Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Just Happened? That Was Cool!

Hey, I play WoW. I am sure there are a lot of other games out there, but I have this thing about getting into a game and playing the heck out of it until I get bored. In the case of UO, I played that for 4 years before getting bored, and hated every other game I tried after it. I may have been at the end of a very long, strange and wonderful journey that I just couldn't let go of, but my time had come for a break.

I was in the computer industry for over 14 years, so I do look at games through the programmer's eye. I love to see what new things that can do with code and I love seeing the texture and bitmaps, and how it all works together. It just amazes me sometimes, how far these games have come. I have done everything from networks, to database programming, to technical support, and anything inbetween.

Even though I am not an official gaming professional, I have been hanging around some of the very best of these professionals for several years, and know things a normal gamer should never know. *Evil Grin* I have even spawned a couple gaming professionals and inspired a few others to make their mark on the industry, and that's got to be worth something.

I watch and read, and even though I wasn't playing anything, I still read what the "gaming industry" people have to say. Mostly MMO people, and folks that I either spoke to in an interview or talked with while I was doing some beta time on this game or that. I still pay attention and respect those folks from the gaming industry that made an impact one way or another. I have missed some gaming experiences by not playing all that time, but I have still kept abreast of what the industry as a whole is up to. Lately things have started to heat up.

Back when UO was the big game on the block and EQ came to knock them off their platform of power, the war was on even then. We wanted something better then UO, but not EQ. Well nowdays the fight has turned to WoW, and we want something better but not made by Blizzard. Anyone who watches the top selling video games on the market today can tell ya, Blizzard seems to have conquered "fun". Well almost.

There are still many things Blizz has left to do to their game to completely conquer fun and all of its qualities. I have yet to discover all of them as I am limited to playing what I like to think is fun. But of these, I can still point out where things may need some adjustment. I do frequently in my updates point out areas of confusion or frustration for myself. Knowing I am a "professional gamer" of sorts, I feel a regular person would find those things mind numbingly frustrating.

One thing that I am a firm believer in these days, is if you are a player of MMO games, don't buy the thing off the shelf when it comes out. Had I played WoW when it was new, I probably would have thrown it next to EQ on the shelf and gave up gaming forever. I have seen way too many bad launches, way too many problems, and way too many bugs come flying out of the brand new MMO. I for one, am glad that I waited to play WoW.

Blizz hasn't had a good patch day since the expansion, and 3.0.8 was no exception.

Speaking of patches, this week Blizz only performed rolling restarts instead of turing off the AI messages in the dungeons. Yes, they still have the AI messages on in dungeons in Northrend. You get to see when the monster is mad at you, or is changing target, etc. Really cool stuff! Obviously left over from the last patch were everything was crashing, and they turned on "Debug" mode in the instances to see what the hell was going on. Doing a rolling restart keeps us few that don't just take Tuesdays off and do something else, ya know, playing the game which is nice. We might forget how bad the previous Tuesday was, err not.

Another thing that bothering me is that there is no "tool tip" when creating a new character for Death Knights. I started another DK on different server just for fun, and I couldn't find it for awhile because no tool tip lit up to say Death Knight when I rolled over the button. Comon guys! Details! Not really that big of a thing, but it makes me think "Lazy" or "Tacky" when I see the worlds biggest production game skipping something so simple.

I also noticed that, and I haven't confirmed this one, but there is a seasonal quest going on called "Lunar Festival" where you can get a bunch of acheivements for collecting these coins etc. Well, the primary location for this festival is in Moonglade. I don't know what that place represents for the game, but my Horde character has a flight path directly to Moonglade. I wouldn't have realized this otherwise, but since I am also playing an Alliance character, I wanted to go to Moonglade with them as well. No flight path for the Ally... Well, no biggie, because my Warlock hasn't been every single place on the map, so I fly close to Moonglade, and ride the horse on in. I get to the place, ride around, get my clothes I wanted, and locate the flight path. I click on the chick, she says "You are not a Druid!"... I blink, try again, sure enough, I am not a druid. I looked around to see if there is another flight path, but there is not. So, what I think this means is Blizz let DK's have that flight path even though they are not supposed to. Because, a DK is not a Druid! The only thing I haven't checked is if the flight master for the DK is in fact the very same one I was talking to with my Warlock, but I am 99% sure I found a malfunction there.

This is probably me, but as a level 74-75 you get to do quests in a place called Dragonblight. Well, once you get towards the end of the zone, you do a bunch of quests leading up to part of the Lich King storyline. Once you have reached this point, you fly to a part of the zone where the story takes place and you get to watch a short movie about what is going on, just before the place phases into it's final form. I have done the quests for both sides now, and I can say that I really enjoyed the Horde side of these events.

On the Horde side, the battle happens, you come back, and there is an exclamation mark there letting you know there is more to the story. You do the Alliance side and you are left two screens away from where the battle happened and if it wasn't for the fact that I knew there was a quest giver there, I would have not went in there to go see if I was missing something. So, how many people are not seeing this on Alliance? Well, any of them without YouTube I suppose.

The second half of this ending is that you have to report to the King or Thrall that someone has passed. Now on the Horde side, the Scourge and a bunch of bosses from the Outlands have taken over an entire capital city called Undercity. Thrall is just a mess, but he is gonna go in there and take it back. So, even though you don't really even have to participate in this battle, you get a first hand look at the story and the Horde is just so intense when they fight. At the end, you are like, "What just happened? That was cool!".

On the Alliance side, the King totally ignores the fact that the Scorge just killed his soldier. The King is mad at the Horde, even though the Horde just fought by his guys side and lost as well. I was confused. So, they send you to talk to Thrall, and then Thrall tells us that Undercity was taken blah, blah. The King is like, this is our chance to kill Horde, blah blah. I am thinking, like why don't we help them get their city back, but NOOOO! Okay, so we go into the Undercity sewer, and fight some Horde bosses or something and the battles are just completely lame. The whole time this Ally chick keeps saying, "I hate to resort to violence", over and over and over. I wanted to strangle her myself! What is she thinking? That's why the King went over there was to resort to violence!

So, at the end of either version, the Horde and Alliance run into each other, and start to fight. Someone ports the Alliance characters back to Stormwind, and the Horde discuss what just happened for a second, then take themselves back to Org.

I don't know, but they need a tougher design team on that Alliance side, and please make something interesting for those guys to watch where they are not such sissies.

All I know is that the Alliance side of the story made me feel like the 80's pop-star King had some serious issues he needs to address. Is there a therapy class available for the King? I hope so...

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