Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Rift: Game Is In Great Shape, Announcement Coming (+ Gaming Stock Commentary)

In response to player concerns today about the future of Rift, community manager Ocho had this to say in the forums:

“So let’s get to some facts:

  • The RIFT Dev team is the largest Dev team I’ve ever worked with in almost a decade of working on triple A MMOs.
  • The team has grown over the last year and a half, and hiring for the team continues.
  • Population in RIFT is strong, lots of people play RIFT and lots of new people continue to start to play RIFT.
  • Profits from RIFT are certainly reinvested in RIFT. AA took 0 devs from RIFT. None, nada, zilch.
  • RIFT is in zero danger. We’re really excited about the future, right now is a great time to be playing or working on RIFT. …
  • We’re not only reusing old content, we’re also developing new content. Keep your eyes out over the next couple weeks, we might be announcing something.”

– Ocho

This is great news, since this kitty has also been a little worried.

This week I capped my rogue alt, and I continue close to picking up a few pieces of raid gear earned for my main by weeklies and dailies instead of raiding. I’m also enjoying the creative and quirky nightmare saga story.

The second act released yesterday. The return of old classic characters doesn’t bring much life to them (so far), and we mostly see them as generic quest-advancers. The third act of the saga also supposedly forces you to do a lot of PvP and NTE dungeons.

I disagree with this design, even if it’s to justify the epic weapon you can theoretically get when it’s all over. There are two main types of players:

  • Players for whom this is just same-old grinding to pad out the saga.
  • Players for whom this is horrible and will spend an entire weekend trying to queue for PUG DPS and beat five dungeons, or queuing PvP and hating Trion the entire time.

Just doesn’t seem like a winning scheme to me.


Video Game Stocks


Electronic Arts (EA) and Microsoft (MSFT) both had solid earnings reports this week, so hopefully these will be long term for my paltry little portfolio, and I can ease up on my nine-month quest (right before the stock market goes off a cliff, possibly.)

How can Microsoft compete with Apple and Google? By uniting your PC in an ecosystem with your other devices and monetizing by applying what they’ve learned from Free-To-Play video games. I plan to buy a Lumia soon. My Samsung tablet completely fails to recognize my Windows 7 PC.

You’ll also be able to stream XBOX to PC with Windows 10, or stream console-quality games to your PC without an XBOX using the cloud, which Microsoft demonstrated yesterday.

If you need any more good news for Microsoft, China announced this week that it will now allow game consoles to be sold in China after a 15 year ban. This is probably more better for Sony and Nintendo.

My third tech pick is still Equinix (EQIX), a cloud pipeline and data center owner. They are allied with Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, which I hope will eventually win against Amazon’s huge cloud. Who wants to trust Amazon with their entire corporate business and security if the other choice is the Microsoft on your PCs?

I also still hold AT&T (T), which is now FCC-approved to merge with DirectTV, with an expectation of leveraging their scale to produce their own competitive over-the-top video streaming service like everyone else.

Nvidia’s (NVDA) stock continues to head into the abyss with PCs and chips, although the stock is super tempting as it dips below $20. The future of virtual reality in video games and in general might see Nvidia as a big player.

As TAGN reported, Blizzard (ATVI) announces results next week on 8/4, followed by an announcement of a new expansion a few days later on 8/6. Interesting.

In the last two quarters, Blizzard reported strong results and the stock popped. Both times I sold and took small profits. The stock might pop again, but right now Wall Street seems to be in a mood to sell any stocks after their results hit print.

Especially if a stock ran up into its earnings announcement.

I would not be betting on Blizzard’s stock to be higher the day after it reports. If ATVI sells off hard, it might be a buying opportunity, especially if the Wall Street boys aren’t completely up to speed with the expansion deal.

Also, if Blizzard is announcing their expansion earlier than normal at Gamescom, then maybe they are saving something even bigger for Blizzcon in November?

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Weekly Wyrm: The Weather Outside Is Frightful

guild wars 2 class changeIt’s a warm 82 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix in the first week of March. Summer is coming soon–the season to crank up the air conditioning, close down the blinds, and play games in the half-light.

Summer is winter in the desert. Instead of freezing, we blister.

A few days ago, Angry Joe posted an interview video on the upcoming Guild Wars 2 expansion, Heart of Thorns. Colin Johansen mentioned major class and advancement restructuring–a Mastery system.

Colin also mentioned the Hunter profession being able to swap to Druid spec or back again, as well as to others if/when more specializations are added to the game.

Suddenly the Guild Wars 2 buy-to-play game is a lot more interesting than Elder Scrolls, which seems more flexible in theory but just doesn’t click with me. Too much flexibility means generic, overlapping, and useless skills, a criticism often mentioned in Rift.

