Ding 85 and Living Large

It took forever, but I finally reached level 85 in World of Warcraft.  There are two main reasons it took me so long; the biggest of course, is just a general lack of playing time due to the demands of being a father of a four year old and a six month old.  Those dang kids are so dependent!  I’ve mentioned the second reason a few times lately, and that’s just a dwindling desire to play WoW.  I’m ready to move on to other games.  Or so I thought.  While I pretty much hated the first two Cataclysm zones I did (Vashj’ir followed by Deepholm), I really enjoyed Uldum and have enjoyed the first few quests in Twilight Highlands.  I may just stick around and finish off the Twilight Highlands quest achievement.  I’d also like to quickly run through the Goblin and Worgen starting areas, just to check them out.

I’ve still got a level 80 Shaman, who I suspect will remain at 80 for some time to come.  I have no desire to play him at this time and don’t see that changing.  My Warrior, currently 61 is the other character I’d consider leveling to 85, but honestly, I can’t see that happening any time soon.  I’ll keep my WoW subscription active for a bit, but it’s time to tackle my ever-growing pile of games and live outside the MMO space for a bit.

In other news, I was bored the other day, so what else should I do with my time besides hauling my huge PC upstairs to hook it up to our LCD TV.  It looked great, and I’m now wondering if my wife would notice if I brought the TV down to my comptuer room and plopped it on my desk.

My Cataclysm Experience So Far

I’ve been logging in to World of Warcraft less and less these days, and I have suspected for some time now that my time with the game may be coming to an end, and were it not for the release of the expansion,  I feel fairly confident in saying I would have already un-subscribed.

I just recently reached level 84 on my Mage, spending all of my time questing in Vashj’ir and Deepholm, earning the quest achievements for both zones.   I found it pretty tough forcing my self to continue playing through them, but I’ve vowed not to quit playing until I’ve got one character at 85.

I have two main complaints with my experience so far.  First,  both Vashj’ir and Deepholm lack many unique features or areas within the zones.  In Vashj’ir I was constantly using the map to find my way around because everything looks the same; an endless jungle of seaweed and coral.  The same holds true for Deepholm; just a whole lot of rock, lava, and crystalline formations.

My other complaint is with the way questing works, where you complete all the quests at a given quest hub and stay in that general area before moving on to the next hub.  I realize that it’s relatively unchanged from Wrath of the Lich King, and even Burning Crusade, but it seems a lot more obvious in Cataclysm.  There is really no incentive at all to explore the zones, nor is there any reason to because you never need to stray too far from the current quest hub to reach your objective.  Plus, the map points out exactly where your quest destination is so that’s one less reason to explore.

I actually much prefer quests that have you traversing across multiple zones and areas, but there’s none of that to be found.  More so than the previous expansions, I just can’t stand the “quest hub” system.  At the very least it would be nice to have to travel more than ten feet from the quest giver.  As it is, it feels as though the designers don’t want the player to stray too far from a predetermined path.  Not to mention the fact that all of the quests at each quest hub generally follow the same pattern.  There’s always a “gather x number of y” quest, along with a “kill x number y monsters” quest, which will be followed up with “go kill named monster x”.  Once the named is killed, the quest giver sends you off to the next quest hub to repeat the same quests but with different collectibles and creatures.  It’s horribly boring, and the pattern has become so noticeable because of the slower experience gain.  In order to stretch the level progression out, your forced to do a tonne of quests, so obviously quest originality gets tossed out the window.

I’m now a couple of quests into Uldum, and it appears as though it will be more of the same, but at least Uldum is a visually interesting zone.  I did a quick fly-around and it was nice to see several unique features in the zone; it doesn’t all look the same.  I’m still faced with a dilemma however; I don’t want to quit until I hit level 85, but I don’t really feel like playing because I find the whole thing kind of boring.

Eggcelent

This is me riding my newly acquired Green Proto-Drake.  The Proto-Drake is obtained from a Mysterious Egg which can be purchased in Sholazar Basin if you have revered reputation with The Oracles.  According to WoWWiki, “you may only carry one Mysterious Egg at a time, each of which takes three days to hatch. [The Reins of the Green Proto-Drake] has an extremely low drop chance, although this chance was increased in patch 4.0.3”.

Originally, the egg took seven days to hatch, so you could only check once a week to see if you got the mount.  After reaching revered with The Oracles on my Shaman, I was fairly diligent in checking my egg once a week, but after having no luck with the mount drop, I gave up.  Then I started focusing on leveling my Mage and forgot about the Shaman altogether, who I haven’t played in over a year now.  His talent points are still sitting unassigned since the release of Cataclysm.  He’s had a Mysterious Egg in his inventory, ready to be checked, for a very long time.

