Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nerf 'Em All is moving!!!

I've moving NEA over to Word Press. Blogger is kind of a drag and not letting me do some of the things I want. Its been a pain in the ass experience to move things over, so I haven't had time to post this week. I'll have a new post up sometime this weekend. Check out the new site and don't forget to subscribe to the new feed!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Is WoW too easy? I have put myself in a position to not be able to raid as I am just coming back to WoW after a hiatus and burnout of the Shaman class. My favorite class is the Priest with shadow flavor and upon returning I've decided to play a Priest again, even if it means leveling. I have an Undead Priest ready to go friends play on the Alliance. Ugh.

Anyway, the reason I ask if WoW has gotten too easy is because I keep hearing bloggers and podcasters say so. The people I know in RL that raid would disagree. Yet these same people are pugging raids. RAIDS! Sure, there was some pugging that took place at the end of BC, mainly post content nerf, but not right after launch. So lets dissect this deal.

First off, Blizzard claimed something like 1.2% of the entire player base saw the Sunwell at its prime. That means that of 11.5 million people (even though the numbers were lower then, but for sake of argument...) only 138,000 people were "bleeding edge raiders" who were out of things to do. The Sunwell came out with 2.4, which was March 25, 2008. That was a year and two months after The Burning Crusade launched. Its safe to say that this raid was a major content patch and was probably under some sort of development at TBC's release. If this is true, Blizzard put over a year of development into a 25-man dungeon that only 138,000 played. Wasted resources? Sure sounds like it, BUT, lets not forget thats the total player base for a lot of MMOs. It's true that 1.2% of your population controlling the direction of PVE is silly...or is it?

In my opinion, no. Thats your hardcore player base. They push the envelope and find tiny little secrets that the developers weren't aware of. Having those hardcore people happy, generally mean the rest of the subscribers reap the benefits. It is the trickle down effect at its greatest. Back in TBC I knew I would never see the Bleeding Edge, but I could have fun with the raids I could complete in time. I'm by no means hardcore. I have a wife and three small children. I play once they go to bed or when they are out of the house for some reason. For all intents and purposes, I play from 9pm est to midnight and then off and on during the weekend. My 15-20 hours a week prevents me from being bleeding edge. I'm ok with that though.

With Lich King a new mentality has taken over Blizzard (or is it pressure from the Activision side of the merge?). Any Tom, Dick, or Harry is able to be bleeding edge. Has Blizzard really thought this out? Think of the danger. In a pre-expansion interview with Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime (which of course I can't find now, i think it was on massively), he said they were having trouble keeping up with the player base's appetite for content. Seems to me this the perfect example of rock and hard places slamming together to make a bad situation.

On one hand, you make the content easier and open it up to a lot more people. You change the face of what it means to raid and allow a broader scope of participants. To counter this for the hardcore folks you put in "hard modes." The problem with this is you know going in that the casual types that you are now gearing toward aren't going to clear the hard modes, but they have a very good chance at being at the end of raid content. This of course means more QQ about nothing to do and Blizzard feeling even more overwhelmed then they've already admitted to. Is this a good idea? Only if Blizzard steps up the content releases.

Games like Lord of the Rings Online have large and somewhat game changing patches on a regular basis. They aim for one every two months with one paid expansion per year (which comes with a "free" month of game time, another complaint I have with blizz). So by Turbine's, LoTRO's development company, philosophy 3.1 would have likely been broken up into two patches. One for dual spec and one for Ulduar. Blizzard is probably so big they work on a lot of things at once and this model wouldn't work. They've said they want these big patches to cater to everyone. Why? If they release a patch every six months, then yeah. If they spread them out the game would feel like its constantly changing and in my opinion would help keep the game feeling fresh. Having those patches every other month is a great thing. Sure, sometimes your playstyle isn't being catered to, but it still feels like the game is ever changing in small little bits and pieces instead of big game changing moments like WoW's 3.1. This isn't Blizzard's plan and I feel that near the end of LK, there will be more people drop off than near the end of TBC. The fact that WoW has seen it's first stagnant quarter as far as growth goes is the first shred of evidence. This can also be taken with a grain of salt because they didn't release it in a new country/region, did they?

Anyway, my point is that Blizzard is busy nerfing everything to cater to the casual player but if they aren't careful they'll nerf WoW's growth. MMOs evolve at a blistering pace. If the game feels stagnant to its players, the numbers drop off. It is the classic story of not balancing the fine line. Developers don't make changes and basically come across as just milking the game as long as they can, or they make radical changes to fix or save the game and see people leave in droves. For the first three years it seemed like Blizzard was riding it perfect. Lately it seems they're leaning more one way. For the sake of those of us who enjoy the game, lets hope they're right and these worries are for nothing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Podcasts, Twitter, Oh My!

