot almost feels more chaotic because I’m pressing mouse buttons and holding keys and do not have everything memorized.  I might as well close my eyes and throw a dart.  Whatever it hits is getting cast. 

By the end of the run we started to work better.  It was apparent that all of my +Crit was holding me back because I was running out of mana fast.  Now a real problem though.  When to switch up gear.  I’m still leveling as Shadow.  I guess I’ll start to switch gear from +hit and crit to mana regen starting around 76 or 77…  Any ideas?

I did want to throw a shout out to Blizzard though.  As negative as I am in regards to them, the equipment manager and dual-spec were great additions to the game.  I am not shy with the fact that I try to use as few mods as possible.  Whatever Blizzard builds into the UI I know I will never have to update or live without when the mod developer decides to move on.  There are still mods I can’t live with out, but the more Blizzard incorporates, the happier I am.





Nerf ‘Em All’s New Home!

21 05 2009

Welcome to Nerf ‘Em All’s new home!  I’ve made the switch from Blogger to Word Press.  Blogger isn’t a bad host, but they don’t allow as much flexibility as Word Press.  Because of this move I haven’t had  a chance to write up a new post, but have no fear!  I have a few I’ve been working on and hope to have something published this weekend.  For now, I’ve got to level to 80! 🙂





Cupcakecraft?

16 05 2009
Is WoW too easy? I have put myself in a position to not be able to raid as I am just coming back to WoW after a hiatus and burnout of the Shaman class. My favorite class is the Priest with shadow flavor and upon returning I’ve decided to play a Priest again, even if it means leveling. I have an Undead Priest ready to go but…my friends play on the Alliance. Ugh.

Anyway, the reason I ask if WoW has gotten too easy is because I keep hearing bloggers and podcasters say so. The people I know in RL that raid would disagree. Yet these same people are pugging raids. RAIDS! Sure, there was some pugging that took place at the end of BC, mainly post content nerf, but not right after launch. So lets dissect this deal.

First off, Blizzard claimed something like 1.2% of the entire player base saw the Sunwell at its prime. That means that of 11.5 million people (even though the numbers were lower then, but for sake of argument…) only 138,000 people were “bleeding edge raiders” who were out of things to do. The Sunwell came out with 2.4, which was March 25, 2008. That was a year and two months after The Burning Crusade launched. Its safe to say that this raid was a major content patch and was probably under some sort of development at TBC’s release. If this is true, Blizzard put over a year of development into a 25-man dungeon that only 138,000 played. Wasted resources? Sure sounds like it, BUT, lets not forget thats the total player base for a lot of MMOs. It’s true that 1.2% of your population controlling the direction of PVE is silly…or is it?

In my opinion, no. Thats your hardcore player base. They push the envelope and find tiny little secrets that the developers weren’t aware of. Having those hardcore people happy, generally mean the rest of the subscribers reap the benefits. It is the trickle down effect at its greatest. Back in TBC I knew I would never see the Bleeding Edge, but I could have fun with the raids I could complete in time. I’m by no means hardcore. I have a wife and three small children. I play once they go to bed or when they are out of the house for some reason. For all intents and purposes, I play from 9pm est to midnight and then off and on during the weekend. My 15-20 hours a week prevents me from being bleeding edge. I’m ok with that though.

With Lich King a new mentality has taken over Blizzard (or is it pressure from the Activision side of the merge?). Any Tom, Dick, or Harry is able to be bleeding edge. Has Blizzard really thought this out? Think of the danger. In a pre-expansion interview with Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime (which of course I can’t find now, i think it was on massively), he said they were having trouble keeping up with the player base’s appetite for content. Seems to me this the perfect example of rock and hard places slamming together to make a bad situation.

