Friday, September 25, 2009

Hey Blizz! Everquest Has Something For You!

A DPS kind of guy...

I mentioned in a previous post that I’d played Everquest in the past. In fact, it was my first MMORPG (and only, other than World of Warcraft). When WoW was first released, many an EQ guild found itself gutted after the mass exodus of the player base to this new game. It wasn’t just the shiny new game that prompted people to leave in droves. It was frustration with their old game, the seemingly non-existent customer support by Verant/Sony, and glitches in general.

There was also the leveling problem with EQ. Unless you were part of the Holy Trinity (Warrior, Cleric, Enchanter), it was hard to get groups. Most classes could solo to some extent, but it wasn’t very practical at all. There were very few quests to do, and the ones that could be done didn’t reap the rewards that WoW quests do. Players didn’t level up doing quests, they hit a zone and stayed there killing mobs.

Recently I read about a new introduction to the game that I wouldn’t mind seeing Blizzard steal for WoW. I mentioned one before in the specialty server that allowed players to create characters at a higher level. This new function I read about would affect the leveling process, and with Cataclysm coming out and the revamping of the 1-60 zones, now would be the perfect time to introduce this concept.

The concept is Mercenaries.

Why did it have to be Gnomes?

In Everquest, there are two types of Mercs - Tanks and Healers - that can be hired from a “Liaison”. Rather than a player waiting around for a group, they can “hire” one of these Mercs. They level with the player, come with their own gear that also improves as they level, and can be upgraded via quest chains. Tanks can solo reds from 1-60, which helps new players who want to catch up to their friends to level quicker. The higher rank the Merc is, the better abilities he has. There is an Upkeep cost every fifteen minutes or so, where gold is deducted from what the Player is carrying. If they can’t pay, the Merc despawns until the Player has the cash to pay.

It’s a gimmick that I think would work just fine if carried over to WoW.
Mercenaries would be a great leveling tool. Right now, if a low level player is trying to complete a quest that needs two or more people, they’re hard-pressed to find someone to help out in the pre-60 era. It’s also much easier to burn through content if you have a pocket healer, or tank, to cover your ass. Even sweeter if that extra body doesn’t reduce the amount of XP per kill, yet still manages to level up at the same rate as you. Sure there’s no social banter, but for the more militant-minded levelers who don’t care to chat it up while they grind away killing raptors or boars, they can let their money speak for them.

Good help isn't hard to find, but it can be damn expensive.

Mercenaries take cash, baby. Blizzard rather enjoys adding gold sinks to the game. Seriously, twenty grand for a Mammoth that comes with Vendors? Well, Blizz can make the higher ranked Journeymen Mercs as expensive as they want. Players will pay if it helps speed up the leveling process, and for the casual players who don’t have heirloom items for alts, they’ll run their AT Dailies to fund their lower level toon’s progression.

Mercenaries don’t criticize. One of the things that makes a PUG as much fun as a Gabriel Gonzaga-styled kick in the balls is being told you suck. Tank can’t hold aggro? Healer lets someone die? DPS is low on the Recount charts? L2P N00bzor, or whatever the kids are saying these days. You get the idea.

But with a Merc, Players develop skill without worrying about comments from the peanut gallery. A Tank with a Healer Merc can learn to hold multiple mobs, keeping his TPS high enough to overcome the Healer aggro. Healers with a Tank Merc can learn to work on heals and buffs, as well as the rare perk of actually leveling as a Healer rather than a Healing DPS class. DPS can run with a Tank Merc and learn to control their aggro, or run with a Healer Merc and learn to keep their DPS higher than the Merc’s healing aggro.

Players learn while they level, and level at a speed fast enough so they don’t get bored, yet slow enough for them to learn what their abilities do. Sounds like a good idea to me.

I can’t wait for Blizz to steal it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Holding Your Brew... Fest

Nice night for a thumping.

No, not THAT kind of thumping. I'm talking about fighting. A nice, barroom brawl.

