World of Warcraft: A more immersive questing experience

Earlier this month I wrote up a post challenging myself to stop skimming or ignoring the quest text and just read it, already. It seems to be one of those MMO facets that a lot of us have struggled with, if the comments on that post were any indication. One reader did suggest an interesting strategy, at least for World of Warcraft, which was to install the Immersion mod to draw more attention to quest text.

Sounded like a good idea! So I gave it a try for a few days and found it… OK, I guess. Immersion replaces the standard text window with a few semi-transparent windows that puts the quest dialogue right next to an animated portrait of the NPC questgiver. It did make it a little more readable, but I found that I was always fumbling for what to click and where the different options were, as choices were often put on the right side of the screen.

Still, I didn’t want to give up on this concept, and so I took another suggestion — this one from a WoW YouTube host — to try out Catch the Wind. What this mod does is that any time you get into a quest dialogue situation, it grabs camera control and then puts a letterbox over your screen, with the quest text gradually appearing at a somewhat readable pace on the bottom to mimic subtitles.

I was instantly impressed with this. I found myself naturally reading the quest text without having to make myself do it, just by a few cinematic tricks. It also keeps the visuals on the character and the world without covering them up with giant boxes in the middle of the screen. Even the choices, like “accept” and “goodbye” are shown in a subtle, natural fashion on the bottom. I’m going to give it a few more days of evaluation, but so far, I think this might be the choice for me.

I can only imagine what a similar mod would do with the mountain of quest text that, say, LOTRO presents. Maybe an audiobook narration by Ian McKellen? I would pay for that upgrade.

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Trying to get organized in World of Warcraft

I just fell off the world… and onto a new one!

In some ways, I’m envying the crowd in World of Warcraft these days that have already pre-ordered the expansion and are spending the hours leveling up the new allied races. This isn’t something I want to do right now, mind you, but it’s just an envy of the leveling and questing process vs. the endgame economic loop that I’m in. There aren’t a lot of story arcs and zone progression for me right now, is what I’m saying.

In addition to refining how I’m trying to make gold in WoW, I’ve been working on sorting out just what my characters should be doing. Let me say that I’m frustrated with how the game’s structured its level 110 content, because it is confusing as all get out to know what to do and in what order. I’m not talking at all about the dungeon-raid grind — that’s something I’m avoiding altogether because I like my life. I’m talking about Argus and finishing up the order hall quests and getting class mounts and trying to push my champions to ilevel 950 and the multiple different quest arcs that are thrown at you. Some aren’t that important, some are. But so many are just not that easy to follow, and the game has lost me at several points.

It’s for this reason that I welcome the reset of a new expansion, even as I’m grumpy about losing the artifacts and legendaries that we spent so much time acquiring and building up. I’m just tired of the headache of trying to sort out the important stuff from the quest noise that builds up in my logs.

So right now if I have time after dailies and whatnot, I’ll try to work on one quest in each of my three character’s logs so that I’m not purely spinning my wheels here.

This also meant finally taking my Warlock Syperstar out of semi-retirement, where she’s been spending months in the Garrison making hexweave bags and wishing for a better life. As a rather fresh level 110, she has so much more to do in terms of quests and gearing up. I’m not going all-out on it, but she is at least doing her daily emissary rounds and helping to bring in a bit of extra cash via order hall missions. Three characters seem like a good number for a gold-making enterprise, and I’m making on average 12-18k gold every day (depending on sales, that could be a lot more).

This effort has paid out in spades. In addition to covering my monthly sub, I’ve generated enough gold for tokens that allowed me to pre-purchase Battle for Azeroth for free. Again, it’s more the principle of being able to earn your own way than actual affordability… but hey, that’s $50 I can spend elsewhere!

I’m also trying to be mindful of too much routine and the looming specter of burnout. As I said last week, there are a lot of games that I want to be trying out this spring, as well as the desire to hit up past MMOs like Elder Scrolls Online and FFXIV. I want to be in a place that if I only had 30 minutes or so to log into WoW, I could still do a lot in keeping my sales and gold generation going.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s countdown begins

With Patch 7.3.5 and the launch of pre-orders for Battle For Azeroth, January turned into a pretty busy month for World of Warcraft. There was an insane flurry of activity when the pre-order was announced, so much so that queues shot up to a day or so before settling back down.

I was slightly tempted to get it right then and there, but I held off for the time being. My goal is to be able to pay for the expansion solely with WoW tokens, not because I’m that poor, but just to see if I can. Plus, hey, it’s $50 I could save for something else. With $23 saved up in the store already, I think I could knock this out easily this month, as long as the token prices settle down a bit (they had rapidly risen from 170k to 223k with all of the players returning, but we’ve seen signs of that abating).

