Friday, April 30, 2010

Preparing to plunge into Vashj'ir

It's Friday night at the inn and I suspect that you'd prefer to have something stronger in your glasses to sip on than water. And you'll get that soon. But first let's talk a little bit about something water related.

You see, a couple of weeks ago, Blizzard released the first pre-hand information about Vashj'ir, the new underwater zone that will come in Cataclysm, and I don't think it's been given the proper attention in the community. I don't think it's because we're not interested, it was just insanely bad timing from Blizzard, since the announcement was squeezed in between the mega-huge news about the class changes and the changes to raiding. There was more information going on at the same time than we could deal with.

But now that we've agreed on moving on after this week of intense debating about 10vs25, time has come to think about the idea about an entire zone situated under the sea level. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Are we looking forward to it?

Mixed feelings
My own feelings are a little bit mixed. I think the glimpses we've seen from screenshots and concept art look awesome. I've been snorkeling a bit myself at coral reefs in real life, and considering how breathtakingly beautiful it can be, I think it will be a very good addition to the game - especially since they've hinted that they've found new ways to simulate water in a better way.

Bear this in mind. I am basically very positive about it and I'm looking forward to see what they've come up with. But now I'm nevertheless going to talk a little bit about the possible downsides. My doubts are entirely based on the experiences we have from under-water-playing up until now. They might have learned something from it and improved on it.

The Nagas

So let's dive into my first concern: The Nagas.

To be honest I never was a huge fan of naga fighting. They all look and behave pretty much the same, either they're camping a beach in Zangarmarsh or Ferelas. I have too many memories of annoying silences from spellcasters, and they all look about the same, either they're camping a beach in Ferelas or Zangarmarsh, and they drop annoying loot such as shiny fish scales and fish oil.

I can't really be bothered to see more of them and I sincerely hope that this zone will come up with many entirely new creature models as well, to mix up with the fish people.

The Swimming

My second concern is Swimming.

I would expect that there will be quite a bit of it and every since I did my first diving exercises in that little lake in Redridge, I've just hated any quest involving diving. It was slow, it was annoyingly hard to orient yourself in the water, your character didn't move as you're used to and before they increased the underwater breathing from 1 minute to 3, you had this horrible counter to pay attention to, getting up to the surface for air every now and then.

I have especially bad memories from that pipe in Zangarmarsh that you had to swim through to get to the Coilfang instances. I never knew what was up or down in it, so if I even managed to reach the end of it, it happened just as often that I accidently had turned back to the surface as I actually reached the instance. It was a nightmare when you had a group waiting for you to arrive.

For a long while I relied on my stack of Nagrand Cherries, a reward from a poo quest. At that point they gave you 30 minutes of underwater breathing and that was enough even for me to get through the tunnel. When I ran out of them I started to mass produce underwater breathing elixirs, which I always carried around. The humiliation to drown in the pipe running out of air after 1 minute was just too big to endure (not to talk about the running back after a whipe - when everything turned white there was absolutely no way I could tell where to go. I always put myself at follow.)

Towards the end of TBC they extended the breathing to three minutes, and that has helped a lot. Nowadays even I manage to get most underwater quests down without an elixir.

However, an entire zone under water.... I wonder what that will be like? I suppose I'll spend most of my time in the pocketed undersea caves they're talking about in the preview, where you're free from the water's grip.

The vehicles
And then there are of course also the promised vehicles that are supposed to help you. But this is also my third concern: the vehicles.

Without any doubt we can prepare ourself for vehicle fights in Vashj'ir. And we all know how much we like that, don't we? I sincerely hope that they'll find some way to make submarines easier to manage and more intuitive than the infamous dragons at Eye of Eternity and Occulus.

The name
And now over to my last concern about this zone. The very name of it.

Are they making up those tongue-wrenching names on purpose just to laugh at us? How are you supposed to get that "j" into the picture? I suppose we'll do what we always do in those cases - finding up a nickname that we can pronounce. "The Naga place". "The underwater zone". Or - most likely - just "Vash".

Oh well. I may lack swimming skills and I may not fall into trance at the thought of fighting nagas. But I suppose they'll have sorted this out the day I'm standing there at the shore, ready to take the plunge into the sea. And if not - well then I'll just start mass producing breathing elixirs again.