A friend of mine has been doing the egg-checking dance for quite some time now, hunting for the Proto-Drake.  He has had no luck, but he has continued to check time and again.

I was playing my Mage last night, doing quests in Deepholm, when my friend logged on.  I saw that he was in Icecrown and sent him a quick message asking him what the heck he was doing there.  “Just checking my egg, on my way to get another one,” was his reply. Remembering that my Shaman had an egg on him, I quickly logged him in to check it.  Lo and behold, the Shaman was actually camped in Sholazar Basin, standing in front of the guy who sells the egg.  My friend was now standing there as well.  I check the egg, fully expecting an Aged Yolk, or some other common rubbish, but instead received the Proto-Drake.  Here’s a screenshot of what happened next…


Here’s a transcript of the conversation for those of you reading without graphics:

You receive loot: [Reins of the Green Proto-Drake]
Friend waves at you.
To [Friend]: I just logged in to this character to check my egg… haven’t logged into him for ages
[Friend] whispers: what did it hatch?
To [Friend]: [Reins of the Green Proto-Drake]
[Friend] whispers: let’s see

At this point I mount up on my new proto-drake, and begin prancing around my friend… yes, prancing…

[Me] says: WOOT!
[Friend] whispers: you’re a stupid dick face
[Friend] whispers: [Aged Yolk]
To [Friend]: I’m sorry, but I’m laughing so hard right now
[Friend} whispers: do you know how many weeks I’ve been doing this?

So there you have it.  I’m a stupid dick face.

A stupid dick face with a brand spanking new Green Proto-Drake!

Cycles

I logged in to World of Warcraft the other night for the first time in about two weeks.  I played for almost an hour and a half and if I were to sum up the experience in one word, it would be “meh”.  In fact, that’s sort of been my feeling towards WoW in general since Cataclysm released.  I like the expansion; the changes to the old world are great, but I think the WoW train may be running out of steam for me.  My Mage is currently half way towards level 83, and pretty much the only thing keeping me playing is to get him to 85.  I just got the achievement for doing 160 quests in Vashj’ir, and I’m sick to death of that zone.  I have another quest to finish off there, something about a battle on a boat or something, and then I’ll be more than happy to head somewhere else.  Perhaps the current lull in enjoyment that I’m experiencing with WoW will reverse itself with a change of scenery, but if it doesn’t, I’ll likely be taking another break from WoW for a while.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I find my enjoyment of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies on the Nintendo DS increasing daily.  I haven’t been this “into” a game for quite some time.  I haven’t looked at a walkthrough for it so I can’t say for sure, but I’m almost positive I’m right at the end of the main story, so I’ve taken a detour to do some last minute grinding before heading out to save the world.  The thing about DQIX though, is that to me, the grinding doesn’t feel like grinding.  I have fun doing it and it’s strictly by choice; my party is probably strong enough as it is, I just want to make them stronger.  I can’t get enough of this game right now.

Sick Time Equals Play Time

There are advantages to being sick sometimes.  I started coming down with something early Friday evening and a few hours later, just before bed time, it had turned into a full-blown sore throat along with jam-packed, stuffed up sinuses.  I knew I wouldn’t be getting any sleep any time soon, so while the rest of the family slept to visions of sugar plums in their heads, I fired up the ol’ Xbox 360 and did some gaming until the wee hours of the morning.

After a bunch of games of NHL 10 I finally lumbered up to bed and closed my eyes for a while.  Just a few short hours later though, I was wide awake again.  The clock told me it was just before 6:00am.  I checked on my two kids; the first born was out like a light and typically doesn’t wake until 7:30.  The new born was sleeping so soundly in his crib that I had to stare at his chest to make sure he was still breathing.  Glorious.  Two and a half months old and already sleeping nine hours a night.  So again, I fired up the 360 and dug out a game I haven’t played in ages, Burnout Paradise.  It didn’t take long to be reminded of just how fun Burnout is, and how good looking it is too.

I managed a solid two hours with the game before my daughter awoke and took over the TV.  Later in the afternoon, with my wife out with our daughter and my little guy sleeping in the crook of my left arm, I fired up my PC and killed some time in EverQuest II: Extended.  I haven’t been actively playing it, because I’ve definitely moved on from Norrath, but from time to time I do get the urge to pop in and check out the game I spent so many hours playing just a few years ago.  I gained a couple levels with the Inquisitor, now level 12, and yeah… that game does nothing for me.

Finally, I loaded up Batman: Arkham Asylum, which I had purchased off Steam for pretty cheap.  I only got a few minutes to play it, but what I saw was awesome.  I’ll be coming back to it for sure.  Hopefully my cold doesn’t go away too quickly.