Delayed

https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd.net/cms/blog_header/91/91RKJ6KC62PA1594365571485.jpg

Today we got the news: Shadowlands has been delayed until later this year. And the response has been … well, kinda mellow.

I think everybody involved was kinda aware that, a month out, the beta was kind of a hot mess.  I, personally, can not relate that one way or the other – even though I have a beta invite, I’ve never felt all that excited about unstructured testing of software that hid its design from the tester.  I come from a QA past, and I prefer my testing more structured.

But I digress.

While I was not involved in testing, I hear things. From people that were testing. And those things were along the lines of “damn this worries me”.

And then there’s Blizz’ contribution to the general zeitgeist. While they’re very clearly hiding the design behind very thick walls, they can’t hide the patch notes without, well, just not issuing patch notes – and we’re not there yet. So as each beta patch came out, and they indicated that yet again another system was reset, or tweaked, or redesigned, the mood among those of us that are noting this sort of thing becomes more and more uneasy.

Let’s be clear. A month out from the announced launch date, there should be NOTHING subject to redesign, rebaselining, or reset.  And yet, we’ve seen all three within five weeks of the proposed launch date.  So, let’s be clear, SHADOWLANDS IS A HOT MESS.

This evening Blizz announced via public channels that they were definitely not ready for launch, and via private channels (email) that they’d even refund your repurchase for Shadowlands if this for some bizarre reason caused you major butthurt. (They wrote it more diplomatically but I don’t give a damn about diplomacy so if you have issues with that, take your butthurt ass about a mile down the road and make a left turn into I don’t give a fuckland.)

out of my face

The upshot I have seen from most humans has been positive. They are aware of the issues currently in place (i.e. covenants suck) and are more than happy to wait for this to be fixed.  I agree. The 10% or so against that I’ve seen are basically the entitled asshats that bitch about anything, especially the ones that haven’t pre-purchased. Go demand to speak with the manager, Karen.

Back in the day, Blizz had a “it will ship when it’s ready” attitude. For example, BC was scheduled to ship in 2006, but actually shipped in 2007 when they famously delayed the launch to put in some polish (whereas “polish” means fixing game-killing bugs).  Side note: Day One of the patch was, in fact, a major clusterfuck. I was still levelling in Wetlands and the entire realm crashing when my guildies entered Hellfire was an experience I wish not to repeat.

So it’s nice to see that that attitude still exists.  I have no doubt that somebody will take a fall for this, and when they do, look for Activistion and Bobby Kotick to be holding the smoking gun. That will tell you all you need to know – who the hero(es) are, as well as who the villain is.

I personally am pleased that Blizz is committing to quality over schedule. As a former QA person, I am especially pleased, but, as a customer, I am also pleased. I feel comforted that somebody is trying to avoid pushing rotten code onto my PC.  I have enough rotten code sitting here already, so anyone pushing against rotten code is my hero.

Listen, guys, “later this year” is at most an 8-week delay.  8 weeks is nothing. The year 2020 has been what, 200 weeks long so far? We can do this.

They existed way back then as allies?

image

My warlock was bumming around the castle in Stormwind (Classic) and stumbled across this High Elf in the Petitioner’s Chamber.

Wasn’t there this thing about how Highborn / High Elves weren’t a real thing or something like that?

I mean, she could be a blood elf. But that’s even more confusing.

I have two takeaways here.

  • Surprised to find a High Elf (allegedly) in Stormwind
  • Surprised that Blizz didn’t purge her from the system as a kind of alt retcon.

Zero back story on this character, and she’s still around in Retail. Funky factor: 1,000 / 100.

Inscription in Shadowlands: some disappoint.

image

Investigating for YOU

I’ve foray’d into the PTR and, if it is accurate, there are zero changes regarding glyphs in the new expansion.

We’ve always previously seen some glyphs dropped, some added, in the pre-patch.  But in this expansion there are zero changes.

