Quick Note

My host upgraded my domain’s PHP version, which broke the design and readability of Lume the Mad in some sections. As a result, I am working on fixing things to make sure its archives can be perused. The fix will take some time, since Lume the Mad is not at all a priority for me. As a stopgap measure, I’ve updated WordPress and reverted to the default theme just to make sure thing are readable in a basic form.

No, this does not mean I’m back to playing or writing about WoW. I just want to make sure my past work does not fall into the void. There is another reason for it, but I’ll talk about that only when I’m ready.

So… That’s That

I realize this screen shot is a cliche. I joked about it with Matticus the other day. It’s as striking as it is matter-of-fact, but definitely over-dramatic. Many have traveled this path already, and their departure is no different than mine.

I’m sure by now most of my readers knew this day was coming. I’d already stopped playing the game, and the only reason it remained on my hard drive was so I could get screen shots and video footage for the Cataclysm review.

I’ve already discussed most of my reasons for quitting the game, but I haven’t really talked about one of my reasons. So let’s summarize:

  1. I’m generally burnt out on WoW. After seven years, that’s what happens.
  2. I think WoW is becoming outdated and hasn’t changed fast enough.
  3. I’m not optimistic about the future of MMOs.
  4. I want to focus on more than just WoW.

I don’t want to dwell on most of these points, because I’ve already written entries about them. But the second and fourth points deserve some elaboration.

On the Rate of Change in WoW

Recently, Ghostcrawler (Greg Street) posted a blog entry on the World of Warcraft community site talking about how they approach development. In this entry, he was very forthcoming about their philosophies when it comes to making changes to the game. Specifically, he talked about the concepts underlying changes that are implemented in new expansions.

We hear from players who say “My dude hasn’t fundamentally changed in years,” and they want something, anything, that makes them look at their character in a new light. We don’t want to fix things that aren’t broken of course, but we do want to make sure that a new expansion feels all new. Expansions are opportunities to reinvigorate the player base and the gameplay itself. Therefore, you shouldn’t always view a class revamp as meaning your character is horribly broken and adrift on a sea of designer ignorance and apathy. We probably won’t ever reach a point where a particular class has reached perfection and no additional design iteration is necessary. Change, in moderation, is healthy. (Source)


That Greg would write this particular entry immediately after I finished my review of Cataclysm is as coincidental as much as it is convenient. It allows me to get in one last comment on the issue before I close up shop.

Over the past couple years, I’ve come to really like Greg. There was a time I didn’t, but I’ve warmed up to him with each intelligent post and each project he’s worked on. He’s proven he best understands what the game needs and what the players want—things like closer oversight of class balance and quality-of-life improvements that come with systems like the dungeon finder. He’s also proven he is aware of some of WoW’s issues, both existing and developmental in nature.

In this case, he leaves a lot unsaid, because he is toeing the company line. He doesn’t want to reveal to us what changes he personally thinks are needed, because that can be perceived as acknowledging explicit weaknesses in the game, which many investors and company men view as “bad PR.” But he is forthcoming about the fact that changes need to be made to keep the game fresh, which is more than what many employees of a company will publicly admit. And I like that sort of honesty.

One thing I do contest, however, is that “Change, in moderation, is healthy.” Personally, I think more than moderation is needed. When TBC was released, the amount of change was enormous. Heroic dungeons were introduced. Raid bosses were more complex and challenging, across the board. Resilience, the arena system and a linear honor system were added for PvP. Off-specs were made much more useful than they’d ever been. Raids were downsized from forty to twenty-five players. And the entry raid dungeon only required ten people. These were all incredible changes, and some were shocking. And what happened? The number of subscriptions increased. In part, due to releasing the game in other countries, but also because the game was improving. But we haven’t seen this degree of change for a long while.

