Mists iLevel reference

I had trouble finding a ready reference to the ilvl ranges for Mists, so after hunting around all the usual sites came up with the following. I’ll revise this post if the numbers change.

Update 2012.10.03: Revised Heroic iLvl (was i440), JP iLvl (was i450), JP/VP rep requirements (no rep for JP gear, less for some VP gear), and added crafted weapons iLvl.

Source Requires Drops Comment
Quests n/a i372
Dungeons i358 i425-i450
Scenarios i425 i463
Heroics i435 i463/i476 i476 off final boss only
LFR i463 i476/i483 T14 tokens i483
Raid (N) i476 i489/i496 T14 tokens i496
Raid (H) i489 i502/i509 T14 tokens i509

So progression is pretty clear: Dungeons -> Heroics -> (LFR) -> Raid Normal -> etc. You can skip LFR by grinding out enough rep and VP to get into norlmal raiding.

Rep vendors sell i458 gear for JP (no rep required), and i489 for VP at Honored (neck/ring/cloak/bracers) and Revered. So planning your reputation priorities will be important.

Crafted epics are i476-i496. Crafted weapons are i463.

The Watcher

Thinking more about how people could learn the game without YouTube or Tankspot, it seems that an Observer mode would be an excellent addition. Some mechanism which allowed you to join a fight in progress as a watcher only, hovering above god-style, kind of like you can hover around when dead and see what’s going on.

I’d love to be able to follow a Warrior tank who was running my chosen bête noire, to learn how they handle the adds and time their cooldowns. Or to hover over a new wing of Naxx once our guild ventures in for the second time.

This would allow you to watch and learn fights that are new, or that you’re struggling with. It removes the element of surprise when encountering a new instance or boss, but then very few approach a new fight without first watching a strategy video or reading a debrief. In fact Observer mode would be much more involving than those kind of meta approaches.

You’d probably need some kind of way to allow or disallow observers, so as not to be encumbered with additional stresses or having strangers judge your skills. But given people Livestream their attempts already, I’m sure it would be a pretty popular feature.

eSports depend on the ability for an audience to join a game as observers and hence participate in the event like they were at a real sports game. The venerable Quake engine allowed god mode overview for tournament play, Starcraft II will feature some kind of observer mode, as well as replays, so why not offer it in WoW too?

April WoW Fools

Best April Fools post? El’s Cataclysm Aquarium! Please please please make it so, Blizzard!

Storing dead fish in bags or bank vaults is smelly. And nobody can see your rarest catches**. Fish tanks allow anglers to keep their rarest catches alive – and gain rewards from doing so. They also let other people see precisely what rare fish you have caught!

The aquarium finally brings the best of “social fish-gaming” to Azeroth.

**If you fish, you must watch this video! He’s caught everything.

Blizzard also pulled a nice swift one in the Armory – a ninja-looting Level 80 Tuskarr Warrior? They must have known Bane was a fishercow 🙂

The Greatest Fisherpeople in Warcraft

GTAIV, WoW, and cocaine

The Observer published a crushingly personal account of addiction to GTAIV combined with an equally crippling cocaine habit.

It’s a depressing and hard core world the author portrays – gaming day-in day-out, whilst keeping a cocaine habit going, and pretty much losing any connection to the world outside. There’s been many stories of WoW addiction, but the combination of an actual drug with a virtual one is the real killer.

Coke is to acid what jazz is to rock. You have to appreciate it. It does not come to you… And soon I realised what video games have in common with cocaine: video games, you see, have no edge. You have to appreciate them. They do not come to you.

There’s a same-but-different story on wow.com interviewing a player who is two dings away from ‘beating’ WoW: completing every in game achievement. He managed that by having a /played time of 491 days. That’s a staggering figure. In some ways this seems a parallel to the Observer tale, except there seems no equivalent story of a life gone off the rails. Perhaps there should be.

Both have that common gaming description of being in the zone, reaching an almost zen state of playing and the exultant state of emotional well being that brings:

Some achievements are a bit stressful and took some time, but at the end of the day when the [WoW] achievement frame is popping up, my heart is filled with peace and love.

