Category Archives: Classic

I was not prepared?

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As is customary in my WoW life, every two months or so I poke my nose back into Classic, continuing the epic adventures of a Dwarven BM hunter and friends as they advance through the ranks. My experiences thus far have been mixed – I like the game mechanics better, but also you can’t futz around – or you’ll find out.  Classic WoW is a lot more dangerous than Retail.

I haven’t been on since before TBC rolled out to Classic, and when I last left my guy, he was struggling through a bunch of Elite quests and areas in the high 30s to low 40s.   Pretty much everything green was Elite, and everything that wasn’t Elite was pretty much yellow, orange, and red.  With the limited toolset of the Classic hunter, there was a lot of struggling.  Not impossible, but I worked for every bit of it.

So I was nowhere near max level anyway (or even 58, when the cheaters head to Hellfire) so regardless of when TBCC rolled out, I wasn’t too concerned. And that was pretty much how I was thinking about the transition from Classic to TBCC. Probably have to reset talents, but no big deal, ya know?

In my defense I did not recall a lot of the differences between Vanila and TBC – I quested to around 54 on my highest toon in Vanilla, then quit, and didn’t return until just before the TBC launch, where I started all over again (we didn’t have character restores back then).

So I was not prepared for the complete night-and-day contrast between Classic and TBC Classic.

Hunter pets are more resilient. They hold aggro far better. Shot rotations are far less cumbersome. Hell, even mounts are cheaper! Those elite quests? Far more in line with what I expect for a BM hunter (i.e.: no sweat). Yellas, pretty much same thing.

Also, remember this gal? Wonder what she’s up to these days?

imageAlso, I’m very annoyed that Disco priest is so unpopular that the more popular strategy sites (looking at YOU, Icy Veins) don’t even HAVE a Disco guide.

That’s all right, I’ve been doing Disco longer than Icy Veins have been around. They can suck it.

 

Looks smaller from above

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One of the little secrets of Vanilla was that there were three Stormwinds.

There was the Stormwind you saw when you approached from outside.

There was the Stormwind you saw from within the city.

And there was the city you saw when flying by.

One gimmick they could pull off this way was to make Stormwind Keep look ENOURMOUS.  I’m not even sure what that is behind the gate – a hill? But at any rate, the thing fades into the mist from the streets outside the Trade District.  In Retail, it’s a lot less imposing, because in Retail, there’s only one Stormwind.  And that doesn’t allow them to engage in any of those nifty little tricks of perspective.

What Classic gets right (or very wrong)

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been puttering around on my Hunter and Priest (started five levels apart) and really enjoying myself.  It’s painful, inconvenient, slow, grindy, and painful. And yet I have not felt at all unhappy about it.

We’re looking back at a version of WoW that had perfected the Skinner Box model without realizing it, or taking much trouble to hide it.

If you’ve never heard the term, “Skinner Box” is named after a psychologist that theorized a thing called an Operant Conditioning Chamber, which is a fancy way of saying that it trained animals using mostly positive reinforcement.  Push the right button, get a cookie.

In WoW, this is illustrated by the  nearly constant positive reinforcement mechanism that kicks in after level 10. Every time you level up, you get something, often many somethings. You always get a talent point. And sometimes you learn new spells or abilities.  If you’re a Hunter the phenomenon is doubled thanks to your pet.

Contrast this to BfA and Legion, where I believe it’s fair to say that aside from the changes to the core game at the start of the expansion, you gained nothing new.

Hell, the last time I got a new Talent is at level 100 – the end of WoD.

Did leveling up mean anything to you in Legion or BfA?  I mean, did they even lock out zones based on your level? (spoiler alert: they didn’t).

The modern niceties of modern WoW are sometimes a curse in disguise.  A game based on conflict that has basically greased the rails to max level doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Yet here we are.

But … about that Skinner Box thing.

The Skinner Box scenario is generally looked down upon by most “serious” gamers. It’s the perception that, instead of making a good game, the team has created a grindhouse in which you respond like … well, like a rat in a Skinner box.  Green light goes on, you hit the button. A pellet of food comes out. Green light comes on, hit the button again.  Eventually, what you’re conditioned to do is to press the button whenever you see a green light, and expect a pellet of food.

This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about “sick culture” work places. It goes like this.

Imagine a cage. In that cage are five monkeys.  It’s a big cage, don’t worry.

Now, hang a banana in one end of the cage.

Now, whenever a money approaches the banana, ALL the monkeys in that cage get hosed with a firehose.

Eventually, you’ll train them to never approach the banana.

Now, replace one of the monkeys with a new one.

The new monkey will approach the banana.  But instead of hosing the monkeys, you let the trained monkeys do your work: they beat the hell out of the new monkey until he too won’t approach the banana.