I’d argue the amount of change needed now is very large. The quest system (at least for the end-game) needs to be revamped, with introductions and conclusions playing out using the in-game cut-scene engine (or some variant thereof). Of course, the ability to skip these scenes and to check the quest log must remain for players with short attention spans. The way abilities work could also do with a fundamental overhaul to make them more enjoyable. A nice start would be to either scrap or change abilities that cause players to lose control of their characters. However, I don’t think changes to abilities should be limited to just this. I’d like to see more emphasis put on the abilities you choose to use. Not in the sense that one spell does more damage than another, and then goes on cooldown, forcing you to use other spells. I’m talking about making each spell different in style, like using EMP with a ghost in Starcraft 2 on cloaked units, or against units with energy. I’d like to see some radical changes made to certain abilities, like making (for example) pyroblast work like a targeted projectile, exploding on impact with the ground (maybe even bouncing a few times before it resolves). Things like that. As it stands, most abilities fly at your targeted unit and simply do damage or perform a simple function.

Of course, I realize some of these proposals might not be technically possible with the current server-client architecture. But then that’s why Blizzard needs to be able to change that architecture to meet the demands of desired game design decisions. I also realize Blizzard might disagree with my specific proposals. That’s fine with me. I just want Blizzard to be aware of the fact that I think the degree of change with each expansion needs to increase. And the quality of changes need to be better. Don’t rush things, as it seemed Cataclysm was. Take your time. That’s what you’re known for. Sure, some people might get a little impatient while they wait for the next expansion, but the game is already bleeding subscriptions with the current approach. So take a chance and see how it works out.

On Focusing on More Than WoW

When I say I’d like to focus on more than just WoW, I mean that in two ways. In one sense, it means I’d like to write about more games than just WoW. In another, it means I don’t want WoW to impede some of my goals in life—to possibly go to graduate school or get a second degree; to possibly work on a running vlog where I go around and show people all the trails they haven’t found in the south bay; or to possibly get a full-time job.

In many ways, WoW has always tended to get in the way of my goals and desires. Though, for a while, that was fine with me. I enjoyed playing WoW. And I enjoyed critiquing and writing about it. But when the joy is no longer there, you have to move on.

And so this is where I stand today.

The End of Lume the Mad

This entry marks the end of my time writing for Lume the Mad and my time playing WoW. I don’t want to say I won’t ever return to WoW, because I might buy the next expansion just to play through the leveling zones. But I won’t ever play it to the same extent I did before. Not unless the game changes radically.

Where I go from here is left to be seen. Currently, I am leaning towards launching a general gaming blog. But I could very well end up writing about movies, books, games, running, or some combination of these. Or I could end up doing something completely different, like embarking on a second degree or starting a new job that demands my full attention. I’m still hammering out my plans.

Whatever I end up doing, I will no longer be writing analyses of WoW, guild leading, druids, or anything relating to WoW on this blog.

It had a great run, and I thank you all for everything. And I especially want to thank those of you who have stayed with me until the very end. I really appreciate your support. It means a lot to me.


Signing out,


Cataclysm in Review: A Conclusion

Here we are, over 20,000 words later. And I am now almost at a loss for them. I’ve written so much about Cataclysm and the state of the game this past month, it’s as though I’ve exhausted my ability to critique. And, yet, there are so many subtleties and details I have failed to discuss. Which is as it should be, because WoW is an absolute behemoth of a game, and to leave no stone unturned requires ongoing commentary. This is why WoW blogs exist. And why some blogs focus on a few specific areas. Without such an approach, you can only speak in generalities. But I have done my best to round out the strengths and weaknesses of this expansion, even if I haven’t really played since late May, or early June.

Considering the competition, there are so many things WoW does right. Increased accessibility ensures players can get involved in the most basic parts of the end-game without too much frustration, and without making the game easier (and before you say it is, I will ask you to take off your nostalgia goggles). Whenever I play another game and I’m forced to troll a general or trade channel to find a group, I realize, “Gee! This is something WoW does right!” And with this and other similar comparisons put into consideration, WoW remains one of the best MMOs, if not the best MMO, on the market today.

