Lists for reference
|Created date||Blog user/title||Last edit user|
|January 20, 2011||Raylan13/The Shattering novel contest opens||Fandyllic|
Appears on main page
From the halls of Blizzard:
Now up for adoption in the Pet Store: the Cinder Kitten, a fiery little feline looking for a home to warm. Adopt this adorable rascal, and you’ll help bring relief to the victims of Superstorm Sandy in the process.
From now until December 31, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. PST, 100% of the $10 USD/10€ (9£) adoption fee will be donated to the American Red Cross's Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. This support will enable the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support, and other assistance to victims of this disaster.
Stoneplow seems relatively peaceful, but there's a noticeable lack of farmhands in what is supposed to be a farming community. Looking further west we begin to see why: the fields are blackened closest to the Great Wall, with smoky white tendrils writhing from the ground. This can only mean one thing: the sha have somehow corrupted the area. The mantid in league with them are flying over the wall from the Dread Wastes, and it is only the bravery of a few Shado-Pan that hold them back.
is in charge of the defensive forces, and also oversees the evacuation of his fellow pandaren. With his troops stretched so thin he cannot gather all the people himself, and so we volunteer . While gathering our wits, we also meet with a familiar face, . She has stopped her on her way to find the . Though young, she can see just as well as any that the monks cannot hold back the mantid forever, and so suggests we do our part to . It only makes sense, as we'll be in the fields anyway.
Not at the pandaren are receptive to the evacuation order. A few families adamantly refuse to surrender their lands to the invaders, especially since they've tilled them for generations. Loon Mai doesn't seem too surprised by this; he'll keep his monks fighting for as long as he can. In the meantime, it seems he knows about the "Hidden Master" that Lin and her friends . He points us in the direction of Paoquan Hollow, a creepy forest not too far to the north. Lin can't even wait for us, so full of excitement, and she sprints off with little more than a "hope to see you there".
Paoquan Hollow is filled with mist. It's an eerie place, so unlike the rest of the Valley we've already seen. Fireflies dance in the gloom, while massive shapes appear and disappear. There's but a central path that leads through the dense fog, little used, and it stops at a small hut that suddenly looms before us. There's Lin, already trying to continue her training with the Hidden Master.
Master Bruised Paw instantly puts us through some rigorous training. We smash through , , and ; we light and take on the shambling ; we even climb high in the hills to gather a variety of eggs from the woodland birds, all to have the Master use them as part of our training! When all is said and done, we are tired but proud, having worked through the worst he had to throw at us... and poor Lin is left still attempting to learn just the beginning basics as we say our farewells to the strange old pandaren.
Thus ends our journey through the Valley of the Four Winds. Loon Mai thanks us for our help when we return to Stoneplow, and we are left to our own devices. We hear there may be a in the south, his camp perched high atop the cliffs bordering the Krasarang Wilds. Yes, there he is, with some new faces and his son. Ready to send us off hunting wild game, hunting bigger game...
- Go back to Valley of the Four Winds Part III
To do this, Chen needs supplies, and the best place to get them is at Halfhill and the market. Just like the other areas we've encountered in the Valley, Halfhill is experiencing its own problems. If his perfect brew is to ever see the light of day, Chen, , and must take separate paths for a short while, each pursuing a different but necessary component for the brewing process. Chen starts by gathering the barrels needed, but then sends us in to the Heartland.
The Heartland serves as the agricultural center for Pandaria, and it makes sense that the farmers here would have some hops to spare. But it doesn't come without a price. Each has tasks they would have us complete before handing over their valuable hops. We slog through the labors, at a breakneck pace, virmen, and fighting back various .
Along the way back to town we spot Mudmug standing at the edge of the marsh. Seems he's there to hunt down some water for Chen, so we dive right in and assist. There are a few surprises we have to deal with , but soon we have enough and Mudmug to Halfhill with us (he's pretty strong!).
