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Amidst the summary of Ion Hazzikostas’ recent interview, the section that piqued my interest the most were the comment about improvements to the AH. Here are the MMO-Champ bullet points:
- The Auction House UI is pretty unacceptable at this point and past due for a revamp.
- Fixing this is a longer term project, but addons can help in the meantime.
- In Patch 7.1 there may be some logic changes to how items are sorted on the auction house.
- Right now stacks are sorted by total cost rather than cost per unit.
- Hopefully in Patch 7.1 the auction house will be able to sort by unit price instead, allowing you to see the cheapest items first.
AH updates continue to be throttled on Sargares as of today. This throttling is not from addons, for the record – it exists even using the default AH interface. If you search for Felslate, for example, there is still a 5 second delay to even be able to click the Sort by Bid tab. Meanwhile, when I checked on my home realm of Auchindoun-US, multiple pages were scanned nearly instantly via Auctionator like they have been for the past four expansions. It has to have something to do with either AH size or realm population or both.
I have been making due with the default AH interface, and every day it reminds me of how abysmal it is. For example, one of the “tricks” of AH goblins is something call a “wall.” That is where you post 200+ auctions of a single item (e.g. ore), in the hopes that anyone else trying to see what the going price is for said item will undercut you… because they cannot be bothered with clicking through 4+ pages of AH results. Trying to sort by lowest price will not get yourself past the wall, even if there are stacks of items at a lower individual price because, as Ion points out, the default interface treats a single item at 20g to be less expensive than a stack of 20 of the same item for 21g.
None of the above is at all an issue for anyone with Auctionator or any other AH addon, of course. Auctionator will condense the 200+ auctions into a single line item on the results screen. Or at least, it would, if not for this asinine throttle that makes it impossible to use addons in any constructive way for Trade Goods. Sigh.
In the meantime, I have made somewhere around ~45,000g since starting at 150g on Sargeras. My friend has given me some of the Hexweave Bags, but otherwise that all comes from selling herbs and ore. I definitely missed the gold mine that was early bracer crafting and/or Obliterum mass production though. I’m kinda sad about that… but another part is not.
With the AH in such a sorry state as it remains, two weeks from launch, I am beginning to feel like all those halcyon AH goblin days of mine are far behind me. And it is almost as though Blizzard is doing me a favor for being so terribly shitty at something so fundamental to their goddamn game. Not having the AH to keep my interest is one less hook keeping my nose the screen and thoughts revolving around WoW.
Been playing Legion at a good clip the past couple of days. Relatively speaking, of course.
If there has been one change that could smother my interest in the cradle though, it’s this:
There are a couple of things going on. The primary one is that, at some point, Blizzard throttled the Auction House (AH) page scanning to ~5 seconds per page. Did they do this specifically for Legion? I don’t know. Is this a permanent change? God, I hope not. Because as the above picture shows, it takes over 3.5 minutes to even to get an opportunity to post some silk using Auctionator (an AH addon, but other are just as affected). This scan occurs every time you post any item, including the same item, if you decided you want to post two stacks of five and five individual silks.
“Too bad for the AH goblin,” right? Well… yeah. And you. There is still serious gold to be made in the AH – the issue is now there will be less competition for the people willing to sit through the delay. Goblins raise everything to “market prices,” but we also undercut each other. If the delay completely kills my motivation to do anything with the AH other than unloading herbs/ore, that is one less person driving down the cost of produced goods. You’ll be back to the days of the 1-2 Glyph barons on your server with a 10,000% profit margin. Because we are no longer competing on price, but on our willingness to Alt-Tab or bot the process.
In the meantime, I have be using as much of the default AH interface as I can. There is still a 5-second delay is switching pages, but at least the first page gives me some sort of baseline for determining the floor of a given good. A lot of my browsing though, is simply no longer possible. Want to look at every BoE epic armor on the AH above ilevel 800 for flipping purposes? Good luck… you might be able to finish the scan before you get logged off for being AFK.
Sometimes you get lucky with the default interface though. Auctionator doesn’t even bother listing Bid Prices, which means you can lose out on some ridiculous nonsense like this:
Yes, I won the auction with a bid of 1 silver, 10 copper. I would have been fine with selling it for ~300g, but it turns out the actual going price since my last scan shows 750g.
That’s a win, but I’d pay all of that and more for a return to 1-second page scans.
And that’s moving today. Around three miles away, but still.
It’s a relatively inconvenient time though, with all the discounts and pre-expansion patches and such.