But that really isn’t saying much, because MMOs are not where they should be. And Catclysm hasn’t done much to fix the systemic problems WoW endures—the UI clutter, the lack of production value, how classes affect play, etc. I’ve already exhausted most of these topics, so I won’t go into more long-winded commentary about them. I will only tire of it, as much as my audience will tire reading about it.

Instead, I will offer a brief conclusion of sorts. And, frankly, I think Cataclysm is the worst expansion to date. The improvements were minimal. RBGs were incredibly rushed, and its ratings system buggy. It was released with fewer raids than I would have liked. The new in-game cut-scene engine wasn’t used as often as it should have been. You still have to read boring quest text boxes. And the fundamentals of the game haven’t changed enough to help the game break free from stagnation. These outweigh any bright spots of this expansion—the dungeon finder, the art design, the music, the fact that RBGs are now actually in the game, the needed changes for older content, etc.

If Cataclysm is an indicator of what future expansions will bring to the table, I think Blizzard should seriously consider starting work on WoW II. But, unfortunately, that prospect is unlikely, because Blizzard has already begun work on its next generation MMO—Titan. So I can only hope Blizzard will consider making some much-needed fundamental changes to WoW in the next expansion or two.

Cataclysm in Review: Production Quality

“Production quality” is an ambiguous term. It can be used to mean a number of things. In the context of this review, I use it to mean the quality of the game’s aesthetics and the engines that support them. This includes things like the game’s music, the writing, the in-game cut-scenes, the voice acting, and art design.

Production Quality

WoW has generally lived a schizophrenic life. By that I mean the quality of the production in various areas of the game is different and seems to contradict itself. For example, the art design and music in the game are incredibly good, but the voice over work—whether as a result of its direction or the conscious decisions made by some of the voice actors—is sometimes extremely poor.

How is it that WoW can endure such a strange dichotomy of production values and flaws? Is it because it’s a massive production, and a lot of MMO producers seem to run them more like cheap blockbusters than finely-crafted Oscar contenders? They are, afterall, expensive to make and maintain, so cutting corners is pretty alluring. But I really do think they could do better in some areas, and I think the payoff would actually be a lot higher if they would just take their time.

Art Design & Direction

The art direction is one of WoW’s best features. The painterly style of WoW has its charms. It’s not until I stop playing WoW for a while and return to it that I appreciate it. This isn’t to say WoW’s graphics are amazing. They aren’t. But that is a result of a conscious decision made by Blizzard to ensure older machines can run the game. I have no problem with that.

Perhaps the only slip-up in Cataclysm’s art design was the decision to leave the “mountains” in most of Azeroth as the molehills they’ve been since release. I still yearn for the mountains of Storm Peaks and Icecrown Glacier. They were pretty spectacular. So why couldn’t similar mountains be fashioned for the updated Dun Morogh? Oddly, even the mountains in Mount Hyjal are rounded, but I think that’s because they wanted to match the terrain style they used in the Hyjal TBC raid zone. Honestly, I think people are willing to suspend belief and understand the changes are cosmetic, and not necessarily a result of the Cataclysm itself. But, hey, that’s an idea, isn’t it? So I’m not sure why they left the mountains the way they were.

Otherwise, the art team did a great job with Cataclysm, and especially on the new Stormwind and Orgrimmar. Each feels enormous (for the scale of Warcraft) and I love the design work put into them.

Oh, and the new water is awesome, as well. But I’m not sure to what extent the art team deserves credit for that, since I don’t know who worked on it.

The Music

As usual, Russell Brower and his team have done a great job on the music used in Cataclysm. And while much of the older music was modified and re-recorded to meet the current standards of WoW, they made a wonderful gesture to Jason Hayes by keeping some his original recordings in the game.

Derek Duke – Protect the Bottom Line

The music in Cataclysm is one of its brightest spots in terms of production quality. And I hope Blizzard keeps Russell Brower around for a long time!

Sound Design & Editing

Sound design in Cataclysm is generally okay. However, there are some moments missing essential sounds, and other moments that recycle old clips and cause the scene to play out awkwardly.

Just take a look at the beginning of Mount Hyjal, when you’re flying into the zone during the introductory quest.

