Monday, August 31, 2009

The Bowling Post, Part 1

I come from a long line of bowlers. My dad bowled. His dad bowled. And while I don't have first-hand knowledge, I suspect my great-grandfather also bowled. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that my ancestors were a part of the group that started bowling in Germany back in AD 300.

At the height of my teenage/young adult bowling career, I averaged around 160-170. But while my patriarchs were all in bowling leagues, I never joined. It was simply a pastime that I enjoyed.

For me, my bowling league has become a little game called World of Warcraft, and more particularly raiding in World of Warcraft.

Stay with me here while I explain. In order to raid, I had to first level to 80 (well, 60 when I first started, but that's besides the point). Along the way, I ran various instances or ad-hoc groups for group quests. I may have even had a high level toon run me through an instance or two to complete a quest or get a low level blue item. Likewise, I may have started bowling with the bumper lanes and doing the granny roll to get the ball down the alley. (They actually didn't have the bumpers when I was a kid; at least, I never used them at that age.) Sometimes on hard splits, I might have my dad come and pick them up for me.

The gray and even green equipment that you get in Wow will eventually be replaced by shiny, form fitting epics. Those epics are soulbound (or at least account bound), so you don't have to worry about the last guy that wore the shoes. You don't even have to worry that Mr. Bowling Shoe Giver Outer didn't spray the shoes properly. They're yours, and they just help you to do your job better.

Every bowling alley also has balls that you can use. They're generally uncomfortable since your fingers don't fit exactly right. At best, you'll get the right weight that's not too uncomfortable for your fingers. You may even have some comfortable finger holes (seems like they put multiple holes in it sometimes), but the weight is way off. So, eventually, you may even buy your own ball and custom bag. Maybe put your name on it.

In Wow, you'll find add-ons to be your friend. They can track auctions, warn you of boss abilities, track your own abilities, etc. etc. In case you've been living under a rock, there's whole web sites dedicated to add-ons. And as many ways as you can purchase a bowling ball or bag, there's at least that many add-ons for Wow.

To be continued...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blizzcon 2009 Pics Are Up

Okay... these aren't the best pictures in the world. In fact, some of them are pretty dang blurry. The camera was actually the only thing I had forgotten when I left for work with all my stuff for Blizzcon on Thursday morning. And being that I was staying at a friend's house that it slightly closer to Anaheim, I didn't get a chance to go pick it up. I did, however, have a loving mother that loaned me her old camera.

Her old camera is great for stills, but was a challenge for action (e.g. screenshots). Plus, it takes forever to actually take a picture. She warned me about all of this beforehand. I'm not complaining; at least I had a camera. (There were also thoughts of "renting" a camera from Circuit City Best Buy, but I figured the restocking fees probably weren't worth it. Not to mention the fact that that's slightly dishonest.)

So enjoy. I only had time to sort through and get rid of some of the super blurry ones, so didn't have a chance to add captions yet. I'll do that this weekend. And for those on RSS feeds... you'll have to come to the site to see the pictures. Don't worry... they'll probably be up for about a year like last year's Blizzcon pictures were. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Report on Blizzcon 2009

I'll get the pictures up soon. I'll state that right up front. Hopefully tonight. I took quite a few screen shot pictures, so not sure how well some of them turned out. At any rate... soon.

Once again, I was glad I went to Blizzcon. It was a lot of fun. I got to meet a few new people by randomly talking to people in lines, and also at the Twisted Nether Podcast party. I played Starcraft 2 (shaping up to look like a really, really great, detailed game) and the new races of Wow Cataclysm. And of course, sat around for lots of panels too.

If you missed any of the announcements of everything they're going to do.. well... go check out They did a great job covering it (as I was sure they would), and there's just too many changes.

The one that I will mention is that of everything they're going to be changing about guilds. The funny thing is though: I was talking to a guildie on Friday about how it should mean more to be in a guild (which is a belief I've had for years), and on Saturday, Blizzard talks about the changes to guilds. Leveling up your guild, items bound to guilds, guild only recipes, and even a guild talent tree! Worgen and goblins are cool, but this is the kind of stuff that will be for everyone's mains.

