Beta/launch dates, “killing” the Greench, and what I’ve been up to

Mushan surveys the mess created when the Greench shoved Christmas into this cave.

Mushan surveys the mess created when the Greench shoved Christmas into his hole.

With the holidays in full swing, raiding has been on hold since Thanksgiving. As such, things haven’t been very exciting for me in WoW, and I’ve consequently been playing less. I’ve also been playing less because work becomes very stressful (and the hours more extreme) this time of year, so my life around the game is something of a cycle of boredom and fatigue. “Not much goin’ on..” and “Don’t really care.” It’s weird, but it has felt like we’ve been in the pre-expansion doldrums since October, and my real-life commitments haven’t helped to alleviate that feeling for me.

Anyway… I was, for some reason, uncharacteristically excited about a holiday for once. I’m a Christmastime baby, and have always loved the season, so perhaps that partially explains why I was looking forward to The Feast of Winter Veil so much this year. That, and that there’s not much else going on.

I haven’t been that plugged in to the community lately either. Yes, I’ve read blog posts; and I’ve hopped on Twitter on occasion, but Twitter seems to be becoming so much like Facebook lately that it’s.. it’s just difficult for me. So I’m not as in the loop as I’m accustomed to being, but I am, somewhat.

At any rate, I am playing a little bit almost every day, when I have the energy. I’ve been writing, too, and some of those posts may survive and be published at some point. In the meantime, I have some thoughts to share about topics that are getting old at this point (because I’m usually late to dinner when it comes to putting in my two cents).

Beta speculation

One thing that there has been much excitement about since Blizzcon has been speculation on beta and launch dates for Warlords of Draenor. In my small world, The Godmother has been the most vocal about it, recently organizing a pool of sorts, where people could pick release dates. She also writes consistently about the expansion at her blog, Alternative Chat. From what I can tell, she is both a proponent of a quick release schedule and believer that it is likely to happen. It’s all fun, and speculation is just that, but I tend to be much more skeptical about such quick roll-outs than (I think) she is.

After Blizzcon, I read people who wondered if a beta would release before the end of the year, or, at the latest, early January. Spring 2014 for WoD to drop. Faster patches, faster releases! I could never catch that excitement. I’m just not a believer. I’ve spent too much time over the years, pining for something new to happen “sooner-than-later” – to no avail – to now, all of the sudden, think that Blizzard is going to start pumping out expansions at anything close to their stated goal of one per year. And yes, this is in spite of the fact that it sort of seemed that Blizzard pumped out content for MoP faster than in the past…

I’m going to have to see how the cycle for the Warlords xpac pans out.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at “recent” expansion-release history:

Cataclysm cycle

  • Announced: August 21, 2009
  • Beta testing begins: June 30, 2010
  • Expansion released: December 7, 2010
  • Beta-to-release: 160 days

Mists of Pandaria cycle

  • Announced: October 21, 2011
  • Beta testing begins: March 21, 2012
  • Expansion released: September 25, 2012
  • Beta-to-release: 188 days

Warlords of Draenor cycle

  • Announced: November 8, 2013
  • (speculative) Beta test begins window: mid February to early April
  • (speculative) Expansion release window: mid-July to mid-October
  • (speculative) Beta-to-release: 135-180 days

Here’s the not-very-scientific way I came up with these vague predictions:

A) Once the holidays are over, players will be chomping at the bit to get into the beta. Given the experience that we have – historically – prior to every patch, beta, and expansion release, we’ll get to sit and simmer through two-to-four months of “When is beta starting??” “Soon(TM). Not yet, but Soon(TM).” So with the goal a quicker turnaround, but without sacrificing quality, I can see them getting some basic beta features up as early as mid-February, but I’m not holding my breath.

B) Based on the last beta period, which lasted a full four weeks longer than the beta for Cataclysm, I’m predicting that the best that Blizzard will realistically be able to accomplish from beta to release will be about 150 days, or approximately 20% less time than the MoP schedule. Allowing for them surprising me, I’m giving them a 15-day margin of error on the early side of that, and for the skeptic in me, I’m allowing for an extra month on the long side of that “goal.” Thus, the rough release window that I’ve given above.

