Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thunderforge ... Like we didn't see this coming

Oh hi, I didn't see you come in there.  Welcome to the party.  I always wanted to say that, a la Hugh Hefner.

Many of you don't know me, but I've been screwing with Blizzard since 2000, when I took a visit to Walmart and picked up the new release of Diablo 2.  That game was awesome, and another time we'll go into that thing and how I wrapped my life around it and squeezed it for everything it had.  But in that time I've learned a lot about the company and it's stance on things, including how it many times absolutely screws the pooch and then takes photos for posterity.  I wish I could say it was from time to time, but it is consistently.  Today's piece is opinion and exposition, it's not much to deal with actual gold making.

So let's start my hate machine today, and it deals mostly with our favorite manufacturer.

1)  They never monitor the sites that have been dedicated to hacking and exploiting their games for almost a decade and a half.  Blizzhackers, MMOwned, Ownedcore.  Just to name a few.  If they really had, people would be running away from these sites as soon as people were banned for using the plethora of bots written there, hacks to crash servers, etc.  Instead they flock there because nothing ever happens.  It's even my understanding that Blizz has an understanding with these sites, because honestly I fail to see how their "crack security team that takes their jobs very seriously" isn't banning the shit out of everyone using the stuff from this place.  Someone convince me otherwise.

2)  If the games were implemented perfectly, everyone would have a really good time and casual players wouldn't get screwed over because they weren't in the know.  If they paid attention to the game's economies that they create that would be even better.  Diablo 2/3 and WoW have spawned multi-million dollar sales in items and gold sales.  The beauty is the items in these games are botted, duped, and hacked, with a legion of fans proclaiming they aren't and they barely do anything about it because it would be unfair to an ignorant playerbase that bought these items with real money or bought gold ... wait a minute...  we're protecting them?

3)  Whenever something comes along, they are slow as Christmas to react to anything to do with the in-game economy, UNLESS it directly affects the playing experience for the majority of the population.  Dupe a few thousand Blood Spirits, we'll get back to you next expansion.  Crash the server or kill every friendly in town, however, they'll ban the ever living shit out of the culprits.

4)  They have a legion of players that believe Blizzard can do no wrong, and frankly, these people need a deprogrammer.  Dupes?  They don't exist.  Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!  Or that guy in trade hocking Blood Spirits in lots of 100.  I've dealt with this organization going on 13 years, they honestly have no desire to eliminate the holes in their systems.  Case in point, someone made 500 Blood Spirits to order for me last week and it took them 30 minutes.  Obviously he needed the time to go hack Blood Legion or Raiding Rainbows, because guilds like them get hacked every week, right?

Ok, so what has the hooded one so riled up today and ready to take a flamethrower to the "Ferrari Only" parking spots at Blizzard?  The new quest zone.

It's absolutely filled with bugs and exploits.

First - PvP in the zone is pretty much like Isle of QQ, where you land or spawn, you're a target and capable of dying.  That's not a problem with me, you're level 90, on a PvP server, time to man up.

But most egregious - Blacksmiths are not supposed to be able to learn the new Lightning Bars until the damned thing is unlocked.  And here we go...

Rather than phase the stupid island, they left it completely open.  It's phoned in.  Seriously.  And to prove it, I'm going to give EVERYONE the skinny on how to retain the shit and how others did it, just so you know how it's done and maybe can tell your friends and maybe join me in pondering the QA team's leadership.  And MAYBE, just maybe, Blizzard will learn how to release new content in phased format, since they were pretty freaking proud of that technology with the release of the Isle of QQ and have used it ever since.  So buckle up.  I'm no fan of promoting exploitation, but I am a fan of educating people so they can join my side of the equation and demand better, and maybe hold them accountable for the stuff they make.

First, you need to get to the island on your 90.  Just land and go here:

The best way to get here is on a class with water walking, but if needed bring some water walking potions.  FFS I got here with no problem on a paladin, just keep a spare one available in case a mob hits you (spear throwers and casters are on the way to the location).  Once there, you should see a slope with a tree at the top:

Notice, the only wall walking here is jumping up on a ramp.  There's no wall walking, hacking, or exploiting in any of this.  Simply jump up onto the slope and follow the path into the cave, follow my godly paint skills with the map and land in the Thunder Forge area.

Keep running out the cave exit and you will then arrive in the Thunder Forge courtyard.  The actual forge is past the two guards and the clickable door to the left here.

For those that haven't been here in the PTR, there's a mob that you have to kill named Itoka (below).