There is no real incentive for me to pay $20 extra for the deluxe edition. I’m swimming in mounts, so why would I want two more? And all of the rest of the bonuses are for non-World of Warcraft games, which is an irritating trend that Blizzard has been perpetuating over the past couple of years. If I’m buying a special edition for a game I’m playing, I want all of the goodies to, you know, BE FOR THAT GAME.

But with the pre-order comes two notable events: the introduction of allied races and a release window for the expansion.

I know a lot of people were scrambling to get the pre-order because that meant they could roll up one of the four new allied races. And while we are really far out from the launch right now, it makes sense for Blizzard to give players something time-consuming to do (level a character from 20 to the cap, perhaps multiple times). Fill up those months.

Plus, as was pointed out, even if you don’t care about playing any of these races, simply unlocking them via the pre-order and requirements means that you get their mounts across your entire account. That’s a nice bonus.

I’m in no rush.  The thing that I’m worried about is going overboard on filling up my character roster, which is easier to do now more than ever before. Blizzard is giving us four more slots per server, and hey, now there are four new racial variants to roll. Additionally, the pre-order comes with a boost to 110, which is an option.

I don’t know what I would even want to pursue here. Keeping my Hunter and Death Knight for the expansion is pretty much my goal. Warlock, Shaman, and perhaps Druid are tier two. I’m mulling over a Highmountain Tauren Druid or Shammy but haven’t decided yet, so it’s probably good I don’t have to pick right now. I just don’t want to fill up the roster with tons of characters just because I can.

What was surprising with this pre-order is that Blizzard put the expansion release a lot sooner than many of us were anticipating. Considering that the beta hadn’t begun yet, I was seeing this as an easy November release, but no, the launch will be “on or before September 21st” to keep it in summer. It actually worries me a little bit that they’re going to have to rush the testing, but then again, it’s not like this expansion is breaking a whole lot of new ground in terms of features.

I guess I’m fine with it. That does mean we’re in for a half-year of no new content, despite Blizzard holding back a few quests and the new battleground so it can try to keep content drought accusations at bay. But I have plenty to do, and hey, there are always new characters to level if I get that bored and have that much time on my hands.

World of Warcraft: The Postman

Ever since I heard about the new “secret” postal quest chain that came in the latest World of Warcraft patch, I knew I had to do it. It sounded pretty neat, had some cool rewards, and I thought it’d make for a fun story.

The only problem was starting the quest. You see, to access the chain, you have to grab a piece of “lost mail” that spawns every few hours in front of one mailbox in Dalaran. I camped this location for about two days, often tabbing in and out of the game while working to see if it had appeared. On occasion, other players gathered about and even griefed the spawn spot by sitting on top of it with their big Tauren butts. Way to be mature there, future ground beef.

But bliss upon bliss, I saw that the letter appeared late one night. Grabbing it, I was off on a magical adventure into the underbelly of Azeroth’s postal delivery service. Apparently the post room is a completely new locale built for this quest, and let me tell you, it’s a real treat. Very detailed and colorful; it made me think of Harry Potter and all of those flying letters in the first book.

The Postmaster himself — formerly only known by the letters he sends to players — assigned me a few missions of various import.

Perhaps most galling was to loot the reigns of Invincible (the mount just about everyone wants) and then hand them over to that egotistic elf Johnny Awesome… who then just vendors them. It’s definitely a cruel move on the part of the developers to taunt players so.

As an aside, I noticed that this goblin is grilling up a fish head burger. Remind me never to eat at this resort.

I got a laugh when I was sent to erect a toy next to Johnny’s previous mount, one of those celestial steeds. Which, apparently, was only partially buried. Hooves up.

After all of the running around, the final part of this quest chain is to engage in a mail sorting minigame. You’re given the name of a town and zone and have to quickly click one of the tubes going to various continents. The ultimate goal is 30 letters in 60 seconds, with a wrong click costing you precious seconds in delay. I know it sounds easy? But it’s honestly incredibly nerve-wracking. I kept getting close, so very close, as that “29” up there mocked me. I’ll say that in the end, I had to play this game about 20 times before beating it.

And there’s even a more ADVANCED version where you only get a town name and no zone, and there is no way I have all of that memorized. No thank you. I have a life. Sort of.

Other than the novelty of this whole experience, there were a few nice rewards, such as a “mailemental” pet, a summonable mailbox on a three-hour timer, and an item to upgrade a piece of heirloom gear. Even better was an extra copy of the lost mail item to start the quest, which I promptly turned around and sold on the auction house for 72,000 gold. Hey, I camped for it, I benefit from it. Seems fair to me.

World of Warcraft: Syp Unlimited

Never underestimate how powerful having a compelling goal is to changing your attitude toward an online game. It’s too easy to fall into routines and ruts in these games, to chase the limited goals that the developers set for you, and not to see a wider world beyond them. So it’s generally a good practice to change things up every once in a while, to step back, look at other options, and reevaluate goals.