On one hand, you make the content easier and open it up to a lot more people. You change the face of what it means to raid and allow a broader scope of participants. To counter this for the hardcore folks you put in “hard modes.” The problem with this is you know going in that the casual types that you are now gearing toward aren’t going to clear the hard modes, but they have a very good chance at being at the end of raid content. This of course means more QQ about nothing to do and Blizzard feeling even more overwhelmed then they’ve already admitted to. Is this a good idea? Only if Blizzard steps up the content releases.

Games like Lord of the Rings Online have large and somewhat game changing patches on a regular basis. They aim for one every two months with one paid expansion per year (which comes with a “free” month of game time, another complaint I have with blizz). So by Turbine’s, LoTRO’s development company, philosophy 3.1 would have likely been broken up into two patches. One for dual spec and one for Ulduar. Blizzard is probably so big they work on a lot of things at once and this model wouldn’t work. They’ve said they want these big patches to cater to everyone. Why? If they release a patch every six months, then yeah. If they spread them out the game would feel like its constantly changing and in my opinion would help keep the game feeling fresh. Having those patches every other month is a great thing. Sure, sometimes your playstyle isn’t being catered to, but it still feels like the game is ever changing in small little bits and pieces instead of big game changing moments like WoW’s 3.1. This isn’t Blizzard’s plan and I feel that near the end of LK, there will be more people drop off than near the end of TBC. The fact that WoW has seen it’s first stagnant quarter as far as growth goes is the first shred of evidence. This can also be taken with a grain of salt because they didn’t release it in a new country/region, did they?

Anyway, my point is that Blizzard is busy nerfing everything to cater to the casual player but if they aren’t careful they’ll nerf WoW’s growth. MMOs evolve at a blistering pace. If the game feels stagnant to its players, the numbers drop off. It is the classic story of not balancing the fine line. Developers don’t make changes and basically come across as just milking the game as long as they can, or they make radical changes to fix or save the game and see people leave in droves. For the first three years it seemed like Blizzard was riding it perfect. Lately it seems they’re leaning more one way. For the sake of those of us who enjoy the game, lets hope they’re right and these worries are for nothing.





Podcasts, Twitter, Oh My!

15 05 2009
What is a podcast?
 
After hearing the WoW Insider Show and The Instance, and those being the only podcasts I had ever listened to, I was under the impression that they were quasi-radio shows from creative people who weren’t actually on the radio. This seems to be only half true. After listening to a few more, I jumped to conclusions and ran my mouth (or fingers) during my first Podcast post. A podcast is really just a group of people who record themselves talking. If you find them interesting, good. If you don’t, thats also good. I believe these dedicated people would like to have as many followers as they could, but who wouldn’t?
 
The simple fact is the first two I listened to were WoW news heavy. They weren’t wild or spontaneous. I liked them because they were news outlets instead of me having to go look everything up (but I do anyway). I listened to a few other shows and admittingly didn’t “get it.” After listening to more (many more) podcasts, I now understand the basis of it all. The person mentioned in my last post isn’t a news reporter and doesn’t have to be professional. She’s just being herself which in retrospect is actually more warming than the professional facade. Now this isn’t a 360 of my last post. I still very much enjoy WoW Insider and The Instance. I just now understand they have a different schtick. A podcast like Rawrcast is more edgy. It still delivers the news, but if you go in looking for a laugh you’ll find it quick. My problem was I went in looking for news. Once I got my head out of my ass, I could just kick back and enjoy the show the way it is intended. I do have to say, the mash-up of comments that Rawrcast has is friggan hilarious. If you haven’t heard it, head over to rawrbitchrawr.com and check it out.

[I’m going to break in right here and edit what I had already written. Stompalina called me out on Twitter today and I have to say I am now an avid fan of the show. To be a fan of a podcast you have to be a fan of the people first. You’re already a fan of the content, now you just have to be a fan of the people talking about said content. Stomp standing up and calling me out for my comments has only proven how dedicated she is to her craft. I guess I’m an uber dork and I respect that. Bravo Stomp. Can’t wait until your next show!]

