Trial of Style

When I first heard of the idea of Trial of Style, I brushed it off as just another micro holiday I wouldn’t need to participate in. About 30 minutes later, thinking about it again, I decided to add a note to my journal to remember to post all my transmog auctions at a discount that week.

When it finally rolled around, I looked at the rewards and shrugged it off. But then I had a slow night and decided to try it – just once – to see what it was like.

It was AMAZING. And terrible. But amazing.

Trial of Style works exceptionally well, if everyone plays along. When everyone tries to match the theme, and then votes for the outfits that best match or are the most creative. It doesn’t work when people go off left field or just go for the sexy plate mog.

More than just enjoying the event – I really enjoyed seeing all the crazy things people came up with. I saw a demon hunter in all white. I saw an AMAZING warlock in a purple corset I just HAD to look up and go farm.

Even funnier was the time a member of the group decided to call everyone idiots right off the bat, and I said “Hey now, there’s no need to be rude, it’s just transmog.” And I ended up winning despite not having the best outfit.

As always, I immediately started noodling over how I would improve the event. First off, I would have it happen more often than once a year. Have it happen over the two fashion weeks, then like the first week of school, etc. Times when people would be looking at fashion in their real life.

The second idea though, would require a great deal more work. I want players who refuse to play along and just wear their normal transmog that doesn’t fit the theme at all to be disqualified. It was a huge bummer when the worgen in an admiral outfit won the mismatched mayhem despite being in all blue and white. (Yes, his transmog was VERY good, but it didn’t fit the theme.) The only logical way I could see doing this would be to create a database and tag each and every item with what theme it could remotely apply to. And if a player chooses a transmog that has less than 3 items that have the correct tag, it disqualifies them.

But then, that might be too picky. The queue time is short and even if you lose, you get a consolation prize.

Lastly, I would up the rewards. Make it an alternate path for farming specific pieces. Still can’t get this BoP out of Blackwing to drop? Farm up 2k Trial of Style tokens and buy it outright. it gives players who WANT to participate a really good reason to, adds to the collection they are already clearly interested in, and it gives them an alternate path to earn things they want, without just hoping for RNGesus to bless them.

Who matters most?

So apparently it’s a thing right now, where because a Mythic World First Guild decided to stop being a Mythic World First Guild that people are clamoring that Blizzard do something, because won’t you think of the poor Mythic World First Guilds?

As usual, I have some strong feelings about Mythic Raiders, raiding in general, and Blizzard’s “catering” to players.

When things come up about Group X vs Group Y in WoW, it always boils down to one thing – Whoever is talking thinks they deserve something, and the other side thinks they don’t deserve that thing.

So. Who deserves a thing in WoW?

Who deserves the gold? Who deserves the gear? Who deserves the mounts? The pets? The Titles? The Legendaries?

Does anyone disagree the answer is – People who spend time and money?

Those are literally the two most important things in most people’s lives after all. Time and Money. They are a weird balance board. It fluctuates at high and low ends of the spectrum obviously, and has weird connections to seemingly unrelated things. But despite how much I hate goblins – they aren’t wrong. Time IS money.

We can’t say “Well anyone who pays for WoW deserves all the things.” (Though I do actually think that SHOULD be true.) Because… well, we all pay for WoW right. If I have to run Stratholme 166 times to get my Baron Rivendare’s Charger, I don’t want someone else getting it just for logging in. (Honestly, I really don’t care, as long as *I* have the mount.)

So for WoW, the real thing isn’t money. Because we can’t BUY a thing straight up. And it’s actually not “fair” to gate things behind money like that. See, WoW is based on the precursor to Mobile Games Monetization. (It really is, even if they don’t have a direct route to a la carte purchasing – which they should if they wanted to make bank, but again I digress – the ability to buy with Dollars things that can be traded or sold in game for everything means that it’s doable.) Mobile Games are based on two ideas – more players is always better, even if 90% of the players pay nothing. And two (this is the important one for this conversation) Players are either going to give us time or money. That’s why all the “currencies” in mobile games are used to speed things up.

Do you want to spend a month farming a thing – or pay $10? As someone who earns more than $10 an hour – it’s TOTALLY worth it for me to throw $10 at a game (especially if I like it, support your game devs) over waiting a month. (Also I am wildly impatient.) There are people like me who don’t mind the money. There are other people who are super proud of reaching the same achievement without spending a dime.

But in WoW, this transaction – money to thing I want in game – is not direct. It’s very roundabout. I have to buy tokens, wait for tokens to sell, then trade gold for carries. For the sake of this discussion though, let’s assume this is not REALLY doable (since it’s cost prohibitive, and limited by Blizz since you can only buy so many tokens.) (Also, it’s how it was BEFORE the tokens, and I feel it still holds true.)

So then, if we all pay the same amount of money into Blizzard, shouldn’t we all get the same amount of stuff? All the mounts? All the pets? All the gear?

Hurm. That’s not very fun though is it? We enjoy the seeking, the striving to get a thing we want. So the currency Blizzard is asking for isn’t money, it’s time. They want us to spend TIME getting an item. Here’s where the breakdown happens though: Elitism – and players who think they deserve something because they “worked harder” for it.

If we go back to the mount example. An Elitist would say “Because I ran the dungeon when it was current, because I got the mount when it was a 1 in 1000 drop, I deserve it more than someone who farmed it at level 80.”