What is a podcast?

After hearing the WoW Insider Show and The Instance, and those being the only podcasts I had ever listened to, I was under the impression that they were quasi-radio shows from creative people who weren't actually on the radio. This seems to be only half true. After listening to a few more, I jumped to conclusions and ran my mouth (or fingers) during my first Podcast post. A podcast is really just a group of people who record themselves talking. If you find them interesting, good. If you don't, thats also good. I believe these dedicated people would like to have as many followers as they could, but who wouldn't?

The simple fact is the first two I listened to were WoW news heavy. They weren't wild or spontaneous. I liked them because they were news outlets instead of me having to go look everything up (but I do anyway). I listened to a few other shows and admittingly didn't "get it." After listening to more (many more) podcasts, I now understand the basis of it all. The person mentioned in my last post isn't a news reporter and doesn't have to be professional. She's just being herself which in retrospect is actually more warming than the professional facade. Now this isn't a 360 of my last post. I still very much enjoy WoW Insider and The Instance. I just now understand they have a different schtick. A podcast like Rawrcast is more edgy. It still delivers the news, but if you go in looking for a laugh you'll find it quick. My problem was I went in looking for news. Once I got my head out of my ass, I could just kick back and enjoy the show the way it is intended. I do have to say, the mash-up of comments that Rawrcast has is friggan hilarious. If you haven't heard it, head over to and check it out.

[I'm going to break in right here and edit what I had already written. Stompalina called me out on Twitter today and I have to say I am now an avid fan of the show. To be a fan of a podcast you have to be a fan of the people first. You're already a fan of the content, now you just have to be a fan of the people talking about said content. Stomp standing up and calling me out for my comments has only proven how dedicated she is to her craft. I guess I'm an uber dork and I respect that. Bravo Stomp. Can't wait until your next show!]

This brings me to another Podcast that stands out amongst the rest. Bind on Equip. This is possibly the best show to NOT find WoW news! These guys are crazy. They are hilarious and listening to their lowbie instance runs is great! They have inspired me to talk to some of my guildies and do the same exact thing. They've pleasantly reminded me that WoW isn't all about raiding and loot. Its about people and bullshitting with friends. So often we forget that.

I want to give shout outs to all the podcasts I currently listen to, but there isn't enough time in the day to do so. I've linked my very favorites over on the right of my blog. Click them all, listen to them all, love them all! I'll keep that up to date as I find new ones. If you have any that I don't, hit me up here, email, or on Twitter.

Quick paragraph about Twitter. I had used it and I mean barely. I just didn't understand the fuss. Then I started adding people from the podcasts and just replying to random stuff to just see if anyone would talk back. Wow! Now I'm addicted to Twitter!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blizzard Rolling Greed?

It's hard to determine the motive, but one can easily be led to believe that the merge of Activision and Blizzard is starting to change Blizzard. The company known as Blizzard has always been about the community, or at least done a hell of a job appearing as such.

They were put in a bad spot by mod creators charging a fee for their freelance development work. Blizzard didn't like this and ordered cease and desist orders on monetary fee based mods. I think its safe to say the mods have evolved ten fold and probably aren't what Blizzard was expecting when WoW launched. The man hours it takes to create something like Carbonite or Quest Helper has to be very large. These guys wanted some compensation for their hard work and Blizzard put the kabosh on the deal. I can see Blizzard's point. This is their game and if anyone is to make money off of it, its them. These mods are great but I guess could be looked at as leeches or mooches.

Next up was the iPhone apps. At first Blizzard seemed to go after the apps that cost money. Again, while I personaly might not agree, I understand. Then they pretty much surprised everyone by squashing free apps. These apps didn't mine the armory for information or interact with the game in any way, but thats Blizzard's intellectual property and they don't want anyone messing with it. This is when I started to question Blizzard. It doesn't seem right. These apps were doing nothing but supporting WoW. Saturating the market with pro-WoW stuff would be good in my opinion. Most games don't have their own support apps on iTunes, so if someone accidentally browses and sees one they might question what the game is about and download the free trial. Luckily I bought or downloaded them all and while none of them are neccessary, they are neat to have. Warcraft Chest is just a simple app with the loot drops from launch to Ulduar. It doesn't mine info from anywhere, it simple is a sortable database of information. To me this is no different from going to Allakhazam, WoWhead, or Thottbot. They display the same information and have adds all over their sites. The only real conclusion to make is that Blizzard is working on their own iPhone apps. So ok. Whatever. This is still annoying though.

