Wednesday, 31 March 2010


The more observant amongst you may have noticed my blog looks a bit different now. As I write this, it's a pale blue-grey background, green headings, black text and blue links. This may change - an image behind the title would be nice, for instance.

The initial motivation for fiddling, incidentally, was to see if I could widen the main post column, so that I can post slightly larger screenshots; 400px wide is kinda small. Also, the darker background makes for easier viewing of screenshots (they get a little drowned in all that white).

Edit now I'm home using my colour-accurate monitor: OK so it wasn't actually pale blue at all, more like lilac.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Worldview: Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles

This is the first post in what I plan to make into an on-going series exhibiting the zones and instances of World Of Warcraft. Outside of WoW, my main hobby is photography, and I've decided to try and apply my knowledge and skills in that field to screenshot-making in the game. There is so much to see in Azeroth and Outland, yet I suspect many veteran players don't really look at it with an aesthetic mindset - everything is mere function.

My purpose, then, is to show what the world is like when you spend the time to stop and just look at it, without issues of quests, travel, chores and so forth clouding your mind. A secondary goal is to make pictures that even non-players will find interesting, thus there will be few images documenting practical aspects of the world such as vendors, flight paths and so forth. In fact, this is not really a documentary project at all, more of a series of themed galleries.

This idea has been fermenting for quite a while – I think it was when I first saw Feralas that I began to see the game in a different light, and it was only when I read a post on HoTs & DoTs about Firefox Personas (themes), of all things, that I finally began to seriously consider doing something constructive.

So why the draenei starting areas first? Mostly because it's my nature to root for the underdog, and to be different. I have no proof but I get the feeling the Isles are one of the less-busy Alliance zones in the game; I suspect this is simply because draenei are not one of the standard fantasy races, so most people will start with the more familiar humans, dorfs and elves. A comparatively minor reason for starting in Exodar is because I am using my shaman to take the screenshots, as Far Sight allows me to see the world from normally inaccessible places.

So then, let us begin. You can click the images to see a larger (960px wide) version.

The Traders' Tier in the Exodar.

Workers clearing up a less well-travelled area of the Exodar.

Near the top of the ramp leading in and out of the Exodar.

The Exodar from the outside looking towards the front entrance.

The road leading north from Azure Watch, the draenei starting town.

A stag and some ruins on the hill overlooking Azure Watch.

Overlooking Ammen Vale, the draenei starting zone.

Looking north from Blood Watch on Bloodmyst Isle. Various pieces of the Exodar that broke off during the crash are scattered around Bloodmyst Isle, corrupting the area.

A view out across the sea to Wyrmscar Isle.

The ghost of Razormaw circling the sky above Wyrmscar Isle.

The Warp Piston, part of the Exodar which broke off during the crash.

An un-harnessed voidwalker wandering around near the Warp Piston.

The Vector Coil, another broken-off part of the Exodar. The Blood Elves in the area are using it to empower their leader Sironas.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Apathy has rained on me

Lately, whether due to tiredness or Recent Events, I've felt somewhat less enthusiastic about raiding, preferring instead just to tootle about on my hunter, levelling up gradually and getting into Uldaman failpugs repeatedly. It's actually a combination of the above factors, probably, plus a feeling that despite pressure from some members to attempt it, we as a guild just aren't ready for ICC. Sure, we can down the first 3 (maybe 4) bosses, but then it gets hard, and I honestly don't think we're capable of tackling it yet. Rather than bash my head against a wall in ICC, I would much rather spend time in Ulduar and see it through to completion. In fact, I'm fairly sure there are people in the guild who haven't even seen all (or any) of Naxx.

The problem is, I'm often needed for raids. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I do good DPS, good healing and maybe even good tanking, though I've not tanked many raids. I feel like I'm needed, which puts pressure on me to log to my main characters for the benefit of the guild, at odds with what I want to do at the time. Mind you, despite my initial reluctance, I do actually end up enjoying myself if the raid goes well like it did in ToC10 the other day, and it's always a nice feeling being with people who are seeing something for the first time ("What's the Lich King doing here? And wh... aaaahhh wtf?!").