This brings me to another Podcast that stands out amongst the rest. Bind on Equip. This is possibly the best show to NOT find WoW news! These guys are crazy. They are hilarious and listening to their lowbie instance runs is great! They have inspired me to talk to some of my guildies and do the same exact thing. They’ve pleasantly reminded me that WoW isn’t all about raiding and loot. Its about people and bullshitting with friends. So often we forget that.

I want to give shout outs to all the podcasts I currently listen to, but there isn’t enough time in the day to do so. I’ve linked my very favorites over on the right of my blog. Click them all, listen to them all, love them all! I’ll keep that up to date as I find new ones. If you have any that I don’t, hit me up here, email, or on Twitter.
Quick paragraph about Twitter. I had used it and I mean barely. I just didn’t understand the fuss. Then I started adding people from the podcasts and just replying to random stuff to just see if anyone would talk back. Wow! Now I’m addicted to Twitter!




Blizzard Rolling Greed?

12 05 2009
It’s hard to determine the motive, but one can easily be led to believe that the merge of Activision and Blizzard is starting to change Blizzard. The company known as Blizzard has always been about the community, or at least done a hell of a job appearing as such.

They were put in a bad spot by mod creators charging a fee for their freelance development work. Blizzard didn’t like this and ordered cease and desist orders on monetary fee based mods. I think its safe to say the mods have evolved ten fold and probably aren’t what Blizzard was expecting when WoW launched. The man hours it takes to create something like Carbonite or Quest Helper has to be very large. These guys wanted some compensation for their hard work and Blizzard put the kabosh on the deal. I can see Blizzard’s point. This is their game and if anyone is to make money off of it, its them. These mods are great but I guess could be looked at as leeches or mooches.

Next up was the iPhone apps. At first Blizzard seemed to go after the apps that cost money. Again, while I personaly might not agree, I understand. Then they pretty much surprised everyone by squashing free apps. These apps didn’t mine the armory for information or interact with the game in any way, but thats Blizzard’s intellectual property and they don’t want anyone messing with it. This is when I started to question Blizzard. It doesn’t seem right. These apps were doing nothing but supporting WoW. Saturating the market with pro-WoW stuff would be good in my opinion. Most games don’t have their own support apps on iTunes, so if someone accidentally browses and sees one they might question what the game is about and download the free trial. Luckily I bought or downloaded them all and while none of them are neccessary, they are neat to have. Warcraft Chest is just a simple app with the loot drops from launch to Ulduar. It doesn’t mine info from anywhere, it simple is a sortable database of information. To me this is no different from going to Allakhazam, WoWhead, or Thottbot. They display the same information and have adds all over their sites. The only real conclusion to make is that Blizzard is working on their own iPhone apps. So ok. Whatever. This is still annoying though.

Then the straw that broke the camel’s back. There is a German web comic by a couple of WoW fans. The comic is named Shakes and Fidget. Yesterday WoW Insider broke the story that Activision-Blizzard has issued a cease and desist on the comic. I immediately went to the Shakes and Fidget site and was shocked to find zero ads. These guys appear to just be huge fans of WoW and decided to take the hobby of comic making and share their WoW humor. For the life of me I can’t think of why this was such a big deal. Blizzard has always promoted fan sites. Now it seems they are pulling their IP card and choking anyone who uses it.

It really feels like they are starting to alienate their hardcore fans. They’ve gone from being super supportive to tightly restrictive in a short period of time. The only conclusion to really draw is that the taint of Activision is bleeding over and effecting Blizzard. I pray they don’t forget why their fans are so loyal to their products. So many developers have fallen victim to greed and I had really hoped Blizzard was going to…well, be Blizzard and go against the grain as usual. I could be totally wrong, but I don’t see why they ordered a free web-comic with no ads on their site to stop spreading the WoW love in Germany. You would think they would be honored that these guys are taking their talents and supporting WoW.