Level 30, Loving Duskwood

Isadora hit level 30 today, with a /played time of 2 days and a little less than 11 hours. I was really hoping that I would be able to start this post with a screenshot of her proudly wielding Verigan's Fist, but alas, the quest for it is still in her log and has gone grey by now. I just can't seem to get a group for Shadowfang Keep. At one point I tried to form one with a druid, but we gave up after nobody responded to our LFM requests for too long. He joked that people probably didn't even know what "SFK" was. Alliance just doesn't like to go there - it's too far away, and I believe that other than the paladin class quest there are no other incentives to go. I wonder at what level I might be able to solo the first boss? I only need to get to the stables to complete my quest...

In regards to Blackfathom Deeps, reader Shandren had commented that the quest item also dropped from the elite mobs outside the instance and that I should be able to get it solo if I was careful. As it happens, I did end up finding a group for BFD though and completed a full run of the place. (We even killed the thrasher boss!) The way the party was formed was a bit bizarre. We only needed a tank, but as soon as we invited one, she immediately left again, citing the presence of two other plate wearers in the group as the reason. I had forgotten how peculiar people could be about that back in the day. It seems all the stranger considering how hard it can be to get groups at all, never mind your preferred group composition.

Anyway, at this point our level 23 dps warrior offered to tank instead (even though her level was slightly on the low end for BFD) and we started to look for a dps. We got... another dps warrior, several levels higher. "Well, you'll end up tanking then," she was told unceremoniously... and was perfectly fine with it. She just strapped on a shield and tanked the whole instance like a boss, even though she could have complained that we had originally invited her as a dps. It was just such a stark contrast to the previous tank leaving simply because she didn't like the group composition.

Other than that BFD run I haven't found much time for group content, so I've been questing instead. It's starting to become a bit of a drag at the moment because I'm having trouble finding gear upgrades (I don't want to waste money on the auction house) and my weapon is now more than ten levels below me. As if being a prot/holy hybrid wasn't enough to make me hit like a wet noodle... At least I get to squeeze some extra dps out of Exorcism whenever I'm fighting undead. (Yay, class flavour!)

A lot of my recent questing has taken place in Duskwood, and somewhat to my surprise I've been loving it (even if the constant running back and forth between Darkshire and Raven Hill is annoying as anything). The thing is, I don't recall being very fond of Duskwood back in Vanilla... in fact I seem to remember not liking it very much at all, because I wasn't a fan of the gloomy atmosphere. But looking at it now, it seems like the perfect example of why many things about Vanilla WoW just worked so well, even if people would probably call them bad game design these days.

For example, who thought that it would be a good idea to have a level 35 elite mob patrol among regular skeletons that are ten levels lower? Or to spawn another level 35 elite who'd then make his way to Darkshire on the road, squashing innocent players and quest NPCs alike if they happened to cross his path? Things like that really made the world feel dangerous and served to underline the background of Duskwood being a cursed and dangerous place.

 Just like the good old days...
Quests aren't always connected in a perfectly linear manner either. For example you get a quest to bring some food to Jitters in Raven Hill, but that quest simply ends there with no follow-up. Later however you receive a quest from a guy called Sven, who wants you to hunt down the last person he saw at the house where his family was killed, and after a fair bit of running around and collecting clues, it turns out that this person was the very same Jitters to whom you delivered that food parcel. The Legend of Stalvan also has you running all around the houses to find out more about this Stalvan guy, after the local medium has a vision of him bringing doom upon Darkshire. People may have argued that this made the stories too hard to follow or whatever, but it's hard to deny that actually having to read the quest text and connecting the dots also made the whole experience so much more rewarding for those who actually cared to pay attention.

Duskwood as a whole is bursting with what I would call "old WoW flavour", portraying a world that is cartoony and sometimes a little silly but still takes itself seriously. (I read all 20 pages of Jitters' completed journal - the bit about him witnessing the death of Sven's family was rough!) I feel that this is something that has been lost in current WoW - while it still has some serious quests, the overall tone is much less so, with people riding around on increasingly ridiculous mounts and areas like the goblin starter zone setting a very different tone for new players.

Remember when worgen were fierce monsters instead of dogs with top hats and bad English accents?
Now I just have to find out more about this "Scythe of Elune" - Jitters' journal mentioned something about it having been found inside a mine... (Read: I can't really remember where that particular quest line starts, but I'll be happy to find out.)


The Alt

I haven't had much time to play WoW this week. Who'd have thought that working full-time, playing three MMOs at the same time and blogging about all three of them would take up so much time?

I've been finding myself logging into WoW mostly in the evenings, when I'm too tired to pay attention to the story in SWTOR or the action combat in Neverwinter. Slowly grinding away at twenty wolves and fifteen spiders while listening to a podcast in the background is relaxing and requires a lot less focus. I had kind of forgotten how good WoW used to be at this (before they took away most reasons to grind and made combat more demanding).