My druid is probably my favorite class in World of Warcraft, although my WoW characters have always seemed limited compared to Rift. I never wanted to stick with just one.

Maybe this class-swapping will be the answer, and I can put a hunter/druid on my very short list of dedicated, lifetime-favorite characters. So speaking of World of Warcraft.


Return To Hearthstone


For now, I’ve returned to Hearthstone on Android. This was released just this last December, and thanks to my new 8″ Tab 4, I’m good to go. The game runs smoothly and beautifully, and is just barely sharp enough and large enough to read the text and enjoy the experience.

I can play Hearthstone in bed, on the toilet, in the kitchen, or even standing on my head. Really only in bed, since I’m way behind the curve on legendary cards, and it’s easier for the poor kitty to take it in the tail while lying down.

So Blizzard just announced a new expansion at PAX East a few days ago, entitled Blackrock Mountain. I skipped the first two Xpacks/Adventure things (Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas), but Blackrock Mountain has always been my favorite place in WoW, and I spent a lot of good times farming the Spire and Depths.

This might be my first pre-order of a game in quite a while. We’ll see. I’m reminded that I promised to buy Diablo 3 since Blizzard made both genders of each class, but I still haven’t. Anyway, if you haven’t tried Hearthstone on Android, it’s worth a look on a compatible device.

It’s hard to feel like you’re progressing and not just wasting tons of time playing Hearthstone, but it’s a lot of fun in those odd moments, or if you really go hardcore. That’s about it for this week. Thanks for reading.


Blizzard ~ Going Up Or Going Down

kitty buy listA few days ago I bought stock in Blizzard-Activision. The stock has been crushed in the last month, supposedly due to the initial bad reaction and reviews of Destiny (Activision), and I would assume the cancellation of Titan is also a factor.

I know better with Destiny. I think. Destiny seems to have solid post-launch traction with the Joe and Jane console gamers, and most comments I see are surprisingly positive. So why not take a chance with an industry that I know?

The chart of Blizzard’s stock looks terrifyingly horrible, though. It bounced with the big market bounce in the last week, but it still underperformed, and it’s limping dangerously below its trend lines. I hope I don’t lose too much for comfort before the earnings announcement on 11/4.

That would be a problem.

It would be worse if the stock tanked on earnings, I sold, and then a big announcement came at Blizzcon. That would be this kitty’s luck recently. I don’t recommending pushing chips at Blizzard, but if there’s a surprise of any kind, and I think there could be, there could be big profit.

Raptr from last month shows a strong surge in Diablo 3, and Hearthstone is holding position for Blizzard to dominate the top ten most played PC games. (Destiny is not in PC.) They also have Warcraft the movie coming in 2016, but who knows.

Any opinions on Blizzard? Will they have a big announcement at Blizzcon? They already announced Hearthstone will go to mobile early next year. Hearthstone is an awesome game.

I hope dedicated U.S. kitty readers perked their ears and got some chips in during last week’s panic sell-off over Ebola, Europe, and China. You might have made 5-10% since then. Or maybe things aren’t over yet. I think money coming from Europe and Asia in off-hours has been a big factor in the rally, but I won’t bore readers any further.

This is just a little blurb that I’ve kept short on purpose. I’ve got good writing material for the weekend, including a secret sex scandal in a big upcoming RPG the kitty uncovered this week while pawing through a developer Tumblr. I hope Massively doesn’t scoop me. :3

So go Blizzard! I never thought I’d be cheering for Blizzard, but Trion is a private company. So. I’ll have reactions on Nightmare Tide when I have more of them. Today I’m a wee bit annoyed, but I’ll get over it.


Weekly Wyrm ~ Mar. 8, 2014

WoW Ysera ImageThis was a refreshing week in WoW, although I’m still working on getting keys set up and Add-Ons installed.

WoW is saving screenshots in low-quality JPG by default (see image), so I had to fix another thing in my .WTF file along with the horrible camera distance. “WTF” is an apt name for WoW’s initialization file.

I’m enjoying the mix-reviewed Cataclysm expansion so far because Hyjal is a Night Elf area. Elune be praised! There’s temple music and peaceful beauty ruined by flaming horrors. The usual.

Cataclysm offers two big starting zones, unlike other lesser-endowed MMOs that cope with player congestion through phasing, making the package seem bigger than it is.

I’m looking forward to exploring the mostly-underwater zone, Vash’ir, cited by Rift players as a mistake that WoW players hated. (I.e. Trion should be wary when designing Rift’s water world.)

Vash’ir is also a zone steeped in Night Elf lore. So yay for more elf love.


Rift F2P. WoW, And Selling Levels


Christopher Coke penned a well-written article on Rift F2P last week. I like Coke’s literary fizz. At first I thought he was Justin Olivetti under a pen name. That’s praise.