Perhaps I'm being selfish? Should I say "bollocks to the guild"? Put that way it does seem selfish, seeing as without them I wouldn't have much. I could maybe hook up with another guild, but I do like the people in New Dawn, and have known some of them for quite a while now. We're one of those indeterminate "social raiding" guilds, with frequent tension between the "progression" folks and the "let's just have fun together"s.

I do think that, like Tam, I put priority on "not putting up with shit" over "doing raiding". It's why I made my hunter (and my Horde rogue, who shall remain nameless) in the first place: to escape the shit-flinging and whining and drama. And yet, I made these characters on the same server as New Dawn, presumably because I believed subconsciously that things would blow over and I could then play them without feeling like I was hiding.

The social aspect of WoW is a large part of its appeal to me, and I have little interest in progression in the usual sense. I enjoy raiding when we have a good group and are making progress in something that at least a few people in the group haven't seen before. If I'm one of the ones experiencing The New, all the better. I really couldn't give a hoot that we're not up there getting server-firsts; Cataclysm is a long way off, so we have plenty of time to see all the raiding that WoW has to offer us until Deathwing goes and upheaves it all. Meanwhile, I just want to have fun.

In Other News

Beyond the shaman and DK (double respec will be needed for Gorain, o joy) changes in today's 3.3.3 patch, one other thing stood out to me:

Players can no longer roll Need on Frozen Orbs in dungeons under Need Before Greed loot rules. Pass and Greed options will still be available.
Excellent, no more orb ninjas! This change pretty much had to be made anyway, actually, what with Frozen Orbs being tradeable for things like Frost Lotus now. It'll have interesting implications for server economies, at any rate.

I'm also cautiously optimistic about the changes to the random dungeon system. Increasing the length of the deserter debuff (up from 15 minutes to 30) should hopefully encourage people to stay with the group they have, especially if they DPS, and removing the waiting period before being able to kick someone from the group should mean less time wasted with idiots. On the other hand, for tanks who don't over-gear Heroics by at least two full tiers, and have the audacity to show up with less than 27k health unbuffed, it could mean insta-kick, though at least the kick instigator having to provide a reason may deter this behaviour somewhat. Time will tell.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

An HTML editor thing

I've written two posts so far and already I don't like the Blogger editor. I like working directly in HTML, so I decided to make my own:

Real-Time HTML Editor

It's a bit basic for now, but I have Grand Plans for it, including the ability to link to a remote stylesheet, adjustable pane sizes, auto-saving, and magic scrollbar position matching, although that last one might turn out to be rather hard. I shall need to research the matter. (it was actually quite easy, even if I did use a non-W3C-standard property)

It works just as well off-line, although you'll need a copy of the jQuery script file too (see also the jQuery website if you're curious).

I rather suspect there'll be some kind of security issue with allowing anyone to insert whatever code they want on a page on my site, but for now I shall just trust to anonymity.

*crosses fingers*

Monday, 22 March 2010


I am Andy, currently living in Liverpool, in England.

I play these characters:


My first level 80, although not my first ever character. I forget why I abandoned the rogue, but I think I just wanted to try playing as a healer, so naturally I levelled Caera as Shadow and pretty much stayed that way until dual-spec came about, whereupon I gave her a Holy spec and didn't like it at all. Not long after that I discovered Elitist Jerks and began to read up on Discipline healing, and for whatever reason found it a much better fit than Holy. Now my guild has 3 other Discipline priests so I've had to respec her back to Holy, and will probably have to abandon the Shadow spec for a Disc one (despite having just bought and gemmed the T9 Shadow chest. WTB moar emblems).