But they didn’t earn it the same way I did. They were just LUCKY. At 15 minutes a run, times a 166, it took me 2490 minutes to get my mount. That’s 41.5 HOURS. At minimum wage (in California), that’s over $400! FOR PIXELS! Someone who ran it at level, could have gotten it on their first run (okay probably not but rng is rng).

So which one of us DESERVES it more? Hint – both of us – we both worked for it, just in different ways.

Ah. That’s the key right there. We got the same result – we just got it in different ways. Also he got his like 6 years earlier than I did.

People talk about Mythic Raiding like it’s the people Blizzard is making the game for. It’s not. They make the game for all of us. If it was just for Mythic Raiders, do you REALLY think Pet Battles would be a thing? At all?

People talk about Mythic Raiding and say “Well if you were willing to devote the time to it, you could do it too!” Actually, it’s not about time. It’s about skill, what we find fun, and willingness to be unhappy while working towards a goal. How much time does a Mythic Raider spend playing WoW? 40 hours a week? Like a job?

My slash played, since 2005 when I started playing, averages out to 5 hours a day. That means in a week – I spend 35 hours playing – on average. Obviously some weeks are more (Legion launch!). Some are less (Person 5 get here faster!). But in the end, I spend almost as much time playing WoW as I do working.

The real question is – why is their 40 hours of play being valued at a higher rate than mine? Why is my 40 hours leveling and capturing pets not a valid path to a best in slot piece of gear? (Since that is ARGUABLY the goal of a game like WoW, a loot treadmill.) Why isn’t it valid that someone who PVPs 40 hours a week earn gear on par with Mythic Raiding? It is just a loot treadmill right? Aren’t we on the treadmill? Why don’t we get the loot?

Less than 1% of players saw Naxx. So they remade it for Wrath. And nerfed it. People were pissed. Why? Blizz was “catering to casuals”. No – Blizzard was catering to PLAYERS. People who paid money for their game, paid the sub, and likely spent just as much time as everyone else in game – but maybe weren’t driven to focus on raiding as the end all be all of the game.

Do I think people running a raid 40 hours a week deserve mounts/pets/titles/legendaries? Oh yes. Do I think people running dungeons 40 hours a week deserve mounts/pets/titles/legendaries? Yep, them too. Do I think people leveling pets 40 hours a week and beating the Celestial Tournament deserve mounts/pets/titles/legendaries? Hell yes, that shit is hard.

“But Joyia, if you make it so that people can get the best gear from running dungeons – people won’t run raids!”

Ahhh, that’s where the Mobile Game Monetization comes back in.

Mythic Raiders == the Whales. They put up with all the “pain and suffering and omg why would you do this this isn’t fun at all” and get the loot fastest. Us “filthy casuals” who spend just as much time in game if not more – we get it too. Just slower. And over a greater length of time. The currency here is just pain and suffering.

That’s why the progressive buff in ICC was such a great thing. (The Mythic raiders don’t need it or care, my little casual guild can progress to the end!) That’s why Badges of Valor were such a great thing. (You got it in a drop, that’s cool, but if I keep killing bosses I will get it in 3 weeks!) That’s why NOT REMOVING CONTENT LIKE THE GROVE WARDEN AND ICC MOUNTS IS SUCH A GREAT THING. (Seriously Blizz, put that shit back.)

We ALL pay to play the game. We ALL pay in time – casual and hardcore is NOT determined based on time spent – but rather the bullshit required to defeat a SINGLE aspect of an impossibly large game.

We ALL deserve the rewards and cool things that comes with it.

Piracy and Legacy Servers

Let me start by saying – I am a game developer. I get paid to MAKE games. I have made games that sold millions of copies. I have made games that barely sold at all. I have been at a studio that got *house buying sized bonuses* and at studios where it was more like “The studio will be closing on Friday.”

When someone pirates a game – I have conflicting feelings about it. You are taking my work, my 70+ hour weeks, spent crunching and killing myself, stealing it, and enjoying it for free. At the same time, my brain is also able to comprehend that pirates are not buyers. 1 pirated copy of the game does not equal a lost sale. Pirates aren’t going to BUY the game regardless. If they can’t pirate it, they just won’t play it. It still fucking bothers me though. It’s still theft.

The WoW social media community is having a bit of a fuss over Legacy servers and the shut down of a large private server. So here’s my point of view. A game developer’s point of view.

FIRST: Private servers are piracy. They are theft. They are stealing Blizzard’s work.

FULL.STOP. The server got shut down BECAUSE IT’S THEFT. They didn’t make the game. They didn’t make the art. They didn’t design the levels. They took someone else’s work and recreated it, and acted like they had done a ton of work. THEY DIDN’T. If I retype the Lord of the Rings, that doesn’t give me the right to sell it, make movies of it, etc. Hell, if I just print it out on my printer, that doesn’t give me the right to SELL that print.

Second: 150k pirates stealing WoW – Vanilla or otherwise – are NOT equal to 150k subs for WoW.

You can’t make the argument that 150k people playing on a private server is 150k people who would be willing to play a legacy server run by blizzard. Sure, there was probably a small subset of people who are already subscribers and just went to play there because they miss Vanilla. BUT it’s likely more than HALF of those people were just pirates who wanted to play WoW but DON’T WANT TO PAY BLIZZARD FOR IT.

Third: Game development, especially with 16+ year old code-bases, is NOT easy/simple.

