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Blizzard announces WoW Premium

Blizzard announced today that along with the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, Blizzard would be offering a World of Warcraft Premium account.  For a monthly fee of $29.99, Premium account holders would get the following benefits:

  • Players may start new characters at any level up to and including level 80 (Death Knights can start between 55-80)
  • New level 80 players begin with:
  • Four 16 slot bags
  • a complete set of custom purple iLevel 200 gear
  • a unique class specific epic ground mount
  • a unique class specific epic flying mount
  • a talisman of translocation (which may be set to teleport the player to any level appropriate meeting stone; 30 min cooldown)
  • Professions.  The first two primary professions and all secondary professions learned will begin at skill level 300.
  • Earn Realm Transfers.  All new characters on premium accounts will earn a free realm transfer every 90 days.
  • Tokens of Redemption.  Every 30 days, premium accounts will earn 10 tokens of redemption which can be used to purchase Bind on Account items from in game vendors. (All BoA gear items will scale to Level 85).
  • Heroic Quests.  Premium accounts will have exclusive access to unique scalable epic storyline quest content designed for solos and small groups.
  • Unique Companion pets.  Premium accounts will receive a choice of two new companion pets– the Zhevra pony or Talbuck fawn.
  • Unique hair styles.  Premium accounts will have access to two new unique race specific hairstyles (e.g., Worgen mullet and Goblin pompadour).

Ghostcrawler had this to say about the announcement:

“As World of Warcraft continues to mature, we are constantly listening to our players to accomodate as many different playstyles as possible.  We want Azeroth to be a place where new players, long time players and returning players can experience the best that WoW has to offer with their friends.

We recognize that WoW is (and should be) many things to many people.  Premium accounts offer one way to give players more choices about how they experience Azeroth, whether they want to explore the world solo, with just a few friends, leap straight into high level progression content, PvP, try out a new class or join old or new friends on a different server.  Premium accounts will give players more choices about how they can experience the Cataclysm.”

Of course, this is a complete fabrication and totally false (as far as I know).  I just made it up.  Completely. Fiction.

But it was inspired by a few recent experiences.  There seems to be a renewed hardcore/casual/who-gets-to-access-content discussion floating around on several blogs.  With WoW’s Cataclysm expansion and its likely gear reset looming in the distance, the discussion inevitably turns toward progression and content gates (i.e. in WoW’s case, iLevel of gear at the level cap).

The second inspiration was my recent experiences with a Death Knight.  I had rolled one initially when the expansion came out but haven’t really played one much.  With our group’s move to a new server and new faction, I was beginning to feel the pain of not having a reasonably high level solo player to collect materials, to PvP and otherwise go about the world and explore in my “off group” time.  So, the DK solved a few of those problems.  Too bad I dislike the TBC content so much.  If DKs got popped out of the intro at 68 instead of 58, I would have played one ages ago.

Couple the DK model with the complaints about hardcore/casual, progression, lack of tanks and healers for raids, etc. etc. and the solution to many problems became obvious to my work addled and whimsical mind– premium accounts to solve many of the pain points of the current game now getting longer in the tooth.  Level disparity, class deficiency, travel inconvenience, gear/gated content ilevel/disparity, etc.  Of course, in true pseudo-Blizzard fashion, you don’t actually get to play at the level cap with a new character under my fictional account.  You still have to play through the five new levels coming with Cataclysm.

I doubt that WoW would adopt such a model, but if the hurdle keeping people away from the game (or leaving sooner than they otherwise would) was time, and time equals subscription revenue, then why wouldn’t Blizzard make the revenue neutral decision to let people leapfrog progression hurdles in exchange for more money?  I’m I’m Blizzard I should be agnostic whether someone pays $30 and plays two months or they play only one but pay the same.  The cynic in me of course says that most people would pay AND play giving a big revenue win to Blizz.  If its all about fun and player retention, then heck, why not?

If a new player rolled today to play with my already level capped characters, it might be a month or two of casual play for that person to be able to actually join me in a group.  Why not let me pay more to bypass that content if I desire?  If the game “starts” at the cap, then get me there.  If I want to wander Azeroth as a lowbie noob and smell the peacebloom, I still can.  I have more choices.  If that new player quits a month or two in because they can’t catch up to their friends or find someone to group with, Blizz has left money on the table.

Of course, I’m more about the leveling game than the end game as our instance group experiences have shown, but how many of you would opt for a premium account if Blizzard offered one?  Nonetheless, being an altaholic, I’d love to roll up a mid or late level character and play through my favorite parts of the game, or join someone else already leveling up.

I think I’d buy it and I have no real intention of not experiencing at least some leveling content.  Particularly with upcoming old world changes and new races.

If you could basically buy and play only the latest expansion and only play the “real game” that starts at the cap, would you?  If players now are soloing to cap without ever having grouped (i.e. the mythical level 80 warrior who has never used his taunt), would it really be such a detriment?

/popcorn

Dig in.