He will drop you the item you will need to turn in to learn Lightning Steel provided you have Blacksmithing.  And seriously, the NPCs aren't aware that shit isn't open yet, so they drop you the recipe.  NPCs are the Keystone Cops of Warcraft, they do as they're told provided you have the quest items or required profession.  They don't care, and they certainly aren't going to tell you "I'm sorry, your realm hasn't progressed this far yet, one second while I consult with a GM and report your ass."

And slam bam, thank you ma'am, you're in the Thunder Forge and can learn PvP gear and new 522 epics a full 15 days ahead of the "scrubs" on your server who are still killing dinosaurs and hoping for keys to do loot runs.  Screw that, you have 1-5k PvP patterns to learn that only a handful of blacksmiths are learning.

Why this is so screwed up:

1)  The island is not phased.  It's locked with gates.  If I learned anything watching The Walking Dead, it's that you always check the perimeter, because those damned walkers will find a way in while you're asleep.  The players of WoW are curious and will explore every nook and cranny hoping to find a secret.  Most of them are not ill-intentioned, but many are.

2)  They will chalk this up to clever use of game mechanics unless the majority get upset.  Remember hunters training Spirit Wolves when Dustwallow got revised in TBC?  What are they going to do?  Refund gold?  Take away patterns?  Delete items from inventory?  Most people don't know these items shouldn't exist at this point (or believe we live in the magical land of Oz and they have to wait 'til Phase 4), so that's impossible.  Here, check your Auction House today.  Select Armor, Plate, and search with "Crafted Dreadful".  Fairly certain you'll see some crop up if you're on a server of any size.

3)  There's no alarm bells.  Anyone ever sneak into Hyjal years ago?  Setting foot in the area would have a team of GMs on your ass making you feel like you were the target of an FBI raid.

4)  Anyone making a Lightning Ingot at this point should be targeted immediately.  Not happening.  I know of not one person given a temp ban, but I know many who are making the PvP sets and have the recipes already.

5)  It was implemented.  Blizzard offers PTR so that the general playerbase finds holes in the system to give them something to do later.  I swear it's the truth.  Betas and PTRs are good for one thing - experimenting with the holes in the system, so you can blow through them when it goes live.  There's no goodie-goodies reporting these finds.  Those that find them document them, and pray they go live, which they normally do.

6)  Itoka was supposedly hotfixed, but I can't find any documentation.  People are still camping him, and those that nabbed him early on are still making Lightning Steel.  Myself, I'm not going to be camping him any longer, I have other things to do at the moment and since he's possibly hotfixed, I'm not going to watch water boil.  He'll become available in a few weeks, and then I'll complete my main's training.

The problem is Blizz designs this stuff but QA doesn't think 3 steps ahead.  They go 1, maybe 2, but then they have better things to do when they get to 3.  The answer here was to phase the island so that cheating would be impossible, or at least phase the bosses.  At the very least, put a freaking roadblock in to keep people from going further into a zone than they should

For a company that rakes in a cool 50-100 million a month off just one title, you would think they would have a better Quality Assurance crew.  But then again, I hear they pay those guys squat and they're busy having to wash the developer's cars on Fridays and convince their spouses that working at Blizzard IS part of the benefits package, so I guess I would probably show up and do my job really half assed, too.  Hell, leave a few holes in the game just in case they do the standard layoffs after a bad quarter as a bonus severance package.

Am I upset because I need the recipe on one of my blacksmiths still?  Nope.  What is upsetting is I have to resort to extreme measures and bizarre behavior just to keep ahead of the pack.  If I have to do that, then it means everyone else is being taken advantage of, and that's horse hockey.

Thanks for stopping in!


  1. I agree 100% with your analysis of the oversight. Blizzard should have phased this guy without batting an eye, but they still don't have the whole releasing a patch thing down after all these years. Unfortunately I'm also not seeing Itoka spawning anymore.

    If they added some sort of incentive for participating in the PTR, then they'd get more testers willing to participate. For example something simple like make Valor earned on the PTR -> Valor earned on Live. Still a 1k cap, but what you do on the PTR actually has a beneficial use to a player other than seeing content they'll see in a few weeks anyway. They'd get increased participation and free extra testing, which is what they want.

    1. The primary incentives today are raid testing and getting to see the new content. This past PTR they waited a rather long time to introduce the profession recipes (in my opinion), and given we are unfortunately an oddball class of players that promote goldmaking, it doesn't get a ton of press except when it is datamined.

      Either way, they need to phase things like this, it would be fairer.

  2. Well a blue clearly stating: "You can't dupe items like this. It's not possible." Like just a few months after a huge banwave of DMF-card duping, with the method documented on loads of youtube movies.

    Im kind of shocked.


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