People like to argue – “Well a bunch of fans did it, why can’t Blizzard?” For one, Blizzard has to make it work within their code base. They would have to do it right – without major game breaking bugs or exploits. They would have to have it work with Battle.Net and all of the tech they use. It’s also not as easy as just “rolling back” to a specific revision. We know WoW has been in development for at least 16 years (probably more like 20). I have worked on 5 year old code bases that were already a tangled awful mess of “what the fuck were those programmers thinking?” I SHUDDER to even think of Blizzard’s. Do you realize how many devs they have currently working for them? How many they have had who have left? They mentioned at BlizzCon they use FOUR different versions of source control. FOUR. That’s a NIGHTMARE. Hell, with that much time, that many versions of source control, and the sheer volume of changes to the game, I would be astonished if they even thought about trying to build a legacy server, much less TRIED. And don’t kid yourself, it would be for less than 100k players at MOST. That would be the population the first 3-4 months. Then it would drop to 50k or less.

Programmers are the most expensive part of a dev team. That is the majority of what would be needed to get legacy servers running. It is simply not cost effective to get a legacy server running, because it the number of subs would be so low, they wouldn’t make their money back. Remember that whole Pirates Copies Don’t Equal Sales – if a FREE WoW server only attracts 150k players – then a paid one would attract less than half of that. (I actually would peg it more around a 10th of that.) Add to this the fact that the BEST programmers suited to this task would be the ones who have been at the company the longest – as they have the most first hand knowledge. That means that they would be pulling their best people off NEW content to work on OLD content for a fraction of the player base. You think garrisons cost you a raid tier? Legacy servers will cost you an EXPANSION – and would KILL the live game in the process.

Let’s look at the example Cataclysm gave us – they went back and reworked zones to bring them up to Wrath levels of quality. And how did that go? It didn’t. Blizzard even admitted that they ended up spending too much time and resources reworking old content THAT PEOPLE DIDN’T PLAY. They said they should have made more end game and high level content.

Finally: Vanilla wasn’t that great. Nostalgia is a weird thing.

Do you like Paladins? Not in Vanilla you didn’t. Remember being an out of combat rezzer? I do. I sat there and did NOTHING and wasn’t allowed to roll on gear unless no one who was killing the boss wanted it, and rezzed people who died. Remember trying to corral 40 people into a raid that took hours and hours and you could only raid if you were willing to play WoW 40+ hours a week? I do, because I couldn’t raid. I had school, then work. I had things I had to do. I wanted to raid.

Bags were only 14 slots. No dungeon groups, just hours in trade trying to form a group. Soul shards, ammo, materials for spells. Keys for UBRS. Shields with shadow power. Hunter pets had to be leveled and friended. Spell Ranks.  Only one way to level – grinding. Only one way to play – grinding.

So no, I don’t think Blizzard should waste time and money they could be spending on PAYING customers (like me!) and making us NEW content on revamping old content for thieves.

TO THE SKIES!

In the tone of my last post about flying – here’s my response to the announcement about flying in Draenor today:

FUCK. YES.

Let’s break down why this is an EXCELLENT solution. In fact I would say it’s possible it’s a PERFECT solution.

How do we get flying? Getting the Loremaster of Draenor, Securing Draenor, 100 Treasures, Explore Draenor, and rep achievements.

It solves the exploration vs non-exploration issue.

Many people commented that they LIKED being forced to ride around while leveling. It gives them a better sense of the world. It helps them learn the zones. It makes it feel like they are exploring. The thing is – once we hit 100, our priorities change. We start wanting to go to specific spots. We try to bypass enemies. We WANT short cuts. But by requiring the Loremaster Achievement – it shows that the player who gets flying HAS done the story. They did the ground footwork to complete the zones.

It makes it so only level 100s can get it.

You have to be 100 to get the Securing Draenor achievement done. Bam. Locked out to level capped characters without it being just a “ding” bonus.

They aren’t charging gold for it.

It’s not a gold sink. (It could be though.) It doesn’t punish poor players or players who want to spend their gold elsewhere. More, it means that it’s not a thing that can be bought with real money.

It doesn’t allow players to cheat around the treasure hunting.

By requiring the 100 treasures achievement, players HAVE to get out there and find at least a large number of them. Maybe not all of them, maybe not all the annoying jumping puzzle ones, but a ton of them. Enough that you feel like you have done the work.

The rep grinds don’t seem to be THAT important, but hey, it means we have to put some work in. I don’t mind WORKING for a reward. Especially one as good as flying. It’s not easy. It’s not too hard. It focuses on getting the players through the content they want us to experience, the way they want us to experience it, but then opens the game up to how WE want to play afterward. And players are going to do it. I bet TONIGHT there will be a huge rush of people getting out into the world to get to work on these achievements.

I like this solution. I would go so far as to say I love it, it’s the correct way to do it, and they should do it this way in the future. Make us work for it. Not RNG or gold based, but achievement based. It’s a really great compromise between the two sides of players who want to fly and designers who want us to stop flying over their content.

I can’t wait to get back to the skies, archeology, and exploring the world.

 

Flying – You can’t put the Genie back in the Bottle

Note – This is a rant. I get ranty. And the f-bomb gets dropped with increasing frequency as it goes on. You have been warned.

 

There are many things they have added to WoW over the years and then later taken out. Like attunements and reforging. There have been many arguments on if these decisions were good or not. But in the end, they don’t impact the current face of WoW terribly much.