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23 Comments

Posted by on December 1, 2009 in World of Warcraft

 

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Older than the Internet

Please add the following catch phrases to the cultural lexicon:

“He/she’s older than the Internet”

“Never trust anyone older than the Internet”

With that, lets all wish the Internet a happy birthd

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 30, 2009 in General

 

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Gift Horse

Been very quiet.  Topsy turvy work schedules and generally nothing constructive to say have somehow managed to keep me from posting much of late.  Something I’ll try to fix as the longer nights of fall and winter arrive.

I checked out of Eve last summer after a long and productive winter/spring run.  For me for some reason, Eve is a winter game.  Somehow it doesn’t seem right to be travelling the cold lonely depths of New Eden when its 100 degrees and the scent of barbeque is wafting in the windows with the sound of someone’s distant lawn mower.

So, as seasons turn, my thoughts were turning to Eve yet again.  Not quite the time to resub just yet, but soon.  Then suddenly to my surprise, I received this reactivation offer from CCP:

reactivation

Sign me up for the bailout!

Needless to say, I don’t recall having over 3.4 trillion ISK laying around when I pulled the plug.  As a reactivation premium, this certainly got my attention.  Now I’m sure there are capsuleers out there who would skoff at a mere 3.4 trillion ISK, but for me that would be an order of magnitude greater than the ISK I had ever had at any one time.  Such largess from the cruel universe of New Eden.  It couldn’t be correct, but made me curious.

The email looked genuine enough.  When I looked at the source code all the urls seemed correct.  I even independently visited them without clicking through.  Yup.  The genuine Eve Online site.

Curiosity finally got the better of me and I clicked through.  After retrieving my password, I was granted my one day free pass.  Curiously no mention of the bounty of ISK awaiting me yet.  Oh well, I’m sure they just dumped it in my wallet right?

After logging I went straight to my wallet:

walletWell a cursory examination of my station contents didn’t reveal any hidden PLEX laying around or any sort of claim check or mystical note or crumpled brown paperbag stuffed with ISK notes.  Boy, that number in my wallet sure looks familiar…. All the while, I’ve been trying to come up with the methodology CCP used to generate that enormous number… Then it hit me.  Its just 4 decimal places off.  What the last two mean, I have no idea.

Looking to confirm my suspicions, I hit google found a thread and came up with this:

forum

We regret the error...

I guess my gift horse has false teeth.  Oh well, at least it made me patch Eve so I’m ready for those long winter nights.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2009 in Eve Online

 

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Armstrong the Explorer

Apollo_11_first_step

Neil Armstrong Caps Classic Earth v. 1969

Who said achievements were meaningless?

NeilAchievement

And for those of us there, we all got a “Species First” achievement of witnessing the first time a human being set foot on an extraterrestrial object– our first steps as a species on some place not our home.  Hard to believe its been 40 years since my Mom dragged me as a wee four year old into watch the moon landing live on television (our old exceedingly crappy black and white)– one of my earliest memories.  I can only imagine that kids alive in the 1500s or during the great age of polar exploration could have been as captivated by tales of the derring do of the explorers.  Their exploits provide the spark to fuel the ambition of a generation or more.

After Apollo 11’s moon landing, having gone to the moon and done the other thing (not because they were easy, but because they were hard…), NASA nerfed moon exploration and introduce the raid grind with the New not-so-Galactic Exploration patch that  brought us Skylab and the Shuttle Missions.

Instead of continuing exploration of the old world “endgame content”….

landing sites

Old Lunar Endgame Instances

…we were treated to the raid grind of Skylab and the Shuttle missions giving us such firsts as:

  • First Latin America Get Away Special canister to fly aboard a Space Shuttle.  STS 108
  • First occurrence of combustion product penetration into the J-joint of redesigned solid rocket motor (RSRM). STS 78
  • First plants to complete a life cycle in space – a crop of wheat grown from seed to seed. STS 81
  • First landing with new synthetic tread tires. STS 50 and
  • First use of drag chute during landing; deployed after nose gear touchdown for data collection only. STS 49.

With all due respect to all invovled in the Shuttle program and a nod to the many, yes, lets admit it, boring but necessary and useful achievements (cough, Hubble fix, cough), lets face it, its not even as exciting as Ice Road Truckers.  Likewise with all due respect to the Shuttle crew members lost in the Challenger and Columbia disasters (and their families and loved ones)– both bona fide “where where you then” moments– don’t get me started with the attunement raid grind for the International Space Station which apparently requires no less than 3 international space agencies to participate and has a seven year reset timer.

We stand to lose the knowledge and wisdom of these first generation of extra earthly space explorers (Armstrong is now 78).  For those with the inclination, I highly recommend the Discovery Channel miniseries, When We Left Earth, likely the last documentary to include first person accounts of this extraordinary period of human exploration.

Fundamentally, I think Armstrong had it right.  He capped in 1969 and rather than pursue so called “endgame” content doing laps around the planet, he parked himself, remained largely out of the public eye and slowly faded into the icon of our last greatest boldest achievement.  Yin to Armstrong’s Yang, Buzz Aldrin has cultivated a more public profile as a zealous advocate for human space exploration.