The music is great. But where is the whooshing sound coming from Deathwing’s enormous wings? When I first watched the scene, I thought “something is eerily missing.” Then I realized it was because it was much too quiet for what was going on. Even if it is just a dragon hovering, spitting fire into a pool of lava, and summoning Ragnaros.

What sounds are in the game are usually well done. But not always. Occasionally, they don’t seem to fit the situation or what you’d expect.


The voice acting in WoW is all over the place. If you raided during Icecrown Citadel, you know what I’m talking about. You go from the awesome “BOOOOONESTOOOOORM!” To the long, terrible monologue delivered by Lady Over-Dramatizes-and-Never-Shuts-Up. And then you go from Putricide’s amusing “Great news, everyone!” (A reference to Futurama, by the way.) To the atrociously annoying Sindragosa and her infamous “BETRAAAYS YOOOOUU!

Of course, by referencing those examples, I’m using the greatest extremes of WoW to make a point, and that’s not really fair in criticizing the work done in Cataclysm. Cataclysm isn’t quite as bad, but it still has the same general problems. Some voice work is amazing, some is mediocre (to be expected for minor lines), and some of it is pretty awful (Sinestra, but she is not quite as bad as Sindragosa or Deathwhisper). Let’s take a look at one scene that really exemplifies all of those claims, the introduction to Vashj’ir:

As you can see, lines land in different positions across various spectrums. Some are good. Some are okay. Some are awful. Some are delivered matter-of-factly. Some are delivered earnestly and meet the level of seriousness demanded by the scene. Some are comical. Some are drab. This lack of direction (or poor direction, I’m not sure which) really causes the scene to play out poorly. And I’d say there is no payoff, if not for the fact it’s ended by a giant kraken.

Nitpicking, there are a few lines that really stick out like sore thumbs to me. The over-the-top deliveries of Mack Fearsen and Budd bother me especially, because they interrupt the original tone set by the soldiers. And then there’s Adarrah’s lines, which come off as forced and unnatural. And why the hell would you use the generic female human /cry instead of the voice actress’ own sobs? They did this in Icecrown Citadel, too, and it’s really starting to bug me. Is it laziness? Did they forget to write it in the script? I’d rather there be no sound and just the animation of her crying.

You’ll also notice some very odd timing on the delivery of the lines. That in and of itself is a problem, but it’s not the fault of the voice actors nor their directors, it’s the fault of the person(s) in charge of scripting the event in-game, as much as it is the engine that handles NPC dialog.


The general writing in WoW is split down the middle. On the one hand, the vocabulary and the technical craftsmanship of an individual line is usually good. But the script for various events is often melodramatic, and sometimes downright weird. Furthermore, the overall story generally feels second rate to me. Whereas Warcraft III had unifying themes of redemption and revenge, WoW’s themes are scattered and often incomplete. And while I don’t expect anything Shakespearean out of the game, I definitely think it could be much better than it is.

The poorer writing work could be a result of the fact that WoW’s creative development team hasn’t really grown at the same rate as the game. It used to be that many of the designers would actually write some of the story, dialog, quest text, etc. So creative development is still trying to find its footing now that it is doing more and more of the writing in the game itself. And, unfortunately, because I don’t really know to what extent they are doing the writing these days, any critique I have will come off as simply uninformed.

But I can stress the importance of having actual writers doing the writing for a game. A lot of companies employ them these days. And their games are (surprise) usually popular in part due to the excellent writing. (And if they also have great game play, that’s a bonus!) I don’t really know where Blizzard is going with WoW in this area, but I really hope their production leads begin to stress the importance and role of quality writing. A good start would be to tone down the popular culture references in some areas, make each scene and sequence more cohesive, and bring writing more to the fore of the PvE game.

In-Game Cut Scenes

Blizzard developed a new in-game cut-scene engine specifically for use in Cataclysm. This was done because the process of making pre-rendered cut-scenes is long and time-consuming.

Unfortunately, the engine wasn’t widely used this expansion. You see very few cut-scenes in zones like Mount Hyjal and Vashj’ir, but an absolutely enormous number in Uldum.