I felt as intensely focused as a diamond-cutting laser; Grand Theft Auto IV was ready to go. My friend and I played it for the next 30 hours straight.

These are feelings I’m sure all gamers have experienced, though (hopefully) not with the same intensity, or the same consequences. There’s a joy to being so focussed in the moment and when everything comes together just so.

At the same time, there’s the danger of overdoing it. The WoW interviewee has some eerie parallels to the “first taste is free” tactic of the drug dealing fraternity:

We started with some easy stuff like LEEEEERRRRROOOOOOOYYYY!!!!!111 for warmup but went early to the battleground stuff. It was so much fun; I think we did that eight hours in a row before we felt asleep. =D The next day, we explored some zones, fished in some schools and stuff before we queued for battlegrounds again. The beginning time was absolutely amazing.

Games are an escape, a release valve, a way to zone out and forget the pressure of the day to day. The parallels to drugs are made strikingly clear by both these stories.

Adult taste can be demanding work – so hard, in fact, that some of us, when we become adults, selectively take up a few childish things, as though in defeated acknowledgment that adult taste, with its many bewilderments, is frequently more trouble than it is worth. Few games have more to tell us about this adult retreat into childishness than the Grand Theft Auto series.

I’m utterly unqualified to talk about drugs of any description, but the notion of retreat and escapism, be it via music or gardening or gaming or drugs, appears almost universal. Everyone seeks it in some way, just some methods are healthier than others. And of course it’s only when it’s taken to these kind of obsessive lengths that even healthy pursuits become ugly.

The point that hit home hardest for me was when the GTAIV player started talking about how he stopped seeking out books and stopped writing, two experiences which had previously been his lifeblood.

When the minds of the reader and writer perfectly and inimitably connect, objects, events and emotions become doubly vivid – more real, somehow, than real things. I have spent most of my life seeking out these connections and attempting to create my own. Today, however, the pleasures of literary connection seem leftover and familiar.

I’ve had a very similar experience since starting WoW. I’ve barely read a novel in two years, staying up late to immerse myself in the game world instead of the worlds created by words. The closest I’ve come is reading graphic novels, which don’t demand the same immersion and concentration (but can be just as rewarding).

Mind you he doesn’t necessarily resent this change  – not the games anyway (the cocaine is a different story) – believing that gaming has given him “not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories”, and that “today the most consistently pleasurable pursuit in my life is playing video games.”

Perhaps the most terrifying element of his story is that even though he’s off the coke, gaming still has a iron grip on his soul:

These days I have read from start to finish exactly two works of fiction – excepting those I was also reviewing – in the last year. These days I play video games in the morning, play video games in the afternoon and spend my evenings playing video games…

…For instance, I woke up this morning at 8am fully intending to write this article. Instead, I played Left 4 Dead until 5pm.

This is someone who’s recovered from something far worse. It just doesn’t seem like much of a recovery, and that’s a scary thought.

Achievement metagaming

I’m plodding around Azeroth on Kodo in pursuit of my Elder title, visiting all sorts of far flung places with nary a soul around. Other than other Achievement seekers, of course. Which is kind of sad – Ashzara for example is a beautiful zone, populated by precisely no-one, all the lonely NPCs in tears waiting for someone to kill or appreciate them. Thankfully Cataclysm brings the Bilgewater Cartel goblins to Ashzara, who make their home there.

In any case, the Lunar Festival is a nice leisurely journey, and it certainly brings home the ginormous size of the world. It also illustrates one of the fundamentals of playing: the metagame. The idea of attempting the Lunar or any other festival without resources like wow.com or Wowhead is frankly unimaginable:

Bane: Hey there, guy-with-a-great-huge-halo-shooting-up-in-the-sky, how you doing?

GWAGHHSUITS: *spinning around with enthusiasm* Hail oh great PC! Thanks for visiting me. In fact, you know what – have this artfully crafted coin!

Bane: Whoa, thanks old guy! Hey – are there more of you ‘Elders’ around?

GWAGHHSUITS: Sure are – and they’ll give you free stuff too!

Bane: Great! I should go visit them. Um, where are they?

