Monday, January 9, 2012

TOR - Good vs Evil, and Light vs Dark

Spend twenty seconds (maybe less) around anything Star Wars related, and you'll be exposed to the Force in some form or another.  Good, bad, may the Force be with you - all of these things come up when interacting within the universe of Star Wars.  Instinctively, and though observation, we come to learn that the Light side of the Force is all that is "good", and the Dark side is "evil".  Here's where my questions begin though.  As a confession, I'll admit that my research is pretty limited on this, and entire philosphy courses are held just to discuss the concept of "Evil" - so here's my thoughts in blog post.

Dark Side vs Light Side

In TOR, most of the interactions (read, quests) that you conduct will at some point give you an opportunity to gain either points in either Light or Dark, and that choice is generally pretty clear cut.  Kill someone, and you're probably going Dark.  Let someone live, and it's the Light for you.  Of course, then you get past death, and you really run into some grey areas.

An ealy Sith Inquisitor quest gives you the opportunity to torture someone with lightning, Palpatine style.  This action of course, earns you Dark points, but gets you the information you want.  Now, on the Jedi Knight side, you have an opportunity to use a "Jedi mind trick" to convince some Twi'leks that they need to move on about their business - yet this is a neutral action (note that slaying them all is Dark). 

What the hell?  Since when did physical torture override mental manipulation as "evil"?  Ask anyone who's been conned, or even really tricked or maniuplated, how they feel, and it's often compared to mental rape.  That's what the Jedi just did, he went in and violated your mind and your free will, to get what he wanted.  Obi-wan on Tattooine, again with the death stick incident in Clones (yes, I've watched all the movies, including Jar-Jar).  Are you really going to tell me that the incident with Qui-gon and the giant fish at the start of Episode I wasn't him bringing some fish in?

What about the Jedi vs the Sith in TOR?  As a Jedi Consular you're throwing rocks, droids, chairs, etc at your enemies - generally with the intention of killing them.  Sith, you're shooting lightning like you're working for Texas Electric.  Why is one action inherently worse than the other?

Getting Deeper

Now, this is where I think that the users of the Light side claim that the ends justify the means - as long as it's done within a certin set of boundries.  Flesh Eaters are attacking a settlement and killing off the refugees.  You go out, find the ring of some dead leader, and along the way are given a side quest of killing say 20 Flesh Raiders along the way.  Now I know this is an MMO, and quests are part of the gig, but is this really any different than Anakin killing off all the Tuskan Raiders? 

Maybe if the quest giver (the guy who sends you off to find his father) had done the killing instead, HE would be turning to the dark path.  Since it was done by proxy though (granted you don't kill of any younglings, maybe that's the line in the sand?), it's all OK?  It really seems to me that it's all kind of arbitrary, as the Jedi are just as big a group of killing machines as the Sith.

Stage Two - You are a lying son of a bitch

OK, so we've kind of established (though this very scientific and well researched post) that killing people seems to be Dark, and mind control is "Light".  It seems lying and betrayal can also fall into the Light side, since there is more than one quest where you change your stance on something.  Oh, you mean the crazy old man wasn't telling the truth?  Well here, let me do the right thing for you, and I'll just TELL him I did the deed.  He'll never know.  If he does question it, I can just mind trick him, or threaten him.  Those appear to be valid responses, though I can't just shoot him.

Same thing goes with the damn companions.  You might think you're saying the right thing, but then noooo, that -1 appears because you've crossed some imaginary line in the sand.  These people are more fickle than a prom queen.  Even if you're ignoring their reactions they still have to butt in with their opinions every now and then.

The Light and the Empire

The real bitch of this whole thing is, the Empire is clearly the evil faction in Star Wars.  You can make a pretty legitimate case for the Horde and the Alliance in WoW, but it's really tough to try and say the Empire is actually a bunch of misunderstood good guys with a different agenda.  Sure, the Republic does its fair share of dastardly deeds (heaven help you if you're poor on Coruscant), but I think the overall goal is for "good". 