This expansion’s argument though is different. Flying. Blizzard decided to not allow flight in Draenor. Not just while leveling, like they did in Wrath, but at all. So here we are, level 100 for 6+ months, and still stuck on the ground.

I hate it. I HATE not being able to fly. It is by far my BIGGEST gripe with Draenor – and that includes the horrible random nature of crafting. I’ve even mentioned it TWICE before in previous posts about WoD:

– No Flying. I haven’t done one bit of archeology or farming because oy is it HARD to get around Draenor. It’s very clear they wanted to gate and limit the player’s movement, but did they have to make it SO MUCH in every zone? It’s a very strong reason for why I don’t want to do these parts of the game. I don’t want to use a glider, I want to fly. Fiddly one off mechanics over a system wide ability I paid a great deal of gold for… yeah.

No flight at 100. I decided to go do the daily in Spires of Arak yesterday and it took me 20 minutes to find my way there. Once I got there (after dying from fall damage) I was greeted by a few HUNDRED people all trying to do the same daily. 20 minutes later, I gave up and went back to my garrison, with 10% of the daily complete. This is NOT how I want to spend an hour of my game time.

So now that Mr. Hazzikostas has implied there may not be flying in future expansions I have to raise my voice. Before, I grumbled, but didn’t write about it, because, well, it was different. And I did need to experience it. And I did need to PLAY it to judge. And honestly, I thought they would be patching it in at the end of the expansion. So now, despite the fact I know people don’t want to hear the griping anymore, I am fucking griping, because not being able to fly is BULLSHIT.

The Problems with No Flying:

First – it’s a COST we already paid. We bought flight for 5k. Then we paid 1k for it in Northrend. Then we paid 250g for it in Cataclysm. Then 2.5k for Pandaria. Some of us have paid this fucking cost over multiple characters. This is not a fucking insubstantial amount of gold. It was an investment in our character that is now fucking worthless.

Second – Flying mounts. There are at least a 100 flying mounts. These mounts look fucking stupid when waddling on the ground. Remember the Netherwing Rep grind? The Cloud Serpent Rep grind? How much time did we spend grinding rep to get flying mounts that are virtually useless now? To head off the arguments, I have a spectral tiger. I have a BAD ASS ground mount. My owning of that mount doesn’t mean I don’t ever want to fly on all the fucking flying mounts I earned and farmed up over the years.

Third – What a Long Strange Trips It’s Been. Really? I spent a FUCKING YEAR doing every single damn holiday, stupid fucking rng within fucking rng achievements, and my reward of super speed flight is what now? A complete FUCKING WASTE. Thank you Blizz, for respecting the time and energy I have sunk into your game. /sarcasm (who am I kidding this whole thing is dripping with sarcasm because apparently some idiot thinks it’s a good idea to not have flight!)

Fourth – Archeology. It’s a profession practically requiring the speed and ease of flying around the world to dig sites. I haven’t done it outside my garrison because it simply takes too damn much time to travel now. So I do it through the mine. I am sure the designer who came up with it is happy to know that their profession has been reduced to something done off hand while getting ore.

Fifth – it just makes the designers build annoying ass landscapes like Nagrand and Spires of Arak. The inflation of time for travel is just fucking annoying. There is no reason it should take me 15 minutes to go from my garrison to the raid. NONE. And I certainly shouldn’t be showing up with a huge group of mobs chasing me that are the equivalent of mosquitoes.

Sixth – It just makes it HARDER to get where we want to go. I am a RABID pet collector. I didn’t go get the wild pets in Draenor until about a month ago because it was too fucking annoying to ride around the zones to FIND them. Making things harder is not going to retain old players or bring in new ones. Path of least resistance is the player way, and sometimes that’s right the fuck out of your game.

Blizzard’s Solution: “We’ll work on flight paths!”

UM. DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND? We want to be DOING things in WoW, not waiting while our character travels.

The game’s gains for not having flying:

Hidden treasures? – They aren’t that cool guys. OH AND RIGHT, you already added Aviana’s Feather, and Gliders, and all kinds of other CRAP to get around that. Can we just use the mounts we fucking paid for?

Jumping Puzzles? – If I wanted to play a fucking platformer, I would fucking play Mario. I want to play WoW, but more than that, I want to play WoW MY way. And if that means ignoring the fucking jumping puzzles until i can fly, then I am gonna fucking do it.

Travel time – Because apparently there just isn’t enough crap in a game with 10 years of content – they are still artificially inflating the time people are playing.

“It makes it feel dangerous!” – Yeah except it doesn’t. Danger is when I am level 90 and running around Shadowmoon Valley. At 100, it’s just annoying and leads to me dragging 20 mobs and finally stopping and nuking them all down. I am sure the poor little player leveling over there didn’t need those mobs for his quest did he? It was totally a great idea for me to drag them across the zone and kill them all. I felt so in danger when my health dipped down to 90%.

More structured leveling experience – this is the ONLY excuse that makes any sense. But again – WHY does it have to continue past level cap? Just require level cap for learning flight. It was done in all of the previous expansions. Yeah, it makes getting rare treasures easier, but at 100, that’s pretty easy ANYWAY. Oh look at that! A simple solution! Gosh, if only you had fucking known it would work really well and mollify your players… OH WAIT. YOU DID. BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE IT FOUR FUCKING TIMES BEFORE.

