Q: Will servers be brought down at some point before release or will players be able to sit at character select waiting for “Enter World” to activate?
A: We are likely to perform some kind of realm restarts or maintenance between now and launch. However, in the minutes leading up to launch, our plan is that the realms will up and available and the Enter World button will instantly light up once we’re launched.
I will be sitting there waiting. Click click click. Gotta kill them boars & scorpids.
Q: Has the reception of Classic met or exceeded expectations? Are there far more people coming back for Classic than expected? Or were you guys right within the predicted ballpark?
A: We’ve been blown away by the response to WoW Classic. The passion from the community is exactly what got us working on this in the first place, and we see new signs of your passion and excitement every day. We’re very excited to make it a reality for all of you next week!
Note: They've added several new servers and most of the existing ones are now High or Full, which is apparently several times higher cap than original launch cap. These are for just people who reserved their names, not all the randos who'll try to sub and come in on launch day. Blizzard low-balled the numbers by a long ways. If classic doesn't beat the retail population, I'll be very surprised.
A: Trick or Treat! Yes, because we're based on patch 1.12's data, holidays will play out as day did during that patch. So we look forward to spooky treats and happy haunts this October!
YEEEES! This is Halloween! (but with more Forsaken, no Belfs)
David Arkenstone's oeuvre is hilarious: "Pure Sleep", "Fairy Dreams", "Journey of the Whales", etc. newage tinkly noises… and a couple World of Warcraft albums.
Finally decided on the server, Mankrik. It's PVE, EST, 60%+ Horde. Not happy with the EST, but according to the reddit surveys the PST options were low-population and almost totally Alliance. I won't play PVP servers: Levelling in PVP-only zones is a tedious nightmare of some asshole 20 levels above you killing you over and over for no reason. Camping the graveyard when you give up on your corpse. Chasing you to your home zone and murdering everyone there. It's just a shit experience. PVE lets you flag for PVP when you wanna fight people, and just go adventuring when you wanna beat up pixels.
Logging in took forever, had multiple errors out. Blizzard's servers must be literally on fire.
My characters are:
- Kamimark, Troll Rogue: "Kamimark" is always an Elfy Spellsword or Nightblade, Rogue fits fine. Troll is the most Elfy Horde race; I'd much rather have Blood Elves in Burning Crusade, but that'll be a couple years out if it happens at all.
- Josephcurwen, Undead Mage: Updated: I went in and deleted and chose a new name from Lovecraft. The lack of mixed capitals is ugly, but it's more fitting with the Forsaken culture anyway.
(was Nyärlathotep): Super annoyed that I can't have the unaccented name. Is it taken by the system, or did someone else make a Nyarlathotep in the first 15 minutes? Heavy metal ümlauts fix everything. Strongly considered Warlock, and I love the pet management part, but I hated bag space management for soul shards in retail, and we'll have 25% as much bag space in Classic. I levelled a Mage to 10 in the stress test, and it was interesting, if somewhat harder to keep a grind rolling, so Mage it is.
- Fuzzytomato, Tauren Hunter: I couldn't seriously play F.T. as my main, but I had fun with it so I'm keeping the name, and Tauren are much fuzzier…
Speaking of the server name, in the stress test, I finally dinged 15 and got Mankrik's wife quest. You'll be happy to know I found her, not so happy to hear the state she was in. And I didn't even bury her!
Now we just have to wait for the end of the month to start playing. I'll see you there, right?
There's been a pre-launch stress test open now until Monday, so I levelled a test character:
I got to the red mohawk in char creation, and somehow flashed back to Return of the Killer Tomatoes and named him FuzzyTomato, which would've been an almost topical joke back in 2004.
And it's been fantastic. The game is moderately hard and grindy, but rewards caution, good play, cooperation with other players, gearing up, and resource management.
- FOR THE HORDE!: Thrall is still in charge, and all is right in the world.
- Challenging gameplay: I'm Level 14 now, just soloed Skull Cave which is meant for a group at 10-12. Fighting more than one mob of equal level at a time is dangerous. Some players have hit the level cap of 15 and are doing dungeons, I'm likely to try that tomorrow.
- Resource management: As a rogue, I go thru a huge number of throwing daggers, and now carry 2-4 stacks at the start of a run. Food is a little better since I can fish and cook, but until I got Strider Stew I had no reliable source of buff food. Hunters need arrows and food for their pets. Warlocks need a huge space for soul shards. Mages need reagents for many spells. Bags are rare, small, and expensive. I have: one 8-slot bag, three 6-slot pouches, and the 16-slot backpack. That's it. The biggest bags you can buy are 12-slot, I think, and after that it's very high-level crafting. I'm often dumping low-value loot at the end of a run.