It was an evening of first for The Rokk. First time tanking (eat that, Coren Direbrew), and basically Rokk went with his DPS rotation while wearing some tanking gear he made, and doing the whole fight in Frost Presence. Nobody died. Hooray. Not bad for the first time out, but it helped to run it with understanding guildies. You guys rock.

As for a reward, a nice trinket!

Nice bit of Stamina on that. Also, a little extra perk -

Hawt, am I right?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More "Inspiration" for Blizzard

Mayong Mistmoore will pwnzor ur face!

A couple of days ago, while on "Modified Duties" at work (stupid fractured elbow), I decided to make the most of the computer usage and started looking at Everquest. I mentioned in a previous post that I played EQ for years before coming to World of Warcraft, and I suppose I was feeling a little nostalgic.

Of course, since the computers are for "corporate use only", most of the sites I found were blocked. However, I did come across two rather interesting tidbits that had been added to EQ since I left. Like the Guild Hall, I predict that it is only a matter of time before these tidbits become incorporated, in some form, into WoW.

I'll pause for a moment and explain the Guild Hall concept for those who have not played EQ. Essentially, the Guild Hall in EQ is a phased zone, accessible only by your guildmates, that looks like a big Inn. There are vendors there, as well as profession aids like forges and tailoring looms. There is a pool that accellerates HP and Mana regen. Most importantly, IMO, there is the Guild Portal. Beside the portal is a Gnome that you buy Porting Shards from. Those shards are for various zones in the game. You buy the shard, hand it back to the Gnome, and it sets the Teleporter beside him for that zone. That Teleporter remains active for several minutes, or until someone else comes along and changes the Teleporter destination by handing the Gnome a new shard. Great for when you have to get a whole raid moving, or if you just want to get somewhere in a hurry and you don't have a pocket Mage to send you on your merry.

I don't know what the Guild Leveling process involves in Cataclysm, but don't be surprised if something like this comes down the pipe.

Now back to fuctions that EQ currently has, that Blizzard should steal for their own game.

The Mayong Server - This server in Everquest is what has been called the "51/50" server. Characters created on that server start at Level 51, with 50AAs (Alternate Advancement - see "Titans, Path of the" in the upcoming Cataclysm expansion). They also start out with a full spellbook (as applicable) as well as Flawed Defias Armor.

What does this mean for WoW? Well, they could create "Veteran" servers which could start much the same way. Characters created on these servers would start at, say, level 58 (much like DK's exiting their own starting zone). They would have standard gear, maybe blues, and would spawn in the newbie zone. It would be a short run to a capital city, where they would have preset flight paths (like Death Knights) that they could use to continue their adventures in higher zones like the Plaguelands, or take the portal to the Badlands to hop into the Outlands.

To keep things from getting out of hand, or to allow for all of the content to be used, perhaps only one Veteran character would be allowed per account. Once that Veteran character has been created, all subsequent characters would be level 1.

Would Blizzard go for this? Sure, why not. Players would get to try different classes at a higher starting level, but only on these select servers. If they liked them, they could pay to transfer the character to another server (Blizz <3 $$). The mechanics are in place with the DKs. This is one of those things that I'm fairly confident will come to pass at some point. After Faction Changes went live, I wouldn't put anything past Blizzard.

There was another function that I noticed, and this one I would bet cash money dollars that it will be in the game, probably sometime after Cataclysm drops. But I'll save that idea for another post, because content is fun.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Against The Odds


It's a PVP server I've been hearing about. Turns out that the one big Alliance guild that was on the server decided to tuck tail and leave. The result? The Horde outnumbers the Alliance about 10 to 1. That's an interesting dynamic.

Curious, I decided to pop in to take a look around. I rolled up a dwarf and went for a walk over to Ironforge. Crickets. That place was as empty as Shattrath on every other server. The AH was a joke, and by "joke" I mean "empty". Example? I had a Hordie do a search for Plate Armor, in the lv 71-80 range. Six pages of results, with plenty of purples. On the Alliance side?


