Dungeon Challenge: Uldaman and Observations

Uldaman

Well, Uldaman has been conquered.

uldaman

We already cleared the whole instance up to the last boss at the lowest level possible (you can enter the instance through the portal at 30, which we did). Archaedas was difficult, but for the most part doable. What killed us was the third phase where he summons two strong elite adds in addition to his normal 10 second summons and of course his own significant damage and frequent stuns.

Getting killed within seconds after running out of cooldowns in Phase 3, we decided to level to 31. I wasn’t confident we were able to kill him at that level (he’s still 9 levels above us), but the next dungeon, Dire Maul, unlocks at 31, so we didn’t want to level too far for the sake of the next instance.

The original plan was to use the Monk ability “Touch of Death” on one of the adds and increase the time my “Guard” spell would last. The problem was: The mobs are very high level, unfortunately, and when the crucial moment came, my Touch of Death actually missed! The 90 second cooldown started and with it our death sentence…or so it seemed.

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This & that…

Well, nothing major going on right now and other articles are still in the works, so I might as well write about some various updates.

Tech Talk: Taking it too far?

The T43 upgrade project is basically finished and unless I get a different mainboard, there’s no way to increase the performance of the system.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve it. I like to keep things in a good condition. As you all know, computer and especially laptop keyboard keys tend to get worn out over the years. The mat finish makes way for glossy spots on the most used keys, which makes the whole thing look much worse than it is. It looks dirty, even if it’s not.

Of course I could get a new replacement keyboard, but these things are expensive, so there’s a different method for Thinkpad keyboards. It might work on other models as well, but I’m not sure about that.

You can put a coat of clear varnish on the keys, which will basically restore the new look of the keyboard and according to people who’ve had these restored keyboards for a while, it’s more durable than the original plastic.

I didn’t do the procedure for my keyboard myself, since the materials are more expensive than a new keyboard, so it’s only worth it if you have a bunch of keyboards to work with.

Anyways, here are before and after pictures. Look at the space key for example.

Before
Before
After
After

It basically looks like a new laptop now. Of course this doesn’t improve performance or usability, but it still feels better to work with the new keyboard.

Now Playing

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A friend of mine has urged me to try “Clash of Clans”, a free-to-play (actually borderline pay to win in my opinion) strategy game on Android. It’s kind of fun for a while, but as usual progress gets really slow after a while, making you either want to quit or spend cash on boosting your progress ingame.

World of Warcraft

I’ve been playing a lot of World of Warcraft lately. The Dungeon Challenge project is waiting for the completion of Uldaman and our first attempt at Dire Maul.

Horde-logo

But right now I’m also leveling several characters through the quest zones to finally see all the new Cataclysm content on both factions. I haven’t played a lot of Horde in 10 years of WoW, so it’s like a new expansion for me right now. Which is perfect, because the current WoD endgame is boring and Legion is still far away.

So far I’ve finished the 1-10 zones on my Horde and Alliance characters and almost three 10-20 zones on the Horde side. I’m not sure how to structure future progress, because I want to use the opportunity to level a bunch of classes I never had at a high level, but I also don’t want to level a bunch characters through all the same expansion zones.

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Another thing I’m working on (when I need a break from leveling) is finally getting some gold in WoW. In 10 years of playing I was never rich. I could usually afford what I needed, but even the old gold-cap of ~214k gold was so far out of reach. Now it’s at 1 million gold, and even though there’s a high inflation, especially since WoD, I usually can’t afford anything “nice”, which is a shame because I like collecting old items that aren’t obtainable anymore, and they’re usually just too expensive for me. Even pre-TBC I was unable to afford my epic mount. I think I had about 600g when the expansion hit and finally borrowed the rest from a fellow guildmate shortly after launch.

So, I’m trying to increase my income, but because I don’t have a lot of time, I’m trying to find the best way for me that is not boring and doesn’t take ages.

I’m also thinking about buying game time tokens with that gold, so WoW essentially becomes free to play for me. Unfortunately, gametime tokens are pretty expensive in Europe, around 90.000 gold, so even with one million gold, I could barely afford a years worth of game time. And with the prices rising, I’m not sure the time required to get 90k gold is worth less than the 13€ for a month. US servers have a much lower price, less than 40k gold. But I’m glad I don’t live in Korea or Taiwan, where the tokens cost about 175k gold. Can you imagine getting almost 200.000 gold each month just to pay for your game time and only the game time after that is actual gameplay. Crazy! It also seems that the gold cap of 1 million is becoming a little bit low…

So, that’s about it for now. I hope I can finish my next article for tomorrow, so I’ll see you then…maybe!

Warcraft Dungeon Challenge: Uldaman

“Already?” Was my first thought when I set foot into Uldaman, having just hit Level 30 a few hours prior. Uldaman was among one of the many instances to get a lower level after the Cataclysm. The final boss, Archaedas, was originally level 47 and now he’s just 40. Other bosses have been scaled down as well.