Why this is, I’m not entirely sure. And I’ve already discussed the issue at length in previous sections of this review. But it definitely bears repeating. Why would you develop a system for an expansion, and then make minimal use of it? To meet a deadline? Think about Starcraft II. Starcraft II has an in-game cut-scene engine, as well. The only difference? It makes liberal use of it from beginning-to-end.

I realize Blizzard thinks it’s really important to make deadlines in a game like WoW. If you don’t, people have to play the previous content for an extended period of time, and they might grow bored of it, which has implications in terms of people quitting and upsetting the stability of the game’s guilds. But I really think increasing the production value of the game will attract new players and inspire people who have quit to return. So the extra work (and, hence, the extra wait) seems worth it to me.

Another thing that bothers me about the way Blizzard used this engine was that many of the scenes went unvoiced (especially in Uldum). The dramatic impact of a scene is so much greater if you simply add voices to the characters. Reading is all well and good, but we are in an era of video games where the vast majority of story-driven games are voiced. Why can’t WoW’s major stories, then, be voiced from beginning to end? Cost? Time? Who knows.

And, finally, the system was really buggy. With something so important, you’d think Blizzard would make sure it wasn’t as laden with as many bugs as it was at release. There’s nothing more annoying than being unable to skip a scene you’ve already seen. Or having to watch an entire cut-scene, because it won’t give you credit for your quest otherwise.

Pre-Rendered Cut-Scenes

The pre-rendered cut-scenes in Cataclysm are top notch. But they are few in number, as is usually the case in WoW. The game could really stand to have more of them. Maybe one for each major zone. And maybe one for each raid. I realize they take time to make, but they are a valuable asset to any game.

What’s Missing?

There’s also an issue in the sense that I think the production quality could be much higher than it is in Cataclysm. Why is it that we’re still required to read quest text almost seven years into the game? So many other games’ stories play out entirely voiced and acted. You walk up to someone who gives you a quest (or mission, or objective, or whatever the game wants to call it), and they express their plight clearly and concisely. Then off you go! (Assuming you didn’t decline it.) WoW (and, hence, Cataclysm) misses this. An MMO is not a novel. It shouldn’t be read like one.

I really hoped the in-game cut-scene engine would change some of this. And Blizzard has shown us it is capable of producing quests with high production values. And there is no better example of this than the Thrall quest line added in 4.2. But I don’t think Blizzard goes far enough. I’m fine if a quest asking me to kill some wolves around a poor farmer’s pig farm isn’t voiced or dramatically introduced. But when major quests with important plot development are doled out in the most uninteresting ways, I worry about WoW. Especially because games outside the MMO market have been advancing at a rapid pace. Why would I want to continue playing a game that doesn’t meet my rising expectations in production values? Cost? Guild attachment? These issues are becoming less meaningful, as expansion cycles increase, server transfers seem necessary when changing guilds or playstyles, and increased connectivity between players makes people less reliant on their guild chat and channels.


Overall, the production quality in Cataclysm is missing some very important pieces. And what does exist is middling. Some of it is great. And some of it is mediocre. Some of us come away from Cataclysm with a feeling of wanting more in this department. And that’s not a position you want to be in when the competition is trying to fill the void in this niche in the MMO market.

Cataclysm in Review: Other Systems & Design

Now that we’ve covered the major areas of the game, I want to talk about the other things added or changed in Cataclysm.

The only new systems introduced in Cataclysm, other than those I’ve already discussed, are the guild leveling and guild challenge systems. The other planned system—path of the titans—which was to be tied to the new archaeology profession, was scrapped.

Blizzard did make some changes to other systems. Gear stats are notably different—mastery was introduced as a new stat, some stats were removed, and some stats were made more beneficial across multiple specs. They also tweaked the talent trees, forcing you to choose your primary spec, removing a lot of filler talents, and giving you some necessary bonuses automatically.

