Thursday, September 26, 2019

On The Road Again: WoW Classic

After all my heavy-duty thinkposts on Classic lately I think it might be about time for a simple recap of what Ive been up to in game. Shintar had the same idea, not that I stole it or anything...

I've been trying to focus on one character, my Hunter, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, levelling in Classic is slow and getting slower.

As I said in a comment on a post of Syp's yesterday, and as I mentioned several times here, back at the start of the Classic train ride, I found leveling from 1-10 went considerably faster than I expected. I really would like to do a benchmark test using the same Race/Class/Faction in Classic and on my F2P starter account in Retail. I still think Retail is actually slower from 1-10 on the Free Trial but I might just be imagining it.

Things start to slow down a bit in the teens, then noticeably so in the twenties. By the time you turn thirty you can really begin to feel the brakes coming on. Even so, it's still very fast by comparison to the MMORPGS that preceded it.

If I can play all day (6-8 hours), solo and in open world groups, I can reliably expect to do a full level in the thirties,  In EverQuest in 2004 a full level solo/overland in the twenties would have taken me a week. I used to think I'd had a really good day if I'd made 20% of a level back then.

The other reason for trying to maintain focus on my highest level character is that he's the one funding all the rest. Just buying his skills and keeping himself fed and watered uses most of his money but he's expected to sub the others for whatever skills they need and, especially, for their tradeskills.

I dunno about the future, bear, but South Stranglethorn is definitely orange.
As Bhelgast was saying, money is hard to come by in Classic. Yesterday, partly by following some of Bel's advice, I had my best money-making day yet; my Hunter finished with just over 10g in his purse, twice as much as he's ever had before.

I took him back to Darkshire and cleaned up on the green undead in the big graveyard. It was an interesting expedition. It didn't just make me some money - it gave me another data point for my theorizing on respawns and perceived difficulty.

I went down into the big crypt below the graveyard. It's packed with undead. I'd done it before in a group of four, when there were also other groups down there. That was a hectic, chaotic, frenzied time.

We were all in the high 20s, the same level as the mobs. We could kill them fast but nowhere near as fast as they spawned. We got add after add. There was nowhere safe to rest. The killing was constant and we were almost overwhelmed many times although in the end no-one actually died.

This time I had the place to myself and it was like strolling around a library. There was a full pop of undead and they all stood on their spots and minded their own business. I didn't see a single roamer. They were also all positioned perfectly for single pulls.

I was able to move smoothly through the crypt, picking off every mob in turn without ever getting an add. I cleared the whole place and by the time I'd finished only about half of the mobs had respawned.

I have to say I've eaten in classier picnic areas.
It makes me think, as I'd suspected, that respawn times are dynamic, adjusting to the number of players in a given area and the speed at which the mobs are being killed. I also believe that respawn points are dynamic as well; if someone has killed a mob in one room and it's due to respawn, if there's a free spot in another room, the respawn may pop there rather than back at it's original spot. That's how you see mobs apparently respawning instantly - or that's my current theory.

I made a fair amount of money doing that and picked up a stack of silk. That went to my Warlock tailor, who's leveling slowly on what the Hunter sends her. The Hunter, of course, is about three or four levels behind schedule because I had to take the entire weekend getting my Warlock to twenty so she could work with silk in the first place. It's like one huge jigsaw puzzle on my account.

After I'd done playing with corpses I thought I'd beter knuckle down and get some real xp. I looked in my journal, picked a zone and set about clearing my to-do list. I'd discovered that Southshore, although further north than Refuge Pointe, was a few levels lower. Questing there was fast and the rewards were good.

I killed a lot of turtles and murlocs, some lions and a few ogres. There was huge comeptition for the turtles along the river so that took a while, at least until some named dragon turned up, flew the length of the river and chased everyone away. I saw him coming, waited til he passed, then I followed along behind popping turtles until he turned aroud and came back.

Thanks for the group, dragon. I'd add you to my friends list but you're name's too hard to spell.
Here's a tip: I discovered late last night that there are dozens of the same turtles all along the shores of the huge lake in the adjacent zone, Hillsbrad Foothills. It would take far less time to run there from Southshore, kill enough turtles to get the meat you need for the quest, then run back, than it would to get your share of the spawn along the river next to the questgiver.

When I'd cleared my book of Southshore quests I hearthed back to Ironforge then griffed to Darkshire. I ran along the road and turned into Stranglethorn, where I had unfinished business with Nessawary and sundry goblins from Booty Bay.

I didn't take the griffin dierectly to the pirate port because every quest my level that starts there involves running the full length of the zone to the Northern end, killing a bunch of mobs, then running all the way back. Then doing it again. And again. I don't mind the running but there's just the one road and it can get a bit samey.

I wish I'd known last night that you lived here, turtle! And all your turtle pals!
Basilisks, elder tigers, lashtail raptors and goblin geologists all fell to my gun and axe. And dagger, because I was training that up. I was particularly pleased to get my own back on the geologists, who'd killed my Hunter many times as he tried to cut through the jungle back when he was many levels below them.

I tried to trim the ears from some trolls but it seems most trolls don't have ears. Even though I could plainly see their ears, both when they were fighting me and afterwards as they lay cooling on the ground, the Hunter seemed oddly incapable of lopping them off. The drop rate was so poor - I only had three out of the fifteen I needed after about twenty kills - I put that quest to the back of my book and moved on.

The boss goblin at Booty Bay wanted me to prove or disprove some rumor about a haunted island. I looked at my map and there were only a handful of possibilities. I tried the nearest first. It was inhabited by Level 40 mages. The next had Level 40 pirates.