Now have another drink in your glass at the expense of the house - water, ale or rum, whatever you prefer. May your weekend be joyful.



Sephrenia said...

Oh Larisa. HUGS. Great big hugs. From your recent posts I think you need them. It looks to me like WOW is taking its turn to bite you.

I remember posting something similar when I first read about Ulduar and being full prepared to completely hate driving machines. While I still think it's a waste of my skill set, most of the time I quite enjoy it.

I do hope that the swimming will turn out to be the same. I also died in the Zangarmarch pipe. I struggle in any 3d sort of play style - swimming or flying - I never can get the hang of the dragons in Oculus or Malygos.

I share your worries. I pass you virtual chocolates. You sound ike you need them.

Also - hugs for all your other troubles - worrying about your guild, 25 v 10 man stuff, etc. Good luck recruiting. I'm sure those who enjoy running 25 man raids will continue to do it. I can't see people who like it giving it up to do 10 man stuff really.

Ratshag said...

Mebbes these nagas could drop glyphs of waterwalking and breathin' fer shammies what ain't got them yet, 'stead of scales and oils. Like the cupcake recipes we got up North. At least clams stack now...

On the positive front, ain't no lovin' like the lovin' of a Naga woman. Prolly worth yer time ta check out some of the menfolk.

Spinks said...


Do you remember what it was like when we first got our flying mounts in Outland? I don't know about you, but I was blown away. We could fly! High above the whole gameworld, with lots of things to see and do. It felt so free.

I think that if Blizzard do it right (and I'm pretty confident they will) the underwater zones will be like that too. They will be dazzling, and beautiful, and we'll explore them by swimming (maybe with swimming mounts and magical breathing devices for you puny living beings -- never really understood why Spinks has to breathe at all really). There will be clever nooks and crannies to explore and wonderful underwater beings to study and slaughter.

It'll be a whole new world, and I think it'll be awesome :)

The only thing I really will miss about flying is being able to quickly hop on a flying mount and hover safely above the ground when someone rang while I was soloing.

Markus said...

OMG! I can't tell you how many quests I immediately abandoned once I saw I had to go swimming. In the Malygos fight, all I can say it was a good thing that I could just put the tank on follow in Phase 3 and let him move me around. lol

It's not the idea of Naga that bother me, it's the fact that when I think of water, I always seem to run into a Murloc. I hatesss Murlocs...hatess them forever!

It might be slow going trying to get to each new underwater cave, but a submarine ride instead of a gryphon might be a good change and maybe even a water slide from point A to point B? What pig-tailed gnome wouldn't like that? :)

zetter said...

I am soo glad I rolled a druid go go aquatic form!
3D vehicles have me worried though I really sucked in P3 on Malygos give me 2D like Flame Leviathan any day.


Shintar said...

Thanks for posting this, I had actually missed that announcement myself.

I'm mostly looking forward to an underwater zone, like Spinks I think that it will simply be amazing and cool.

Currently I'm not a fan of underwater quests myself, but Blizzard already showed some improvement in that area in WOTLK, since most quests of that type in Northrend provided you with something to breathe underwater or even a swim speed buff. I'm pretty sure an entire zone underwater would offer something similar.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

From the preview, it looks like we won't be swimming. I picture us in old diving suits, hoping around underwater, but I could be very wrong!

Either way, with the amount of time we'll be spending underwater, I think they came up with some "solution" for it.

Gronthe said...

I wish it were Friday night, the day has just started for me.

I think putting an entire zone underwater will be terriffic. It may be clumsy at first to get used to it, but the optimist in me believes that Blizzard just might have learned from the past and not make it...well, like it is now.

I think the next step would be to create a zone in the clouds, not like Dalaran, but a complete zone with cities that have silky, cloudy rope-like bridges to give you the feel that you're never on solid ground.

I can't wait to plunge from 1,000 yards in the air off my flying mount into the new underwater zone, that will be fun!

Bodoth said...

I still remember the first time I did the quest in Redridge to recover Oslow's toolbox. For the life of me I could not figure out how to dive under water. I was in a group with two other random people. Luckily they were extremely patient while I tried over and over again. Finally I figured it out.. was such a relief.