This place is screwed.

Yet for some reason I was curious. Could The Rokk come to this server and make some kind of difference on the Alliance side? Did he care?

So as a little social experiment, the Rokkalypse has come to Cho'gall. Now there's the Alliance, the Horde, and the Rokk.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back To The Grind

Well the doctor has been good enough to allow me the limited use of my right arm again, so after about six weeks of farting around I'm back to work starting Monday. The drawback is that I will be out of town, with a satellite internet feed, and limited WoW access.

So how did I spend the last of my free time? Well, The Rokk went out and got himself an orphan. Kind soul that he is, he went ahead and took a little Oracle squirt out for a stroll. The kid liked it so much, he wanted to stay. Cute.

I was listening to Octale and Hordak vs The World during the week, and Octale made what I felt was a good point regarding tanks. During my downtime, I've often seen groups looking for a Tank to run heroics, yet quite a few DK's looking to DPS. I get the fact that many Death Knights are looking to build a tanking set. At least, that's what the story is.

Rukgut got in a few Heroic groups, DPS'ed his face off. In that time, I came to the conclusion that tanking is a mindset, not a class. Some players are tanks, wanting the responsibility of keeping the group alive and so on, and some don't. Rukgut was glad to simply sit back and pew pew. I don't think Rokk is going to be that way. I want him as a tank. Maybe the time has come for him to start puttering around and just get in there and tank. Take a chance.

There's another situation in-game that has come to my attention, but I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I'll have to investigate a little further, but it is certainly bringing certain thought processes to light.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I decided to experiment a little with my Prot Warrior. He with the cool name. What's your name, big guy?

Me am Therokk.

See that? Damn clever I say. What do you like to do for fun, Therokk?

Me like watching dirty movies on TV.

An Orc after my own heart. But what ELSE do you like to do for fun?

... me am kill things?


The cranially challenged to to the snowy peaks of Alterac Valley, and at level 64 he was raking in about 40 Grand in XP per win. Each win took about fifteen minutes. He tried one final rush with a group that decided it'd be better to hang back and play Defense. How'd that work out Therokk?

Not so good.


No, but me got achievement for Thousand Honorable Kills.

That's wonderful. Good for you. He also made roughly twenty thousand in XP for that loss, which took 34 minutes. What lesson does that teach us?

Therokk smash?

What else?

Therokk win?

Yes. There's going to be those mouth-breathers who think "LOL FARM LOL". Blitz, win quick, start another one. In the time that Therokk had his loss, he could have fit two wins in there. What would you rather have? 20K or 40K XP? Honor farming can be done in the top bracket, where you actually get a boatload of it at a time. Can't buy anything useful from AV from what I can see, but it's something.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Profession - Gold Sinking!

Rukgut! What brings you by the Undercity today?

Oh nothing much. Just thought I'd see where the greatest auction house trader in Azeroth worked his magic.

No magic, just hard work, The AH never sleeps, so neither do I.

You... don't sleep?

Sleep is for the weak.

Is that why you came to the Undercity? Light won't bother you?

Not exactly. Bathroom breaks are for the weak too.

Hence the green water around the bank. Gotcha.

Since, as the goblins say, "time is money", if you'll excuse me.

Uh, there's actually another reason I came by. I was thinking about changing professions.

You have my attention. Go on.

Well I was thinking about picking up Engineering.

You have lost my attention. Get out.

But -

Get. Out.

Look, Engineering can help give me utility. I can feign death and rez people in five-mans or raids. I can build cool gadgets!

Where's my stabby stick?

Robots! Jeeves! I can help people with this profession!

No, not pointy enough.

... I can build Mechano-Hogs. To sell.

I'm putting the Orc-Sticker away. Now you've come to me because?

I need some starting capital. I don't want to farm the mats.

No, of course not. How much do you think this is going to cost me?