This kind of throws you in a lurch if you want to play a character of the opposite force side.  A fallen Jedi?  A goody goody Bounty Hunter?  Actually, I have both of those, but it still makes life interesting.  I'm also fairly certain that Light Side choices give me better rewards than Dark Side, which is pretty much a bunch of crap.  At the very least I should be checking the pockets of people I impale.

In the end

In reality, at this point of the game, your Light/Dark choices are purely a RP tool.  You get to look all evil if you go Dark, and there are of course some game changes either way - but nothing that will basically end your character.  I do think that would be a funny option though.  Mouth off to a Darth and he just up and kills you.  No Medical Facility rez, just reroll.  I'd play that game.

I think I'm just irritated by the whole Light side thing.  Part of this may stem from my disdain of organized religion (don't even get me started on that - it's bad enough my wife is Catholic).  Really though, if you can say that it's impossible to understand the ways of the Force, and the Force brought us together, how do you know the Force didn't bring my lightsaber into your gut?  Oh, NOW you question the Force.  This is why evil wins.  They cheat.

Here's to lying, cheating, and killing my way through TOR.  One rebel scum at a time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gen - Direction of me and this blog

Like many WoW players (this is based purely on the people I know), I'm currently playing TOR as my primary MMO.  WoW is still there for my primary raiding needs, but I'm thouroughly enjoying a game that I haven't explored from top to bottom.  I've killed Deathwing.  I've collected a ton of pets.  I've pretty much done everything I've set out to do.  Of course I'll still be here for MoP, but probably in a much reduced capacity.

Nothing much to talk about

Right now there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot to discuss regarding WoW.  We've looked at talents, raiding, guild applications, and fail PUGs.  MoP will bring some more discussion out of the woodwork, as we look at the severly reduced talent trees, companion pet combat (never before have I so wished I had a zergling or Diablo) and the new instances and raids.  Right now though I am 100% certain that my only raiding will be done via the LFR, as upcoming life changes will eliminate my ability to commit to fixed raid schedule. 

So where do I go from here?

I still need an outlet for my occasional thoughts and rants, so Divine Plea will stay open for that purpose.  I'll be talking about TOR from time to time (I never did think this day would come), especially the points that I think are more interesting - like Light vs Dark.  I'll also be writing about interesting WoW changes.  Don't look for boss strats or BiS lists anytime soon though.

Thanks to everyone who's followed along so far, and I hope to see you around here still.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TOR - Looking past the shiny package

Yesterday, like many I suspect, I spent a few hours playing Bioware's new MMO - The Old Republic.  I would be shocked if anyone reading this blog didn't know what I'm talking about, so I'll cut through the nonsense and get right to the heart of it.  I'll do a little compare/contrast to WoW, what I think is done right, what I think needs improving, and where we go from here.

Yeah, I've got a lightsaber

Actually I don't, it's just some stick with a few bands of metal on it.  I'm sure if I did some lore digging (or other searching) I could figure out what this is, but it's obviously some type of Jedi training weapon.  Whatever.  It almost sounds like a lightsaber, and hey - isn't building your own lightsaber supposed to be part of the Jedi training?

Right now I'm starting off with a Jedi Consular, though I'm sure I'll try all the classes at least once.  My plan is to level this Jedi up taking all the "Light" choices, a Sith with the "Dark", and then I'll probably do some combination of Republic/Dark and Empire/Light.  The fact that those choices are even possible seems pretty awesome right now.  We'll have to see how they actually pan out.

The first 3 hours

Once I finally got the game to install (I didn't pre-download), I went through the character creation process.  There was just enough cusomization, and it was pretty standard Bioware fare.  You couldn't customize your outfit, but given the changes to your outfit from gear, I'm not surprised.  Plus if you were able to design your own look, we'd have a thousand bounty hunters running around in Mandalorian battle armor.  I did notice thought that I look suspisoucly like Neo after my first few levels.  Robes, the shades (I went with the blind race, Miraluka), and even the face.  Hmm...