I would hope Blizz will make the underwater experience a little easier- extended breathing time. etc

disciplinaryaction said...

I'm so completely with you on this. Add to that my total terror of swimming into the inky darkness of any body of water, in WoW or out of it, and I just want to burst into tears about the whole Vash situation.

Magma said...

Am I the only one who never had any trouble swimming? Even when I started the game and had to swim (I still remember my first time). At first I had to think a moment, then it came to me and I could easily navigate as I could on land. Sure the breath thing is a bit annoying, but that's about it. I haven't ever had trouble seeing or otherwise doing things.

Bristal said...

I found the underwater quests to be the most stressful. Sometimes I felt like I was holding my breath myself.

And that's why I loved them. Swimming into a sunken ship is really cool.

I remember Murlocs and Nagas being the most difficult mobs to solo. They call friends, they have useful spells, they move around alot, and they hit fairly hard.

I liked them for that reason, too.

I must have spent a week trying to solo that murloc boss on the beach in Darkshore, my favorite zone.

I'm totally excited about an underwater zone.

Anea said...

I was informed that they were reworking how underwater combat is handled, so I'm a little hopeful on that front.

Besides worrying about the swimming issue, I'm very excited about this underwater zone. I think the scenery will be very beautiful and it will be a nice change of pace from all the "regular" above water zones. I don't mind fighting naga too much, however, I'm not too excited about the potential prospect of murlocs.

And vehicles?! I hadn't thought they would put vehicles. They need to stop that. Now. I hate vehicles.

Chewy said...

I'm completely with you on this one Larissa, I thought it was only me who was so incapable of dealing with the pipe into coilfang, as well as always being "out of range" or "not in front of the target" and then drowning without the nagrand cherries...

My only hope is the snippet that Anea mentioned, the change in the mechanics to make it easier. Otherwise I can't see me willingly setting foot in Vash, no matter how beautiful the graphics are.

Have a good weekend.

Larísa said...

: Haha, thanks for the hugs! I'm not overly worried though - I knew my musings on my own swimming fails might make me seem like I was totally unhappy and complaining, so I tried to balance it by stating that I'm looking forward to the new zone, but apparently it didn't come through.

But I'll happily eat your chocolates anyway. Cheers!

@Ratshag: Hm... You say I should check out their menfolk? I've got a bad feeling about them. They say nagas use gnomes as a bait....

@Spinks: I hope so, I hope so. And yeah, flying on a mount in the water while AFK will never be a good idea. Either you'll suffocate or you'll be munched on by sharks.

@Markus: You want to know a secret? I kind of like murlocs! I find them cute, amusing and original and I'm a huge fan of the quest where you dress up like a murloc in BT. But nagas.... /shiver

@Zetter: You OP cheater!

@Shintar: it's true that it has improved. I remember one quest in BT where you got some sort of old-style diving device. That helped! I suppose they'll hand out things like that in Vash as well. (and yes, I've already switched to a shortform of the name)

Fallstar: I think they'll have to come up with something really handy and easy or druids will be VERY OP.

@Gronthe: Awww I love that idea about a zone in the clouds! But I can foresee a LOT of deaths from falling... or slow fall for everyone.

@Bodoth: Oh, that toolbox... /shiver. I did it later on some alt and it wasn't so bad, but that was after swimming had been nerfed and you could breath for 3 min under water. I don't think I ever completed it on Larísa.

ion: /comfort

@Magma: I believe many players struggle a bit with 3d fights. For my own part it isn't just navigating that becomes hard under water - also for some reasons judging distances becomes a pain. But I guess it might have to do with your gaming background. Maybe you've trained this kid of spatial awareness in other games.

@Bristal: I like a good challenge too but there is somewhere a limit where the challenge isn't enjoyable but only frustrating and annoying. But yeah, I'm excited too and hope they'll make the best out of it.

@Anea: There will most definitely be vehicles. And I suppose that will be what saves me. I think one of the things I mind about swimming is that it's so slow. I never understood why there's so much hatered for murlocs!

@Chewy: oh, you're definitely not alone in this. Just look at the comments. I believe there are many crappy swimmers out there and they have to recognize this and make something about it or else this zone will be highly unpopular.