In shifting my World of Warcraft goals to making gold — and earning WoW tokens — I’ve gotten to explore a new side of the game this month and had a lot of fun in the process. I haven’t hit on any super-easy magic bullets that result in millions of gold overnight, but I have figured out good ways for me to earn money without sinking too much time into doing just that every day.

Every morning I wake up and do a quick check in with the game, seeing what I sold overnight and tallying it up on a spreadsheet. Sort of silly and trite, sure, but it’s also satisfying to see those numbers rack up and to have a day where I beat my all-time best. So far this month, I’ve made well over a half-million gold and purchased three WoW tokens (two of which I used for subscription time and one that I’m putting toward a purchase of the upcoming expansion).

While doing world quests and invasions are all well and good for stable gold generation, what really interests me these days is playing the auction house. Buying vastly underpriced goods and then reselling them for market value is a thrilling way to make easy money, although the whole process can be a lot more uncertain. Gear and items don’t always sell, not right away, so there is stuff that I’ve ended up relisting several times before it gets snapped up. And before you comment on this, yes, I use mods that keep track of the market and put my stuff up for attractive prices (although not nearly as low as when I bought it).

Generally, by adding a dozen or so items to my virtual storefront every day and perhaps selling 6-8 of them, I’ve started accumulating an inventory that churns in and out of the auction house. Call it Syp Unlimited. It’s like any store, really. You never can expect to sell EVERYthing you have in stock, but by stocking a large inventory, you’ll make enough sales and profit to cover the rest.

Most of the time I keep my store purchases reasonable. I try not to spend more than 1,000 gold a day (just for an arbitrary number) and usually just buy goods that are 1-10% of the market value for maximum profit. But there have been a couple of instances where I broke that (loose) rule and gambled big.

The first time, I saw a piece of i910 gear that was going for 30k and was valued at 150k. I snatched it, flipped it, and sold it for about 145 when all was said and done. In one sale, I pretty much covered the full cost of a WoW token — and it made my day to boot.

Then a few days ago, I saw an even larger fish. It was an i950 piece of cloth gear priced at 120k and valued at somewhere between 750k and one million gold. Perhaps it was the dumbest thing I ever did in this game, but I grabbed it — shrinking my wallet down considerably — and then started reposting. I’ve been waiting and crossing my fingers that it will sell, because if it does, hot dog. I’ll be rolling in it. If not, I’m out 120k, and that will really stink. I’ll let you know.

Generating gold and playing the auction house aren’t the only activities I’m engaging with in this game; I’m actually making a lot of progress with my key characters. But it has been a huge theme for me this month, so I just wanted to share my excitement over having a different side of the game to play and a different goal to pursue.

Ranking the upcoming World of Warcraft allied races

With six new allied races incoming for World of Warcraft, I see a lot of players debating the whole rerolling/alt question. It’s a bit more tricky this time around, because while these races are *technically* new, they’re more or less reskins or variants of what we already have. You’ll basically be choosing them for the look, the exclusive cosmetic armor, the small extra visual customizations, and perhaps the racials. You also get a slight start on the whole leveling process, jumping ahead to level 20 (which is actually kind of nice, considering how slow and boring the first dozen levels are). And there might be a handful of interesting class/race combos.

I’m thinking about them, aye, but I can’t say that any of them are “must have, must play” for me right now. I’m pretty happy with what I have, but that’s not stopped me from at least thinking about possibilities for the future. I suspect that there will be a lot of bored players this summer who will have extra time to level up an alt, and if not that, then there’s always the included 110 level boost with the expansion that could be used on one of these new races.

So I’m going to quickly rank the six races we know from the least most interesting to the… most most interesting? I write professionally, folks. Here we go!

#6: Void Elves

You shouldn’t be surprised to see the Elves so far down here, because, hey, it’s me. Elves are the pits, and we really don’t need TWO more of these races. I have plenty of targets already for my scorn, thank you. That said, the Void Elves get the absolute bottom spot because their visuals make me want to smack them more than the Nightborne. It’s like Dracula got… wussy.

#5: Nightborne

Night Elves version 2.0? Probably a good idea to have an opposite visual shift from the WASPy Blood Elves, plus the Horde get another “pretty” race that brings their total up to two. Truly, great days are ahead and I look forward to seeing more skimpy Elf girls making me take the Horde seriously.

#4: Zandalari Trolls

You either are a troll person or you are not, and I am not. I appreciate the option and understand their inclusion, but they’re just not my style at all. The raptor druid form sounds pretty cool, though, but yeah, it’s not like trolls are that popular in the game already. We’ll see if this changes things in that department.