Guild Leveling & Achievements

Guild leveling is a simple concept. Just as you would level your character, people can also earn guild experience and level their guilds. With each level comes various rewards and perks. For a list of guild perks, please see Wowhead.

Guild experience is earned through various means. Whenever your complete a quest, complete a dungeon, win a rated battleground, etc., you will earn guild experience. Blizzard is still making tweaks to this feature, since it’s very easy to patch. There is a cap on the amount of experience your guild can earn on a daily basis, though it goes away once you reach the last few levels.

I’m not necessarily opposed to the guild leveling system, but I definitely think it has implications that complicate the diaspora. People are naturally drawn to guilds already at level 25 (the cap). Newer guilds, meanwhile, find it difficult to attract players, since they don’t have the same shiny perks as the guilds at the cap. In reaching a decision to join a freshly created guild, players have to accept the fact that they won’t be earning extra experience or honor, nor will they be able to mass resurrect after recovering from a dungeon wipe.

If you ask me, I think it’s time Blizzard lifted the daily cap on experience. All it does is prevent the newer guilds from being able to catch established guilds in a reasonable amount of time.

Guild Achievements & Reputation

Guild achievements were also added along with the guild leveling system. They work very much like personal achievements, but are earned for the cooperative and cumulative efforts of members in the guild. Some of them offer very meaningful rewards.

Some of the conditions for earning these achievements also involves guild reputation. Just as you can become friendly, honored and exalted with a faction, you can become friendly, honored and exalted with your guild. Raising your reputation works very much like earning guild experience. Various guild-based (and some personal) activities contribute to your guild reputation. The amount of reputation you can earn in a week is capped. This ensures people cannot simply join a guild and have access to all the perks and rewards available to that guild immediately.


As I stated before, the guild leveling and achievement systems come with interesting implications. It requires newer guilds to have to struggle through the system to meet its full potential for attracting players, but it offers another path of advancement and promotes participation in guild-based activities. I’m rather split on my opinion of them.

Guild Challenges

A new feature added after release is the guild challenge. Each week, you’re allowed to complete a set amount of guild challenges in the following areas: dungeons, raids and rated battlegrounds. Killing a raid boss, completing a dungeon and winning a rated battleground are the conditions for completing these challenges. Successfully completing each one deposits a modest amount of gold in the guild bank.

This system is pretty clear cut. You get gold for completing activities as a guild, and you can either hang onto it for guild funding purposes, or you can distribute it to whomever you like in the guild. It’s a pretty nice feature.

Mastery, Stats & Gear

Mastery is a new stat that augments your character based on your primary spec. To offer some examples, each point of mastery increases the bonus damage of a moonkin’s eclipse state, and increases the holy damage done by a retribution paladin. The masteries for some classes are much more complicated than these, however. For example, a holy paladin’s mastery involves placing absorption shields on targets of their heals.

Furthermore, Blizzard has done away with a lot of the older stats. Armor penetration, attack power, spell power, mp5, defense, and block are no more. Armor penetration is gone completely, which is probably just as well, since it overly complicated class balance and gear scaling. Block is also gone. Attack power was integrated with agility and strength. Spell power was integrated with intellect. mp5 was integrated with spirit (shamans and paladins rejoice). I wouldn’t really say defense was integrated with anything. Instead, you simply have alternatives.

Haste, crit, dodge and parry still exist. So you still have to weigh them against each other, as well as mastery.

Strength, agility, intellect and stamina have been deemed the primary stats. And when Blizzard says this, they actually mean it. They have done this designation justice. This often means items lower in item level are not as useful as those that are higher. And this is really as it should be. It’s not always true, but it generally is.

It’s also important to note that Blizzard has made an effort to make various stats at least beneficial to some degree to every spec and class. However, this is not universally true. Tanks won’t find much value in haste and crit outside of threat. Non-tanks won’t find any value in dodge and parry. And non-healing casters won’t find any value in spirit (mages rejoice).

For the most part, the addition of mastery and the changes in approach to gear design is preferable to Wrath’s gear design. Wrath had so many stats, it felt like you had to have a math degree to make sense of it all. And because so many classes and specs didn’t benefit from various stats, a piece of gear would often go to waste after the one or two people who actually needed it picked it up.