Keep doing this until you’ve replaced all the monkeys, then do a complete rotation again.

Now, you have a cage full of monkeys that have never been hosed, but won’t approach that banana.

And if they could talk, and you could ask them why they won’t go near the banana, they’d probably tell you, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done things.”

I wonder if Blizz did us a favor by getting away from the Skinner Box approach?

And then one day … I got in

Kharanos

Behold, traveler: Kharanos!

I wasn’t foolish enough to attempt to log in on Classic on Day 1.  Following days, however, I’ve been checking to see if there was a queue. Today, I got lucky and managed to log in on my bebe Hunter.

Some observations:

  • The starter zone is a good facsimile of the original, but it has been nerfed a little bit.  Back in the day, you couldn’t cut right across the starter zone to deliver that beer, you’d get ambushed! That was the entire challenge of the fedex quests.  The zone changed, but the quests did not.
  • You REALLY miss the mapping enhancements we have now in Live.
  • Bebe hunters can still die.
  • That dead zone can diaf.
  • There are a surprising number of addons that work in Classic.

A note about that.  I’m still salty over that LFG addon – again, not planning on using it, but to see Blizz bend the knee to a bunch of gatekeepers that were howling over functionality that was there in Classic all along is a pretty bitter pill to swallow. That’s right, the difference between now and then is that somebody thought of it this time.

And the number of “not in classic” addons out there that NOBODY is whining about is amazing.  TBag and WeakAuras, for example. WA is a game-changer for me.  How long was it before TBag came along? IceHUD, one of my favorites.  Even TSM is trying to make a showing.

Point being, “the classic experience” isn’t the addons.  It’s being level 5 and barely having a silver to your name.  It’s having to look around for the right kind of mobs to kill. It’s hunting around for those toolboxes without the aid of sparklies. It’s no blue highlights over your minimap telling you where your quest is. It’s reading quest text for clues about where to find that elusive   character.  It’s having to pay for training, and coming up short.

I haven’t even tamed my first pet yet, so I have even more to look forward to, but when I do there will be the need to train the pet, the need to find food it likes, the need to care for it or lose it.

I love that shit.

I’ve always been about little details in my games, and these all share that DNA. Little fiddly bits, like training up your defense and weapon skills. It rewards the detail minded, rather than the grandstanders.

I take the victories I can.

At any rate, I’m here. I won’t be playing this so regularly, at least not until my guildies show up (they’re currently engaged in Dragon*Con activities), but I’m still not sold on the whole “classic experience” other than, well, I still, at this moment, like it better than BfA, for reasons that make no sense.

But I won’t be neglecting my little toons, either.  I love a challenge, and Classic is all that.

Gatekeepers

brilliantI was sad to hear that an addon that was planned for use in WoW Classic is set to be sabotaged by Blizz itself.

The addon in question is a tool to aid in the process of finding others for dungeon and raid runs – a tool that more or less subs in for the current, modern game’s LFD and LFR tools.

Now, I’m pretty sure that Blizz, left to their own devices, wouldn’t have done anything about this tool. But there was a group of alleged purists – I say alleged because I bet they won’t last six months in Classic – that whinged about how this tool was taking away from the “classic experience” or some sort of bullshit like that.

And once again Blizz listened to a bunch of losers whining about how OTHER people play the game.

I wasn’t even planning on using it, but the circumstances piss me right off.

Listen, it’s simple.   I made a flowchart to help you understand.

A matter of Addons

Nobody forces you to use an addon that others are using. If you prefer to be one of the idiots hanging out in Stormwind spamming /y, you go right ahead. I thought they were idiots when I played through Classic the first time, and knowing that they had a choice and blew it this time, they’re even bigger idiots.

You can’t just dictate to others what “the classic experience” is.  For you it’s that stupid bullshit associated with LFG.  For me, it’s that scary level 13 run from Darnassus to Stormwind. Doesn’t mean I’m going to impose that terror on you just because that’s MY “classic experience”.

The sad totality of this is that all they’ve done is shift what they perceive as “the problem” to another venue. Somebody will come up with a website, or a database, or something else that will facilitate the gathering of players in dungeon and raid groups. We already have tools like that for cross-realm. It’s just a few lines of code difference and the gatekeepers will be thwarted.

I’m just waiting for them to come for WoWHead. You know, because “we didn’t have that back then.”

Effing wankers.

Here I am on Pagle

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Since I’m Alliance, and a filthy care bear, I’ve rolled my toons on the Pagle Classic server.  Right now I’ve reserved Grimmtooth, Jasra, and Floramel (the max possible for now). Looks like my current guild will be rezzing up there as well.  If you’re on there, feel free to drop me a private message (or public message me for contact info) for an invite.  Not guaranteeing we’ll do anything with it, but back in the day, this guild raided all the big raids.