With the more time that passes since those halcyon days in the early 1970’s, I gain even more appreciation of the extraordinary boldness, courage and achievements of all off those involved in the moon exploration effort.  Was a time when the saying “If we can land a man on the moon, we can certainly accomplish X…” was a good natured challenge for our society to match the best efforts of those in the vanguard and to achieve something truly human in scale.  As I scan the phrase with my eyes, I can’t pull them off the first clause– “if we can land a man on the moon…”  Frankly, I don’t know if that’s true anymore.

When I was young and naive and a life was full of possibilities, landing a man on the moon was no longer a goal, it was a fait accompli, a measure of our both our achievement and a testament to the possibilities open to us should we bend our efforts collectively toward the common good.  On July 20, 1969, for a brief moment in time we were all merely human and the universe stood before us through the opened door of space exploration.  Forty years hence, the audaciousness of such goals seem almost as inconceivable as they might be inachievable again in our lifetime.

Hopefully, the next expansion will rekindle the flame of exploration that is fading as Apollo receeds into the past.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 20, 2009 in General

 

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Research Redux

Ravious at KTR has some thoughts on the MMORPG “research” that Tobold linked the other day.  I’m convinced that any monkey with a copy of the DSM-IV could do a search are replace and come up with a fundable research plan.  Lets all play!

WORK: The following statements concern how important WORK is for you.

  • WORK has created real problems for me, but I keep working.
  • Sometimes I only plan to WORK for a few minutes and wind up spending hours on it.
  • WORK takes up almost all of my leisure time.
  • I would be a lot more productive if I didn’t WORK so much.
  • My family and friends get angry and tell me that I WORK too much, but I can’t stop.
  • I often WORK for a longer time than I intended.
  • I spend much more time WORKING than just about anything else.
  • I would spend more time with hobbies if I didn’t WORK so much.
  • Sometimes I feel like my whole life revolves around WORK.
  • I often think that I should cut down on the amount of WORK that I do.
  • When I can’t WORK I get restless or irritable.

WEARING FUNNY HATS: The following statements concern how important wearing funny hats is for you.

  • WEARING FUNNY HATS has created real problems for me, but I keep WEARING FUNNY HATS.
  • Sometimes I only plan to WEAR FUNNY HATS for a few minutes and wind up spending hours on it.
  • WEARING FUNNY HATS takes up almost all of my leisure time.
  • I would be a lot more productive if I didn’t WEAR FUNNY HATS so much.
  • My family and friends get angry and tell me that I WEAR FUNNY HATS too much, but I can’t stop.
  • I often WEAR FUNNY HATS for a longer time than I intended.
  • I spend much more time WEARING FUNNY HATS than just about anything else.
  • I would spend more time with hobbies if I didn’t WEAR FUNNY HATS so much.
  • Sometimes I feel like my whole life revolves around WEARING FUNNY HATS.
  • I often think that I should cut down on the amount of WEARING FUNNY HATS that I do.
  • When I can’t WEAR FUNNY HATS I get restless or irritable.

ENJOYING LIFE: The following statements concern how important enjoying life is for you.

  • ENJOYING LIFE has created real problems for me, but I keep ENJOYING LIFE.
  • Sometimes I only plan to ENJOY LIFE for a few minutes and wind up spending hours on it.
  • ENJOYING LIFE takes up almost all of my leisure time.
  • I would be a lot more productive if I didn’t ENJOY LIFE so much.
  • My family and friends get angry and tell me that ENJOY LIFE too much, but I can’t stop.
  • I often ENJOY LIFE for a longer time than I intended.
  • I spend much more time ENJOYING LIFE than just about anything else.
  • I would spend more time with hobbies if I didn’t ENJOY LIFE so much.
  • Sometimes I feel like my whole life revolves around ENJOYING LIFE.
  • I often think that I should cut down on the amount of ENJOYING LIFE that I do.
  • When I can’t ENJOY LIFE I get restless or irritable.

And one more:

SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY: The following statements concern how important suffering needlessly is for you.

  • SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY has created real problems for me, but I keep SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY.
  • Sometimes I only plan to SUFFER NEEDLESSLY for a few minutes and wind up spending hours on it.
  • SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY takes up almost all of my leisure time.
  • I would be a lot more productive if I didn’t SUFFER NEEDLESSLY so much.
  • My family and friends get angry and tell me that I SUFFER NEEDLESSLY too much, but I can’t stop.
  • I often SUFFER NEEDLESSLY for a longer time than I intended.
  • I spend much more time SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY than just about anything else.
  • I would spend more time with hobbies if I didn’t SUFFER NEEDLESSLY so much.
  • Sometimes I feel like my whole life revolves around SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY.
  • I often think that I should cut down on the amount of SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY that I do.
  • When I can’t SUFFER NEEDLESSLY I get restless or irritable.
 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 21, 2009 in General

 

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SyFy Channel

SyFy Channel? Fayl.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on March 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Um, Ok.

I’m feeling just a bit um, uncomfortable about this.

Discuss. Or not.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on December 3, 2008 in General

 

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