Remember how I was just talking about how Hearthstone would be coming for Android soon? Today, it did. 🙂 Er, well, yesterday. But it was only available in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand at first. Now it’s available in the US, too!
The game looks and plays the same on mobile as it does on PC. It’s just a bit sluggish, at least on the 2013 Nexus 7. I’m sure Blizzard will have performance changes in coming updates, though.
By the way, it will only work on tablets with screens 6″ or larger for now.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play collectible card game that was released by Blizzard earlier this year. It is based in the Warcraft universe, so the spells, minions, and classes will be familiar to World of Warcraft players.
You can pick any of 9 different classes, each with their own unique ability; priests can restore 2 health, shaman can summon totems, etc. Craft your deck out of hundreds of class-specific and neutral cards. Win games and complete quests in order to earn packs of new cards.
After the whole ArcheAge failure, I renewed my WoW account for a month to see what had changed in the 2-3 years since I had played it last. I was disappointed by how old the game felt (and omg why are the gnomes so ugly now?!), so, still looking for a game to play, I decided to try out Hearthstone.
Hearthstone is a lot like Magic: The Gathering except digital, of course. With a smaller deck size than MTG (30 vs 60+ cards) and the computer performing calculations, I like that games are quick.
Today is the release of Hearthstone’s second expansion, Goblins vs. Gnomes. I’m hoping they also announce the release of Hearthstone for Android, too. It’s supposed to come out sometime this month.
I’ve been learning new things every day in Guild Wars 2. Here are a few things I’ve learned about over the last few days:
Unlike World of Warcraft, you don’t have to fight over resources! If you and another player see a copper ore vein and start running to it at the same time, it doesn’t matter because both players will get the ore. There’s no more rush to drop what you’re doing to farm a resource before someone else gets to it. Another improvement over WoW is anyone can gather any kind of resource (provided you have the gathering tools).
I haven’t spent a lot of time crafting yet, but one really nice thing about crafting is that most crafting components can be stored in a collection vault that is separate from your bank and, perhaps more importantly, you can add items to your collection instantly from anywhere in the world. That really helps conserve bag space when you’re out adventuring. Unfortunately, you can’t craft items straight out of your collection; you need to withdraw them first, which seems weird and unnecessary to me. Another crafting improvement is that crafting time really speeds up as you craft lots of the same type of item. So, if you want to make 100 copper ingots, you don’t have to sit there twiddling your thumbs while you wait for it to finish.
Side note: In my previous post about Guild Wars 2, I said I wished there were more than 21 armor dyeing colors to choose from. Apparently, there are hundreds of dyes and they can be acquired through cooking (and, rarely, as drops from gathering or mobs).
One thing about Guild Wars 2 that really amuses me is the mail delivery pigeons. Whenever you receive mail, a pigeon swoops by your character to deliver it. I haven’t tried it myself, but apparently pigeons are so determined to deliver mail that they will even dive underwater if you’re swimming (see video below). Awesome. 😛
Speaking of being underwater, fighting underwater is a bit different than I’m used to. Players have a completely different set of weapons and skills when they’re underwater. Thankfully, you can also breathe underwater. Once you get out of the water, your screen gets covered with water droplets, which is kind of neat.
Scattered throughout the world are vistas, which are mini jumping puzzles. The goal is to find a way up to the floating map object at the vista location. Some are super easy, but others can be a bit challenging to figure out. Once you get to the top, there is a short cinematic that pans across the scenery in the area. It’s a nice way of showing off the environment.
Picking up items
There are various items in the world that players can pick up and interact with. You can lift rocks and throw them at opponents. You can grab fallen logs and whack your foes. Well, today I picked up a rabbit and was able to use it to temporarily run faster, lol!
When your character’s health drops below zero, you don’t necessarily die. Kinda weird. Instead, you enter a “downed” state, in which you fight to survive.
You’re given four skills you can use that let you continue fighting while you struggle to stay alive. I still don’t entirely understand how it works, but if you’re able to kill your enemy before your downed health bar reaches zero, you get to come back to life. If you die, you choose a waypoint to respawn at. You can also be brought back to life if another player revives you.
