Aug 08

So it seems that after the exciting ride that was my tenure here at Banana Shoulders, I can’t bring myself to focus on a single MMO any more, and thus, readers of Crew Skills would have already seen its retirement.

Rather than restricting myself to a single-MMO blog, I’m now blogging about MMOs in general and the genre as a whole, over at Siha Games!. There are so many exciting games on the market and on the horizon, and I seem to have no shortage of things to say about them!

I still miss Banana Shoulders and the WoW blogging community very much, so I hope to see some of you over there, talking with me about the latest and greatest games. And please feel free to drop me a line on Twitter – I’m there as @Siha – to let me know what you’re up to these days.

Oct 01

So, that new project I talked about?

CrewSkills, my all-new gaming blog.

CrewSkills is a Star Wars: The Old Republic blog; it’ll have a primary focus on crafting, trade skills, and the crew skills system in general. You can also expect to find other stuff there of the kind I used to post here; general gameplay discussion, guides to in-game content, conversation about whatever class I wind up playing, and all that other good stuff. If you liked Banana Shoulders, and you’re planning on playing SW:TOR, you’ll like CrewSkills too.

…I hope! ;) Feedback is always welcome, of course, and I’d especially love to hear from anybody who’s planning on trying out SW:TOR when it launches in December. I’m really excited about CrewSkills (the blog – and the game system, too) and I’m looking forward to diving in from scratch. I’ve well and truly got the blogging buzz again.

Sep 30

*tap* *tap* Is this thing on?

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that it’s been deader than corduroy around here.

It’s not you, it’s me. Well, actually, it’s not me, it’s WoW. I’m just not feeling the love any more, and haven’t for a while now. Honestly, the rot set in, for me, the day of my very last post on this blog. The RealID kerfuffle pretty much broke my heart. I realise it was pretty naive of me, but up until then, I’d honestly believed in Blizzard. When there was forum rage about ridiculous dev decisions, I was always prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that their priority was making the best game they could. While others scoffed cynically, I was willing to trust them and remain positive.

The RealID debacle changed that, though; it was such a ridiculous plan with zero benefit for gamers and a whole lot of seriously negative consequences, and it was the last straw, for me. Fundamentally, I no longer trusted that Blizzard was different, or that they’d managed to stay independent of Activision’s mad lust for profit at any cost.

Basically, I was no longer a fan of Blizzard.

And blogging – at least for me, for the way I blogged here at Banana Shoulders – was, is, very much an expression of fannish love. All of a sudden I had absolutely no enthusiasm for any WoW-fannish activities, because I wasn’t a fan any more.

That said, I still missed blogging here. But Banana Shoulders was tied too integrally to World of Warcraft, and being a (holy) paladin, and I didn’t feel I could smoothly drop the WoW-talk and start blogging about something else entirely. It’s worked for other bloggers, but it wouldn’t have worked for me. And, too, all of this was on a subconscious level for a long time; all I knew consciously was that all of a sudden I had nothing interesting or enthusiastic to say about World of Warcraft any more.

But I’ve absolutely missed this, and if I thought I still had things to say about WoW I would be picking up the reins again in a shot. (And even now, sitting here with the “New Post” window open, I can’t help but think “do I have anything else I can say? do I have any justification for firing this back up again? I want to!”) I am, however, working on another project that I hope at least some of you will enjoy and find useful. I don’t want to announce it just yet because I don’t want to introduce my new baby (er, metaphorical baby) in a post that’s otherwise basically full of negativity. I’ll post again very soon with the details.

For the foreseeable future, Banana Shoulders is done; I’m not going to take it down, as there’s a lot of words here that I’m quite proud of, and some bits of it may still be useful, but I don’t expect to be posting again, except about new projects. Expect more news on that front soon.

Until then: thankyou all for letting me talk to you about something that I used to love very much, and thankyou for making it such a fun experience. I hope you’re still enjoying WoW, or that you’ve found something else just as fun, and I hope to stay in touch. Thankyou for reading.

Much love,
   Siha

Jul 07

We interrupt this regularly scheduled (hah) blog post to bring you some pretty serious news:

Pretty soon, posting on Blizzard forums will require you to reveal your real first and last names.

The safety and privacy ramifications of this are horrific, from people like doctors and teachers whose careers could be ruined to gamers dealing with stalkers, crazy exes and other people they have to get away from for safety’s sake.

This is a ridiculous, terrible move for Blizzard to make. I understand that they’re trying to improve the quality of their forum conversations, but there are other ways to do that that don’t require people to put their livelihoods, lives, or just peace of mind at risk.

Do Not Want.

Jul 05

I’ve been extremely lucky in scoring a beta test key for Cataclysm – this will be my third beta (I never played the original WoW beta) and I have to say that I really, really enjoy betas. There are some parts of them that are more fun than the live game, in fact.