#3: Lightforged Draenei

Listen, I like the Draenei — I even main one as a Death Knight. They look cool and attractive while also distinctly not-human. But I do not see the appeal of the Lightforged. It’s like a slightly lighter-skinned Draenei with some glowy bits. Their racials are pretty bad too — I mean, one of them can only be used when you die. That’s not going to get me that excited.

#2: Dark Iron Dwarves

The more I think about it, the more I really like this racial inclusion. Dwarves are a bit of an underdog race and could use some love, and the Dark Iron variant definitely pop out, visually, with greyscale skin and bright hair and eyes.

#1: Highmountain Tauren

I see a lot of excitement for this race and I can totally understand it. The Legion Tauren models are simply fantastic — inspired from moose rather than cows — and getting them won’t be that hard. They have a great batch of racials (damage reduction! bull rush! more loot! faster mining!) and have a decent roundup of classes. I’m mulling over a Shaman or Druid, myself (the druid forms are sick-looking).

How would you rank them?

4 strategies to easy goldmaking in World of Warcraft

One of my informal resolutions regarding World of Warcraft was to get my house in order and really start looking at making more gold. It’s not an area that I’ve thought about much this past year, but once I started viewing the game as an economic simulator of sorts, I felt the fires of my enthusiasm blaze up. It was a different objective and an interesting goal: To make enough gold to (at the very least) pay my sub each month.

The last time I was buying WoW Tokens was back at the end of Draenor, back when everyone was getting all their gold from garrison missions and the price was a lot cheaper. Remember the days of 35K tokens? Pepperidge Farm remembers. It’s something I stopped thinking about after Legion came along and token prices shot way up. I’d been paying for a subscription ever since then while I was in the game.

But turning my attention to revving up a gold making machine, I knew that I had to keep it reasonable. I have other games to play and limited time. I had to maximize my current resources and keep any daily efforts to a reasonable duration. So I did a lot of poking around, mostly regarding lazy gold generation, and I started to develop a strategy that would pull together several low-effort, low-stress methods to bringing in that gold.

Once I got these into place, I started to focus on getting my three level 110s up to spec — gear, through Argus, etc. — and coming up with a daily rotation. It’s been going well, with a daily haul netting me between 10,000 and 20,000 gold without too much trouble, and with token prices hovering around 170K, covering my sub should be no problem.

World quests

Right now I don’t have the time to really learn TSM and settle into the whole auction house flipping scene, so I decided to latch on to an activity I was doing every day anyway: world quests. Besides gunning for emissary chests (which can hold a chunk of gold), I’ve been doing a sweep of the Broken Isles for any WQ that pays out in purple gear, rare herbs, bacon (which is surprisingly lucrative), and gold payouts north of 150g.

The focus here is on chaos crystals. The more purples I can disenchant, the more crystals I get, and the more I can sell them on the auction house. At around 250 gold per, four shards is a cool 1,000. A sweep with all three characters can get me quite a few of these, which I turn around and sell right away.

I also am trying to equip each character with one follower who has that ability that adds a free 50 gold per world quest completed when tagging along. 50 might not sound like much, but every bit adds up!

Invasions

After the initial flurry of invasions passed, I stopped paying attention to them. Now I’ve changed my mind — invasions are awesome! An invasion zone gets packed with world quests that are usually very easy to complete and pay out double in rewards, with the second part of that reward being nethershards. I take those nethershards, go to the Broken Shore, buy some purple gear from the vendor, DE, and boom. More chaos crystals. Plus, invasions have a higher number of gold reward missions too.

Garrisons

This one surprised me, because I think a lot of people — myself included — wrote garrisons off back when they switched off the gold missions prior to Legion. But no, there’s still money to be made here, just in a slightly more roundabout way.

Basically, I farm Gorgrond Flytraps from the herb garden every day and use my garrison resources to purchase Sumptuous Furs when the price is down to 16 at the trader. Then I trot over to the tailoring shack and start working on hexweave cloth and hexweave bags. It’s slow, but it’s a guaranteed chunk of gold every so often. Right now I have two of my three characters tailoring through this (I want to leave herbalism on my DK).

Order hall missions

Finally, I wised up about order hall missions, especially since I wasn’t seeing as many gold missions. I didn’t realize that these were tied to the level of your champions, so it became imperative to level up those champions ASAP and then be more diligent about keeping an eye on the mission board through my phone app. Doing world quests and invasions took care of any order hall resource shortages I might have had, so I am good there.

I’m still perusing the woweconomy subreddit and am keeping my eyes open for any more simple but effective techniques to gold making. Ideally once I get everything into place I don’t want to be spending more than a half-hour a day on this. But as for right now, it’s a blast playing the game from an economic angle. Sometimes all it takes is a new goal to refresh your interest and perspective.