All that's left to do is find Li Li at the Imperial Granary. It's a short walk from town, and when we get there it's no big surprise this isn't going to be an easy request to fulfill for grain. For starters, we have to to figure out which is the best... and Li Li is disappointed to find that none of them will quite work out. So she sends us over the cliffs and into the Krasarang Wilds on a wee little foray to get some well-guarded cave barley. On the way we help , the pesky sprites, and .
With his , Chen is ready to return to Stormstout Brewery. There's a just one, small catch: when we get there, the entire area is overrun with virmen and drunken hozen! In , we encounter an who has and also for Mudmug. Can't let a good mob go to waste!
With the exterior clear, Chen turns his attention to the Brewery itself. He, Mudmug, and Li Li help us one at a time, and soon things are right again, at least for the time being. But Chen knows something deeper and darker lurks in the Brewery, something that will have to be confronted if he is to reclaim his birthright.
For now, he is content with our progress. Not a moment too soon, an emissary arrives from the western town of Stoneplow, seeking refreshment for the troops. She also carries with her news of another threat...
Halfway down the hill our little trio chances upon a lone pandaren gazing across the fields. Compared to the pandaren we've met thus far, he has a distinctly... southern... drawl to him. He is none other than , a local brewer who uses muddy water for his beer. But his ability to brew has been hampered by the virmen. With beer threatened, Chen is quick to offer aid, or at least our aid.
All that's left before sampling Mudmug's concoction is to . Settling down after a long and grueling fight with the virmen, Chen, Li Li, and Mudmug share the home brew with us, and Mudmug lets slip there's this place called "Stormstout Brewery". Chen is interested at once, and suddenly a sense of urgency overcomes him. He departs for his family's brewery, leaving Li Li to her own devices.
- Stay here, Li Li.
- Sure thing, Uncle Chen!
Along the way we meet some new folks who are eager for our help. The workers at the Silken Fields are beset by mutated creatures of their own making, and we need to and take down the . While we're there, we also get a short lesson in .
New Cifera and the bordering Pools of Purity offer a sense of tranquility but they, too, have problems of their own (at least it isn't virmen!). Between a and , we've got some work cut out for us. Yet there's some time to help make some jam from fish eggs (yum!) and we meet up with , one of the companions of that went in search of the . While he may not have found the old fighter, he does that alludes to the mythical Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
Just in time, we return Li Li to Mudmug's Place, just as Chen arrives from having visited the Brewery. For a pandaren, he seems especially despondent, and it soon becomes . He tells a story so captivating that we can see through his eyes as he steps inside his family's brewery, only to be ignored by a . The old chap doesn't so much as return Chen's greeting, and seems more than eager to kick him out. Chen also finds some rather unsettling inhabitants in the brewery, including an and a drunken hozen. Shunned and crushed, Chen departs the Brewery, though he is adamant he will return to discover what has happened.
Just not today...
With the Jade Forest closed to players, we headed back into questing by diving into the Valley of the Four Winds. Unlike the Forest, this is a neutral zone, and the vast majority of our interactions are with the local pandaren. The Valley serves as an agricultural center for Pandaria, many of the giant crops within the Heartland fed by waters cascading from the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. The local farmers are beset by virmen in the east, while those in the west are rapidly losing their lands to the mantid swarming over the Great Wall from the Dread Wastes.
First, a few vistas to get us off on the right foot:
Upon first stepping foot into the Valley we meet with the most well known pandaren: . He is taking a small break from travels with his niece, , right at the first crossroads. After a brief interaction, we join him in taking a short walk up the road to Pang's Stead, where we meet the head of the pandaren family that owns much of the eastern lands, . We find that his family's crops and livestock are being and all manner of beasts. With Chen deciding to take (another) break, we take some time to help Pang out. This involves slaying a few of the pests, , and then helping out down at Thunderfoot Farm.
After gathering a few food supplies, we by mushan to Thunderfoot Ranch. This is a small pig sty run by , who has issues of his own. Not only does he need meat for his pigs, but some of them have into the hostile fields. A few mushan and turtles later, and we have the required meat; the three little pigs take a bit longer to track down, but are mercifully unharmed.