I was very, very tempted to pop the first of my nine WoW Tokens (purchased over a year ago) on Monday to ensure I wasn’t holding onto goods that would be deprecated. Then I thought through it rationally. “Okay… so I’d be spending a Token worth X amount to save… what? More than X amount?” A year of “lost” Garrison revenue has led me to believe price inflation would have rendered me non-competitive anyway, assuming I even had the time to spend dicking around the AH at the moment. Which I don’t.
Still, I will be in Legion. I haven’t decided if it will be right at the start, or later on like with Draenor.
Meanwhile, the Guild Wars 2 expansion is currently selling for $25 for another week or so. Although my attempts to get back into GW2 earlier this year didn’t go particularly well, I feel that part of that was due to the lack of buy-in. Not necessarily in forcing the feeling of investment per se, but knowing that next to none of the content I had access to would be new. Want to try the Revenant? Nope. See new zone? Denied. Living Story? Sorry, that’ll be a few thousand gems.
On the other hand, half off something I don’t ultimately end up using is 100% wasted. So we’ll see.
The last deal I wanted to mention was that current Humble Bundle in which they are selling Battleborn for basically $15. That’s gotta sting, yeah? From $60 to $15 in 2.5 months. I was tempted to pick it up… for Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel, not for Battleborn. On the other hand, I’ve mainlined Borderlands 2 to the degree that I’m not even sure I want to play that type of game anymore.
Hmm. Perhaps this move hasn’t impacted my purchasing decisions as much as I thought it has.
Does anyone else remember playing Dungeon Defenders? You know, that 4-player co-op pseudo-tower defense game from a while back? I knew that the sequel was in Early Access, so I decided to check on it’s progress since it reappeared on my Steam window.
“Still in Early Access, eh? Let me check the reviews…” Top one:
Although the review goes on to point out that things have since changed – the endgame grind has become easier than before, best weapons were nerfed, etc – the juxtaposition between the 1,095 hours played and the Not Recommended score is just… I don’t know. Funny? Sad? Nostalgic from an MMO perspective?
The developers actually responded to Karthu’s review, assuring him that the changes are a work in progress as they shift some of the systems around in an attempt to provide more depth. Which highlights the Sisyphean absurdity of the situation even more as this dude played an Early Access game for over 45 days straight. Or to put in another perspective, that’s roughly 2.5 hours a day, every day, since it’s Early Access release on Steam (December 2015).
I dunno, man. That sorta sounds like a ringing endorsement to me. Even if it no longer takes 50+ hours of grinding the same map to get the best weapon. Especially if it no longer takes 50+ hours of grinding the same map to get the best weapon. I guess we’ll see.
My 30 days have expired.
The highest my character reached was 25 Arcanist/13 Thaumaturge, with a smattering of other classes inbetween. I did have a few open days in which I could have pushed to unlock my first Job (Summoner at 30/15), but when you know you are not resubscribing to an MMO, you tend to lose (even more) interest in final pushes. Here is a random smattering of my wrap-up thoughts.
Invisible walls e’erywhere
I was genuinely surprised by the frequency and sheer brazenness of the invisible walls in FFXIV, especially coming from the (amazing, apparently) openness of GW2. While the minimap will generally indicate which areas are off-limits, sometimes it makes no rational sense. No swimming in your game? Fine, I can understand having oceans and lakes (invisibly) roped off. But sometimes you can wade into ankle-deep streams and sometimes you can’t. For example:
There is falling damage in the game – and flying eventually – so it is not as though every cliff-face is restricted. But some are. It’s generally one of those things I am hesitant to test lest I fall to my death, but when you actually bump off such a wall, I get an irrational urge to try finding the seams.
I suppose it didn’t bother me in FFX, so it shouldn’t bother me now… but it does.
They are damn good.
And I’m not even talking about just the culturally different tastes in women’s fantasy attire, I mean all the other incredibly intricate things FFXIV characters can do. The emote system is extremely thorough, to the point you can pantomime practically any conversation. The entire system is one of those “minor” things that you get used to after a while and later feel is lacking from every other game you play.
Speaking of cultural differences, I don’t even know what’s going on with quest text half the time. Are the writers trying to be funny? Edgy? Are there localization shenanigans afoot?
Maybe the game is simply a lot darker story-wise than its otherwise cheery facade would indicate, I dunno. Most of the early quests have you doing generic level 1 fantasy things like picking up apples or whatever. Then you get that, provided you accidentally stop spam-clicking your left mouse button near the quest givers.