This is an incredibly disquieting development (or rather, lack of).  Kind of makes you wonder if we’re seeing the final days of Glyphs.

Okay, so, considering that there are zero changes regarding glyphs – all glyphs that existed before, are still there, and there are no new glyphs – then this is what is what Scribes can expect from the new expansion. Brace yourselves – it’s pretty disappointing.

Inks

We get, as best I can tell, three new inks.

  • Tranquil Ink (green)
  • Luminous Ink (normal)
  • Umbral Ink  (normal)

Each requires a pigment of the same name, plus Aerated Water and Rune etched vial.  Pretty much like we had in BfA – RGB.

Vantus Runes

The same old crap is carried forward.  Rather than per-boss as Legion did, we’re per-Raid as with BfA.  Which is fine by me, but, I need to point out, in these BfA required more in mats than it sold for. So I expect these to be of minimal usefulness.

Equipment

We get a few bits and pieces here. Past experience indicates that this stuff will be quickly outpaced by raiding content.

  • Fae Revel Masque (Cosmetic, so not likely to go “out of style”)
  • Soul Keeper’s Column (staff)
  • Soul Keeper’s Spire (staff)
  • Newly Departed Codex (off-hand) (and might I add, sounds like a Beetlejuice callback)

Darkmoon Cards

The usual dealy here. Crank a card. Get a random.  The Death recipe is the usual deal, except occasionally it produces a blank card of one of the four suites.  That’s where the other four recipes come in.

  • Death – Randomly one of the four suits
  • Putrescence
  • Repose
  • The Indomitable
  • Voracity

Optional Reagents

These items represent a new feature of crafting. Basically, depending on whether you have learned them, these can be applied as an optional reagent to gear you are crafting. I’m not sure if they are soulbound or not, but, if they are, they’re immediately worthless.  It looks like all professions have a version of this, which also means the market will be flooded if they ARE sellable.

  • Novice Crafter’s Mark
  • Crafter’s Mark I
  • Crafter’s Mark II
  • Crafter’s Mark III
  • Crafter’s Mark IV

New item type, ensures an item has a specific spec.  This works similar to the Crafter’s Marks.  From the looks of it, only Scribes can make these, so it looks like this might be a source of income.

  • Critical Strike
  • Haste
  • Mastery
  • Versatility

Contracts

We know what these do. Past experience indicates that these quickly devalued and cost more to make than they sold for.

  • Court of Harvesters
  • The Ascended
  • The Undying Army
  • The Wild Hunt

Books and Scrolls

Not sure why we have to have a codex/tome per expansion for this. Seems pretty stupid TBH. (and thus, Grimmtooth is forbidden early access in the future. Suck it, Blizz).

  • Codex of the Still Mind
  • Tome of the Still Mind
  • Writ of Grave Robbing – this is basically a lockpicking scroll.

Mass Milling

So these are the various herbs that we get to harvest?

These appear to follow the pattern of BfA, more or less, in that particular herbs are not bound to particular zones.

  • Deathblossom
  • Marrowroot
  • Nightshade
  • Rising Glory
  • Vigil’s Torch
  • Widowbloom

Accidental Joiner

image

Minding my own business in Dalaran (Wrath version) and this guy appears with a quest icon over his head.  Says I, “this looks interesting” so I clicked on him.

imageAfter that, I looked him up on WoWHead.

Maybe I should have done that first, since he shortly disappeared. Turns out that he’s summoned by using the special mount that you get when you buy the deluxe version of Shadowlands.

So basically the only way I will be able to turn in the quest, assuming it completes, is if someone near me summons him.  I think.  It would be just typical if I couldn’t actually turn in.

I thought about dropping it, but I think I’ll hang on to it and see what happens.

Legion was a Bad Idea

image

Okay, hear me out.

Throughout WoW, there was no big bad badder than the Legion. We were told, this was the ultimate goal.  We were even teased that the war against the Legion would continue into Anduin’s old age.

And then came the Legion expansion, and we chumped Sargeras and, somehow (?) the Legion was rendered moot.