 

I get it. I am a level designer. I GET how flying makes it harder to design zones. But you know what? You can’t take it back now. Suck it up, deal with it, and spend the time to make it work. We paid for it. We collected mounts for it. We sunk hundreds of hours into getting it and making it better. You can’t put the fucking genie back into the fucking bottle, we already found our freedom.

These are the Things I Add-On.

Back a few years ago, I had a MacBook I used to play WoW on when traveling. At first, I foolishly thought, I won’t put addons on this computer. (It was a more complex process than on PC.) That decision lasted all of about 15 minutes when I got into the game. As it turned out, I relied on addons more than I remembered.

What are addons?

Addons are Lua programs players can write that traditionally change the game UI. They cannot play the game for you. But they can change things like the mini map, bags, and raid frames. You can find and download them from WoW Interface and Curse. They are unzipped and just copied into your Addons folder in the WoW directory. Once you log on, at the character screen, in the bottom left corner, you can choose which addons to turn on and off. When a new patch hits, addons go “out of date”. Sometimes they stop working, and sometimes they don’t. It depends on what the addon affects. It’s worth trying to keep them up to date though.

What addons do I use and why?

1- Postal.

Postal is a mailbox addon. It’s a bandaid to fix Blizzard’s subpar mailbox ui. If you plan on using the auction house at all, you need Postal.

2 – Deadly Boss Mods.

I raid. I run dungeons. This or Big Wigs is required to do these things at a high level. If you are only running LFR, this is less vital.

3 – Altoholic

Again, this is practically required because I have 22 alts. I have items and mats stored on other characters. Including heirlooms. This makes it easy to search other character’s bags and also to keep track of who has gold, who has mail, and who is fully rested.

4 – AffDots

My main is a warlock. This addon helps me track embers and play to the best of my ability. It’s really specific for my class though. Some other classes may need a different thing, or nothing at all.

5 – HealBot

I use this for raid frames and healing. There are several good options for this. I prefer keeping my ui as close to stock as possible, so this really wins for me.

6 – Master Plan

If running garrison missions this addon is almost vital. It is great for picking the best missions, finding useless followers, etc.

7 – Recount

Again, if you aren’t raiding, this addon is worthless. People argue about which is better, this or Skada, but I just stick with recount because I am familiar with how it works.

8 – Handy Notes

Handy Notes is amazing for finding hidden treasures, holidays, and all that random stuff found in the world. Really useful for leveling in WoD or Pandaria.

9 – Pet Journal Enhanced

I love pets and pet battling, and sadly the stock ui just doesn’t give me enough info. I like this one, because it gives me just enough info without getting to busy or wordy.

10 – Ask Mr Robot

I actually sub to his site, so being able to to load in what I have in bags and get my best loadout is very useful.

11 – TSM and it’s various bits + Auctionator

I am a gold baron on my server, so TSM is required for mass listing on the auction house. I wrote a post on how to set it up. It’s also useful for buying stuff in bulk as well.

12 – WoW Lua

I write my own addons, so this is one I use for that!

 

There are so many addons that do so many things. It’s best to look for ones frequently downloaded, and don’t be afraid to test things out.

“So you’re paying to wait in line to buy stuff?”

So this year, Blizzard is doing yet another new thing with their Virtual Ticket: Allowing the purchase of the Goodie Bag.

And oh, the grumping that started. So let’s break this down and really consider what’s going on here.

First off, the goodie bag in question has traditionally been the domain of those who attend BlizzCon. You pick up your badge and goodie bag the day before (or day of) and it’s filled with a half dozen or so things you can ONLY get in that bag at BlizzCon. But this year, those who buy the Virtual Ticket ($40) will get the option to purchase the goodie bag. We don’t know in quantities or how much, so for this exercise, let’s assume it’s ~$100 with shipping, and you can only purchase One per virtual ticket.

Why people are happy: They get the chance to buy the goodie bag, even if they aren’t going to BlizzCon in person.

Why people are upset: The goody bag is chock full of exclusives and those attending in person are grumpy their exclusive isn’t so exclusive anymore.

Both sides have valid points. Those who can’t attend are getting the chance at something they wouldn’t otherwise. They can get the loot, and have a cute little murloc or whatever figure, which they wanted, without having to travel to Anahiem. They are fans too. Just maybe not with lots of money, ability to travel, or vacation time. For those who can attend, it IS nice to get something that is exclusive. It’s nice to feel like you have something special, that you have shown your dedication and gotten a reward.

This all breaks down though, when you see the arguments from an empathetic view. First off, assuming people who “really want” the goodie bag had the chance to get one. Well, no, they didn’t. I tried to buy BlizzCon tickets for 2 years, failing both times, and finally got to go when I won a contest. The fact that not everyone who wants to and can go – gets to go is the first point where this shows that the exclusive is a “feel bad”, meaning something that makes people feel crappy for no good reason. If I want to go, but lose the “spawn in at a low number” on the website attempt, I already feel like crap because I can’t be there in person, but on top of that, I am denied exclusives I WOULD have had to the chance to get (and likely would have). It would be very different if even up to the week before there were still tickets available and people could go.

Now, take a moment to consider those who CAN’T attend. Here are some reasons of people *I* personally know who would LIKE to go to BlizzCon and can’t.

  • It’s always the first weekend in Nov, the same weekend as their mother’s birthday.
  • They have 4 kids, and no one to watch them for a weekend.
  • They can’t afford the ticket, airfare, and hotel.
  • They have severe anxiety issues and being in a convention center with that many people would be damaging to their health.
  • They cannot walk, so things like Cons are very taxing on their physical abilities.
  • They are immuno-compromised and a convention is pretty much asking to die.
  • They only get so many vacation/sick days per year.
  • Their spouse doesn’t like Blizzard games and they don’t wish to travel alone.