So, character created, I started out learning the ropes.  Really smooth, controls just like WoW (and every other MMO I'm sure), and the tooltips and hints were pretty handy.  It took a few minutes to learn what all the symbols on the minimap were (I was still looking for big ! for quest givers), and I was off and running.  I didn't spend a lot of time with keybinds or anything, I just wanted to get into it.

Voice quests

I really like the interaction with the quest givers, though I'm sure it would get old if you were running the same zone for the 14th time.  I like that there's some interaction between you and the NPC, instead of simply "go here, bring a package to Jim, and kill 15 Flesh Eaters".  While the basics of the quests are still the same (kill 10 rats, FedEx, go find something), they certainly feel different.  I'm chalking a lot of this up to the voice acting though. 


Oh my goodness, the music is fantastic here.  It changes when there's danger or combat, and it's definately "Star Wars" in feel.  I've actually been playing with the game sounds all turned on, and it's really immersive.  Also the sound effects, so stellar.  While the game was obviously developed with Lucas Arts, I do love how authentic it feels.

Of course, there's bad news

First, I'm fairly certain that Barrens chat follwed me, even though I chose to roll on an RP-PVE server.  While some of the chat text was helpful (I left it on for a bit), I was really disappointed to see that there were still Anal jokes, bad manners, etc.  I'm still trying to figure out just what credits are really worth - for example is 5,000 credits for 10 bag slots a lot?  I don't have anything to reference it with.  I mean, how much will a "mount" cost me?  Do they even have personal mounts?  I'm sure there must be, though the taxi system (and 30 min, go wherever you want hearthstone) is really nice. 

The game is also, unashamedly, a WoW clone in pretty much every aspect of gameplay.  I haven't done any grouping yet, and there are definately some features I wish WoW would adopt (area looting, please for the love of all things holy, let me loot ALL the things), but overall it is different enough to be a good game. 

Closing thoughts

I'm not leaving WoW for TOR, and I certainly don't think TOR will be a WoW killer.  Right now I'm enjoying the newness of the game in a way I haven't done in WoW for about 6 years.  There's no pressure to max out and raid, no speeding along, just enjoying the scenery.  I mean hell, I won't roll a new alt in WoW until I have all my heirlooms, and I haven't enjoyed questing for the sake of questing in a long time.  While I'm sure the new car smell will eventually be replaced by sweaty gym bags, I'm enjoying the fresh perspective on a MMO, and enjoying a new game on its merits - not as a replacement for another game.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holy Paladins - we're still not raid healers

First, I'm back from my break for NaNoWriMo.  My novel turned into more of a personal therapy writing session - so it's not going to get posted anywhere public.  I learned a lot writing it though, and I'm certainly going to try my hand at the novel that I'd intended.  With any luck I'll be able to churn it out over the next few months, though I'm not going to put myself under the time constraints of NaNo.

Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about Paladin AoE/Raid healing, and why we're still not the best choice for this role.

Holy Radience

In 4.3 Holy Radiance got a drastic change from being a fire and forget AoE heal centered on the caster (with a decent CD), to being a spammable AoE heal.  This is a huge change to our AoE healing arsenal, which up to this point was limited to one AoE every 30 sec, plus Light of Dawn (more on that in a minute).  Unfortunately, it's not all pretty flowers and sparkles in HR land - there's more than one drawback.

First, HR is slow.  It's not debilitatingly slow, but it's the same cast time as our Holy Light and Divine Light.  The only upside there is that it's affected by Infusion of Light as well, so we get that haste buff.  It's also expensive, with the same cast cost as Divine Light. 

Second, the overall healing of HR isn't something to write home about.  Baseline, the spell heals for 2523 - 3205 on the initial cast, and then an additional 493 every second for three seconds.  While we can eek out another tick or so with enough haste, we're still not going to be setting any records here.  My average tick is hitting for just over 3500, however that's averaging out the total heal.  You can reasonably assume that the most you're going to see (per person) out of this heal is about 7k over a 4 second period.  In addition, HR only hits targets that are within 10 yds of your recipient. 