Now, we’re in a strange place where instead of hopping world too world after Dem Legions, we’re fussing around with Fancy Trolls and Thicc Bois and blowing each other up. And something something Teldrassil, and “anticipating” an adventure in the land of the dead.

It’s weird. Pursuit of the Legion had enough built in content to keep this game going for decades, with a wide diversity of possible worlds, multiple opportunities to switch things up, and ample opportunities for engaging new races and characters and maybe even classes.

Compared to this, Shadowlands feels – to me – like flailing about wildly for “what’s next”, a Dr. Strangesque excursion into a place that we didn’t really feel compelled to go in the first place.

I’m not sure who’s idea Legion was at the point that occurred, but I really feel “don’t schedule the endgame until you’re ready for the endgame” seems to be fairly rational advice, and I can’t believe nobody gave this advice to that person.

I’m surely giving Shadowlands a fair shake. But I feel somewhat less than excited to do so. BfA at least stirred my blood with the burning of Teldrassil, but this time I feel like, “can we just close the gateway and leave her in there?”

Hey, there are a few things I am truly looking forward to, starting with (and primarily) the new appearance options we’ll get for our characters. But everything else I’ve seen so far leaves me feeling flat.

I wonder how others are feeling about it.  I imagine the hardcore raiders / pvpers are indifferent, as long as they get new raids and stuff. 

#AuctionGate

1280px-Treasure_Chest_TCG

Yesterday, June 16 2020, Blizzard surreptitiously pushed a change to the Auction House, forcing a “throttle” on auction activities such as posting or cancelling.

This throttle seems to be around a batch size of 30 to 40, and has met with great levels of unhappiness amongst the masses.

A few items of concern:

  • Batch size too small to qualify as “power auctioneers”, the stated target.
    • For example, I average between 50 and 100 auctions per session, which is mostly glyphs
    • You can easily exceed the limit just dumping mats you salvaged while being totally casual
  • No testing on PTR
  • No feedback gathered from testers
  • Pushed to production with no discernable testing

Basically it works out that if you do more than ‘x’1 actions in a minute, all the actions beyond that value in that minute will be throttled. Massively.

This is less of a patch than a hit.

The outcry was immediate and loud.  We had bloggers, streamers, twits, twitchers all calling this out, and who can blame them. I mean, sure, you wanna tackle certain bad actors, then fine. But honest pizznesmens? Optics are bad on this.

The interesting part of this is, while I was writing this, things changed. Quietly, without a lot of fanfare, Blizz backed things off a bit.  I don’t know how far, but I do know that it’s at least as far as sixty actions in a single minute since that’s what I had to test with.

The other guy blinked.

They’re leaving the throttle on cancellations, but I can live with that (even though it really sucks)


1 Where ‘x’ is somewhere between 25 and  40 based on what we’ve heard so far.

Change and Chaos

image

Now hug.

8.3 rolled out this weekend, and we are all having Visions of N’Zoth now, I guess. We have it on good authority that this is the last content patch for BfA, so we’re in for at minimum 9 months of no new content, so stretch it out as much as you can.

Which is less of a problem in light of one change that Blizz pushed out with this update.  TLDR – you might not be getting paid for your auctions.

Background

So Blizz started messing around with this several months ago, trying to  resolve the whole “stack size trolling” issue (yes, it was an issue. No, nobody really cared). Basically, people could “troll” honest crafters like you and me by posting thousands of one-item stacks of commodities, forcing the poor, unsuspecting buyer to wade through page after page of auctions in order to make a hat.

(That is, unless they never heard of an addon called Auctionator, which would automate the purchase of the cheapest xxxx items for you, but I guess nobody asked me).

Anyway, some “Goblin”-friendly individual at Blizz decided that Something Must Be Done so they decided that they would make the cost of commodity items (thing that sell in stacks) have a flat deposit rate, which means that if you pay 20c to sell a stack of cloth, and 20c per item to sell a stack of 200, then that should be quite a punishment for the trolls. Honest dealers would not be penalized, and trolls would.