I also enjoy the meta humor a bit…
…but not so much when it only underlines the awful gameplay the class in question provides, e.g. Arcanist. “Sure, let me use Aetherflow and Energy Drain efficaciously… there we go. Now just got to wait 60 seconds for another go-around.” The Thaumaturge proves that the designers are not completely incompetent; if Aetherflow had a lower cooldown or having it up gave your DoTs a chance to proc a free Energy Drain or something, the class might actually have some redeeming feature.
Waiting for things still sucks
This is not nearly anything as bad as what WoW got up to towards the end of my dungeon running career. Then again, I wasn’t actually forced to do any dungeons to continue the story up to the level cap either. But nevermind, I already griped about that.
I have been pretty harsh on FFXIV thus far, but I do recognize that it largely follows the same MMORPG mold in which all the goodies are back-loaded into the endgame. Part of the point of my criticism though is that that sort of thing doesn’t work for me anymore. If you are in a period of your life where you can muscle through 30+ hours of unfun gameplay to “reach the good bits,” well… cherish it. There is nothing systemic about MMO design that forces a designer to build their games this way. If WoW came out now, I’d have the same criticism.
All that said, the original FFXIV plan was to play with a friend and check out the sights together. That plan got delayed by a necessary PC upgrade on his part, so when and if that happens, it’s entirely possible I will give FFXIV another month to turn things around. We’ll see then if my perception of the game changes, especially as a melee character.
Went to two major panels on Saturday, one after the other. First was FF15 and the second was Pillars of Eternity.
In regards to FF15, I actually haven’t been following the already-released information close enough to tell what was breaking news. The panelists mainly drove home the “road trip” and “Buddies” aspect of the game. Which, if I’m honest, probably wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting if I were not hearing their passion in person.
There was a moment while watching the gameplay that I asked myself “is this a Final Fantasy game at all?” I never really played 12 or the 13 series, so I’m not sure if there’s a huge precedent for the sort of Action RPG gameplay I watched on-screen – especially the bit where he hook-shotted up a telephone tower to wait for his MP to regen. The panelists did sort of address this subtly as they mentioned the kind of themes common throughout the series, such as the hero never being alone.
It’s not that seeing the party run down a highway avoiding traffic or that the lack of an ATB gauge is throwing me off; FF7 and 8 had a number of similar high-tech elements, and they are amongst my favorites. Honestly, it could just be that the last Final Fantasy game I completed was FFX-2. This series went from being the single most important thing in my gaming life – I jumped on the original Playstation precisely because I was following Squaresoft – to something I pick up on Steam sales, like everything else. And so “Final Fantasy” to me is/was a game that defines a particular gaming epoch, or it isn’t one at all.
Baggage aside, the game looks great, the road trip thing could be interesting, party banter is always welcome, and the remixed music was pure nostalgia.
The Pillars of Eternity panel was pretty much the devs just playing the game for about twenty minutes. Which certainly isn’t the worst kind of panel, and there wasn’t much they needed to sell for me to be onboard in the first place. They even had an Oprah moment with the whole “check under your chair for a prize.” Everyone got a free upgrade to the Champion edition, assuming you purchase the base game, and a few got upgrades to the highest tier.
While Pillars is a guaranteed purchase by me at some price-point, the pause-based tactical combat really hit home how much I prefer the FFT or other Tactics game type. It’s fun queuing up that initial volley of attacks in these sort of CRPGs, but things quickly end up coming down to micromanaging one or two characters, at best, and hoping that a third character is actually going to finish their attack animation and drink a potion before they die. The devs mentioned that there wasn’t going to be anything much in the way of AI, so you are kinda left with the worst of both worlds.
One day to go.
I have not personally succumbed to the housing endgame, but I absolutely see the appeal. My present domicile is named Function Over Form, and is primarily centered around having my own Mining and Garden nodes for resource gathering. Any decor that isn’t worth vendoring is placed as amusingly as possible, scaled up to the maximum. As it turns out, the scale on most of these items figuratively and literally go to 11.
If you were looking for more serious housing endeavors, examples abound. I especially enjoyed seeing the DIY jumping puzzles. The craziest, most underrated part? You can visit other peoples’ houses. You don’t even need to know them in-game; as long as they have opened their house to the public, you can stop by, and perhaps harvest their resource nodes (more on that in a sec).
Here is the method to do so, and please pass it along:
Wildstar is by no means the first MMO with player housing. I was questing with a few friends on Vent the other night, and one friend actually complained that EQ2’s housing system was more intuitive. I’ll, uh, take your word for that.
