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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Roguelike Unity Tutorial and Pixel addendum

Work on the fifth Unity 3D tutorial has finally begun. It’s a roguelike game. I’m still in the early stages of the development, but today I want to write a little bit about the modifications I’m planning to do to the default tutorial.

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This is what the regular game is supposed to look like when it’s finished. This is not a full screenshot. For some reason they’ve chosen a really weird aspect ratio of 1:1 with the game area being roughly 320×320 pixels. Maybe the reason behind that will unveil itself later in the tutorial.

That’s the first thing I’ll be changing: Aspect ratio and resolution. I’ll probably have to modify a number of scripts to work with the new resolution and level size, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Luckily my half-done tileset is using the same tile size as this tutorial, so I won’t have to work around that. I’ll also change the setting and hopefully the lackluster interface as well.

Because my tileset is slightly more complex I will have to extend the randomization script quite a bit to generate levels that use the tileset correctly. It’s nothing big, but still, I will have to change a lot in the tutorial.

I’m really excited for this one, because it’s the first time I’ll deviate heavily from the default path. Something I should have done earlier, but this time I can mess around with the art, which is a huge plus. With tutorials like the Stealth game, I couldn’t even begin to meddle with the 3D models, textures and animation rigging.

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Pixel Graphics III Finale

So, here we are again. A little refresher for everyone who just joined this small article series about pixel graphics:

In Part 1 and Part 2 I talked about things that really irritate me in a number of current games that use a pixel art style to appear more retro.

Today in Part 3 I’d like to talk about a couple of other smaller things that bug me, examples of games that do it mostly right and thoughts about my own games I’ll eventually get around to creating. *ahem*

pixel garou
Wonderful pixel art on SNKs NeoGeo in Garou: Mark of the Wolves (1999)

Of course everything in these articles is my personal opinion and doesn’t extend to all games that use a pixel-art style.

Pixel Graphics for the lazy

I’m not criticizing small development teams with little or no budgets if they are honest and try their best. Not everyone can afford skilled artists or sometimes a single skilled artist, so the game probably won’t have any good graphics and that’s fine.

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T43 IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad Upgrade – Part 2

In this second, and last, part of my Thinkpad T43 upgrade adventure, we’ll be looking at the Mainboard/HDD, mistakes and further possible improvements I could make.

T43 prep
Preparation

I’ll also give you some software tips and further links to guides and information about the SATA mod.

 

HDD

My first HDD was, I think…it’s been a while, a 60GB IDE drive. I later replaced it with a faster spinning version and slightly higher capacity and also put another IDE HDD into the ultrabay adapter. This worked fine for a while, but then came the advent of SSDs and after experiencing the glorious access times I knew I wanted to have one in my T43 as well. But alas, back then the mod I would eventually perform on the T43 wasn’t available yet, so I had to resort to other measures.

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