A more heartless person would say – oh well – but really, that is a very privileged (and in some of these instances Able-ist) view to take. Especially considering, what are we talking about here? $100 worth of chochkies and such? Does someone else having an item you have lower it’s value to you? If something’s uniqueness is all that matters, better to pass up that thing that over 6k other people have and craft something of your own that is truly unique!

The *only* true affect this would have one someone who attends the con is that it lowers the resale value of their goodie bag. Ah, so now we see a real reason. The only avenue people who can’t attend the con have of getting something from these bags if they really want it is eBay. (Or some other resale method, but let’s use eBay for ease of understanding.) My first time to BlizzCon someone said they “paid” for their ticket and trip every year just by selling the stuff from the goodie bag (this was during the statues time, not the Funko Pop time). I remember looking at him horrified at the concept of being willing to part with it. My last BlizzCon, I heard someone talking about how they bought a box of the pins, just so they could sell them on eBay and make a buck. They proceeded to talk about how much money they were going to make off all of us “nerds”. I got the impression they didn’t come to the con for the event, but rather to buy things to resell.

It’s also worth noting the people who attend in person are getting exclusives that will never be able to be replicated on the virtual ticket – meeting people, meeting devs, selfies with statues, the rush of being there, the demo stations, anniversary beer, seeing the movie trailer, etc.

What is the point of convention exclusives? To point to my title, someone once made that comment about Comic Con. At the time – I didn’t really get it, until I had to wait in like 3 hours at PAX to buy a t-shirt, only to get up to the booth and they were sold out.

It is absurd. To pay a few hundred dollars on a ticket, a few hundred more on a plane ticket, then a few hundred more on a hotel, for the CHANCE (if they don’t sell out, or you don’t have time) to spend even MORE money on an item? Talk about a racket! Especially since the only other way to get many of these items is to go to eBay and pay 2-5x the standard price.

Personally, I think convention exclusives are a terrible idea and should be completely removed. Yes, the idea of getting something exclusive is fun, but at what cost? Instead of seeing and talking to artists, you spend a weekend waiting in line. Instead of watching panels, sitting in line. Instead of playing demos, sitting in line. It turns a convention from a place to gather with thousands of others and geek out over something to a really expensive version of Black Friday.

Someone brought up the point that they liked exclusives because it was a thing to show that person had been there, and experienced it. But… it’s not. By that logic, I have been to 3 Comic Cons, 4 Emerald City Comic Cons, and no Wonder Cons. When really I have never been to the first two, and to the third one once! I used to agree with this stance, until the year I missed out on my PAX prime t-shirt because they ran out the first day. Instead, I have given an awful lot of money to people on eBay for my alternate Funkos, my one off prints of t-shirts, and my Blizzard stuffed animals.

When it comes down to exclusives – there are two potential ways it could turn out for me:

1. I get a thing I want, and I feel happy. There is a minor “addition” to this happiness with the feeling that something is rare.

2. I feel like crap because I didn’t get the thing I wanted.

Does the offset of the “rare” addition make up for the knowledge that someone else feels the second? If I had to pick, I would rather feel the first, without the rare bonus feeling than the second, ever. Hands down. More than that, I would prefer that Blizzard, and it’s artists/devs get the money for me wanting to buy a thing as opposed to some reseller.

The concept of wanting something that no one else has is a selfish one. To be clear, it’s not inherently BAD. It doesn’t make you a bad person. There are many instances when being selfish is not only a good choice – but also the right one. But that doesn’t make you exempt from people calling it out as selfish. It’s also the moment to take a look at how having that thing from the goody bag really makes you feel. Is it having the thing itself that makes you feel awesome, or knowing that no one else has it? If it’s more the second than the first, that is a thing to consider and perhaps decide if that’s a feeling you are okay with having.

All of this, for me, is not just limited to things bought at Conventions, but even in game. I HATE that I don’t have Murky and likely never will. I am one of those nut jobs that spent $2600 on the Vanilla Collectors Edition and if TOMORROW they announced that they were making those 3 pets available my response would be “Oh thank goodness.” I would rather EVERYONE have something than be one of the people who wants something but can’t get it because it’s intended to be “rare”. I’d much rather have mounts and achievements never go away (and pets, not to leave out the Vampiric Batling) and let the dates of those achievements stand for themselves. (Or just have the separate Feat of Strength with the “Ahead of the Curve” name, that rewards nothing other than the ability to say you did it when it was “hard”.)

While I am on the subject though, can we have the statues back instead of the Funkos? I mean, I love Funkos but STILL. Oh and maybe “themed” bags? Not to *raspberry* Starcraft or Orcs, but I would much rather get something with one of the ladies or Tyrael than Diablo or yet another Thrall. *thumps her mega blocks Thrall across the office*

Motion Sickness in Games

Eternal Darkness. Morrowind. Drakon the Ancient Gates. Oblivion. Half Life 2. Quake 4. Portal. WoW. Minecraft. Borderlands. Legend of Grimmrock 2.

What do all these games have in common?

I have vomited at some point while or directly after playing them. It’s worth noting, I never once vomited while pregnant. But I play Half Life 2 for 10 minutes and I am seeing my lunch again.