Nick and I started playing a new MMORPG: Guild Wars 2, which was just released yesterday. We hadn’t been planning on playing it; in fact, we knew nothing about it prior to Monday. My coworker casually mentioned that it was coming out and that evening, Nick happened to see a screenshot (on right) posted on Reddit that made him want to play the game. How cool is it that the character’s knee is bent while standing on a hill?! We looked into it a bit and once we found out that there was no monthly subscription fee and that there was even a gnome-like race (the asura), we decided to give it a try. A few clicks later, we were downloading the game.
When we started the game, we had to pick which world server we wanted to play on. Unfortunately, you can only play on one server in GW2 (unlike World of Warcraft, where you can have characters on multiple servers). You can switch servers, but it’ll cost you. Apparently, you can still play with friends on other servers, but you won’t be able to participate in World vs. World PvP.
There are 5 races to choose from: Asura (short and clever), Charr (aggressive and feline), Human (boring!), Norn (Nordic shape-shifters), and Sylvari (inquisitive plant-like humanoids). There aren’t factions in GW2, unlike WoW.
There are 8 professions (aka classes) as well: Elementalist, Engineer, Guardian, Mesmer, Necromancer, Ranger, Thief, and Warrior.
Character customization is pretty detailed, reminding me more of Skyrim than WoW. You can tweak all of your facial features, height, skin color, etc. AND you can dye your armor! I wish there were more colors to choose from when dyeing armor, but 21 colors isn’t bad.
After you’ve picked out your race and profession and customized your appearance, it asks you a few questions about your character to help create your character’s personal story. This affects your character’s personality and in-game storyline events. I think it’s really neat that the decisions you make have an effect on the game.
Playing the game
I have to say that our first hour or two of playing the game were a bit overwhelming. The controls and UI were pretty straight-forward, but figuring out where we had to go and what we had to do took a little getting used to, as can be expected when playing a new game. It probably didn’t help that we were trying to stick together in a party with a friend of ours instead of learning the game at our own individual paces. At one point, we became separated and couldn’t figure out how to get back to each other (it seems like the separation was probably due to server overflow).
One thing that impressed me right away was the cinematic conversations that take place in the game. The characters in the cinematic conversations move and do a pretty decent job lip-syncing the words. It’s a lot more interesting to watch and listen to these cutscenes than it is to click through a bunch of dialogue screens. And if you don’t care about the storyline, there’s a button that let’s you skip over it.
Another aspect of the game that I really like is the dynamic world events, a lot like rift events in Rift. When there’s an event nearby, it alerts you and everyone else in the area. Everyone who wants to participate can then work together to complete the task.
I’m still learning how combat works, so I’m not going to blog about that just yet. I really like how quickly health regenerates when out of combat, though. That was one of my complaints about WoW.
It’s too early to say for sure, but it seems like Guild Wars 2 is going to be a pretty fun game. It doesn’t feel radically different from other games in the genre, but they’ve obviously learned a lot from other games about what works and what doesn’t and they’ve added some neat new features. I’m excited to see more of the game!
It has been almost a month since Diablo III was released, so I’m overdue for a post about it.
In short, I really like Diablo III, which isn’t a big surprise since I also enjoyed Diablo II. 😛 Multiplayer is handled really well in D3. It’s hassle-free to play together with friends without having to worry about things like being on the same quests and whatnot (*glares at World of Warcraft*). The graphics and cinematics in D3 are incredible, too.
The skill selection is also pretty neat. There are six active skill slots, which are unlocked as the character levels. For each of those skill slots, the player gets to pick from a handful of different skills. Each of the skills has five runes associated with it that can affect the skill in various ways and the player can choose one rune per skill. For instance, Barbarians have a defensive Leap ability. The runes for Leap can temporarily increase armor, slow enemies, knock back enemies, pull enemies in, or stun enemies when Leap is used, depending on which rune the player picks. I like how customizable this makes the character.
My complaints about the game are pretty minor. The lag that occasionally made the game virtually unplayable seems to have fixed itself now. A lot of people have complained about how D3 must be played online, even in single-player mode, though. I also don’t really care for the auction house interface; it feels clumsy to me. My other criticisms are:
There is no way to /follow other players, like there is in WoW. It would be nice to be able to follow another player while looking through loot, organizing one’s bag, picking new skills, etc.
No jumping! 😥
Why do staves make a quacking noise?!
No character appearance customization, other than being able to paint armor.