- Shopping: NPC vendors have varied items, unlike most modern games, so it's useful to check anyone you pass. Never know when they'll have an obscure recipe, a healing potion (SUPER vital for dealing with bosses), or a green item. And then there's the Auction House. Even on a limited-time stress test, there's good sales going.
- Game runs fantastic at high graphics settings (on iMac 5K I set 50% render scaling, and then cranked everything to 7 or 8)
- Quests are text-based, not spoken, and don't mark your map, you have to read the instructions and figure it out. Sometimes that's not super clear, but usually they say what you need to do. Quest markers don't show up on your map, turn-ins are just a little dot. The default setting has very slow quest text drawing, but that can be turned off in settings.
- Classic models are blocky and bend weird, like an N64 game rezzed up. You can enable "retail" models, but they looked really out of place in old terrain and buildings.
- Competition for bosses and some quest mobs can be extremely heavy, and it might be better to skip some quests than try queueing for it; I'm not exaggerating, some bosses there's literal lines of a dozen 5-person groups waiting for a chance to hit a boss.
- Run speed is abysmally slow, the world is huge and often vast empty spaces. You don't get riding until Level 40, and it takes 100 gold, which you likely won't have. Every 5 minutes I get to hit a Run Faster for 15 Seconds button on my Rogue, and it just reminds me how annoying normal speed is.
- Don't think you can just use Wind Riders, either. There's a single one in the starting zone, in Orgrimmar; Sen'jin Village and Razor Hill don't have one. There's three in Barrens, but it's a long ways to pick them up. The zeppelins and ships have limited routes, Undercity to Orgrimmar, Orgrimmar to Grom'Gol, Ratchet to Booty Bay. Note no Thunder Bluff zeppelin. Walking to Mulgore and up is a long long hike.
- Guilds don't have banks or perks. They're just chat rooms. And since mail takes an HOUR to deliver, doing trades requires meeting in person or long waits.
- Alliance is still terrible, by all accounts; I haven't bothered to make a char there but if you were bothered by fantasy Nazis in 2004, wait until it's real Nazis in 2019.
- Everything is exhaustively documented on Thotbot, er, WowHead Classic. #nochanges means no surprises, but also the wiki is correct.
- Many players are dedicated to recreating just how stupid Barrens chat was in 2004. Briefly funny, hopefully dies down a bit in the real launch?
If you're at all interested, it's worth getting a 1-month subscription, installing and playing this stress test, and see if you like anything.
I've decided there is no Game of the Year 2018. Everything's been mediocre sequels or ripoffs; that a shitty deathmatch shooter is the most popular makes me disrespect your species nearly as much as sportsball.
I'm still playing old games:
- Elder Scrolls Online: Mixed bag this year. Summerset's a fantastic "chapter"/DLC they make even subs pay for. Murkmire DLC is awful, its only virtue is that Shadowfen's no longer the worst zone in the game. Mac client performance has been garbage since Murkmire, and the nerf to Sorc shields has annoyed the shit out of me. But, close to 5 years in it's still the best Elder Scrolls game.
- Unturned: France map is fun and moderately hard, but 3.0's reaching EOL and who knows how buggy 4.0 will be. Ominous.
- Minecraft: 1.13 update was a buggy shitshow for a while, but it's made the waters interesting. But I build bases in taiga or mountains. Very little time in it this year.
- Animal Crossing Pocket Camp: Least bad gachapon/daily clicky-toy game in its second year. The monthly cycle of garden event, fishing event, scavenger hunt is pretty solid now. The Cabin recently added lets me save a few favorite animals outside the ever-rotating camp roster. It's OK.
This year's failed contenders:
- EXAPUNKS: Haven't bought it yet because like TIS-100 and the rest of Zach's games, real coding is more fun than fake-coding, but maybe if I was more fun-not-GTD it'd be on the shortlist at least.
- World of Warcraft Classic demo: The most exciting pre-release was a 10-year-old version of the most boring MMO.
- Dragalia Lost: Good but compromised design. I loved it for a few months, the characters are fun and cute, action dungeon's great for quick play, but the gachapon store drives the game and creates too many identical heroes, dragons, and cards, and it nagged me out. This could've been GOTY if it was paid up front, earning heroes by questing instead of random pulls.
My own failure to ship is appalling. I can't justify it. Perilar gameplay is excellent roguelike tactics & resource management, but some dungeon generation's not right yet.
Delvers in Darkness, my new tabletop RPG, is getting another rewrite of the adventure and I haven't done any art direction. I think it's fun in solo tests, but still need table testing.