GWAGHHSUITS: There’s one somewhere in a dungeon somewhere. And another in a place you’ve never heard of. Just nearby. Kind of. *looks shiftily around while scuffing the ground with his worn leather boots*

Bane: Ummm, can you be more specific?

GWAGHHSUITS: Nope! Good luck! /ignore*quickly turns his back on the annoying PC*

Bane: …

Of course it would be possible to find all the Elders, but it would be a royal pain too.  I guess someone once did it da solo, and more power to them, but players with that much perseverance are few and far between.

Whilst you could argue this means the game isn’t complete somehow, it seems more likely that this enormous community pool of knowledge that has formed around Warcraft is one of the things that makes the game, as BigBearButt observed. It’s social networking, and it’s been around since before that term became the property of Big Business™.

The amount of free info and time that people have committed to Wowhead and Wowwiki is phenomenal. It’s created a community of contributers, bloggers, editors, Auctioneers and passionate players. I barely move in game before referring to LightHeaded, zooming off as directed via TomTom, or using the Lunar Festival pack for TourGuide.

In many other games this would be cheating. And maybe the boss encounters suffer a bit from needing guides rather than teaching. But I’d argue that overall, the metagame makes WoW miles more fun – it doesn’t reduce the challenge, just the frustration.

‘It’s very rude of him,’ she said, `To come and spoil the fun!’

Question of the day: do you watch the LK cinematic or not?

On the yea side of the argument, our Guild is so far from actually doing this encounter ingame that it may as well be a different game. By the time we do get there, there’s not going to be anything to spoil, because it will all have been out in the open for months. So why not watch it now, while the buzz is alive.

On the nay side, seeing the Wrathgate cinematic while levelling was epic and great. I didn’t get to it until way after most, but managed to quarantine any advance info or spoilers. The problem is that the Fall of the LK is a much bigger deal, and I can’t imagine it not being common knowledge no matter how hard you try. Kind of like trying to not find out the winner of the Superbowl until you’ve watched it a day later.

Luckily, for now anyway, Blizzard have pulled the video on copyright grounds, so I can ponder a little longer (before giving in!).

Corporatespeak

Is it just me, or does Blizzard sound suspiciously like Microsoft in their latest twitter chat? “Trust us, the next release (Win7/Office2010/Cataclysm) will fix everything…”

Mind you, Cataclysm still sounds great – especially Goblins and Archaeology. And here’s hoping the Epic Moose Mount makes it in for the Winter Olympics.

(In)fidelity

Syp’s /played list is constantly surprising. How can one player switch between so many MMOs? There can only be one answer: there’s more than one of him!

More likely he’s just really good at playing mmo’s the way you’re meant to – that is, making in game friends quickly, finding a guild, jumping into pugs, etc. Not relying heavily on playing with people you already know. And certainly not playing just to compete for end game status, which pretty much requires commitment to a single game.

I can only keep up with my WoW guild because they are (mostly) as casual as me. So there’s no progression raiding (other than Blackrock Depths this week!), and hence no pressure.

Even so I can’t imagine dropping WoW for a month or two to try Fallen Earth, then hopping over for some quick STO, back to WoW, then a taste of SW:TOR. Even finding the time for single player games is challenging when you’re hooked into the MMO feed.

Penny-Arcade nailed it, as they often do.

I WoW mostly with people I know IRL, which makes MMO fidelity more compelling. If I wanted to make and play with virtual friends, I guess hopping around would be easier.

I did play Warhammer for about 30 minutes, and dipped into LotRO too, for 90. On both occasions I was pretty quickly overwhelmed with the task of re-establishing ties to friends in game. Or should I say, selling them on the idea of moving to something new, and retiring or abandoning a game we had all invested a lot of time in – and still enjoyed.

It seemed that it was either/or in terms of other MMOs. Either play LotRO, or play WoW, but not both.

Having said that…TOR is going to require some careful consideration. A sci-fi setting is less appealing than high fantasy (despite my reading preference being totally the other way around – other than A Song of Ice & Fire, great Fantasy fiction is pretty rare), but the Bioware polish and depth of Star Wars lore could – should – be a killer combo.