Then the straw that broke the camel's back. There is a German web comic by a couple of WoW fans. The comic is named Shakes and Fidget. Yesterday WoW Insider broke the story that Activision-Blizzard has issued a cease and desist on the comic. I immediately went to the Shakes and Fidget site and was shocked to find zero ads. These guys appear to just be huge fans of WoW and decided to take the hobby of comic making and share their WoW humor. For the life of me I can't think of why this was such a big deal. Blizzard has always promoted fan sites. Now it seems they are pulling their IP card and choking anyone who uses it.

It really feels like they are starting to alienate their hardcore fans. They've gone from being super supportive to tightly restrictive in a short period of time. The only conclusion to really draw is that the taint of Activision is bleeding over and effecting Blizzard. I pray they don't forget why their fans are so loyal to their products. So many developers have fallen victim to greed and I had really hoped Blizzard was going to...well, be Blizzard and go against the grain as usual. I could be totally wrong, but I don't see why they ordered a free web-comic with no ads on their site to stop spreading the WoW love in Germany. You would think they would be honored that these guys are taking their talents and supporting WoW.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Podcasts are shaky ground. Some may love, some may hate, but I think its fair to say not everyone listens. I was one of the latter. The idea of listening to a podcast just never struck me. I wasn't sure what they were other than people talking about crap I could care less about. The whole concept of downloading a quasi-radio show and listening to it usually resulted in the "man, those guys must be epic dorks about-" insert topic here.

My problem was that I didn't have an iPod. I recently got an iPod touch and was cruising (painfully) around iTunes in search of something to Warcraft. I had heard of rumors about apps for the touch that were for or based on WoW. I did a search and found a lot of little gems. It was ironic because about a day later Blizzard starting throwing out Cease and Desist orders to app makers, and not only ones that charged money. Anyway (as I'll blog about my iPhone/Touch apps later) I noticed that iTunes was suggesting two podcasts. As enthralled as I am in WoW at the moment I couldn't see the harm considering podcasts are free.

I grabbed the WoW Insider show and The Instance. Wow, was I amazed. I couldn't believe I enjoyed a poorly executed radio show as much as I did these two. When I say poorly executed radio show, what I mean is these are just regular guys sitting on Vent, Teamspeak, Skype, or some other program and recording their conversations. There isn't someone sitting at a sound board playing sound effects that fit and set the mood. Its very clear that these guys take a lot of time to prepare for the show and have a flow outlined before they broadcast. So while its not as "action packed" as your local shock jock on the radio, it is still very entertaining. I usually listen in the car or when I'm working away from my desk. Both shows have a live stream going while they record on the site So while I listen later, its possible to listen live and join a chat room.

This new found love not only drove me further into WoW, but it also became like a drug. I needed more podcasts to listen to! I searched all over iTunes and found every newly updated one I could. All I can say is wow. A lot of these shows sound to be 17 year old kids who can't keep mic levels balanced and who can't entertain a gnat. I feel I was lucky in finding WoW Insider and The Instance first as they are easily the most professional out there. Now I know what you're thinking, who cares about professionalism when talking about a video game? Surprisingly enough, I do. Eventhough podcasts are almost like make-believe radio shows that don't really exist, a professional sounding show is much easier to listen to than a horribly done one. When the person talking has an uncontrolable lisp or can't pronounce the sound an R makes, it really makes the experience painful. There is one female host, for example, that is crude and laughs at everything she says. I have a very immature sense of humor so I should love this podcaster. I don't. I find her terribly annoying to listen to. And its not "the shows" fault. She missed the latest edition and it was probably the best show they've ever done. If it were like that every week I'd probably put it on the same level as the two previously mentioned podcasts.

This brings me to an internal question. If I find this host annoying and difficult to listen to, why do I subscribe and continue to listen? I don't feel I'm a glutton for punishment but I think its fair to say I'm a dork on an epic scale. As crappy as the podcast is with her on it, its still a radio show about WoW and I want to hear what they have to say. I think what it boils down to is that when I'm listening to shock jock, I'm wanting to laugh. When I am listening to a show about WoW, I'm wanting to hear news and opinions about WoW and not penis jokes. I'm sure this makes me a hypocrite, but I can't help it.