Stop putting me in General chat, Blizzard! Please remember that I don’t want to be in there. 🙁
The dialogue in D3 is pretty great. One of the vendors says, “I sell things for cheap because I will just take them off your body when you are dead… no offense.” I laughed when one of the captains told one of the soldiers, “If you need to be told which end of the sword goes where, you haven’t been paying attention” (which reminded me of Jon Snow telling Arya to “stick them with the pointy end” in Game of Thrones).
Players who play single-player have the option of being accompanied by one of three followers: Templar (tank), Scoundrel (archer), and Enchantress (mage). The followers have pretty distinct personalities and it’s funny to listen to them badmouth each other as you’re playing. There was one time when I was adventuring with Leah (one of the main NPCs) when she mentioned how excited she was about seeing her mother. The Scoundrel, who was accompanying me at the time, said something along the lines of, “I think this is the first time a woman has ever wanted me to meet her mother!” 😛
One thing that surprised me about D3 was which classes I ended up preferring. There are five classes: Barbarian (brute force), Demon Hunter (archer), Monk (martial arts), Witch Doctor (diseases and necromancy), and Wizard (mage). I thought for sure that the Witch Doctor and Wizard would be my favorites, as I heavily gravitate toward ranged, magic classes and because the Necromancer was my favorite class in D2. Much to my surprise, however, I have found myself preferring the Monk and Demon Hunter and the Witch Doctor and Wizard are my least favorites. My Wizard hasn’t been leveled as much as my other characters, though, so maybe I’ll end up liking her more as she levels…? We’ll see, I guess.
This week, the real-money auction house is supposed to go live. I’m curious to see how much D3 items and gold are worth in the real world. 😛
Today, I started to teach myself how to make addons for World of Warcraft. WoW addons are made using Lua and XML, so it was a good opportunity for me to brush up on my skills. I began by going through WoWWiki‘s Hello World tutorial.
Then, I decided to make my own addon called “GoldPerHour.” The purpose of GoldPerHour would be to keep track of how much gold the player makes in a given period of time. It began as nothing more than a set of slash commands that would print various messages depending on the command. Then, as I learned more about the WoW API, I made it so that the addon kept track of time and income. Gradually, I added additional functionality (such as pause, resume, and reset). Before long, I had a fully functional addon that accurately kept track of my gold income per hour.
After a brief search online, I was unable to find another addon that did what my addon does. Well, I did find references to a similar addon, but it was abandoned 2 years ago and is no longer available.
My next step is to give my addon a GUI, so you can use it with more than just slash commands. I think once that is done, I will put my addon up on Curse. Woot!
I have leveled many characters in World of Warcraft over the past few years and although it has gotten better (mounts at lower levels, dungeon finder, etc.), I have a few simple suggestions that would improve the WoW leveling experience:
Improved drinking water
There are so many problems with drinking water. First of all, dungeons should drop appropriate water for the level of the people running the dungeon. Too often, dungeons have weak, low-level water. Second, water should fill up mana faster. You can’t drink water in combat, so it only serves as a delay between pulls. Lessening the time spent waiting around would be nice. Third, conjured mage refreshments should keep up with the drinks you can buy in the inns.
Ability to share all quests (assuming the recipient is eligible)
Currently, only certain quests are sharable. It seems like quests are unsharable if they have a quest item. I guess this makes sense from a realistic perspective (how can you get an item out of nowhere?), but it just makes things frustrating when playing with other people. This can be especially annoying when when you are brought into a partially-finished dungeon and the group can’t share all the quests with you. It would be rude to run back to the beginning to grab the quest yourself, so you just lose out because the quest was unsharable.
If you can queue for the dungeon, you can take the dungeon’s quests
It’s annoying to get put in a dungeon only to have the dungeon quests grey for you. If you are deemed eligible to kill bosses, you should be able to get quests to kill those bosses. Thankfully, there are only a few dungeons with this issue.
If you can queue for the dungeon, you can equip the dungeon’s gear
Some dungeons drop gear that have higher level requirements than are needed to queue for the dungeon. I have a level 68 character who is holding onto several pieces of gear from dungeons because she has to wait until she turns level 70 to wear them.
Smarter “kick from group” in dungeons If someone is not with the group or is not participating, you shouldn’t have to wait long before you can kick them. Having to wait 10 minutes or more to boot someone who isn’t even there is a little ridiculous.