Finally, HR healing does not transfer via Beacon of Light (BOL).  This essentially cuts our healing in half, since every other heal in our arsenal transfers at least 50% of the healing done to our Beacon target. 

***Edit*** I was hoping to get this out earlier, but I missed the change to our 4pc set.  Originally the 20% boost for our 4pc T13 would have made HR very powerful, however this has been reduced to 5% - making it pretty lackluster.

It's not all doom and gloom either though

On the upside, through Tower of Radiance, we are guaranteed to generate a Holy Power every time we cast this spell.  Also, since HR is spammable, we can sprinkle HR throughout the raid, though it's not the most powerful AoE heal in the world.  Because of the cast time though, and the cooldown on Holy Shock, HR lines up neatly with getting a 3HP LoD off every 2 casts of HR.  This can start to become a fairly powerful combo, though it will put some holes in your mana bar.  Depending on how stacked your raid is though, this combination will provide a decent amount of healing in a short period of time.

Light of Dawn

Another change to our AoE healing was the revamp of the Light of Dawn (LoD) glyph.  Previously the glyph would let you add one target to your LoD healing, providing a very solid increase to the BoL target - if you hit all six targets.  This was mostly used in 25m raiding, as getting 6/10 players in your 10m raid to stack up in the right spot was pretty tricky. 

With the change however, 10m (and 5m dungeons) see a pretty significant boost to LoD healing.  Instead of increasing the number of players hit, the number is actually lowered - but the overall healing is increased by 25%.  This allows us to get the same kind of throughput to the BoL target, and actually heal our raid for a little more than before.  This also gives us a 4th major glyph to choose from, and it's actually a pretty solid choice now.

AoE vs Single Target - Communicate

OK, so we've gone over the base numbers for LoD and HR healing, and they don't look too bad.  They aren't stellar, but it's certainly more than we had before.  What we're left with now is deciding what our healing roles are, and where we should be focused in the raid.  A lot of this will come down to your healing team composition, but also what is going on in the raid at any given moment. 

Because HR is not transferred to your BoL target, we have to make a split second decision on what heal to use (finally!).  Here is my mental checklist, that I run through on pretty much every heal.  Fortunately, it doesn't take long, especially once you've practiced it.

  • Is Holy Shock on CD?
  • Is it raid wide damage?
  • How much damage is my BoL target taking?
  • Do I have 3 HP?
  • Where am I in the fight?
Running through this list quickly will let me determine what I need to cast.  This is important especially when we look at the damage our BoL target is taking.  Remember that Holy Light now transfers 100% of the healing done to the BoL target, instead of the 50% that Divine Light, WoG, or HS will transfer.  Because of this, I will almost always cast HL on the target if it is not my BoL target, otherwise they get a different heal.  HL costs (and heals) for about 1/3 of what DL does - but the transfer to your BoL target is what makes the difference.  Also if you're 3/3 in ToR, you're going to get that HP if you use DL instead. 


At the end of all this, Paladins are still the kings of single/dual target healing.  Our AoEs have been buffed to the point where we're no longer a hindrance when it comes to raid healing, however we're certainly not as powerful (or efficient) as any other class when it comes to pure raid/AoE healing. 

Friday, October 28, 2011


I have to admit I'm more than a little intimidated at the prospect of churning out 50,000 words in a month.  I suppose if I could just talk instead of write I'd do it easily, but coming up with a coherent story is going to be a challenge.  Part of the challenge is that my wife has her Masters in some kind of literature, and is a professional writer/editor.  Since the story isn't supposed to be polished I'll probably be ok, but she may start redlining everything.

I'm also taking a little vacation (just a week) in November, hopefully 4.3 will drop "soon". 