More thoughts on beta speculation

While I have doubts that we’ll see Warlords in the spring or the beginning of summer, it’s not only because of the history of recent releases. To me, there are some features that don’t seem very fleshed out yet.

Those features include – to name a few – the player character model revamps, garrisons, adjustments to professions, and class mechanics changes. Some of these things will likely be refined and completed during the beta period, of course. However, it seems to me that the slow pace of updated model reveals could be indicative of how long it could really take to see the beta.**

I could be wrong: it’s quite possible that the beta will come out with just a few character models, with added models as the beta period progresses. But it seems that they would want to have a majority of the models playable at the start of the beta in order to facilitate a quick release rollout, rather than dripping them in periodically and asking for feedback over and over again.

**I say this about model updates, because it seems that they’ve been in development for so long that it’s unlikely that they’re going to whip out both sexes and all of the variables for all eight original models in a rapid-fire fashion at this point. After all, they announced that they were actually working on such a revamp in October of 2011 originally, so apparently a lot of work is going into them, and that doesn’t seem like something they can just finish up, publish, and move on from in a quick and efficient fashion.

So much is unclear about this and other features – which is par for the course, by the way, but doesn’t seem to be par for a faster schedule. It’s likely that information will come out much more quickly after the holidays end, but meanwhile, time continues to tick. Right now, with no beta announced, we’re just nine months away from the two-year anniversary of Mists of Pandaria. In terms of the history of WoW expansions and their beta lengths, that isn’t much time to cut the turnaround time from MoP to WoD by a whole lot less time than previous launch cycles.

The Greench

This may seem kind of mind-blowing, but this year was the first time I killed The Greench since he was revamped a couple of years ago. Hence, my photo at the top of this post.

When they revamped him, I was so uninspired (for whatever reason) by the idea of going to kill him like a world boss that I never even took the “You’re A Mean One” quest to kill him, rescue Metzen, and recover the Stolen Treats. I just never even thought about it.

However, this year, as a result of my excitement over the coming of Winter Veil, I decided to take the quest and see what it’s all about.

I got the quest in Ironforge, flew up to the Alterac Mountains, and found the Greench’s lair. There were dozens of players around, but no Greench. His cave was there, and as I landed, I got quest credit for freeing Metzen… without freeing him. All I did was arrive, and nothing else.

“Okaaay…”

There were several sparkling bags around, so I looted one, and got the Stolen Treats. I looked up at my Quest Tracker: the quest was complete. I didn’t have to kill the Greench at all.

“. . .”

I did anyway. I waited for him to respawn, he went down fairly quickly, and then I flew back, turned in my quest, and got my achievement.

But I was disappointed. While I understand (I suppose) why the quest works that way, I was disappointed that I didn’t even have to “face him,” as the quest text suggested. It sort of killed any kind of excitement and immersion that could come from such a quest.

Having done it a few times now, I don’t know if I’m going to do it any more. I don’t really care about the pet, and going up there and finding a dead Greench and a virtually completed-for-me quest has no real pull for me.

What I’m doing right now

Lately, I’ve been doing the following: leveling my new hunter, hitting up the Timeless world bosses on my hunter and druid, farming old-world mats as part of a hare-brained scheme that I may write about in the future, helping my girlfriend in old raids from time to time, and writing posts or post ideas and not posting them.

I’ve done LFR a couple of times over the past few weeks on my Resto druid as well. She’s up to 534 now, isn’t working on the legendary quest (because I can’t be bothered with the grind), and is fun to play when I do play her. And that’s what it’s all about at this point – having fun – so that’s been rewarding, particularly as one time I was with my friend Somb, who’s always a blast to play with.

I’ve also been playing other games. I picked up a bunch of cheap used games recently for my 360, and I’ll be bumbling around*** in some of those over the next couple of months as the spirit moves.

***Truth be told, I’m not actually a very skilled gamer.

As for what the future holds? Who knows… raiding is officially on hiatus until January, but we have unresolved open spots on the team. So all of that’s up in the air at this point.

We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m not sure that I’ll write a separate post on Christmas Day, so I’ll say to you now: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, my friends. I hope the season is treating you wonderfully.

***

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


I pretty much don’t do WoW holidays any more

So we’re almost six months into the post-5.0, account-wide achievements era, and I have to admit something…

Ok, I guess I already admitted it in the title of this post.