We do such a good job, in fact, that Liang sends us to check up on , bringing back to him. It seems that Francis's flock is under constant attack by , but he's too frightened to do anything about it. Fighting them away is no small task, but we gladly do so, and then contend with the and a . , Francis's master, isn't too pleased with the boy's cowardice, but we are invited to meet him at his place just down the road.
- Continue to Valley of the Four Winds Part II
- Go back to Vale of Eternal Blossoms: Screenshots and Video
Besides the great gate separating the Vale from the Dread Wastes, or the gate opening to Kun-Lai Summit, the most impressive structures in the west are the pair of giant mogu statues standing above the Golden Pagoda. Yes, these are very same that are on the new log in screen for the expansion. Passing through them to the east introduces a whole new level of awe, as the stunning Alliance and Horde shrines, main cities for the continent, stand on both sides of the towering Mogu'Shan Palace.
The entire area, at least for now, seems fairly phase-heavy, the mobs (and some NPCs) encountered depending on the quests you happen to be working on. Nearly all of the new factions have their representatives within the two shrines, ranging from the Golden Lotus to the Lorewalkers. Most have a variety of daily quests, and some of the quartermasters can be found within as well. In addition, most of the amenities one might expect in Stormwind City or Orgrimmar are present, including a bank and auction house.
Here we have an entirely different type of forest, one whose trees are twisted and gnarly. Almost all are inhabited by the mantid, and it seems you can't really go two feet without running into them. Sha influence is palpable, as the boundaries of the Horrid March and many of the trees themselves bear the now-familiar flickering energies associated with the elementals.
Almost every one of the new humanoid races can be found here in varying numbers. The saurok are found in the coastal regions. The pandaren only have a tenuous foothold in the north and south, the southern village tied with the Anglers faction. Even the warrior yaungol are here, though they are mind-enslaved by the mantid upon Zan'vess, the large island off the coast. The Klaxxi, friendly mantid not consumed by the same madness as their brethren, are also here.
Next up will be the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Hopefully it will have a decidedly lighter atmosphere after all this gloom. But before we go and explore in the final zone, here are some screenshots and another flyover video. Enjoy!
The Horrid March
- Go back to Townlong Steppes: Screenshots and Video
- Continue to Vale of Eternal Blossoms: Screenshots and Video
- You can see the clean original on Blizzard's site from 2009.
- I will try to keep this blog post up to date and modify it based on commentary.
Commentary and ideas
- Commentary on casuals...
As much press as hardcore players get around World of Warcraft, the difference in making money or not for Blizzard Entertainment is not the hardcore players. Hardcore players don't represent the majority of players, but use up a vast majority of the resources in the game. This is because it is obvious that Blizzard spends a majority of its time catering to hardcore players. They spend inordinate amounts of time creating, refining and tweaking top-level raids, creating and tinkering with itemization for top-level raids and heroic instances, and responding to complaints and support requests from raiders. Blizzard is falling into the squeaky wheel trap.
Because of this misplaced focus on hardcore players and their desire for top-level content, Blizzard is losing casuals. Casuals is what separates World of Warcraft from most MMOs. When the game first came out it was by far the most casual friendly MMO with the most depth and wise gameplay compromises. Blizzard has lost its way from this winning formula and so it is losing casuals at a rate too fast to maintain growth or even keeping at a plateau.
Why are casuals so important? Because they pay as much as hardcore players, but use far less of Blizzard's resources. If the trend continues, Blizzard will continue to spend more and more resources on less and less players. It could become a vicious cycle. This time is still probably quite far off, since Blizzard can probably justify and maintain adequate content release cycles as long as their player base remains in the multiple millions, but they appear to be on the downside of the game's life-cycle and are doing very little to really reverse the trend.
- Commentary on twinks
Another group of players, some of whom could actually be considered "hardcore" in many respects, that Blizzard is also neglecting is the twink community. Blizzard has apparently long voiced its support for the twink community, but hasn't really delivered in their laser focus on end-game content. Although they acknowledge the problem, Blizzard has actually stated that their priority is on max-level PvP and that they apparently don't want to divert resources away from that. The twink community is less interested in immersion, lore, and quests than some of the casual community, but they definitely want focus on non-level cap, non-end game content. The twinks want attention to class balance and itemization at lower levels. So, as casuals will spend more time leveling at low levels, some of the benefits gained from aiding either twinks or casuals will benefit both.