I'll eventually post the podcasts I listen to and probably link to them. For now, I'm still trying to see which shows are the best and which ones aren't. I can think of three or four "must listen to" shows and a couple "if you're bored and have nothing better to do." I can also think of some "I'd rather take a palm sander to my genitals." So I'll write a more in-depth look at the podcast scene later. For now, if you don't podcast, do yourself a favor and go grab the latest WoW Insider show and The Instance. At first the guys and gals talking will sound like legendary dorks but once you warm up to them and realize that you yourself is a legendary dork, you'll really enjoy them!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Boring Introduction/Explanation

This post is the backstory.  I hope to clear any and all loose ends up.  Lets start at the beginning.

I've played MMOs since Ultima Online.  I dabbled in MUDs but could never get into the text based worlds.  Played lots of MMOs and ended up in World of Warcraft with people I worked with in the early part of 2006.  I played solid until 2008 when I started cancelling and reactivating my account.  I would cancel to play other MMOs.  I quit on more time to take in the launch of Warhammer Online.  

The game played like crap, but the concept was amazing.  WAR's shotty performance caused a lot of the initial player base to leave.  I bought a new computer but was now behind the ball as far as leveling goes.  In January I reactivated my Warhammer Online account.  I decided to blog my adventures.  While looking for a blog hosting site I came across the Bloghammer Initiative.  I joined my blog to it and started tracking my progress. 

The first couple of weeks were ok but the game felt dead.  Mythic worried so hard with not looking bad that they made themselves look like huge fools.  They refused to merge servers because it would make them look like failures (they finally did announce they were merging the 55 servers to something like 15, I have no idea if it happened or not).  The game just dies after T1.  You can level in the battlegrounds or PVE, but there isn't hardly any PVE.  You have to do a ton of quests, way more than any other game in my opinion, just to level.  The fastest way to level is through the battlegrounds.  So if you don't mind doing the same thing over and over and over, you can level.  It just wasn't for me.  The lack of communication between Mythic and the community was appalling (they do have forums now though).  It was just a big huge mess that I no longer felt like paying for, so I quit again in March.  The mess Mythic caused has seen almost all of those Blog Warhammer people leave.  Even after I quit I kept up with the blog roll and over the 10 "big name" blogs I followed, one is left...  We're talking blogs that were around since well before launch. Warhammer had a great concept but Mythic did a horrible job executing.

After I quit, I kept the blog alive (for like two posts) and bought the expansion to LoTRO.  That was fun but I had to cancel that after the first month for reasons aside from not wanting to play.  I was and still am sad to not play LoTRO.  Turbine has done a great job with that game.  I was actually about ready to re-subscribe to it when my wife told me I should go back to WoW and play horde.  Let me preface this by saying the group I played with played Horde, then Alliance, the back to Horde on a PVP server where we actually started raiding.  We then rerolled Alliance on a PVE server and thats when I started quitting.  The Alliance sucks in my opinion but thats what we play.  We started a guild and the whole nine yards.  The quasi-invite to play horde interested me.  I started playing again until the GM of the Alliance guild (and my best friend in RL) talked me into coming back to the alliance and being an officer.  I actually did think hard about it and eventually took him up on the offer.  I had a 74 Deathknight and a 70 Shaman but my love has always been Shadow Priest.  I had a level 40 sitting there and I told him that if I came back I would reroll to it.  Long story short, I now play a Night Elf Priest and am leveling still.  We split away from the guild because it got too casual and lost the definition of casual raiding.  We started a new guild and thats where we stand.

Getting back into the game I feel is probably one of the dullest in the market wasn't easy.  The first day was alright but after that I felt the grind again.  To get back into things, I became as absorbed as I could be.  I have hit up every news site I could find and even started listening to podcasts on WoW while I'm at work.  Its actually helped a lot as I am geeked up to hit 80 and prepare to start raiding Naxx.  The one thing I haven't done until now is to start up the blog again.  I'm hoping this time around is different and I can stick with both the game and the blog. 

On a side note, this post may or may not make any sense.  I have three children, ages nine, three, and three months.  My wife works as an overnight pediatric nurse.  I have all three kids and have had to put this down about eight times and may have lost my train of thought.  I've chosen not to edit it because its pretty raw and real.  That and I want to start the real blogging and not this "Hi, this is me" stuff.

Let the action begin!

Friday, May 8, 2009


NEA is back. After a long absence, I'm back. More information coming tonight.