So, I spent half the weekend downloading the Cataclysm client and its many, many, many patches (and exceeded my internet quota to boot!) and I’ve been poking around and I’m pretty impressed.

(You’re shocked, right? :))

This beta feels very different to past betas; there’s no one obvious place to go to level, there’s no central hub city like Shattrath or Dalaran. There are various breadcrumbs from existing Azeroth to the new zones, but – unlike past expansions – there are so many changes, big and small, in old Azeroth that it’s easy to get distracted poking around what’s changed.

I’d hoped to provide a fly-through video of the new-and-improved Stormwind, but unfortunately I’m having trouble recording decent quality videos at the moment, so that will have to wait. In the meantime, I’m working on a rundown of the paladin changes in Cataclysm – there are some very interesting design decisions becoming apparent – and I hope to post it ASAP.

Jul 03

Well.

It hasn’t quite been a year since I vanished so precipitously, and I’ve felt guilty for it pretty much every day of that year. The truth is that I was rapidly running out of steam due to various RL factors, and I didn’t have the time or energy to overcome it — but, equally, I wasn’t ready to just quit and say goodbye, so I kept promising myself “I’ll post tomorrow…” and tomorrow, as everybody knows, never comes. And the silence stretched and became uncomfortable, and I figured everyone would have given me up as a flake.

And who knows, maybe you have! I certainly couldn’t blame you if you had. But I’m back, and for those of you that are still listening, I’m keen to get back on the horse. Drop me a line if you’re still around; I’m so very out of touch with the blogosphere these days!

So, over the next little while I’ll be spiffing this place up a bit, blowing the dust off the fixtures, finally fixing the readability issues in IE6 (I hope). The blogging bug never really went away; I’ve recently started blogging over at iPaddendum, my iPad app review blog, and I have another project in mind for a few months’ time. But none of that quite satisfies the desire to talk about WoW and paladins, so here I am: I’m back. I hope you’ll give me a second chance. :)

Aug 30

Bloodsail Admiral Sailan

Almost exactly a year ago I swore I was never going to do it, but in the end, I just couldn’t help myself. How could I pass up that sweet, sweet hat and title?

(Of course, it’s entirely out of character for a servant of the light to slaughter thousands of innocent businessmen for the sake of ingratiating herself with a bunch of pirates, so let’s just call this a psychotic break and move along, yes?)

I’d actually been thinking about the Bloodsail grind for months. The biggest delay in getting started was my dithering over Insane in the Membrane, the Feat of Strength for the truly obsessive, because that affected how far I’d be going with Bloodsail rep and how I chose to repair my goblin reps afterwards. Naturally, in the end, I chose the crazier option, and I’ve been killing goblins and pirates ever since.

So, my to-do list! This is entirely unrelated to any kind of progression, but this kind of thing is the reason I have a ridiculous number of days /played on my main. :)

The Insane/The Exalted

  • Exalted with the Steamwheedle Cartel factions. Currently Hostile with Ratchet and halfway through Hated with the other three factions. About 30-36 hours’ worth to go. Halfway through I’ll also pick up the Exalted as a title.
  • Exalted with Darkmoon Faire. Lots of herb farming, milling, carding, and turning in. This will probably take me a couple of months on and off.
  • Exalted with Ravenholdt. This means I’m going to have to dust off my actually-not-very-much-loved rogue, or bribe someone else to do the pickpocketing for me.
  • Exalted with Shen’dralar. This just makes me want to cover my face and cry, to be honest. Requires lots of farming of Dire Maul for librams, and lots of camping the AH for Pristine Black Diamonds, plus some Scholo and Strat Dead runs for the libram mats. Still, once I get this and the above three finished, I’ll officially be Sailan the Insane – possibly in RL too.

Mountain o’ Mounts

  • Baron Rivendare’s stinking mount. I’m up to forty-something runs now – one of my guildies got it on his first run, another took 106 runs to do it, and knowing my luck I fully expect to still be at it in 500 runs’ time.
  • Finish off Wintersaber Trainers rep – currently about 48 rounds of quests away, which … isn’t as bad as I thought, actually.
  • Keep farming ZG, Anzu and Attumen for mounts as often as possible.
  • Keep at the AT dailies, which I tend to slack off on; I still need seven of their mounts and the upgraded squire – and then I get to start on tabards!
  • PvP more, since there’s a lot of PvP achievements I still need, and I need AB and WSG tokens for the Black War mounts I don’t yet have. Plus I want Exalted with AB and WSG for the Justicar title and the tabards.