The only downside is that I'm always a little sad when I see a LFM request going out for content that I would desperately like to do but for which I simply don't have enough time just then. (Not to mention that a dungeon or group quest would require a lot more focus.) As I'm slowly climbing up the levels by soloing, the elite quests are piling up in my log and I hate the thought of abandoning them. We'll see if I'll manage to get in a good, long weekend play session some time soon to reduce their numbers.

In the comments on my last post, reader Shandren suggested that if I was having issues with bag space, I should roll up a bank alt, or at least an alt that I could temporarily mail things to in order to free up bag space, even if the other character wasn't meant to help with long-term storage. I took this as an excuse to recreate the night elf priest who was my main throughout Vanilla and early BC. It feels kind of wrong to create an alt before I've even hit level thirty on my current "main". However, I don't think it took me very long to create an alt back in 2006 either... in fact, I have a screenshot from back then that shows a level 1 warrior on the character selection screen next to my level 13 priest, though I think I ended up deleting that one without ever playing her.

I only played my little night elf through Shadowglen and then immediately parked her at the nearest inn, but I could easily see myself coming back to her to play some more. I just have so many fond memories of the early night elf zones, even if they feel a bit empty now without the friends that levelled with me back then when I was a new player.

This post includes a screenshot of my priest from original Vanilla WoW as well as one from Kronos. Can you guess which is which?


Bags, the AH, Weather, Graphics

Today, a post about a couple of things that aren't really connected but also aren't worth talking about in separate posts of their own.

Bag space (or lack thereof) is driving me a bit nuts. My character currently has a mix of eight and ten-slot bags, all of which she found out in the world, and which seems about right for her current level from what I remember... but it's just not enough. Since I'm willing to play the healer role in dungeons, I've put together a healing set which has intellect and spirit on it instead of strength and stamina and which takes up a whole bag all by itself. I'm also a miner, and I forgot that ores only stacked to ten in Vanilla. Ack! Add to that my desire to avoid throwing away white quality items (someone could use that Crisp Spider Meat and Murloc Eye I'm sure - in Vanilla they had uses) and I have no doubt that you can see my dilemma. Back in Wrath I wrote a post bemoaning the uninspiredness of its loot tables, and I do still enjoy sorting through my bags, but at the moment it sometimes feels like too much, mostly because vendors and especially banks can be hard to come by when you're on a quest in the middle of nowhere. It gets a bit annoying when you're at the back of a cave, knowing full well that you need another ten spiders to complete your quest (who all drop about five different varieties of spider parts) and pretty much after every pull you have to stop to consider whether to discard something or leave the last corpse unlooted. The only alternative would be to hearth out, sell stuff, and then come all the way back.

One way of getting rid of bag overflow is to sell things on the auction house. I've found Kronos' economy to be a strange beast. Initially it felt a bit dead at the low levels, but it seems that the server has been growing and the low-level economy has picked up as a result. I'm having to re-learn what actually sells and what doesn't. Rogue or feral druid leather? Yes please. Caster leather? You'd have to be pretty insane to level a druid as balance or resto in Vanilla, so not much luck. Things like cooking ingredients can be very hit or miss depending on whether anyone is working on levelling their cooking or not. Also, I miss jewelcrafting - it's obvious that there aren't enough uses for stone and gems at this point so their value is pretty low. Actually, a lot of things seem very cheap in general - but that's simply a sign of a young economy, where most players are new and (relatively) poor. I keep thinking of how many of these low-level items used to sell for multiple pieces of gold when I last played on live, but on this server the majority of the potential buyers simply doesn't have that kind of money to spare. Even coppers matter.

I left the guild that I joined back in Loch Modan. No big drama, I just hadn't got to know anyone really and guild chat repeatedly caught my eye in a negative way because of multiple people making jokes about rape, abortion etc. It was obvious that this was not the kind of company I wanted to hang out with and that just seeing them talk detracted from my experience instead of adding to it. If someone else asks me to join their guild, I'll have to be a bit choosier in the future.

Why does it always rain on me...?
I don't know if Kronos is slightly wonky in some way or if this is a case of me misremembering the way things were in Vanilla, but I don't remember it raining quite so much. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - I'm really enjoying the day/night cycles and weather changes, especially as they are something that I sometimes miss in SWTOR. Still, there are certain zones (Elwynn Forest, Loch Modan, the Wetlands) where it seems to be raining ninety percent of the time whenever I get there. I just don't remember those areas being quite that wet.

When Blizzard announced that they were revamping the old character models for Warlords of Draenor, I was excited because I had to admit that their outdatedness had started to bother me. (Though I have very mixed feelings about the results.) Funnily enough, the Vanilla graphics on Kronos do not bother me at all. I've been thinking about why that is and I think the secret is consistency. As Blizzard continued to add better and better looking zones, mounts, pets and gear, our characters increasingly stood out in a bad way. It was hard to miss when your entire character model consisted of fewer polygons than your shoulderpads; they just didn't match. But on Kronos, everything looks equally blocky and I've found that I'm actually okay with that. It's a crude style, but it works.