All in all I've been really satisfied with the Firelands, and I even got to hop in and heal H-Bael (which was nice).  I was a little undergeared, but hey, that's what makes it exciting.  I'm rapidly approaching the magical mitigation/avoidance cap in my prot set, though my ret gear is in a poor state.  It doesn't help when we have 2 plate main spec DPSers in the raid.  With the changes to the LFR loot system (which I approve of), I may have to do some runs in my off-specs just to help bump up the old iLvl. 

So here's my support for everyone who's participating in NaNoWriMo, my prayers for an early 4.3 launch, and my double prayers for an early Diablo 3 launch. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A second look at MoP

After taking a few days to really chew over the announced changes to World of Warcraft, and to really think about the annual subscription package, I realized that I'm not quite as upset as I was on Friday.  While I'm still a little miffed about some things, and I'm not going to be holding out any hope that we'll even see a Beta for MoP in the near future, I think that there are definately some good possibilities on the horizon.

Games evolve - it's part of the process

I think the first thing I had to get through my head was that despite the fact that MoP, BC, Wrath, and Cata are all "World of Warcraft" expansions, they are really their own game when you stop and look at them.  While they offer the definite plus of being able to carry your account/characters forward to each expansion, each expansion has offered us something different.  We fall into the trap though of looking back at the original release, and holding each expansion up in comparison.  We get used to a certain style of play, and then every other year or so things get shaken up - and we're back to learning our class again - at least for a couple of hours. 

Of course class changes aren't the only thing that takes place, the game changes in so many other ways - many of which we don't see or even care about.  For example if you don't PvP, you couldn't care less about Arenas - and the same goes for PvPers that don't raid.  We get so wrapped up in these changes though, that we lose sight of the fact that WoW is a game - and a pretty damn big one at that.

Do you really miss Vanilla?

I know I personally make a lot of comments about "back in the day", but I wouldn't trade what we have now for a Vanilla server.  I honestly don't think that raiding was more challenging, just a bigger pain in the ass.  You can argue all you want about the "skill" you needed to be a great healer, knowing when to downrank, when to cycle out for mana, etc. - but I don't think that really added anything beneficial to the game.  Same goes with needing a complex spreadsheet just to figure out if 5 spellpower was better than 2 intellect and 3 spirit. 

Remember Rum Tum Tuber surprise and Whipperoot tubers?  Farming out Goretusk livers just so you could get a pair of stamina buffs for the night?  Resist sets?  How much time did we spend running a level 45 dungeon farming nature resist gear so we could fight HuHu?  And the elixirs/potions required!  I'm going off memory here, but I'm fairly certain any given fight would see me taking no less than 5 elixirs as a tank - same for BC when it first launched.  Elixirs for all your primary stats, plus any that might give you an edge.  You'd take STR for the Block Value and Parry, AGI for the dodge, a flask, Attack Power for threat, STAM because you could stack flasks and elixirs, a food buff, plus anything else you could find that would give you just a fraction of a point somewhere.  I gaurantee I spent more time farming mats and grinding out raiding materials than I spend doing dailies.

None of those things make for 'better' raiders, they just make for raiders with more time.  If you really think the content is dumber now than it was then, I feel you're really mistaken.  For example let's look at Lucifron (first real radi boss in MC) compared to say, Halfus (first boss in Cata).  Lucifron saw you doing some tank swapping, cleansing curses and mind controls, and healing.  Halfus has you dealing with variable abilities based on which adds are available, and oh by the way you aren't afforded the luxury of simply assigning all your mages to be on decurse duty becuase you have 35 other riaders to deal with the different mechanics. 

When you take all the raid changes, added changes to the UI, and then toss on "Old World" flying - you can take your dreams for going back to Vanilla and toss them out the window.  Of course there are those illegal private servers kicking around out there.  You're willing to take your chances with those, after all, you're the one that has to look yourself in the mirror every day.  And hey, there's loads of entertainment to be found in pirated/illegal games - even if they are just a few years old.  Hit me up later and we'll play some M.U.L.E.