This has come up yet again because of WoW’s newest raid, Blackrock Foundry, and one of the fights is pretty awful.

I am a bit surprised it’s just coming up now, because for me at least, Grimrail Depot was far worse. Both fights have moving things, generally at a high speed, while the player needs to move or stay stationary. The problem occurs in that the player’s brain is immersed to the point they FEEL like they should be moving, but they aren’t, so everything gets a bit wonky.

In Grimrail, the specific problem is that the players are on a moving train. The developers added a screen “jostle” to sell the realism of being on a train. Then they have a section where the boxcar walls are lowered and there are canyon walls rushing by. But those walls have stripes on them, so the sensation of movement is very strong.

In the Hans and Frans fight, the floor moves, and the player has to run around dodging things while fighting against the conveyors.

“How does something like this get through?”

In my experience – it gets through because no one notices it. I have worked at 4 game companies, and only ONCE have I worked with someone else who got motion sick playing games. Occasionally a game will pop up that makes a large number of people motion sick, but they just adjust the fov and move on. (This is how I fixed Minecraft.) But for those of us that are sensitive to it, this is not going to solve our problems.

Game devs are generally, by definition, Gamers. They play tons of games. They have been playing games forever. (And if they don’t, like some artists, they don’t even play the games they make! But that’s another post entirely.) Much like riding on a boat, you get “sea legs” that makes you less likely to notice or be bothered by the motion sickness. You can acclimate. So by the time devs get to the point of working on massive games like WoW, they generally don’t get sick from it anymore.

“Okay, but I still feel like ralphing, how do I get around this without just skipping this fight?”

In a perfect world, Game Devs would contract a QA team to test and find things like – color blind issues, motion sickness, epilepsy, deafness, etc. Pretty much everything Able Gamers fights to raise awareness and solutions for. But there isn’t always time or money. (However for Blizzard I call bullshit. They know better. They have the money. They should have their OWN internal team checking for it.) At the very least, each company should have avenues for employees to bring attention to and address these issues. (Just like they should also do with sexist and problematic things!) At every company I have worked at, I invariably end up as a “motion tester” because I complain VERY LOUDLY any time I get motion sick. I get called to desks to test stuff and help the designer tweak areas and gameplay sequences to make them less hurl inducing.

But this isn’t a perfect world. So how did I get over it? After all, some of those games I listed are my favorite games! And I have to keep doing Grimrail for alts for the legendary ring!

– Saltines. It’s an old standby for a reason.

– Ginger ale. Again, we give this to sick kids for a reason.

– Greasy food. I have a method for a game like Skyrim or Grimmrock. I play it until I am feeling VERY unwell, then I eat some McDonalds. It calms my stomach down, and I wait until the sickness has completely passed, then do it again. Skyrim took 4 attempts. Grimmrock took 3. Drakon was the WORST. It took 11. I was persistent.

Preggo Pops. Seriously. I got these while pregnant and there is a reason I never got sick. Further, they are super safe, and many moms even give them to kids when they are ill.

– Lemon water. Especially if you are one of the people who has mouth watering right before vomiting. Lemon water knocks that right out. (Or just sucking on a lemon if you can stand it.)

Within the game solutions:

– Point your camera straight down. Or adjust it so you can’t see the movement. I am awful at Grimrail for this reason, I have to just stare at the plate and can’t look up at the walls.

– On Hans and Frans, get your warlocks to set up their portals ALONG the “stationary” bands. These are the thinner bands. Then STAY ON THESE BANDS. Do not spend any time if possible on the moving part. Doing this means your camera doesn’t move, so YOU feel stationary, even though everything else ever is moving. Use the portals to move for smashers and try to focus on only looking at the bands. (I also found it helped to keep my camera facing the same way – the door direction – and stay on the one band.)

– Turn down spell effects. The more graphical stuff you have going on, the more it fights with your ability to focus on anything. Turn it way down. This just clears out the noise.

– Request that your raid take a break after this fight. Maybe you can sit out the next trash clear. But step AWAY from the game, and eat something bready.

– Persist. You will get your sea legs.

– Last resort – Dramamine or Sickness bands. While in school, we had two semesters where we worked in Half Life 2. I took that crap twice a day for 6 months. It sucks, but it made me able to function in the tool to build levels for it.

I feel like Blizzard could do somethings to help this without destroying the fight. Clearly delineating the stationary parts. Tune it so you can lose 3-4 people without wiping (so the motion sickers can just die). But they do need to do something. This is definitely a stepping away point for some people.

How to Make Gold – Hard Core

I feel a bit phony even trying to write this post. I have never by any measure tried to do any of these suggestions. These are “too much work” for me. Me. With the 9 garrisons. BUT I have it on good authority, these are ways to make multi-millions. So here’s the idea of what to do, it’s up to you to figure out the path and specifics.

TSM – Sniper:

TSM has a module called sniper. This allows you to find items that are very under valued on the auction house, buy them, and re-list them. It’s also called flipping. For me this was never a very viable thing because it requires investing money. Just like flipping a house, it’s a risky bet, and you have to be willing to lose the money you invest.

This also includes buying things like pets, leveling them to 25 and reselling them. Or buying the cards to make a Darkmoon trinket.

Cornering a Market:

Generally with something like glyphs, Darkmoon Cards, certain transmog items, certain pets, etc, people will corner a market. If the items in question are generally rare, difficult to farm, and low count, it’s possible to control a majority of the stock for that market on your realm.