Again... if you need more information about this one, read the article over on

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Raid Instance Comparisons

A comment by Guest yesterday got me really thinking about the Raid Instances that we've had in World of Warcraft. So, I thought I'd start with a little table and then draw some conclusions from there.
UBRSKarazhanNaxxramas (2)

Gruul's Lair (1)Obsidian Sanctum (1)
Zul'GurubMagtheridon's Lair (1)Eye of Eternity (1)
Onyxia's Lair (1)Zul'AmanVault of Archavon (1)
Molten CoreSerpentshrine CavernUlduar
Blackwing LairTK: The EyeTrial of the Crusader
Ruins of Ahn'QirajMount HyjalOnyxia's Lair (1)(2)
Temple of Ahn'QirjBlack Temple
NaxxramasSunwell PlateauIcecrown Citadel
(1) Single Boss Encounter Instance
(2) Recycled Instance

As for my footnotes, I am very well aware that Gruul's Lair had 2 boss encounters and technically EoE has 4. Furthermore, I'm also aware that VoA will soon have 3 bosses. But I believe it is fair to lump them into one category and compare them because they're much shorter instances. If you want to talk about environment, you could even consider Trial of the Crusader as a Single Room Encounter, which meant a heck of a lot less work for the graphic designers. lol.

Further clarifications: I put a space between UBRS and Zul'Gurub since UBRS was still 10-man (down from 15 at a certain point) and Zul'Gurub being a 20-man instance seemed that it needed more coordination and "raid" tactics.

All of that said, Blizzard did a lot in the first few years of Wow. They created 9 classes (8 playable by each faction). They created 2 continents, 24 5-man instances, and 8 raids. Not too shabby. Granted this was all work done from alpha to beta to about 2 years and 2 months until the next expansion came: The Burning Crusade. They then gave us another continent, flying mounts, 16 5-man instances, and 9 raids. Then about a year and 10 months later, Wrath of the Lich King came. So far, we know that they have given us a new continent, 13 5-man instances, and 6 raids with 2 more (Onyxia's Lair and Icecrown Citadel) on the way.

Of the 8 raids in Wrath, 2 of them will be completely recycled from Original Wow. Honestly, I'm completely okay with that. I don't think a lot of people (as a percent of the whole) got a chance to run Naxx or, to a lesser extent, Ony before TBC came out. So, it's good that people now get to go back and see these fights. Especially with Blizzard's redirection that everybody should be able to see raids, it just makes sense.

Albeit, I recognize that there's been less development time, but if you factor in that these 2 instances got recycled from before, the true number is really down to about 6 new instances. And 3 of those are Single Boss Encounters (4 if you count Trial of the Crusader).

Now, I'm not saying that any of the Single Encounters are bad instances. I'm simply saying that they seem like they'd take a heck of a lot less work. And yes, Blizzard has given us these hard mode options to them to make them last a little longer... it's not like it takes them the same amount of time as a brand new instance. If you've been around Wow for a bit of time, you know the excitement that comes with heading in to a recently released instance or raid (bugs and all).

Brand New With Quality
On the other hand, I have to really hand it to Blizzard for Ulduar. It's a fun instance. It really shows that Blizzard has learned what people like and don't like. People like to be able to mount in these huge zones, even if it's just in the first area. Being able to teleport around in Ulduar is also great. Graveyard run times are also greatly reduced. There's a repair person in the instance... at the beginning... and you don't even need to defeat a boss before you repair. It also uses the technology that they've been working so hard on (vehicles) and gives you credit for your awesome gear by making your vehicle stronger.

And from what I hear about Icecrown Citadel, it's going to be more of the same quality. I know it was only a joke, but Ghostcrawler joked that it would have 31 bosses. Even if it only has half that, it's still more than Ulduar has, so I really expect the same level of polish and newness to Icecrown.

But... wasn't that level of polish there in the Vanilla Wow? You know... in the first 8 raids that existed? Or will the trend simply continue and mean that in the next expansion, we'll all be farming Sunwell Plateau as soon as we hit 80?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Important Item for Blizzcon

Okay, for all those last minute packers, I need to add one more item to your list of things to pack. I'm sure you've seen a dozen different sites of what to bring to Blizzcon. But I'm not sure I've seen the most important thing on any of those lists.

Seriously, folks... do yourself a favor. Stop by any local drug store or whatever and pick up a set of earplugs. Last year Lvl 80 Elite Tauren Cheiftan was loud. I'm sure Ozzy Osborne will be even louder. You only get one set of ear drums. Please attend Blizzcon responsibly and protect those ears.

(I realize I'm getting older, but if you get good seats for the closing show, you'll thank me if you picked up earplugs.) You'll be able to feel Ozzy's sweat (or whatever) and still be able to hear your friends afterwards as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blizzcon, ToC, and Correction

Okay, first off, I'm alive. Work has been busier as of late, and I just don't take the time to post at night. Working through lunches and breaks and whatnot leave me little to no time to blog. Not to mention that I've been figuring out upgrades for my Shaman, Mage, and my wife's Priest. heh.