Some good, some bad

Like everything that changes, there's always going to be something that you think has changed for the worse.  I'm sure that somewhere there's a whole passel of folks complaining that the assault class in Battlefield 3 is now the class that carries medkits - but damn if the graphics don't just blow BF2 right out of the water.  I get that some cows are considered sacred, and that we should protect them at all costs - but really they're just another source of BBQ (hey Cloudpoofer, let's talk a trade - BBQ for Apple Spice).  Even a mouse will eventually find the cheese you moved, or he'll just eat your shoes.

I'm also aware that not everything that gets announced at Blizzcon makes it to the live servers.  From Dance Dance Revolution to Archeology - the changes might look one way, but be something considerably different by the time the final product comes around.  Anyone remember the original LFG from BC, or the proposed guild paths from Blizzcon 2 years ago? 

I don't know if Pokemon battles will actually go live, or how I'll actually feel about them till I see it in action (makes me REALLY wish I had the original collectors edition for that mini-Diablo) - but just like Arenas, I can choose to not participate in this activity.  Hell, unless they add in gear or something like that, Arena's still at least provide me with something I can use.  So why should I really get overly upset about someone's collectable game?

Panadas are right up there with the Karluk or whatever the walrus people are called.  I thought those guys were really dumb looking, but I'd probably still take one of them over a gnome.  I'm not concerned about them being cross factional, red is still dead - I don't need a shilouette to tell me what I'm going after.  Besides there are so many avatar changing abilities out there now that it's tough to be 100% sure what you're looking at anyway "Is that a cow or a skeleton coming after me?".  I'm sure I'll roll a Panda, and I'm sure I'll roll a monk - just as I'm sure I'll buy the game.  I can't imagine the Pandas being any more silly than gnomes or goblins.  Of course the goblin starting area WAS pretty bad IMO.

A lightbulb just went off

I just realized that my last sentence cemented in that I will definately pick up MoP, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it as a game.  I rolled a Goblin (after letting a few months go by), and I even tried a few Worgen (still never finished the whole starting 20 levels or whatever), and while I hated those experiences, I still like Cata as a whole product.  The Goblin starting zone was an abomination, and I'm actually not a fan of Goblins in general (they are better than Gnomes though), but their existance didn't ruin the game for me.  I think the Worgen "Running Wild" animation is terrible, but that also doesn't end the game for me. 

The things that WoW does right, at least for me, far outweigh the things that are done wrong.  I still find the raids challenging, and apparantly I'm not in the minority here since only a handful of guilds have killed H-Ragnaros compared to normal Ragnaros (especially pre-nerfs to the rest of the heroics). 

A final thought on the Annual pass with free D3

After my initial fears about this possibly resulting in the launch of MoP landing somewhere after next year's Blizzcon (I'm still not convinced that won't happen), I sat down with a calculator and did some quick math.  Based off the 6 month billing cycle, which comes to $12.99/mo - a year of WoW runs me $155.  I'm pretty sure D3 will run me $60, so that cuts my annual WoW bill down to $95.  So even if I want to "quit" WoW, as long as I get 7 months of enjoyable playtime out of it, the whole deal is a wash.  Even with ToR, D3, and SC2:HoTS coming out, I'm pretty sure I'll still get 7 months of enjoyment out of WoW. 


After all is said and done, I'm still enjoying WoW, I'll certainly at least try MoP, and I'm still not convinced that ToR will take me away.  Pandas won't ruin the game, and yes - I'm a fanboi.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scariest news of the day

So today I wanted to write about how I'm making the move back to Adgamorix - my original angry bald Paladin.  I've been tanking in Firelands, healed it some more, and even have a viable ret build.  Slipping back into the Paladin role has been like putting on an old pair of shoes, fits perfect every time. 