I guess a thousand gold for starters.


Hello? You okay over there? *sniff sniff* I think you made some green bank water.

* * *

Ruined... ruined...

Hey Mister Banker sir!

Tell me you built a bike! Tell me you have something I can sell!

As a matter of fact, I do.

Mechano! Hog!

Well, almost. I'll be able to make it very soon.

But... gold! Money! All gone!

You can sell these. I've got plenty of them.

... Gnomish Army Knives? I couldn't give these away! The market is flooded with them!

Oh. So you're saying they aren't useful?

No, I wouldn't say that.

P-put that knife down! Get away from me you crazy -

Stop running! And don't try to FD, Hunter! I'll keep stabbing you anyway!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

PVP - Player Versus Playing

Ah, the Ogre Shadowknight from back in the Everquest days. Good times.

Probably somewhere beyond a half decade ago, back in my EQ days, Sony had released an expansion that was said to be more group friendly. Everquest was a group-based game for the most part (unless you were a Druid or a Necromancer), and one of the more common complaints was that new players couldn't group with their friends who had been playing for quite some time. That level five toon couldn't hang with the level sixty, and it killed the fun for everyone.

Sony's solution? They made instances available that would allow people of varying levels to group together. To do this, everyone in the party would zone into the instance and be transformed into creatures of the same level, say level ten fairies. Those fairies would have to complete a set of objectives that might take fifteen minutes to complete. They would complete the mission, zone out, and receive a bulk of xp that was proportional to their level. For example, a level 65 character could receive an entire AA (Alternate Advancement) point worth of xp, which was the equivalent of the xp needed to ding level 51.

Even with the lockout that was eventually added, this was a very good way to level. High level characters could group with low level friends, embark on a mission, and earn a lump of xp as well as the chance to roll on a chest that dropped at the end of the mission. The chest drop scaled for the character's level once they phased out of the mission. Not bad for maybe fifteen minutes of work.

The problem that quickly arose was that characters were leveling too quickly. People were starting off at a very low level, and in a day or two they'd reach max level. Since they were leveling as fairies and not as warriors (or whatever class they were playing), they were capping out without knowing the first thing about their class.

Even worse, their gear was horrible. No mob drops, no quest rewards, nothing. All they had was what they could buy from other players in the Bazaar. So not only did these people know nothing about their class, they didn't even have adequate gear to make up for their shortcomings. And so, the game floundered for quite some time while Sony nerfed the XP to the point that no one ever ran the missions at all.

Fast forward to the latest patch, where characters can now earn XP in battlegrounds. I ran one with a 60 prot warrior I'd been flummoxing around with for awhile, and the xp was pretty much more or less what I could have accumulated running quests for the same amount of time. That was BG's that lasted 15 to 30 minutes per.

From what I've been hearing, though, the big gains come from the 70 to 80 brackets. Bigger xp gains. A toon could log in at 70, run a few dozen BG's and walk out closer to 80 than they could have if they'd been questing.

Problem? Well, there's no gear gained. You can buy it with honor, but you'd only pick up what, one or two pieces in ten levels? BG's don't ask a player what their DPS is like. On a battle realm like ours, you're thankful if your faction can field the same number as the opposition. You want bodies, not gear checks.

Skill? By level 70 a person should have an idea of what they're doing. But there's going to be those mouth-breathers that will /afk their way through the last ten levels, assuming they started BG leveling at 70 rather than 10.

I've read a couple of stories like this - a person groups with someone to run a heroic, and not only is that person terrible, but their gear eats donkey balls. An Armory check on the toon reveals they'd completed few if any Northrend quests, and zero instance achievements. They leveled by being a body in a BG.

Will this be a game breaker? Will BG Babies be the next round of Fairy Folks?

I doubt it, but it's something to think about. Until that sweet XP gets nerfed, smoke 'em if you got 'em. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a ski vacation planned in beautiful Alterac Valley.