But this week is Blizzcon for those that haven't paid attention. And I will be there. Then again, for those of you that haven't paid attention, you probably don't care that I'll be there.

As previously mentioned, I've promised to make an appearance over at Tangerine for the Twisted Nether Meetup on Friday night. I shouldn't be hard to spot... if you're that interested in meeting me, just check out my pictures from last Blizzcon; I'm the one with the Panderan Brewmaster. I'm also the one standing at the entrance of the Anaheim Convention Center. (Note to self: update blog pictures with this year's Blizzcon pictures.)

Now, on to actual Wow related information.

I previously wrote that the new 5-man Trial of the Champion on heroic mode dropped Champion's Seals only if you were already a champion with at least one faction. This is incorrect. My wife, who isn't exactly excited about any quest you need to repeat over and over again, isn't even close to being a champion with any race, and she too got the Seals from the Heroic instance.

Now that that's out of the way, I actually like what they did with this 5-man. For a pure gear-reset / farming instance, it serves it's purpose well. It's not too difficult, but slightly so if you still need the gear. It goes quick and drops lots of purples. At first, I really wished there was a way to get rid of all the talking and introduction of the first 3 champions, but now I simply use that as down time to do RL stuff. ("Okay, gonna start the event and go afk for bio, get a drink, and solve world hunger. I'll be back when they're ready to joust.)

Is it simple? Yep. But it was almost too simple. Like Blizzard is getting lazy. I was hoping that it was simply the fact that they were so focused on the next instance. But now that they're going to revamp Onyxia in 3.2.2, I think I'm going back to Blizzard just being lazy. /sigh

Oh well... at least some people will get to see some of these instances/encounters that were in the game before they started playing. It's just that I'm not one of those people.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

3.2 First Impressions

I'd love to tell you how wonderful the new patch is. I'd love to tell you how much fun I had in the new instances. Oh, and I'd also love to tell you how smooth this patch was compared to all the others. Instead... the realm I play on, Bronzebeard, was one of the Emergency Maintenance realms.

I did log on to a Shaman on another server that hit 20 last night. I was 19 when I logged on, went and bought ghost wolf, and then one quest later, I hit 20. (Probably should have looked at that before flying all the way back to Exodar first. sigh. Oh well.) It was a pleasant surprise to see how the mount prices had dropped substantially. I was worried that at level 20 only alts would be able to pay the steep mount cost. I think the total cost of a mount was like 4g. Nice. And very reasonable if you manage your money.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Healing Firsts: H-VoA (Troubles with Healbot)

In a small way, it's a little anti-climactic to take down bosses with alts. Yes, last night was the first night that I got in a PUG for Heroic VoA, and we cleared both bosses pretty easily. But it wasn't like I was jumping up and down now that I have the achievement. On the contrary, I felt a little embarrased... it's kind of like, "No, I swear! I've done this content already." lol.

There were a few issues on Emalon (4% on the first attempt, and then people focused on the boss and not the Overcharged add... bad raiders), but after 3 attempts, we beat him down. And no issues at all on Archavon. I was really hoping for any Shaman drop... simply because I was the only Shaman. But no, such luck. Oh well... there's always next week, right?

But the major issue I had was actually with Healbot. I know it has the settings to make it like the picture below. You know... mulitple columns and rows. Maybe instead of the 40-man picture (4 x 10), it would be more like 3 columns with 10 people in the first two and 5 people in the last one. That would make sense, right?

Yeah, well.. no. Mine is just one column. All 25 people in one column. I'm sure it's a setting that I have messed up or something. I just didn't have time to fix it. I got the invite, accepted the summons, and then Wow crashed. It does this enough that I know I have to completely restart the computer or else it will keep crashing. So, as soon as I got back online, I had to run in the instance: everybody was already waiting at the boss. A quick healing assignment (I was on raid healing), and we were off. I dragged Healbot around a bit so that it went from the top of my screen to the bottom. And I think I could heal most people. And those I couldn't, probably got hit with a chain heal anyway, right? And since none of the wipes were the healer's fault, it didn't matter if I couldn't see a few.

Regardless of the reason. I have to fix this. Furthermore, I really need to stop being lazy, enter in my MouseOverTarget macros, and then just use the x-perl interface that I have up anyway. Either way will work, but healing with one column... what a pain!

Oh... and there's just something about being the only one to have the power to drop Heroism and make 25 people instantly smile that they're casting, hitting, shooting 30% faster. It's a fun feeling.