Around the time Trial Of The Crusader came out I decided we didn't have enough (any) shamans in the guild, and that this was not good enough. So, I left Caera gathering dust and began levelling…


The one I'd consider my main, mostly because I've put the most effort into him. As such he's my best geared, sporting the lovely-looking Tier 10 shoulders (and legs but they're rather dull). I'm so glad the T10 shaman shoulders look cool, as opposed to the T9 ones which look like boats or bits of Japanese roof (and look the same as the hunter shoulders; great imagination there Blizzard). You may notice he also sports the Hammer Of Purified Flame as a result of a lucky Battered Hilt drop from Halls of Reflection not long after the ICC 5-mans were released. I've never seen it drop since, on any of my characters. T.G. Zobu's main spec is Elemental, but he also has 4-piece T9 Resto gear for his secondary spec (and shares most of the rest of the gear with Elemental).

A few months ago a combination of altitis and a lack of tanks caused me to start on…


My dual-wielding frost-spec DK tank, who badly needs some new bracers. I chose a DK for my tank as I'd tried levelling a Draenei warrior tank (to the giddy heights of level 21) and found it terribly dull and slow; I've yet to give druids and paladins a serious go. Moreover, I wanted to try and redeem the image of lolknights in my own small way, spreading the word that yes, some DK tanks are actually not drooling idiots. I like to believe the pugs do a collective /facepalm when they see me as their tank, then by the end of the instance they've changed their minds and told all their guild friends about this awesome DK tank they had this one time, and his name shall become reknowned throughout the Glutsturm/Emberstorm battlegroups. I can see it now.

Anyway, levelled as a tank from day one, but it was only once I had a fair few heroics under my belt (and got my unbuffed health over 30k) that I really felt genuinely comfortable being up front getting hit in the face – up til then I was still very cautious and hesitant, which of course annoyed the "gogogogogogo" DPS no end. These days I take heroic Halls of Reflection in my stride (failpugs notwithstanding), and have even tanked the first couple of bosses in ICC (being MT in a raid is so exciting…).

Recently I got him a nice Unholy DPS spec and have been collecting the appropriate gear. Unholy DPS is quite fun, I've found, with much less of the waiting around for runes to come off cooldown that you get with Frost. And of course, having a perma-ghoul is funtabulous. I like to click him just to hear him go YEEAAAAGH.

Speaking of DPS, lately I've been levelling another character more or less in secret:


Yessir, a hunter! As with the DK, part of the reason for levelling this chap is to redeem the good name of hunters by showing that not all of us are morons who wear spellpower gear, gem for strength and/or don't know what Misdirection or Feign Death are (mind you, not giving us Misdirect until level SEVENTY FIVE doesn't exactly help encourage its use).

The more astute nosy amongst you may have noticed that wee Raig has no heirloom gear. That was deliberate: he is also an experiment in self-sufficiency, and quite a successful one at that, having 890 gold to his name when he dinged 40 last night (wahey, a ranged AoE spell AT PISSING LAST), just from mining, skinning and AH trading, with no help from rich relatives (a kindly mage portalling him to Dalaran doesn't count). Furthermore the lack of heirlooms ties in to the previous point, in that I believe it makes a stronger case for the existence of good hunters if people believe it's my only/first character. The reasoning on that one is a bit wooly, so don't question me about it.

I must also tell here the tale of Epic Journey I took Raig on to get him a tiger pet at level 10. I don't know if you're aware, but the only tigers at that level are quite far away from the dorf starting area. On the Echo Isles, in Durotar, to be precise. And so began the perilous trek, first up to Ironforge then along the tram and down through Elwynn Forest. No worries so far, it's all been fairly harmless. However, darkness lies yonder, across the river in Duskwood. Therein lie beasts of level ?? that can sniff out a lowly level 10 dorf from three miles away! I decided to play it (relatively) safe and follow the road leading to Darkshire, yet in spite of my precautions I managed to get myself eaten a couple of times. I think I may have sacrificed my temporary boar pet once or twice in an effort to escape. But indeed, in due course I made it all the way to Darkshire, and then on to the small outpost at the junction on the road leading to a yet more terrifying place: Stranglethorn Vale.