Carbine has done something really clever here though, in elevating the Show & Tell aspect by combining it with Challenges and resources. I have my low-effort housing solely to be able to low-effort mine resources every hour or so; the Shardspire Canyon FABkit in the back similarly allows me to complete an easy challenge for a shot at additional goodies every 30 minutes.
But see, you can get a list of a few dozen people who have opened their houses to the public and check out their setups. If they too have resource nodes or Challenges on their property to complete, you have an incentive to essentially cold-call them to become Neighbors. Collect a big enough list, and you can probably farm all day just in other peoples’ houses.
Maybe that doesn’t seem all that social. I will tell you though, that it got me to add a random stranger to my Friend’s List so I could talk him into letting me farm his creepy, albeit very committed Plushie-themed house on the regular. I’m already trying to come up with a naming convention to indicate people willing to 50/50 their nodes into a… well, a “neighborhood,” to our mutual benefit.
The fact that there is a Zone Chat specifically for people in their houses is goddamn brilliant, by the way.
Having said that, I now have a 2nd character parked at level 15 with very little impetus to move forward. It is difficult to shape into words why that is the case, as I even enjoy my Medic main. As others have mentioned, by level 15 you will have unlocked your house, your mount, and will have opened up enough abilities to get somewhat of a grasp of what buttons you’ll be spamming for the next forever.
Part of the problem is commitment issues. Mobs don’t die in 2-shots anymore, so you better like who you’ll be grinding with. Is Medic really the best for me? In trying out the other classes though, let me just say that Carbine is going to seriously need to work on the ESPer and Engineer (I’d say Warrior too, but I’ll give it another shot first).
The Engineer problem is pretty straight-forward: the bots suck. Not only do the bots suck damage-wise – which is a big problem when they constitute 2 of your very early ability selections – but they have pathing issues too, which can lead to aggro issues. My Engineer is level 8 and it just doesn’t feel fun, and none of the upcoming abilities sound like they will be fun either.
The ESPer problem, on the other hand, is a complete breakdown in the class design. I can’t speak for it’s endgame performance, but there is almost nothing I like where I’m at. It is currently the ONLY class to have it’s “primary” builder require being stationary, which makes it worse than useless in PvP. Flag carrier running away? GG. Target runs out of your telegraph? Now they’re 35+ yards away and you’ll never hit them with anything. GG. Then you have it’s R ability with its… stay stationary to gain an absorb shield, interrupt armor, and PSI points? Only useable in combat? Let me just say that using that ability in PvP just leads to pretty much instant death, even in the lower brackets.
I’m mentioning PvP a lot with the ESPer as that is largely how I leveled with that toon. The Aurin/Mordesh starting area is abysmal, and meanwhile PvP is pretty outstandingly rewarding and fun. It takes around 3-4 games per level, and you pretty much consistently get 300-400 PvP currency per battle. The PvP gear has some “useless” stats to make it weaker in PvE, but you can unlock usable shoulders that will likely last you a half-dozen levels or more with pure PvE stats. Otherwise, you must rely on opening the PvP loot bags rewarded at the end ala GW2, to similar effect (read: none).
My goal with the ESPer was pretty much to heal exclusively, and in that area it is kinda okay. Most of its healing abilities are actually targeted (and stationary), which reverts the game back to WoW-mode; I moved the team window down to the center of the screen and basically used it like Healbot. I ended up unlocking a standard telegraph heal in the teens though, so I was able to be a bit more mobile as a healer.
So, yeah, ESPer, Engineer, and likely Warrior are about the three weakest classes at the moment. Carbine is on the record for saying that classes will be buffed up to the top level rather than top-tier classes being nerfed, so we’ll see exactly how they plan on solving this balance issue. I don’t see any way out for the ESPer other than making the level 1 ability a mobile cast though.
I used the Raid Finder for the very first time on Monday night. It was an… instructive experience.
One thing that I learned about myself is the fact that I felt compelled to seek out raid videos/strategies even for LFR difficulty. It is not (just) about insulating myself from group embarrassment, it is about mitigating that awful feeling of not knowing what I am doing. I hate that feeling. At first I believed the feeling to be unique to multiplayer games, as I certainly do not hit up GameFAQs or Wikis the moment I get to a boss fight in a single-player game. Indeed, wouldn’t that be cheating? Or, at least, cheating myself from the actual game.