I looked at the quest again and applied some logic. It was rated Yellow, therefore suitable for my level, which at the time was 34. What's the chance it's up North, with all the other thirties stuff? There was one large island in the North West that I hadn't yet visited. I ran all the way up the map yet again, swam across, avoiding the Elite Crocolisks basking in the sun, and yep, that was the island all right.

You were complaining your paws ached from all the running. Now you don't like your fur getting wet? There's no pleasing some bears.

All the quest asked me to do was find the island, check if it had elementals and a mage on it, then report back. Just for a change I swam the whole way to Booty Bay. I gave my report, took my forty silver and listened with feigned acquiescence as the bloody goblin told me to go all the way back to where I'd just been to kill some of the elementals and bring him their bracelets.

I'd had about enough of Stranglethorn by then. I tucked the quest at the back of the book, took the griff to Stormwind for some business in the Library, then griffed back to Southshore to see if there was anything I'd missed.

I finished up a couple of odds end ends, by which time I was in sneezing distance of Level 35. Thirty-five is a real watershed in Classic; it's the final "must be this high" for tradeskills. My Hunter's Leatherworking is only 185/225 but he's been holding back because of the restriction.

Also the cost. His Skinning skill has been pegged at 225 for a while, held back not by level (gathering skills have a ceiling of Level 25 Adventuring, or so I believe) but by the five gold fee. Until yesterday five gold is the most money he's ever held at one time and I just couldn't bring myself to bankrupt him so he could start getting skins he wouldn't be able to use until he dinged 35.

Well, he's 35 now and he has ten gold so those excuses won't hold water any longer. I stopped questing and went exploring, killing everything that got in my way, which is how he ended up dinging on those turtles along the lakeside in Hillsbrad.

Always a satisfying conclusion to a quest, seeing someone turned into a chicken.

As a reward I hearthed back to Ironfoge and parked him in the Inn. Then I logged in my Level 10 Warrior and did a full level on her in an hour in Don Moragh. It was bang in the middle of UK primetime, just going into late prime for the EU but I had the place almost to myself. If people are still starting new characters or alts they aren't doing it in the dwarf lands on the RP server. If it's happening at all it's probably going on in Goldshire and Westfall.

SynCaine has a post up considering the prospects for further growth in Classic. My feeling is that there won't be a huge influx of new people from now on but that the population currently playing is likely to hang around for quite a while. Judging by the server ratings at log-in, on the EU side numbers have fallen a fair bit - servers are Medium on weekdays during the mornings and early afternoon, where a week ago they were High. In the evenings most are High rather than Full.

Doesn't mean al those people quit, of course. Just that the initial intensity has subsided a little. And even so, that's still a lot of people logging in every day. With the mixed (and that's being generous) reception meted out to Retail's latest update, I can see Classic holding on to more of the tourists it picked up from the main game than would have been the case had 8.2.5 knocked it out of the park the way GW2's Bound By Blood just did.

I feel I'm in it for the medium haul, if not the long. Every day I want to play Classic a lot more than I want to play any other MMORPG. I prefer writing about to it any of the others right now, too. I like my characters, all of whom are developing personalities. I have a ton of stuff I want to do with all of them and I'm all too aware that doing even half of it will take a lot more time than I'm going to have available once I return to work in October.

It's a good problem to have.


  1. My current scheduled post plan is for a status update on progress... myself and group if we do anything... once a week. Everything else tends to be posts of opportunity. But WoW Classic does seem to throw opportunity at you time and again.

    1. I'm getting a lot more ideas for posts than I'm able to write but also I am sorely tempted to dig deeper and deeper into the mechanics, which I find fadcinating. If I do, there's a major risk I'm just going to a) repeat myself and b) speculate about things I don't properly understand so i'm trying to resist!

  2. I'm at 20 with my Hunter, my vacation is over, and my enthusiasm for the level grind is quickly waning. I expect I'll be logging in decreasingly over the next few weeks and unsub at the end of the month. It was great fun to get started, but I am increasingly reminded of the repetitive slogging that was the reason I quit playing WoW the first time.

    There's a lot to love about this game. I am just more of a sandbox guy than a quest guy, as it turns out. If you're not questing, there's not a ton to do in WoW to move forward.

    1. I'm not convinced by the questing. If I just wanted to level, I'm pretty sure it would be faster now I'm in the 30s to find a good, fast spawn around my level or a tad lower and grind. I've done 50% of 35 today and about 40% of that came from just killing stuff - either the mobs for quests or just anything I saw. When I hand in the quests the xp is not impressive. 2500xp sounds a lot but it's only about 15 kills and I could kill twice that many mobs (at least) in just the time it takes to run from the questgiver to the spawn and back.

      Quests are good for cash, though. As for rewards, the stuff I can make for myself tends to be better. I do the quests because I like doing them for the stories and the dialog, mostly, but I don't think it's at all efficient. Also, as an EQ player rather than a WoW player by heritage, I enjoy mob grinding more than I enjoy questing, particularly when I can combine it with crafting mat drops.

  3. If your observation about dynamic spawns is correct it'd be interesting to know if this was already the case in vanilla, or if it's a new thing in classic.

    I can't really imagine that they had this in 2004, but who knows. If they didn't, though, I wonder if it could be considered as a too drastic change to still be called 'classic', as it changes the gameplay experience quite a bit, just as you describe.

    Funny thing is, we noticed the same thing when we played Warframe as a group of four for the first time. Of course you kill a lot of baddies even when solo or duo, but with four players there's mobs everywhere. It's a frenzy. Pretty fun, but too exhausting to play like that all the time for my taste.

  4. One of the delights of reading these posts is feeling long-unused neurons spring to life. Like the competition for those turtles (they're a good source of heavy leather or something, if I recall) or the damned troll ear issue!!

    Always a fun read, thanks.


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