You’re probably realizing the fact that if you utter the words “new tax” you’re guaranteed to get a dozen live-free-or-die trolls fall out of the trees immediately, and that’s more or less what happened to Blizz. They were completely unable to spin it so that it didn’t sound like they were punishing the wrong people.  So, back to the drawing board.

Which brings us to today

Part of the new stuff in 8.3 was a revamp of the auction house.  As of now, if you post a commodity of some sort, it automatically gets posted as individual items, no matter what.  On the other end, commodity buyers just have to tell the AH how many of an item that they want, and they will automatically get the best deal for that quantity, and the monies thereof will be distributed to the individuals that posted it.  No penalties, no addons required, just commerce, pure and simple.

Except …

Turns out, the selling part is working fine, but the paying part is not – individuals are reporting – and confirming – that items that are actually sold do not return money to the individual that sold it.

Yeah, probably six months of testing and nobody bothered to check if the loop closed out all the way.  As a worker in the credit card payment industry, may I just say that this is pretty familiar. (1)

Now, it may not be the auction house itself, because there was another change made – to the mailbox.  Specifically, they made changes to the way that mailboxes display and refresh their contents.  Where before you could see at most 50 items and it refreshed every 60 seconds, now you can see 100 items and it refreshes every 15 seconds.  Great change, I love it, but Blizz states that they believe that the problem with the missing auction money is related to the mail system, which means probably somewhere in the code changes for this.

For the time being, I’ve elected to sit out.  I emptied the mailbox without thinking too much about it, but now I have no room in my bags for questing, so what’s a fella to do?  Fortunately, Endless Space 2 was on sale this weekend, so I’m getting my periodic dose of 4x until this snafu is corrected.

They say there should be a fix in a few days – which is marvelously vague without being too overly pessimistic.

Follow Blizz on Twitter. Watch WoWHead. Just don’t rely on me for news, I may be heavily in battle with angry aliens.


(1) Cash only, y’all.

Dashing through the ‘forge

image

One new feature of this Winter Veil  is the introduction of Greatfather Winter’s sled.  It has a fixed path through Ironforge, idling just in front of the pile o gifts.  When it’s idling (hovering in place) you can click on the sled to drive it, or one of the reindeer to ride them. In a few moments you’re off on an enchanted ride through Ironforge.

It’s the Eighth Annual Finding Jaina Day

It is the time of year that we celebrate the Finding of the Cat That Lived, Jaina, a mostly Birman but also bits of other cats cat.

Jaina 2011-12-27

For those that missed out on the first seven installments, we found baby Jaina wondering around in the parking lot and scooped her up. Later, when we took her to the vet, we were told she had FIP, which is fatal, and that she had weeks to live.  Well, here we are eight years later, and she’s middle aged without showing any sign of keeling over.   And so today we celebrate her continued life.

Spartacus 2019-12-07

First, a few updates on her fellows. The cat we called “Sparta” last year is in fact male and thus is now called “Spartacus”.  He’s been spending more time inside week to week, so we’re hoping he eventually gets used to the idea of not going out at all. He’s a gentle soul that really belongs inside where he won’t get roughed up. He’s shown up limping – badly – a few times, though so far he’s healed up okay.

Then there’s the next generation – mama managed to get knocked up again and had a litter of five. Same mix as last time – two white ones (like Spartacus), one that looks like daddy, one that is black and white, one that is black and white with a floofy tail.  Whatever genes are being expressed, they’re strong. White cat #1 wandered off early, the rest are sticking around. White cat #2 is almost identical to Spartacus, except he has a pink nose, and Sparty has a dark nose.

Most notable in the bunch is the runt of the litter, a calico kitty with a floofy tail and some face floof as well. She’s just adorable as hell and bold as brass, and has taken to coming inside to hang out and play with the kitty toys. I call her Monster, but she’s really quite sweet. We’ll see if we can domesticate her over this coming year.

