The Ghost of Patches Past. (Classic WoW)

Friday, August 8th, 2008

With all of the news coming out of Northrend, people are all abuzz with opinions about the upcoming changes to every class and game mechanic.  This has made me look back and think about all the patches that have happened before, and as someone who has been playing since almost the very beginning, it’s amazing to look back and think about things that were not originally implemented but have become almost banal to the current player.  I know many people who didn’t even start playing until after Burning Crusade, so they might not even know how it used to be!

So I’m going to look back over the major patches and discus changes that really had an impact on me, and the game in general… good OR bad.

I’m going to start with Patch 1.3, because that’s as far back as my little memory can really remember the changes.  I’ll only cover 1.3 to the last patch before Burning Crusade, because it’ll get pretty huge.  I’ll do another post come Monday for the rest!

Patch 1.3

Meeting Stones – Epic fail.  These stones were intended to replace the LookingForGroup channel, but they were clumsily implemented.  You had to go to the entrance of an instance to put yourself in the queue, and the meeting stone would stick you in a group that it deemed had the appropriate classes for a group.  Yes, sometimes this meant a shadow priest, 3 rogues and a shaman.  Because no one used them, so you’d be stuck with what they gave you.  Boo, meeting stone!

Reincarnation – No longer causes resurrection sickness. At the time, my main was a Shaman, so I do remember this change.  Can you imagine if this was still true?  What a useless spell it would be, although I guess you generally wait 10 minutes to recover from a raid… it would make it very ineffective as a way to pop back up during combat.

You can now have multiple action bars on screen at the same time. I know a lot of people who do not use bar mods these days.  Without this simple change, I doubt that would be true at all.

Quest Tracking – This patch, quest tracking was added… a very useful feature, saving you from having to constantly press L to check how many more Worg Hearts you need!

Patch 1.4 – Patch 1.5

PvP Honour System – This now defunct system was quite exciting to have… it was the first chance to gain titles, and it really gave a purpose to killing or avoiding killing people.  This is where my shiny “Stone Guard Brajana” and “Scout Ferguson” titles came from!

BATTLEGROUNDS! The emergence of Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley!  Sure, they were still rough… you had to go to the actual entrance (Alterac Mountains or Ashenvale) to get in… but man, it was cool!

Meeting Stones ‘fixed’. But not really.  Blizzard has taken a long and winding road getting to where they are nowadays with the LFG system.  Patch 1.5 brought in the ability to join a meeting stone queue from the zone’s innkeeper, rather than having to go all the way to the dungeon… because that’s a lot better, right?

Patch 1.6 – 1.8

Looking back, I realize that I may think the game is focussed around arenas nowadays, but there was lots of work put into developing the PvP Battlegrounds System as well!

Battlemasters. Blizzard slowly learns that people do not want to have to go directly to an instance and/or battleground to queue up for it.

Arathi Basin! Ah, my favourite Battleground is born.  I wasn’t high enough for Alterac Valley at this point, and Warsong Gulch was fun, but I was already getting a little tired of it.

Lvl 19 Twinks are born – Warsong Gulch now allows the 10-19 bracket!  Not much else of note (at least to me) in this patch… but wait for the next one!

Patch 1.9

Ahn’Qiraj! The battle begins!  While I wasn’t at a raiding level yet, I was a big fan of the whole Qiraji War Effort – I’d loved all the world events so far, and this was no different.  It was nice to be contributing to something!

Linked Capitals – Ogrimmar is no longer the only place worth hanging out, the AH, Trade channel and LFG channel can now be used no matter what capital city you are in.  This was a smart move, since most of the other capital cities had become neglected.  Org still seems to be the central capital for the horde, but it became a lot less crowded.

Patch 1.10

Weather Effects = cool.  This was not nearly as obvious as people expected it to be, but it has been a nice element added to the game.  Having subtle rain in Tirisfal occasionally makes it feel more “realistic”.

“Final Destination” Flight Paths – No more trips with multiple stop overs – you can go from one place to another and the game will pick the most direct route for you!

Patch 1.11 – Patch 1.12

Stack sizes increased - Okay, this doesn’t sound like a big deal… but man, my bag space doubled after this change!  At this point I was leveling up Brajana, with Skinning and Leatherworking of course, so being able to stack leather in stacks of 20 instead of 10 blew my mind!

Cross-Realm Battlegrounds – This one was under much debate.  Some people objected to it, as they didn’t want to compete with people on different servers or different server types.  But I certainly think it was an excellent change.  No more waiting for an hour to get enough people to start an AV!  Battlegrounds became almost instant.

Scrolling Combat Text - This is an example of how Blizzard has taken an idea presented by the community (from the very popular addon) and incorporated it seamlessly into the game.  I really love Blizzard for doing this,

Well, that’s it for Classic WoW.  At this point in the game, everyone is waiting around impatiently for 2.0 and The Burning Crusade to show up, much like they are waiting today for Wrath of the Lich King!  Monday will be a similar post about Patch 2.0 to the most recent patch, with much more exciting updates!