Occasionally, I see people on Twitter talking about working on holiday stuff, and it occurs to me that I would like to work on some holiday stuff too. And then I remember that I’ve completed everything that I want to complete, achievement-wise, for that holiday – which, to be honest, for some holidays like Love is in the air, is “nothing at all” – and I decide to do something else instead.

I’m not a mount-chaser, so I’m not after the meta. There are so many mounts in the game, and I have enough that I’m completely content with what I’m riding (which, at this point, is some type of gryphon or hippogryph on virtually all of my toons – and the reasons for that would make up another short post altogether).

The Lunar Festival is ending today, and I realize that it’s been about two weeks long, and I haven’t even bothered to check it out. Since there was really nothing new, and I have the achievement for completing it, and have done it several times over several years/toons, I had no desire to get involved.

At first, I blamed this personal trend of omission on the account-wide achievements. Stupid account-wide achievements; whereas, in the past, my pals and I would faithfully work on holiday achievements on multiple toons, driven by the achievement bug or whatever, now we all already have it, and so there’s no point from that perspective. (Stupid account-wide achievements. Mumble-mumble-mumble.)

However, while the change to achievements is certainly partly to blame for my apathy toward holidays now, there’s also the fact that not much has changed when it comes to the holidays themselves. Perhaps that’s just the nature of holidays – we have our traditions at Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving or Halloween, and part of the fun is living those traditions each year. But I guess it doesn’t really feel the same way in-game. I have no desire to visit the all of elders again. If I see one, I will generally honor him or her, and it’s a small, special occasion. But I’m not going to trek all over Azeroth and Outland to honor the elders for the Xth time.

I guess the big problem for me is that, after so many years, most of the holidays haven’t changed much at all. For Winter Veil, they changed Metzen the Reindeer, and the Greench so that I don’t even care to try to kill him anymore. The only thing that is remotely interesting is opening the presents under the Winter Veil tree to see what this year’s cool gift will be. And yes, I have the footballs. They are fun to use in short spurts. Freezle and I always like using them after we kill the Spirit Kings, when Loremaster Cho starts going on about how “these halls have not seen footfalls in many years” or whatever. It really, really sounds like he’s saying “these halls have not seen footballs…” and so we get out the footballs and start rapidly kicking/passing them back and forth between each other for a couple of minutes before the trash pulls to Elegon. That’s fun.

But almost everything else is the same. There aren’t lots of new holiday activities to do from year to year, and my desire to revisit the same old same old seems to diminish each year as well.

The other factor is something that Blizzard probably considers a success: there is so much to do in Mists of Pandaria that holidays fall by the wayside, particularly if you have alts. I have three toons that I play regularly: Mushan, Modhriel, and Droignon. Each is generally raid-ready to varying degrees, and that has taken a lot of time to accomplish. With little-to-no new holiday content, there is little incentive to interrupt my regularly-scheduled gearing/dungeoning/raiding program to revisit (what feels like) stale holiday content. Since Pandaria, the only non-Darkmoon holiday activities I’ve participated in have been Direbrew-farming and opening my new footballs.

Perhaps that’s intended. Perhaps the holidays are new and exciting for newer players, and not intended to be a big deal for veterans or raiders. That doesn’t seem 100% correct, though. At a time where the developers are concentrating on keeping us busy, holidays seem to have taken a back seat, but I don’t necessarily believe that they intend for us to forget about holidays.

But generally, I do just that.

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Merry Christmas!

Working retail at the holidays sucks the life out of my posting frequency. As such, it’s been quiet around here lately, but that’s ok – I think that many others are going through a variety of similar situations, as it’s a busy time of year anyway.

At any rate, I just wanted to pop in and extend Happy Holiday wishes to all of you who stop by this blog. There are more posts in the pipeline, but today I am exhausted and looking forward to some low-key relaxation time. Then I work the rest of this week, and after that my work hours will revert to something more normal.

I haven’t necessarily worked a tremendous amount of hours these last few weeks (due to our company’s strict ‘no overtime’ policy). However, the particular hours that I’ve worked have been very early ones, because I chose to take the super early shifts – rather than the super late ones – at my store. As a result, I haven’t been getting quite the amount of sleep I should have been – taking naps usually doesn’t help how I feel, and further messes up my sleep schedule, so I’ve all but eschewed them this past month or so, opting instead to go to bed earlier than usual. However, I’m still somewhat sleep deprived… but yesterday, I got up for work at 5:30am for the last time this year, and so things should soon be getting back to normal.