I agree that WoW made it “open season” on selling levels, and that Rift needs to do the same thing. A lot of players didn’t make it through Storm Legion. I normally complete quests like a slack-jawed rodent, but I didn’t make it. Leonore remains L58. I’m not saying I need to skip two levels. I’m saying Storm Legion was tedious.

On the other hand, selling levels is a club to the face of people who played lots of hours leveling alts and maxing crafts. It opens a can of worms.

That’s a “nebulous” problem with F2P, to use Coke’s word, and a problem Coke’s article hints at. Store sales are replacing gameplay, now including questing and leveling. Once the shine is gone from getting everything you want instantly, you’re going to lose interest. It’s that simple.

Meanwhile, the game company has your money. Will you buy the same perk again next time? Or will you say “been there, bought that?”

Someone in Massively comments said “Trion is hooked on the cash shop crack pipe now, and they can’t put it down.” That’s an apt assessment. We’ve had robot mounts, squirrel mounts, mounts from Defiance, and parakeet mounts since Rift F2P. The newest bird is a spectral budgie.

What’s Rift’s next mount flavor of the month? I’d ride a personal shirtless dwarf. I’ve heard they have spectacular endurance. Peter Dinklage has this kitty’s vote for the throne.


Elder Scrolls Online Add-Ons: Situation = Failure


When MMORPG reported this week on the state of Add-Ons in Elder Scrolls Online, this kitty was dismayed.

Zenimax is taking a strong stance against mods that give “clear mechanical advantages in competitive situations.” They also seem to extend this to PvE endgame by saying: “We do not want those who aren’t interested in using an add-on to feel compelled to do so because they cannot remain competitive without them.”

This raises the spectre of PvP directly affecting PvE, and telling players how they have to play is never a good thing. Raiders will want DPS meters, at the very least, especially when it’s difficult to tell in ESO whether people are hitting things when they swing.

For example, WoW doesn’t appear to have a built-in map coordinate display, among other things. I had to install one. Coordinates are a must-have “advantage” in PvP, so if WoW followed Zenimax’s philosophy, no one would have coordinates. Good luck with that.

I find the Elder Scrolls UI frustrating and in some ways unplayable. It’s fine that some people like it, but forcing people to play a certain way is a negative for the game. If Zenimax follows a suppressive mod philosophy that supports their minimalist mandate, that’s depressing.


South Park: Stick of Truth


According to reports, Obsidian made a great RPG out of an unlikely IP. I enjoyed Angry Joe’s glowing review of this game, for which he awarded a rating of 9/10 with a seal of approval. I won’t play Stick of Truth because I can’t play as a girl. It’s that simple.

If you made it this far, please have a cookie, mister. Happy gaming.


Quotes Of The Week


Just saying, but it would have been nice to play a girl as I am like, you know, a fucking girl. Maybe this option was absent just to avoid Sexual Harassment Panda.

– Lucy Orr, ‘Mommy got me an UltraVibe Pleasure 2000 for Xmas!’ South Park: Stick of Truth (Review)

There’s nothing wrong with kick-ass heroines, as far as I’m concerned, but I do agree that it is wrong for them to be the only representation of a ‘strong female character’.

– Francis James Franklin, Strong Female Characters and Other Heroines


WoW Sweetens Deal With Auto-Level Professions

Joystiq reported today that the World of Warcraft auto-level perk, which is received either with a Draenor pre-purchase or for $60 in the cash shop, will supposedly also level your primary professions to 600 if the character is level 60 or above.

This is very important news. I’m not complaining since I have a lot of catching up to do, but this throws a goblin wrench into my strategy.

I finally settled on abandoning my three existing level 80s, leveling my 79 Druid by gathering, leveling my 60 Death Knight by questing, and auto-leveling my 65 Mage auction house alt, who does Tailoring and Inscription.

Coldsprocket, my gnome Mage, is level-locked on her crafting since WoW gates crafting tiers by level. Auto-leveling her would unlock more tiers of crafting to play with. I enjoy crafting, gathering, and playing the AH.

Now with the professions thrown into the rocket launcher, I can’t unlock more tiers on my crafting alt since the professions will be leveled too. And I can’t turn down getting jewelcrafting and alchemy auto-maxed on my intended DK main.

This wastes 20-30 hours I already spent on my new DK’s crafting in the last few weeks. I should also consider switching in blacksmithing, which is a horrible grind otherwise. I don’t know what to do.

The irony is that I’m playing WoW right now in the first place partly to get away from the micro-transaction madness. Now I have to go back to the chessboard to find a plan. I’ll be pondering and gnashing my teeth for weeks, probably.

Elder Scrolls

In other news, ESO posted a wonderful article on the composers and music for Elder Scrolls Online. Per the article, the soundtrack should be available on iTunes. I really enjoyed the music in the beta.