This is time consuming, expensive, and requires being a bit awful about it. Only once have I ever had a market cornered and that was in Cataclysm with Mysterious Fortune Cards. I have written about it before, but essentially, I was the only person listing these cards, so I controlled the price. To do this though, I had to control the flow of whiptail – either by buying it from the farmers or farming it myself, then control the number of cards on the AH. Every time someone tried to enter the market, I had to undercut them obsessively and immediately. I froze out several players and generally had to battle another. Finally I managed to win by contacting his farmers and buying the whiptail slightly higher than he was willing to pay so that he could not get materials. He ran out of mats, right as I flooded the market with my product driving the price so low he couldn’t make enough gold to buy mats to make more cards. Think about that for a minute. I actively trapped this guy with thousands of gold worth of stock and mats, then intentionally made it worthless just so he would stop competing with me. He gave in, and offered to sell me ALL of his stock at half price (half the price before I flooded the market). I took it, cleared the AH, and then re-listed at 50% more than the previous high price point. After this I controlled the market for over 2 months without a single other seller.

Ultra Rare Items: TCG Mounts and Pets, profession kits, etc.

These are items that are super rare and always sell very well. I know people who deal in these. Mostly because I have purchased from them. However, I find this to be a risky business because while there is little to no competition, there are also very few buyers. I listed a TCG Rocket on the auction house and it took 6 months to sell.

 

It’s also always worth checking out what other people do. Like Elvine. There are tons of little blogs (like mine!) that track and figure out different methods of making gold. Good luck!

How to Make Gold – Middle Managers

How do you go from just making a bit of gold, to starting to work towards gold capped?

First off, level some alts. I have 4 max level garrisons running (with a 5th about to come online). That means I have 4 level 3 salvage yards feeding me items. 4 sets of treasure missions. 4 piles of herbs and ore. 4 toons making epics every 7-8 days.

I have 9 garrisons total. Sure, only 7 of them have mines and profession buildings, but that means I also have 7 sets of followers running missions. Lucrative treasure missions. I have all these alts with the ability to go and do quests or pick up treasures.

Now obviously, this takes a great deal of time (about 1.5 hrs a day) to check and “process” all these garrisons. (Process is the phrase I use to describe clearing and resetting missions, gathering resources, and setting work orders.)

Crafting Epics-

I spend a majority of my efforts on alts getting them to the point where they can run work orders and daily crafting cooldowns. This means that every 8-10 days they can craft an epic item, or every 15-18 days craft an upgrade item. These still sell fairly well and consistently make money. Tailors are especially good at this because they can make bags, which always sell, and generally sell very high.

Ore Shuffle –

The ore shuffle is a strange idea that I reserve for “middle managers” because it takes a great deal of time, several professions, and knowledge of the markets to actually make money on.

Currently the ore shuffle is as follows:

Send Ore to your Blacksmith/Jewelcrafter. Make Blue Items. Send blue items to your enchanter – disenchant for dust/shards. Sell dust/shards – or create enchant scrolls and sell those.

Trade Skill Master –

It’s a weird program, but very helpful. Go ahead and download the addon from your chosen addon site and then download the desktop app from TSM’s site. This requires you to sign up for their site, but it’s worth it to use the apps.

I use the Main addon, Accounting, Auction DB, Auctioning, and WoWuction modules. This gives me some tools to list and most importantly – data on the values of items.

Setting up TSM can be a pain. Once you get the addon installed and the desktop app up, you have to set the desktop app up to pull data for your server. Then you have to set up groups inside the game addon to sell your items.

tsm4 tsm3First create an operation. This is located in the third button across the top, labeled options. (It’s the bolts one.)

This let’s you change how you post things. I have a single operation, because I just don’t care that much. It posts for 48 hours, in full stack sizes, with minimum, maximum, and normal prices all based on the data base.

 

 

Next, you need to make groups. This allows you to break all your auctions into sections so you only post certain items at a time. Add them to the group by clicking on the item in the left column and adding to the right. Items can only be in one group at a time. (Again, I am very lazy here. I have one for greens, one for blues and purples, and one for pets. At home I have a fourth for crafting mats.)

 

Now go to the auction house and you will find a ton of new tabs. Select the Auctioning one, select the groups you want to list, and click “Start Post Scan”.tsm2

 

 

 

 

Finally you have to confirm the posts. This screen gives you all the data you need to make a decision about if you should post an item or not.

TSM allows you to post dozens of auctions very quickly, which is vital while running multiple salvage yards.

Rare Item Farming-

There are a few kinds of rare items that can be farmed – but generally I focus on transmog and pets. Specifically in places like AQ20/40 are gold mines for transmog. Having a list or TSM can help identify the items that sell the best. Other good transmog instances are Dire Maul and Molten Core. There is value in raids like Kara, TK, and SSC – if just for the trash and pets.

Be aware of in game holidays and the pets and mounts that can be farmed from it as well. Some are fairly worthless – like Sinister Squashlings – but others are very valuable – like Widget and Birdman.

One final note for middle managers – be sure to watch patch and ptr notes. Track what’s coming so you can prepare and adjust. This is especially vital on expansion and large content patches. I made over 100k the first two weeks of Mists just selling bags to all the new pandas. I spent months before hand buying up netherweave super cheap and just storing it on alts.

These few steps alone put a player into a state of making a few k every day on average. It generally takes more time to do these, but the reward is also greater.