Monday, August 11, 2008

Side project, or restart?

So I rolled up a new team on a PvE realm. They're all Draenai, and are level 19 as of last night. Why am I doing it, and what does this do to the first team?

1- I'm not a PvPer by nature. Some players enjoy the thrill of knowing that the opposing faction may attack at any time, and this enhances the experience for them. This isn't the case for me. I like to focus on the game's objectives and on my own casual and laid back explorations, the latter being something that I willingly gave up in order to play with my friends. But multiboxing is my own project, and I realized that I was forcing myself to avoid content (outdoor quests, particularly) in order to minimize any PvP exposure for the group. I considered transferring the current group to a PvE server, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to do that. I was also considering running a group with three hunters and did not look forward to leveling up two more of them on this server. The best option was to start fresh.

Starting fresh with a complete group would also allow me to level them up "legit". The first team was leveled up by grouping them with my level 70 shaman, who would clear instanced zones. All the way through to 60, the most they ever did was fire off the occasional nuke or toss the occasional heal. Then I leveled a hunter to 60 solo. I didn't really run the group as a group until they were 60 and in Hellfire Ramparts. Now I can level the team up via quests, grinding off of mobs, running instances... with no hand holding. It'll give me a better feel for developing my keybindings and working on strategies.

2- I chose a low-population Eastern Time Zone realm. I live on the east coast, and my main characters are on "west coast" servers. Before one of the recent patches (2.3?) this was not a problem, but after that patch my latency regularly hovers in the 300-450 range, where previously it was usually in the 180-250 range. Lag spikes occur more frequently now, and really big ones (where everything stops for four or five seconds and then the lag bar reads in the 5000-8000 range for the next ten minutes) also occur more often. I was hoping to find a server that wasn't crawling with players and that would provide better latency. So far my latency has been in the 140-230 range and it has held steady.

Ironically, I did have some problems with lag between the two computers I use. Sometimes when I pressed my assist macro key, the alts would not properly assist. Sometimes none of them would until I pressed it a second time. At other times, the assists would be random (ie, two characters would assist, the other two would not until I pressed the key again). But when I was playing on Sunday evening, this problem did not show up at all. If it persists, it would be a minor annoyance most of the time.

The server I chose is not crowded, and I ran across few players in the Draenai starter zones. As I level up I will see more of them. But the ones I have encountered so far have been either indifferent or friendly. No one has so much as attempted to cause me any grief, and a number of them have simply buffed my group and moved on. I am always wary of people who want to be a pain in the neck, but to date this server has had a refreshing absence of that type of player.

3- I have done most race's low-level quests several times now. I have only done the Draenai low-level quests twice to level 12 and once to level 20, and that was months ago. The Draenai starting quests are still fresh to me and it wouldn't feel like a grind to work my way through them. They're also very well designed from a gear progression standpoint. I intend to keep twinking to a minimum, and the early quests have provided a decent set of gear for them as they worked their way through.

Perhaps it is the fact that I was not really paying any mind to gear as I leveled the first group, and that I was twinking my hunter when I leveled him. But I don't recall that the Blood Elf starter areas provided as smooth a gear progression through the initial levels. And that seems strange, given that they were introduced together as part of the Burning Crusade expansion. Either way, the team responsible for the Draenai starter zones and quests did a fantastic job.


After creating the team, I moved my only high-level alliance character (a level 61 Night Elf rogue on the Hyjal server, a very crowded west coast realm) to their server. She only had around 365 gold to her name, but she also had a lot of low-level tradeskill items. Several months ago I had decided to level her again, but stopped after she was partway through level 61. During that time I decided on leveling skinning and leatherworking, but after collecting a stockpile of light and medium leather I decided to switch to mining and herbalism. Thanks to that I wound up with a number of low-level herbs, ores, and bars. She brought the whole load with her. She handed each of the team 50 gold and has been providing low-level materials for their tradeskilling.

The 50 gold will provide for their level 30 mounts and allow some breathing room. Other than that, they are on their own. I am going to have them obtain gear only through their own efforts. In other words, they will gear up via quests, NPC drops, and whatever they happen to make. I have all of the tradeskills covered save for engineering. I had started engineering on one of them, but decided to drop it. It's difficult enough to provide enough mined materials for two tradeskills (blacksmithing and jewelcrafting). Also, dropping engineering leaves one profession slot open-- if this team makes it to 70, I can learn the new profession being added in the expansion. Other than engineering, I will be leveling all of the other available tradeskills (with the exception of First Aid), with one character also leveling up fishing and cooking.

Sooo... what about the first team?

I'm not really sure. I have Hellfire Ramparts all but on farm, only needing to figure out the final boss. And I do have five characters in the 61-62 level range, modestly geared (the hunter being the only one who is well geared). I cannot say that I plan to abandon the characters, but for now I will probably leave them in limbo as I work my way through content with the new group. Replacing a warlock and mage with two hunters has both its upsides and downsides, and I guess I'll get a better idea of what those are in due time. For now I'll be working with the new group and chronicling their adventures as I go.