Another major change is the addition of bonuses acquired from wearing your class’s appropriate armor type. If you’re meant to be wearing mail, you will get a bonus for wearing mail armor in all eight slots. This is to prevent people from taking piece of gear below your normal armor type, so cloth wearers don’t feel cheated by having to compete with the most number of people.

With the way the system is now, the item tables don’t have to be as large as they were before, meaning less goes to waste. That’s not to say items don’t go to waste at all, but it’s a lot better than it used to be. And the fact that I can go from restoration to moonkin without feeling completely useless is also a plus.

Archaeology: The New Profession

Another new addition in Cataclysm is the archaeology profession. Originally meant to be tied to the Paths of the Titans system (which would have basically been another talent tree), archaeology still found its way into the expansion.

Archaeology is rather simple in its design. You pick it up from Stormwind or Orgrimmar, and then when you open your map, you’ll see regions of the map marked with a little shovel icon. These are dig sites, where you can go and dig up fragments. You’ll only ever see four dig sites per continent (counting Outland as a continent, once you have enough in archaeology to dig there).

Each dig site has a specific classification and will offer different types of fragments. For example, a dwarven dig site will naturally offer fragments of dwarven artifacts. The types of dig sites available to you also depends on your level of archaeology.

For each type, you are given an artifact to complete. Which artifact you’re given is random (but some also require having a higher level of archaeology). You can be given a common artifact to complete, or something rare that will give you an interesting item to use or wear. These can be flavor items, or they can be armor and weapons, if you’re lucky. The items and weapons obtained through archaeology are account bound. But be careful, because you cannot send them to characters on realms other than the one you’ve completed the artifact on (unless you transfer a character with the artifact in his or her inventory).

The actual act of doing archaeology works somewhat like a gathering profession. However, the nodes do not appear until you’ve discovered their location. This must be done using a survey tool, which will point you in the general direction of the artifact fragment each time you use it. The closer to the fragment you are, the more accurate the reading of the tool is.

This sounds like an interesting concept, but it really isn’t. Basically, once you enter a dig site area, you drop your survey tool, see if it’s red, yellow or green (red means it’s far, green means its close, yellow is in between), and then move in the direction it tells you to. Then you drop it again and repeat this until you find the node. Then you click the node and collect the fragments.

It’s just like any other gathering profession, only slightly more interesting. But that’s like saying the Ford Pinto was a slightly better car than the Reliant Robin. Overall, archaeology is yet another boring time sink, just as most professions are and have been for ages in WoW and other MMOs.

This is particularly disappointing, however, because Blizzard gave us such rosy descriptions of the profession during past Blizzcons. As they described it during the panels, it would be a profession intertwined with the history and lore of WoW. But the only references made to the game’s lore or history is simply a paragraph for the race tied to the each artifact type, and the names of the items you get. And that’s it. That’s like proclaiming “I’m going to dig a hole forty feet deep!” But then giving up after making it only a foot.

Archaeology is yet another professional disappointment.


Cataclysm changed the way talents work. Instead of just putting points in the talents you want, and working your way down the trees, you now have to choose your primary talent tree. You are then locked into that tree until you’ve put 31 points into it. And while that doesn’t seem like very much, I must point out that the trees were trimmed down, and the points available lowered.

This is because you’re given some essential spells, augmentations and functionality automatically once you choose your primary talent tree. So you no longer need to spend points on them. This isn’t to say the trees are devoid of talents you need to take, but there is less emphasis on such talents.

For the most part, these changes were made to coincide with the addition of mastery. But they were also made to offer other functionality. For example, choosing balance as a druid means you’re given a new power bar that determines whether or not you’re in an eclipse state. Without this new system, that wouldn’t really be possible.


These are the changes and new systems I hadn’t already discussed in great detail. There isn’t much more to say about them other than what I’ve already noted above. A few are good. One has its problems. And one is incredibly boring.