- Allow the use of rest as a sort of currency or pre-req for some content.
- Remove as much grinding as possible. Basically, this means put something in dailies or other rep grind activities far more optional.
- Make more dailies for different levels, but with much shorter rep grinds (remove the big grind to exalted for dailies below the level cap).
- Adjust all-level dailies to be divided among racial capitals to make each a quest hub for different level ranges of players. This way, there would be less congestion.
- Stormwind City/Orgrimmar for level 81+.
- Dalaran for level 71 - 80.
- Shattrath City for level 61 - 70.
- Ironforge/Undercity for level 41 - 60.
- Darnassus/Exodar/Thunder Bluff/Silvermoon City for level 1 - 40.
- Add more low level instances in or near racial capitals not congregated by level cap players.
- These low-level instances, if done right can also serve the cross purpose of working on twink class balance through itemization coming out of these new instances.
- Make frequenting less central racial capitals easier by making getting in and out or getting between key buildings easier.
- Put flight path destination inside Exodar/Undercity or portal inside from flight path.
- Allow players to become quest givers to trade soulbound items for profession ingredients.
- UI for trading macros in-game.
- Tune quests in zones more so leveling matches zones better.
- Add back longer questlines lower and mid-level (<level 60), many of which were removed with Cataclysm.
- Allow players to craft for other players who have soulbound ingredients, but only one type of ingredient at a time and possible only once per day/week/month.
- Fix Archaeology so it isn't so boring:
- Add finds that point directly to a new dig site zone rather than mostly random hunting.
- Allow random items to be found at dig sites that seem at least semi-relevant to archaeology, like recipes, jewelry, etc.
- Since Archaeology is a secondary profession, make different areas accessible based on a related primary profession.
- ...or just kill it entirely.
- Fix First Aid so there are more useful products like:
- More powerful bandages at high levels.
- More powerful anti-venoms.
- Allow "deconstructing" cloth items for cloth items.
- Business changes
- Introduce tiered subscription rates depending on what expansion you have up to. The current model is unfair and new subscribers who don't want to buy all the expansions know it.
- Come out with "Battle Chest" omnibus software boxes with all but the last expansion included faster and for a lower price (say around US$40-60/€30-50).
- Blizzard recently offered vanilla and for US$20, so they're already going in that direction, but this offer may be promotional and expire at some point.
- Player representation committee to Blizzard. Maybe like EVE Online's CSM (Council of Stellar Management).
- Allow groups of guilds to form "nations" (or "unions"?).
- Guild housing.
- Player housing. This isn't that important, unless it can be done in a way that doesn't strain server resources too much.
- Player built environment elements (bridges, buildings, farms, tunnels, etc.).
- ^ Miss Mediocre 2011-08-04. Wow… I’m Kinda Done With WoW…. Miss Mediocre (blog).
- ^ Boubouille 2011-05-10. WoW Loses 600k Subscribers, Diablo 3 Beta Q3 2011, Arena Passe, Blue Posts. MMO Champion.
- ^ Greg McClanahan 2011-05-15. WoW in Decline and Blizzard in Denial. Gamasutra.
- ^ Matthew Lynley 2011-08-03. World of Warcraft subscribers fall for second straight quarter. VentureBeat (GamesBeat).
- ^ MMOData Charts v3.4 Subscriptions : 1m - 12m
- ^ A well documented post about Blizzard's past stated support for twinking, but recent lack of support: Korette 2011-07-30. Low levels are unacceptable - Blizzards commitments. Official Battlegrounds and World PvP forum (EU).
- ^ Wryxian 2011-08-11. Low lvl pvp is pathetic, just plain pathetic.. Official Battlegrounds and World PvP forum (EU).
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment. World of Warcraft® Battle Chest®. Blizzard Store (US). Retrieved on 2011-07-14.