In all, I’ve been blessed to have a job this season, to work with good people, and to feel useful again, and also to have remained relatively healthy this whole season, which can be difficult to do when sleep is at a premium. Yay orange juice!

Future posts will probably include more stories of my raiding experiences, my current hunter transmog (which I love), gear (there’s always more more more!), the upcoming patch, random stuff about alts, and posts inspired by what others are talking about – the usual fare for this place and this blogger. For now, I’m still here, and I’m still reading everyone else’s posts… I’m just also very tired.

Anyway, Happy Winter Veil (and holidays of the season) to each and every one of you!

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Thanks for reading this Season’s Greeting from Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

 


Brew-mess: How Mist of Pandaria’s Brewfest scheduling will effect my leveling experience

Update 8/1/2012: It was announced a couple of days ago that Blizzard is moving back Brewfest at least a week, meaning the likely start date will be around September 28th. This is great news for everyone who wants to be able to enjoy the festival while also getting started on leveling and enjoying the new expansion content. This makes me very happy. Great work, Blizzard! 

I just read that Brewfest will indeed be going on as Mists of Pandaria releases, and that Coren Direbrew will only be available to players level 89 or 90. This puts a cramp on anyone’s plans – including mine – to use Brewfest to get cheap and easy trinkets out of the bargain.

I was hoping they would move Brewfest back a couple of weeks, in all honesty. It makes sense, and it doesn’t trivialize the holiday, which is a popular one in Azeroth.

Anyway, as the schedule works out, Coren Direbrew will technically only be available for 10 days – the first ten days after the MOP launch – during which time people will be leveling, pushing through bottlenecks, and all of that good stuff. For those of us who plan to level mains quickly, this isn’t necessarily a problem. I see myself having at least five, and probably six, days to farm him for Coren’s Cold Chromium Coaster on my hunter.

However, Mushan is probably the least of my worries (although I really, really would like to have a 470 ilvl trinket to play with that early in the game). I do play more than one toon, and so it would be really nice to have the opportunity to get the Brawler’s Statue for both my druid (especially) and my warrior before it becomes fairly obsolete, and one of the stamina trinkets for each would be nice as well. And the Mithril Wristwatch would be nice for playing my balance druid early in MoP, if I decide to do so. It would be nice to have those options.

As it is, here is how I see the leveling process going after release: I’ll level Mushan (hunter) quickly out of the gate, since my goal is to be ready to run level 90 dungeons with my guild-mates by Friday or Saturday of that first week. Once Mushan is leveled, he won’t stop being my focus, but I will nonetheless begin to level Anacrusa (druid) shortly thereafter. I’m thinking about leveling her as a guardian, although that’s not written in stone. Regardless of spec, I don’t anticipate that it will be easy for me to get her to level 90 before Brewfest is over. But since she is not my number one priority, it would be nice to be able to do so, in order to have the chance to spam Direbrew for those trinkets. The dodge and stamina trinkets would be nice early on, since I won’t be able to chain Dungeon Finder like I will on Mushan.

As for Droignon (warrior), well, he’s basically SOL. I’m not hardcore enough to level three toons in nine days while also preparing my hunter for raiding, so I guess he’ll have to come by his trinket assortment the more natural way. Upon reflection, I’m pretty satisfied with that, but I can’t help but think that it would be cool to be able to get him some good gear early on, rather than relegating him to underdog status when I do get around to playing him as a level 90 tank.

On one hand, toons like that are good to have for the times when things calm down before patches – toons that I “still need to gear up” – and so on. On the other, I’d like to have him be one of my main alts, but since I have so many professions that I will also be working on (spread over six toons for the main ones), that’s going to be difficult to achieve in Tier 14.

Ah well. At ilvl 470, there’s a chance that in September 2013 I will have a toon or two that could benefit from Coren’s trinkets. It just seems a shame that they’ll basically be obsolete well before that point in time. Then again, it’s not like we usually have an expansion launch that falls during an in-game holiday, with a boss that drops usable loot…


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