Melanie M. said...

But you can pickpockt shiny dinglehoppers from nagas! *grin*

evilbeards said...

My mains name is Vash, I am almost positive some jokes will be made :o I've been largely free of it for Wrath, not like BC, where I was frequently compared to that boss in SSC

sscougall said...

Pronunciation of Vashj'ir = Probably Vash-ear. (Similar to the name "Bashir", except the syllables are "Vash" "Ear" rather than "Va" and "Shear".)

Apostrophes in fantasy names are usually thrown in to make the name exotic, but one valid use of apostrophes is to help separate syllables. When I see a Warcraft name with an apostrophe, rather than try to work out what Blizzard is trying to do with apostrophes this time, I usually go with the "Apostrophe = end of syllable" idea.

Going massively off-topic: I had a look at the "Most annoying loot" article you wrote last year and saw you had made a comment about the irritating grind for Engineering. As a gnome, you get a racial bonus to Engineering, which makes the grind to Engineering 375 or 450 meuch easier and cheaper than it is for other races.

Especially during the 360 - 375 push, the other races have to deal with schematics that are green for them, only might give a skill up, and are hugely expensive. Because of the gnome racial bonus, you are actually doing the 345-360 push, which is a lot better.

Except that because of WotLK, you can head over to Northrend at Engineering 350 and start working on Engineering with Northrend schematics, and avoid the horrible BC-era Engineering grind.

sscougall said...

Hm, I should clarify something:

Using apostrophes to indicate where syllables are is a valid (and/or common) use of apostrophes, when transliterating a language.

Real-world examples I know are Japanese-written-in-Roman-alphabet and Korean-written-in-Roman-alphabet.

So perhaps it applies to Azerothian/Draenor/Argus languages-written-in-Romn-alphabet as well!

Perdissa said...

I've always thought that the shiny fish scales and fish oil were a final revenge beyond the grave from the nagas.. for killing them. Clams also used to be insanely irritating, with each one needing its own bag space like some diva.

On topic, I'm excited about the underwater zone, and wonder whether we'll get to see Azshara herself. Seeing the zone is called Vashj'ir, I kind of doubt so, but then again, Vashj is dead unless SSC was merely a setback..

Jb said...

Annyone having problems with underwater movement should roll a druid and do the aqatic form qest. I still remember the frustration from 5 years ago. Good post though, looks very promising.

Carra said...

My major problem with swimming is that it's slow. If they can fix that, it sounds like fun!

As for the pipe, it's giving you breath as long as you're in the pipe. You only start drowning once you're out of it.

Tessy said...

I hated that Coilfang pipe too - swimming down there in seal form with my druid swiftly and elegantly, only to be popped out into nelf form when I hit one of those air pockets :-(

And once I got stuck in some of the vegetation on the pipe sides, had to ask for a summon from my group since I could not move at all!

Larísa said...

: hehe, that WAS a bit off topic, but as a guest at the inn you're free to bring up anything. Your suggestion for a pronounciation sounds trustworthy. Thanks for that!

: the strange thing about wow is that you can encounter the same boss over and over again... spirit ress ftw! So I wouldn't be surprised... And yeah, clams were a nightmare until they did they nerfed them. One of the best changes to the game. Ever.

@Jb: oh, the druids will be SO OP in an underwater world. Can't believe they won't try to even it out a bit! But I enjoy it immensly on my druid alt. Suddenly underwater quests are enjoyable and not just a pain in the ass.

@Carra: yeah, the slowness is definitely almost as annoying as the lack of air.

@Tessy: yay, another member of the club "we who hated the coilfang pipe"!

Pangoria Fallstar said...

@Larisa: My thinking is that the area will be so DEEP underwater, that even Druid water travel form will be useless.

Tam said...

I'm right with you on this swimming crap. We did BFD on SAN a while ago and, oh my god, terrible tank was terrible! I kept losing the group, getting separated from my healer, being unable to find the fishy that was chomping on the DPS. Also I find the fact that you end up paddling about blithely in heavy armour just really really immersion breaking. I know that's a really stupid thing to get hung up on - in a game where you do all manner of silly things including dig around in poo on a regular basis - but it bugs me :)