Other factions because I’m a completionist:

  • Keep doing the two dailies that reward Frostborn and Explorer’s League rep respectively, since it irks me to see non-Exalted factions on my reputation list. 120 days left for Explorer’s League, and 134 days for Frostborn. Oogh.
  • Another Black Temple run or two should see me at Exalted there.
  • Brood of Nozdormu. I’m a smidgen off Revered, so I need at least a few more runs through AQ40, which are scarcer than hen’s teeth on my server.

Loremaster

  • I’m 180 quests away in Kalimdor, and 89 quests away in Eastern Kingdoms. Probably can’t finish this one before I do The Insane, as I’ll probably have to do some goblin quests (which would screw my Bloodsail rep).

I’m not sure whether this to-do list looks better or worse, now that it’s in black and white. Help?

Aug 29

Worgenfreeman
Worgenwheel
Volksworgen
Littlered
Worgenpeace
Worgenthedog

And my favourite: Paintya.

With thanks to my guild, and the inveterate punsters of Proudmoore.

Aug 22

I was going to title this post “Goodbye, Azeroth”, and then I realised that might sound as though I were leaving. No fear; I’ve been busy lately (although things have improved now), but I’m still here.

However, Azeroth won’t be for much longer – at least, not as we know it today. That’s right; in news that came as a complete surprise to absolutely nobody, this week’s BlizzCon has seen the announcement of the third WoW expansion pack, Cataclysm.

There’s some huge changes afoot – which are, of course, all over the blogosphere already.

The biggest general changes are:

  • A big revamp to Azeroth – many zones will be changed or destroyed, and the political landscape will shift for both factions.
  • Revamped Azeroth will finally allow flying, huzzah!
  • Revamped Azeroth will also include a number of new zones, which will cover levelling to the new level cap – 85.
  • There’s a new profession, Archaeology. It’s a secondary profession like fishing or cooking, so everyone can train it.
  • Two new races: Goblins for the Horde, Worgen for the Alliance.
  • New class options for existing races!

…oh man, I can’t keep up. Seriously, there’s a lot of information coming out of BlizzCon; I recommend watching MMO-Champion and World of Raids for all the news.

Of particular interest to paladins, I’d like to draw your attention to the following changes:

New Class/Race Combos

Human hunters, gnome priests, orc mages – lots of changes here. This handy image from MMO-Champion sums it all up nicely. The big one for us, of course, is: tauren paladins! Welcome aboard, beefy brethren!

Stats Changes

Spellpower? Gone. Attack Power? Gone. mp5? Gone. Defense? Gone. (Ditto Armor Pen and Block Rating.)

Instead, uncrittability will be handled by talents (as it is now for druids), and stats like Spellpower and Attack Power will now derive directly from Intellect and Strength respectively. (Hunters, Rogues and Shammies will get their AP from Agi.) Mana regen will be handled by Spirit, and all healers will get a regen-mana-in-combat ability a la Meditation.

Still, if you think this is a big change, think how hunters feel – they’re getting turned into a mana-free class!

I’m optimistic at this point, but cautiously so. The world changes and storyline progression both look awesome, and I’m getting that rush of “omg must see it must play it must test it whee!” that I always get when an expack is announced. I’m more cautious about the mechanics changes – the higher degree of homogenization in gearing is a bit disappointing – but I’m certainly prepared to Wait And See ™.

Obviously, if I’m fortunate enough to get into the beta again, I’ll be providing all the guides and sneak peaks you’ve come to expect. ;-)

Aug 11

Blizzard typically designs its raid zones in three different sizes: you’ve got the one- or two-boss zones, the half-a-dozen boss zones, and the raids with a dozen or so bosses – give or take.

And then, in this thread, Ghostcrawler says (emphasis mine)

…once we say “tanking niches” players have visions of the DK who parks outside of Icecrown until boss 4, 17 and 31 (yes, IC is that big).

At the risk of sounding like a lolcat, ZOMG. No wonder they introduced raid timer extensions!

To put it pictorially:

Number of Bosses by Raid Zone

That’s one way of making sure Icecrown won’t be cleared before Christmas…

(Edit: I’ve seen a few other wry posts around the traps from GC in the last day, and he may well be joking about this – which is unlike Blizz devs, who don’t usually make joke posts unless it’s very obvious that their tongue is planted firmly in cheek, but even devs are allowed to have some fun.)

Edit #2: My guildie Phyl (of Hunters Rhok) has pointed out the official debunking, where GC says

an example on how we don’t want raids to rotate in tanks, I wanted to pick what I hoped was a ridiculous number so that players wouldn’t try and and deduce from my answer how many bosses Icecrown has.

Sadly, my sarcasm doesn’t translate well to the forums. :)

(Unfortunately, if he wanted to convey a sense of “this is just a hypothetical number”, he probably shouldn’t have followed it up with an explicit assurance that he was being serious.)