Uldaman Loading Screen

The original instance used to have a pretty big level range. Revelosh, the first boss, was Level 40, making it a big stretch to the last boss. That meant having a group with a good level for the first bosses would result in wipes on the last bosses and a group well equipped for the final boss will be extremely bored during the first half.

Now Revelosh has only been lowered 1 level, making the overall difficulty of the instance much more even.

There’s two NPCs that didn’t survive the Shattering of Patch 4.0: Magregan Deepshadow and Digmaster Shovelphlange. The first one was just outside of the instance, and the second was a rarespawn that got removed.

One more historical side-note: The enchanting NPC in Uldaman still spawns, if you kill the scorpids in the little side room. She also still trains enchanting, but isn’t really relevant for anything anymore. Prior to Patch 2.3, she was the only (!) Artisan Enchanting Trainer in Azeroth and every enchanter who wanted to move their skill forward HAD to go pretty deep into Uldaman with a group to level up their profession. I found this incredibly awesome, but most people hated it. There’s another article planned about that exact topic.

uldaman map

Enough chit-chat, let’s start with the first boss, shall we?

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Warcraft Dungeon Challenge: Maraudon 1,2+3

We’re back with another Dungeon Challenge progress post. Last time I already mentioned that we hit a major roadblock in Razorfen Kraul, forcing us to level up quite a bit. The original plan was for us to finish each instance at the lowest possible level and move on to the next one.Maraudon Loading Screen

But now we were in danger of getting to a too-high level for the remaining bosses and even the next instance. Maraudon is split into three wings in LFG and it starts almost at the same level as RFK. While there wasn’t any way to prevent the RFK bosses from becoming trivial, we had to go to Maraudon before finishing up RFK. We were Level 28 and planned to go to 30 for Roogug in RFK, but before we did that, we took a detour to Maraudon to see how far we could get.

We entered Maraudon at Level 28, not really knowing what to expect and just tried to get as far as possible.

Maraudon Boss 1: Tinkerer Gizlock

 

Not really a memorable fight. He threw some bombs and had a long cast with his Goblin Dragon Gun, but that’s about it. Apparently his flash bomb can fear hunter pets and druid tanks, but with us being Gnomes, we didn’t have any trouble and he died in the first try. He was 7 levels higher than us, so the damage wasn’t too trivial, but that’s about it.

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Warcraft Dungeon Challenge: Razorfen Kraul

Finally some progress! This time we tackle Razorfen Kraul!

razorfen kraul map
The Dungeon Map

For all new readers and everyone who forgot what this project is about:

We’re playing two Gnomes. One Priest Healer and one Monk Tank and we are playing all the instances in order at the lowest level we can possibly finish them. No Heirlooms, no Damage Dealers in our group.

Playing Dungeons the intended way is really boring nowadays. You’re grouped with five people, most likely a good number of them will wear heirlooms, and make your way through the instance. You can queue in the LFG tool +/-5 levels around the end boss’ level, so the group average level should be fitting for the end boss, while the beginning of the instance is often easier, as mob levels rise towards the end. There is a minimum level below which you’re physically unable to enter the instance (unless ported by a Warlock) and from that level on we try to two-man the dungeon.

Last time we left off, we finished Scarlet Monastery at Level 25, with the final boss being 34 and entered Razorfen Kraul. We swiftly defeated the first boss (at level 35, we couldn’t see his level ingame anymore) but got crushed by the second boss. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning with:

Razorfen Kraul: Hunter Bonetusk

bonetusk

Even though he was 10 levels above us, he was pretty much a pushover. His attacks were either entirely dodgeable or no problem for the healer. No stacking buffs, no random aggro, no adds…piece of cake. And then we went on to face the impenetrable wall:

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We make World of Warcraft obsolete

Wait, what? Didn’t I just make a three-part series about how Blizzard is making all the wonderful content in World of Warcraft obsolete? How they’re ruining the experience for everyone and we, the poor players can only watch helplessly as everything we ever loved is being torn apart by streamlining, accessibility, difficulty adjustments and progression optimization? And now it’s suddenly our fault?

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Alright, I guess I need to back up a bit and explain my train of thought. There is never one single correct way to enjoy and play a game. Many people enjoy different things, find some aspects interesting while they dislike other parts of a game. And for other people it’s the other way around. Everybody is different and everybody has different tastes. That’s why it’s never ever possible to develop a game that is being universally liked.

However: There is often a majority, or at least a relatively small number of groups that make up most of the player base. Finding out who your players are and what they enjoy is quite difficult. Even if you ask players what they want, you probably won’t get a good answer, because the most vocal ones, are often a displeased minority, while the majority that’s happily gaming away, doesn’t see the need to voice their opinion. Also: They often don’t actually know what they want/like or what would make the game better. Sure, they THINK they know it and certainly have an opinion they’re sharing on the forums and other platforms, but more often than not, these suggestions and improvements are terrible.