But you know what? I hate that feeling even in single-player games. If I am dying to a boss repeatedly and have no idea why, or there does not seem to be any clues as to different strategies I could try, I most certainly hit up Wikis. I enjoy logic puzzles as much as (or more than) the next guy, but I must feel certain that logic is applicable to the situation. With videogames, that is not always a given: quests that you cannot turn in because you didn’t trip a programming “flag” by walking down a certain alleyway or whatever. There was a Borderlands 2 quest that I simply looked up on Youtube because I’ll be damned if I walk across every inch of a cell-shaded junkyard for an “X” mark after already spending 10 minutes looking it over. Playing “Where’s Waldo” can be entertaining, but not when you have to hold the book sideways and upside down before Waldo spawns… assuming you are even looking at the right page.
Things got off to a nice start in LFR when the dog fight consisted of just tanking all three dogs in a cleave pile the entire time. The second boss seemed to have an inordinate amount of health, but he too dropped without doing much of note. I died twice to some insidious trash on the way to the troll boss; those bombs are simply stupid in a 25m setting, as I found it difficult to even see them among all the clashing colors and spell effects. Final boss dropped pretty quickly as well, although I almost died a few times towards the end once people stopped coming into the spirit world with me.
By the way, the queue for the 1st raid finder was 15 minutes for DPS. Might have been a “Monday before the reset” thing.
I joined a guild healer for the 2nd raid finder immediately afterwards, although the average wait time of 43 seconds was a bit off. Was killed by a combination of friendly fire and damage reflection during the first boss, but he otherwise went down quickly. I managed to avoid falling to my death during Elegon (thanks Icy-Veins!), but was killed by an add the 2nd tank never picked up; that will teach me to do something other than tunnel the boss. The third boss… made little sense. I spent a lot of time killing adds, as I could not quite understand what was up with the Devastating Combo thing other than I must have been doing it wrong. Eons later, the bosses died.
It is becoming somewhat of a running joke for my guildies since coming back on how much random loot I pull in. The prior week I got ~8 drops from my first 5 random dungeons, for example. This time around I got three epics from my first two LFR forays, all three of which came from the bonus rolls. I was not around for the Cata LFR days, but suffice it to say, I would not have likely came away with that much loot in a more traditional PuG.
Overall, LFR was a pleasant experience. While I can certainly empathize with the criticism of LFR – it was pretty ridiculously easy – I can definitely see the logic behind Blizzard’s moves here. Some raid is better than no raid, low-pop realms like Auchindoun-US wouldn’t support a robust raid PuG community, and to an extent even the “nothing ever drops!” LFR sentiment encourages organized guild raiding in a roundabout manner. Whether this remains satisfying in any sort of long-term manner remains to be seen, but honestly, it is better than the alternative of… what else, exactly? Running dungeons ad infinitum?
So I warned you about certain crafted BoE epic gear and how the new Firelands dailies would essentially obsolete them entirely. At the time, I was under the impression that the vendors with these 365 epic gear would be gated behind 25 days worth of dailies. That is not entirely the case, as you undoubtedly witnessed yourself on Thursday if you have been doing them daily.
Our good friend Zen’Vorka here has some goodies for anyone who fights their way into the Firelands. The items themselves are Matoclaw’s Band (Agility ring), Nightweaver’s Amulet (Intellect necklace), Fireheart Necklace (Strength necklace), and Pyrelord Greaves (Tanking Plate boots). I knew the Pyrelord boots were going to obsolete the BoE JP boots, but I thought that was going to happen closer to the end of August, not the beginning of July. Speaking of surprises, though…
Blizzard snuck in a stealth hotfix allowing you to unlock Firelands on Day 1.
What ends up happening now is instead of ending up with 8 Marks of the World Tree when you get to the point of unlocking the “outside” dailies, you have 16. After doing a single set of dailies, you will end up with 4 more Marks, unlocking the Firelands portal after one more quest. At that point, you are a mere one elite mob away from unlocking our friend Zen’Vorka and his goodies for your alts. The entire process takes ~35 minutes from zero to epic 365s depending on the dailies you get stuck with.
It is an open question as to why Blizzard made this change, and it will be even more interesting to see whether they end up doing something similar once “phase 3” starts being unlocked by people. And that is on top of the question as to whether or not it will actually take another month to unlock all the vendors or if they will be more like our friend Zen.
In any event, if the thought of doing 50+ dailies a day was stopping you from pimping your alts, the way has officially been cleared. Get out there and get geared.