WoW as an eSport

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Okay, this will be a bit of a rant – and I know many people out there are going to disagree with me wholeheartedly… but what is the point of having a blog if you can’t be biased?  :)

Let me just start of by saying – I like do to PvP.  I spent enough time in Alterac Valley to rep up to Exalted for my Wolf, and then did it AGAIN to get the Alterac Valley tokens when the untimely change came in the way the mount was purchased!  I will do Arathi Basin with or without a pre-made any day of the week!

Heck, I even leveled on a PvP realm!

And then Arenas came into the picture.  Okay, neat, they are like mini-battlegrounds, or group-sized duels, that could be fun, says I!  I can see the appeal.  And I wasn’t the only one that saw the appeal, the arenas quickly became very popular.

In fact, they grew and grew to be more popular than battlegrounds had ever been.  People focussing purely on Arenas, tournaments being held, paying money for good teams to gain you points… it was becoming quite a big part of the game, bigger than I ever thought it would be.

Again, what others do with their game time is their business.  I don’t care if people are spending all their time in these arenas – although I’ve tried my hand at it and couldn’t really see the appeal in these < 5 minute matches, with no variety of scenery… Feels like ersatz Halo, really.  I come to WoW for the epic battles, for seeing new places and working together with a group of people.  Arenas would never be the focus of my game – just like PvE would never be the focus of others.

Now let me get to the meat of the post – my whole point.  My problem is that arenas seem to have become a focus for Blizzard.  They appear to be paying more attention to the arena PvP crowd than the PvE crowd, which in the end, I believe to be the core of the game.  They’ve begun balancing classes for PvP purposes, changing abilities to change how they affect arenas, and seem to not even care how this affects PvE.  All I ever hear about is arenas nowadays.  And I am sick of it!

I listen to a number of WoW podcasts on my bike into/from work, and they seem to be flooded with content about arenas.  One in particular I have noticed is the WoW Insider Show.  The majority of the time, its arenas, arenas, arenas! Do they ever talk about how the Al’ar fight works, or about group composition for raids?  Nope!  It’s all “what do you think of this new change for arenas?”  or “What do you think of the RMP arena team make-up?” Honestly, I don’t care about the arena tournament, I have only a passing interest in Season 4 gear.  There is more to this game than that.

The WoW universe seems to have become two completely different games smashed into one – the Arenas game, and the PvE game.  To me, it feels awkward at best to have these two games clashing with each other.  And unforunately to me, it appears the Arena game is winning out.  Afterall, when was the last time someone offered a prizes of $200,000 for downing a raid boss?


PvP Like the Good Ol’ Days!

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

This weekend I ran the first guild event we’ve had in a long time.  I decided to make it something simple, just to get a feel for what all the new people in the guild were interested in.  I figured, who doesn’t like to kill Alliance?  (If anyone in the guild were to reply “Me”, they would be gkicked immediately, of course).  The plan was this:  Attack Southshore, then raid one of the major cities, chosen by the guild members on the forum.  I wanted to do Southshore because Hillsbrad would be a good place for us to all congregate, and back before the days of BGs, Southshore vs. Tarren Mill were where all the action was (at least on my old PvP server).

So I spent the afternoon gathering supplies for the event, fished up 100 Deviate fish to distribute, gathered some Heavy Leather to make Heavy Leather Balls, bought 40G worth of alcohol from the Barkeep in Org.  I filled my bags with non-combat pets, my Mario costume, and all my other assorted fun gear.  I made my way to Undercity to start heading to Tarren Mill.

Ever gotten bugged in the UC elevators?  Never happened to me before.  But good ol’ WoW decided that Sunday was the day to show me what it’s like.  It may have had to do with the fact that I was alt-tabbed out when I was going down, I don’t know.  But I came back to find myself disconnected.  I try to log back in, and I get booted.  Again.  And again.  On the character log in screen, I notice that my location is listed as blank.  Greeeeat!

I finally gave up and logged onto Fergy, reluctantly opened a GM ticket (knowing I wouldn’t get a response in time).  There goes all my tasty fish and alcohol!  It was a sad day.

But the event was fun, nonetheless.  Other than a little confusion with the start time (Whoever put 8PM in the MotD sure screwed up there! *shifty eyes*) we started without a hitch, and got Soutshore down in a matter of seconds.  It was enough to weit our palettes, and we were ready to head to SW.  I hadn’t really planned the whole evening, I figured we’d just play it by ear, which we did.  We portaled to Stonard and took the short jog to Elwynn, taking a visit to raid Hogger first (although some level 12 ninja’s our kill!).  The beginning of the Stormwind raid was quite disorganized, but most of us ended up on a dock by Stockades.  We co-ordinated a res and managed to take out our impromptu nemesis, Starbeam (one of the many NE hunters).

After we got a little tired of all the dying and running back, we used Stockade as a safe haven, and decided on our next action.  Since we are a PvE guild after all, and we are playing it old school, an Onyxia raid is just what the doctor ordered.  We spent the rest of the evening in 5-man groups trying to get everyone finished at least the LBRS part of the chain, with the help of Boostah and a couple others who could still remember their way around!

All in all, I think the event was a success.  Sure, it wasn’t super organized, but I found it really interesting to see how people worked together and made decisions as a group, something we don’t get to do while raiding very often.

I’ll be planning the real Onyxia raid in a couple of weeks, and I think it’ll be a blast!