Yes, the wild, vicious jungle. There be tigers! And yet, not the tigers I want, as even the baby ones there could swallow me whole. Here now is actually the one concession I made to the self-sufficiency effort: I got a friendly level 80 warlock from the guild to escort me through the perilous jungles to Booty Bay, from whence I got on the boat to Ratchet. It turns out things might have gone quite disastrously wrong, as not long after setting foot upon the sandy shores of the Barrens, my warlock bodyguard disappeared into the æther of the net, leaving me to fend for myself in a hostile, dry and above all big place. On foot.

Despite this stroke of ill luck, I had few further hindrances and soon was in sight of Sen'jin Village, and the Echo Isles beyond. Giving the village a wide berth, for troll NPCs do not look kindly on lowbie dorfs, I ventured out across the water and finally claimed my prize: a wonderful orange-and-black-with-a-white-belly tiger, who I named Shillelagh. And yes, I well realise there are level-appropriate cats to tame in Dun Morogh, but damn it I want a proper tiger as a pet, not some wussy pussy snow leopard (and certainly not some mangy wolf). Tigers are awesome.

One of Shillelagh's brothers come to give us a "welcome back" hug.

There are others

But they're not worth mentioning until such a time as I point my mind at them again for longer than five seconds on the character select screen. The rogue I really should get up to speed - I've bought him a full set of heirloom gear, after all.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

I done a blog!

Yes indeed, an actual blog. Not that I actually have anything to write about at this moment, although something might come up as I waffle on (or it might not, so don't get your hopes up).
*racks brains*
Oh! Starcaller! Yes indeed, I have Grand Plans for my guildenfolk. It will be hard, and I fully expect people to moan that they didn't get picked for my elite raiding team but tough luck. We're going to do it 10-man (cos there's not a hope in hell we'll do it 25-man) and it's probably going to take a good few weeks. I want to keep the same people each week until we succeed, and then I can take more people.
Yes, I will pick my favourite people, which will seem unfair and blah blah blah. The reason they're my favourite people is because I believe they have what we will need to succeed: high and intelligent DPS, or excellent healing ability. Furthermore, I'll pick people based on whether they can actually be online consistently and the right time - I don't want to be starting the raid at 21:00 local.
Of course, that still means I'll have to leave capable people out, but that's the nature of 10-man raiding. If you play a class that we have a lot of, don't be surprised if you don't get to come. Hell, I recently respecced my priest to Holy because we've somehow ended up with 3 other raiding Disc priests.
(sidenote: we once did the weekly raid quest, which happened to be Marrowgar, with 4 priests (2 disc, 2 shadow), 3 DKs, 2 paladins (1 prot, 1 holy) and a shaman (elemental). Optimal group compositions ftw)
Where was I? Distracting sidenote was distracting.
Oh yes. So, Starcaller here we come. I would oh so like to do it on my DK tank but I suspect my shaman might be more valuable. The reason I want to do it on my DK is simple: respect. Having suffered the spirit-crushing shit flung at inexperienced new blue-geared careful considerate chain-pulling tanks in heroics, I would very much like to have 'Starcaller Gorain' floating above my character's head as proof that I do, in fact, know what I'm doing.
(seriously mister impatient reta(r)din, when you're below me on total damage in heroic Forge Of Souls, you absolutely do not get to bitch about the instance going too slow. Also, pulling one of those AoEing ghost things just before the last boss 'just to speed things up lol' does not help one bit when you end up dead because I'm standing there watching you fail at tanking it)
I should put those asides in after I've finished, they do rather derail my thought train. Although to be honest that should probably suffice for a first post.
Wait, I didn't even say 'hi!' or introduce myself or anything! That'll be the next post I suppose - I had to get some of this off my chest first.
FINALLY: my new favourite emoticon: QK
Can you tell what it is yet?
Here is a clue:
Ok, ramblesome post is done now. Seems I had something to write about after all.