Alpha Westfall3

But I digress. My point is, that many players follow those major groups’ gameplay style, because if something seems to be really popular, it must be the best, or right, way to do something. First and foremost the majority of the player base gets distracted by shiny items and numbers that get bigger. While leveling, that means you usually see your increasing level as the most important thing to increase and once you hit max level, the item level takes that role and you focus on increasing that.

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Blizzard makes Warcraft obsolete Pt3

Here we are, back with part 3 of the analysis of relevant content in World of Warcraft. Last time we looked at all the remaining expansions and also the upcoming Legion expansion. I came to the conclusion, that these so-called “expansions” don’t really expand the game at all, in their effort to get players to max level and the current endgame as quickly as possible.

So much obsolete content. I bet nobody remembers this dungeon anymore...
So much obsolete content. I bet nobody remembers this dungeon anymore…

This time, our goal is to take a more detailed look at all the potentially available content in World of Warcraft, what measures Blizzard already took to make content last longer or make it more relevant again and what they could do furthermore to improve the  situation.

It’s all in the Numbers

Here are a couple of numbers about the current WoW content:

Zones: 90 Zones, excluding 3 PvP only zones consisting of: 51 Classic, 8 TBC, 11 WotLK, 6 Cata, 7 MoP, 7 WoD

Instances: 89 Instances (+64 variants), consisting of: 26 Classic, 16 TBC (+16 Heroic), 16 WotLK (+16 Heroic), 14 Cata (+7 Heroic), 9 MoP (+9 Heroic), 8 WoD (+8 Heroic, +8 Mythic)

Raids: 36 Raids (+37-79 variants), consisting of: 4 Classic, 8 TBC, 10 WotLK (+10 Heroic or +30 with 10/25man), 6 Cata (+1 LFR, +6 Heroic or +18 w. 10/25), 5 MoP (+1Flex, +5 LFR, +5 Heroic or +15 w. 10/25), 3 WoD (+3 LFR, +3 Heroic, +3 Mythic)

Misc: 16 MoP Scenarios with heroic variants

Wow, that’s a ton of content! When you started a new character the last time and rushed to max level…how much of all that content did you actually see? How many zones did you enter? How many zones did you complete? How many different dungeons did you run? Raids?

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Blizzard makes Warcraft obsolete Pt2

Last time we talked about the relevant content in World of Warcraft Classic and the changes made to the progression system in the first expansion, The Burning Crusade. Today I’d like to continue evaluating the remaining expansions and talk about how these changes are hurting the “World” in World of Warcraft immensely.

Alright, after TBC made a number of changes that allowed players to catch up on content faster, the following expansions took those changes even further.

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In 2008 we got the second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Eventually the usual changes happened. Leveling XP of the outdated content was reduced to get players faster to the endgame. The Badge of Justice system was enhanced with multiple tiers of tokens and improved gear from that currency with each new raid tier. The LFG tool was introduced to allow for faster dungeon running and raids were available in 10 and 25 man sizes with normal and heroic difficulties respectively. Now it was not only easier for everyone to get their gear ready for the new raids but the raids themselves were also way more accessible. Sure, not everyone cleared heroic raids, but the new 10 man normals were usually pretty puggable.

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Blizzard makes Warcraft obsolete Pt1

In 2004 World of Warcraft started with a huge world to explore and due to the design and pacing at the time, it took the average player months to get to max level and much longer to explore every nook and cranny, see all zones, complete all quests and maybe even do it on Horde and Alliance sides.

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In this post I’ll be focusing on the PvE side of the game, as usual.

Then there were the dungeons that offered a good amount of gameplay time, because you were leveling slow, there was often a good incentive to revisit them, get another level, finish an additional quest you’ve found or hope to find that nice sword you’ve had your eye on.

When you reached max level, finally, you didn’t jump into raiding right away….or ever in quite a lot of cases. There were still a number of max level zones available that offered lore and loot. A bunch of high to max level dungeons (5 or 10 man) were also an option to improve your character further. Then there were questlines like the  one for the Dungeon Set and raid attunements had to be completed as well.

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Playing games, making stuff and other things

At least that’s what it feels like. I’m super busy, but I’m not really making any progress at all because I’m working on too many things concurrently. Oh well, time for another miscellaneous updates post about what I’m playing, programming and planning to do in the near future.

Now Playing

Why is it sometimes so difficult to find something to play? I don’t have a small selection of games and even the titles I’ve never played before, but are collecting dust in my shelves is unfortunately somewhat impressive. I’ve also severely increased the quality of my gaming selection by getting rid of hundreds of crappy games or titles I’m not interested in anymore. So I can literally choose from countless quality titles from all genres and platforms. But here I am, wondering what I should play for the last couple of days.

Playing now: Blackwell Legacy is part one in a five part series
Blackwell Legacy is part one in a five part series

I’ve started playing a bit of Blackwell Legacy and it’s not bad. But I’ll continue playing this together with a friend, so that’s not an option right now.

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