Blizzcon goers taken hostage

Unfortunately, I can't really talk about that today.  As I'm sure you're well aware, Blizzcon started today, and there has been an overwhelming ammount of WoW info coming forth.  As I expected, the next expansion has been announced, and I'm sorry to say that I am underwhelmed to say the least.  If anything, I'm terrified. 

The only thing I can really hope is that everyone at Blizzcon, and watching the stream, is currently sitting there with a gun to their head preventing them from admitting that the news we're getting is really just the world's best April Fools joke.  Please let this be true, otherwise I'll probably be found setting fire to my authenticator if all the announced items actually go live.

Issue number one - it actually is Jack Black

Kung Fu Panda here we come.  Not only are we getting Panderans, but the new class is a freaking Monk.  Panda racial is "Bouncy - take 1/2 damage from falling", and other such nonsense.  The trailer video looked like "Kung Fu Panda" gone crazy. 

Not.  A.  Fan.

Issue number two - talents revamped again!

This one isn't really so much of an issue, as it is something that makes me laugh.  Every expansion, hell every Blizzcon, they talk about wanting to make talents count, and your decisions matter.  They wanted to move away from cookie cutter builds, and focus you more into your particular spec. 

This was a HUGE fail for Cataclysm, since the revamp to 41 points, with 31 minimum in your selected tree made for the greatest cookie cutter builds of all time.  There is little to no variation in your builds, even going from PvE Holy to PvP Holy involves shifting two or three points.  Glyphs are the same thing, there's no variation - your choices are pretty cut and dried for most classes. 

So I'm happy to see the talents changing, but I don't seen them really making any significant impact on the whole system.  I could be wrong of course.  It has happened before.

Issue number three - Pokemon gone wild

I honestly was speechless when I saw this news.  Your pets, our little non-combat pets, will now have stats and be able to battle?  And you can battle "Masters" to get more powerful abilities?  I really have no response for this.  This is so far away from what we have now, much less what Vanilla was, that it's actually difficult for me to comprehend it on any rational level. 

My only hope

Much like the announced changes to guilds, the Archeology system, and many other sweeping changes announced at Blizzcons of yesteryear, I can only hope that many of these changes go the way of the Dance Studio and dissapear into the Twisting Nether.  Maybe I'm totally wrong and they will be the greatest changes ever, but I kind of doubt it.  To be perfectly honest, if I hadn't seen the new Heart of the Swarm trailer, I probably would have already written the whole convention off.

The other truly scary thing I see (for WoW) is that if you commit to a one year subscription, you will automatically get a Beta invite to MoP (right now I need a mop for my vomit), a mount that looks like the Sparkle Pony and the Winged Gaurdian had a baby, and....Diablo III for free.

That's right.  Spend up to $180 (it's less if you pay for it all up front obviously) and get a copy of D3 (which will be what, $60?), a BoA mount (typically $25) and a full year of WoW.  Plus the Beta invite, if that's worth anything.  This to me says volumes about the state of the game.  HoTS and D3 will do well, no matter what WoW does, so you know that 2012 is going to be a banner year for Activision/Blizzard earnings.  Maybe they need the extra cash infusion at the end of 2011 to push over some bonus numbers - who the hell knows.

What I do know is that if I had to commit right this minute to playing MoP, I'd probably pass.  While I haven't actually seen the footage from Blizzcon, I'm just feeling pretty sour about the whole mess.

My biggest fear of all

Right now I'm truly afraid that we are looking at another year of Cataclysm.  While I can't put my finger on exactly when ICC launched vs Cataclysm, I know it was a long damn time.  Twice now they've hit us with "shit, we need more content" patches, and both the Sunwell and Ruby Sanctum felt like failures (though for different reasons).  I'm afraid 4.3 won't launch until Thanksgiving, and I truly hope and pray they aren't waiting for Christmas to directly compete with TOR.  I don't think I can handle eight more weeks of Firelands.  I am not a groundhog you know.

My parting gift

I won't show the MoP trailer here, but I will at least show the truly awesome trailer for HoTS.  I cannot wait for this to launch.