Heirloom items are bind-on-account, so it makes sense that one would be able to use them on any character on the account, regardless of server. There are rumors that this might happen in Mists of Pandaria. *Fingers crossed* 🙂
Blizzard changed healing with the latest expansion, Cataclysm. They wanted to make healing more challenging, so that healers could no longer get away with using only a couple of spells to heal (like Holy Paladin Holy Light spam). For players like me who used most or all of the healing spells in their arsenals, healing wasn’t supposed to change that much… but healing feels very different to me in Cataclysm.
My biggest complaint is that the different healing classes feel too similar now. They all have an inexpensive, quick, small heal; a more expensive, slow, greater heal; and a quick, expensive, large heal. I use HealBot and I have the same sorts of healing spells mapped to the same mouse/key combinations… and it feels like I could heal effectively on any of my healers without knowing which one I’m healing as. I really hope Blizzard is planning on making the healing classes feel more unique in Mists of Pandaria. I know that monks, at least, are supposed to have a pretty unique healing style that focuses on melee damage.
I do, however, like how Blizzard started encouraging healers to DPS (for example, adding the Atonement, Evangelism, & Archangel talents to the Disc Priest tree). I’m not sure yet if that’s really useful at level 85, but I had fun healing via Smite while I was leveling. 😉
Another change is that healers have to pay much more attention to their mana in Cataclysm. This is to prevent healers from spamming one or two expensive healing spells, though, so it makes sense. Maybe it changes after you get into raiding gear (I haven’t done any raid healing yet in Cataclysm), but in dungeons I find myself drinking a lot, which is more annoying than anything. I really wish water refilled mana faster. :-/
Perhaps I play differently than other healers (or maybe I just need to get better gear), but healing used to feel more creative and fun than it does now. I’m hoping things improve as my gear gets better. 🙂
A couple is going to receive free games for life from Bethesda because they named their son (born on Skyrim’s release date, 11/11/11) Dovahkiin, which means “dragonborn” in Skyrim’s Dragon Language (source).
Nick and I started playing World of Warcraft again last month, after a little bit of peer pressure. 😛 Well, I was asked which addons I use, so here are some of the main ones:
Altoholic – Yeah, I’m an altoholic. I love learning all the different classes and specs. I have leveled every class, except for rogue and hunter, to level 80+. Because I play so many different characters, Altoholic is a godsend. It allows you to see the gear, talents, skills, inventories, achievements, etc. of all of your characters without having to annoy your friends by switching back and forth between them.
Auctioneer – One of WoW’s most popular addons, Auctioneer simplifies the auctioning experience.
Bagnon – I’m not sure I could play WoW anymore without this addon. 😛 It combines all of your bags into one large bag that is very customizable and searchable. It does the same with your personal bank and guild banks (although I typically disable the guild bank option).
Deadly Boss Mods – Another addon all WoW players should have. DBM is extremely helpful with boss fights in raids and dungeons by providing warnings and timers and such.
Dominos – While there are tons of other addons you can use to modify your action bars, I really like the simplicity of Dominos. With this addon, you can move and customize the padding, spacing, columns, scale, opacity, etc. of the 10 action bars.
HealBot – I doubt there is an effective healer out there who doesn’t use a healing addon. HealBot is the addon I use and it is probably the most popular. It gives you a grid of character bars that you can customize with your own savable skins. This lets you quickly switch between one skin for 5-man dungeons and another for raiding or PVPing or whatever. With HealBot, you assign spells and macros to different mouse and keyboard+mouse combinations, so that healing someone is as simple as pushing a button or two above that character’s bar. HealBot also does handy things like monitor aggro and buffs, so it’s useful for more than just healers.
NeedToKnow – Well, I haven’t actually used this addon yet; I only got it on Tuesday when I was re-downloading my addons for Patch 4.3. It is supposed to be a good replacement for DoTimer, an addon I used to use that is no longer being updated. DoTimer was super helpful for DoT-based classes (like Affliction warlocks), because it shows when the DoTs are going to expire on your targets. It looks like NeedToKnow has more features than DoTimer had, but I’ll have to spend some time customizing it to see what all it can do for me.
Postal – Helpful mailbox addon. It autocompletes names for your alts, friends, guildies, etc. and, most importantly, lets you open all of your mail with one click.
Recount – Another addon most WoW players have. Recount is a damage (and healing) meter.
TomTom – Navigation addon that lets you add and reset waypoints. It also has an optional arrow that will point you in the direction of your destination.