Jaina

Our attempt to substitute Jaina’s string with a fresh one has not worked out that well. She knows the difference, and does not treat the new string as an equal. In fact, I haven’t seen her carry it around while singing yet. She’s not fooled by our trickery. But we’ll keep trying.

Jaina’s been developing a game over the past few years that runs something like this: she waits in the hallway for me to notice her, then she lets out a little trill and goes running as hard as she can the opposite way.  When I come to look in on her, she does the same thing.  This repeats over a few cycles until she ends up in the front bathroom’s bathtub.  At that point I really don’t know what the next step in the game is.  I’ve been trying to catch this with the camera but she’s a mite unpredictable so, so far no luck.

Jaina 2018-10-23

The wife and I have swapped sides of the bed again. As expected, Jaina still prefers the corner of the bed closest to the door, though she will sometimes go out of her way to go lay on mommy’s arm and sleep.

Tater 2019-10-12

Jaina continues to hate Morgan (who we’ve just been calling Tater) with the heat of a thousand suns.  It’s almost hilarious to see Jaina go after a cat twice her size and win the day.  Tater is pretty belligerent with people, but she can’t get a handle on Jaina, apparently.

Jaina 2019-09-08

A new part of Jaina’s morning routine has become birb watching. She’ll get on the shelf by the back window and watch the blue jays stealing the outside kittys’ kibble (which makes them into kibble sometimes themselves). She hunkers down and looks like she’s thinking THEY SUSPECT NOTHING as she watches their antics.

It has been another blessed year with our little Bearcat, and I’m looking forward to the next one with her. Here’s to many more.

Jaina 2019-08-03

Be careful what you ask for

image

It has been commented, by myself as well, that it’s not really cool to lock all of the interesting lore moments behind raids.

Not everyone raids, so it is quite often the case that non-raiders find themselves relying on blogs, videos, and other venues to find out what actually happened, to find out what key lore elements happened outside of their view. After a while, upon hearing that there was some awesome stuff going on in there, I’d roll my eyes and comment, bitterly, “welp, there’s more lore we don’t get to see” —  because, you know, our guild could barely raise the headcount for Karazhan, much less a 25-man, at its peak.  And we ain’t at our peak.

Well, it looks like Blizz has been listening, to some extent, because guess what we got in 8.2.5?  Exactly what we were asking for.

Only, I wonder if they took it just a bit too far.

Without giving anything away, there are a number of cutscenes and one cinematic that get played, and in between are a number of fairly inconsequential and completely trivial quests that stitch them all together.  It’s as if they said, “well, we can’t just play a series of cinematics, we best put something in between and call it content.”  You can virtually see the outlet that the phone that they used to phone it in was plugged into.

Maybe I was expecting something more grindy, or at least something we might have to put some effort into.

Lest anyone accuse me of being a sore winner, let me say right now that I am very glad that everyone, no matter how not into it they are, will have the skill level necessary to complete these quests.  So assuming they made it through the various gates along the way, everyone gets to see it.

But maybe, next time, put a little effort in, guys?  It should feel like an achievement! Otherwise, yes, just play the damned video.


So what do I think of the thing? It’s … interesting. It’s setting something up. No telling what. And the Horde is now in a bit of a tizzy … there was nothing in the post-cinematics that really indicates that they have much of a plan going forward.

I’m more concerned for the Night Elves. Tyrande is out there somewhere, Night Warrioring things up, and – without giving too much away – she doesn’t really have much in the way of resolution. OK, I’m actually more concerned about her. How long can she contain that power without going critical? Are we getting another heel turn here? Will she go mad and take out anyone in her way to her objective? Haven’t the Kaldorei suffered enough, Blizz?

The dot-3 release is generally speaking the final time-waster release for most expansions – assuming they get that far. It’ll be interesting to see how they intend to fritter away our time this time around, or maybe they have something new and exciting, such as an additional content patch.   But right now, I’m banking on old tried-and-true.