Monday, 21 February 2011

Where do you get yours?

Whether you're new to WOW, been milling around Azeroth off and on for years, or a hardcore lunatic, there's one thing that's pretty much certain you'll have in common; at some stage (I'd guess pretty frequently) you'll need someone else's help or advice on something. This could be anything from not knowing there's an auto-run button, to working out where a quest item drops to finding the best in slot piece of gear for your class, and which mob drops it. Back 'in the day' of Vanilla WOW, you got a dauntingly thick 'manual' which was already 3 patches out of date and after a cursory glance was swiftly consigned to the back of the drawer (I know this because I've just binned mine after an office clean-out during a particularly dull conference call). Back when WOW was new there wasn't much in the way of internet information to be had, everyone was still learning the ropes and it was quite common to see questions in general chat asking questions which would have red hot scorn poured all over them nowadays should an unsuspecting newbie be silly enough to ask. The fact that people now (generally) know the game better, there's a lot more information available on the interweb, and the complexity of the questions mean that they're not as simple as the "where's Wailing Caverns?" you'd see in Barrens chat at least twice a minute. Trying to glean the finer points of DPS rotations from general chat is simply impossible.

I've (obviously) come back to the game and been playing for three months (is it really that long??) and am at a stage now where I'm comfortable, but don't claim to know everything that's gone on since I left and the thing that strikes me is the complete dearth of good information that's out there. Now I'm not saying there's no information, in fact, there's loads of it, my issue is that much of it is out of date, and not only out of date, but now completely wrong and misleading due to patch changes, some of it was never right in the first place, either just because it was incomplete, or a completely incorrect interpretation from the original author. It was pretty daunting for me as a priest, who'd kept an eye on developments, returning to the game to work out what was going on, for someone new to the game it must be near impossible, the learning curve is so steep I'd imagine a lot of players give up before getting anywhere near 85. Let me give an example, over the weekend I started mucking around with my Death Knight, I'd already fumbled my way to level 82 with him, in something akin to a spotty teenager fumbling with a bra strap in the dark, in order to do some mining for my priests Jewel Crafting habit. But I'd decided to give it a proper go, so first up I Google for "death knight levelling spec" which brings me to a site which states categorically that unholy is the way forward, I looked around a little more and found nothing to dispel this, so off I went looking for "unholy dps rotation" and various other connotations, which took bleeding ages. After a bit of messing around I decided that I wanted to do a few instances and I wasn't particularly enamoured with the potential 13 hour wait time as DPS so I collared the one of the guilds raiding DK's who'd just logged on and pumped him thoroughly for information. Turns out all three specs are equally as viable for DPS, the Frost spec that I'd read as being 'the only one' for tanking claim was complete arse, and I set off copying his tanking build from the armoury (after a quick lesson on ability priorities, apparently DK tanks don't do rotations, they have priorities – it looks like a rotation to me…I think they just want to be special). It turns out that most of the sites I'd visited were completely out of date, even though some of the (the tykes) had 4.0.6 in the keywords, it looks like these are auto generated to boost traffic.

So my question to you is how do you get your information?

My first point of call for simple information, the type that has a definite answer is friends or guildies, I'm not too bothered about looking like a nub, so I'm happy to ask in guild chat if necessary. That is providing it's not something you can get from wowhead, I'd be first to mock a "where's the Hyjal Guardians Quartermaster" as it's a simple search, but something more along the lines of "where in the interface do I change the contrast" which isn't such an easy question to Google is fine.

I use wowhead extensively for all quest, NPC and related information

Wow wiki for boss strategies, although I've been incredibly disappointed by how out of date, and badly edited / written, some of the pages are, even to the extent of having to edit them myself.

For the more 'fluid' questions of stat priorities playing styles and similar questions which don't have a 'binary' right or wrong answer it's a lot harder. Shadow used to get a lot of my time, it was always a bit of a jumble, but recently it's been horrendous, trying to work out what's relevant to 4.0.6 and what's now, whilst wading through threads of several hundred replies is painful. Tankspot and elitist jerks have filled a little of the hole left by, whilst they're not focussed entirely on Shadow Priests, they're generally pretty tidy and hold good information.

The official forums or right out, they tend to be full of guff; people who don't really know what they're talking about spouting their opinions as if they were fact. When someone who does know what they're talking about comes along they're drowned out by all the drivel.

And then there be blogs, since starting this blog I've got to grips with the blogsphere, I never really read too many WOW blogs before coming out of retirement, other than the trusty WOW Insider which was a daily haunt of mine, it took a little bit of getting used to, and I still don't feel totally 'there' but I'm slowly building up a list of authors who I 'trust' because of the continuing quality of their posts, I'm starting to feel I can take what they say as gospel (not that I ever would totally take something on board without checking, but that's just me). And even with these blogs, if you do a simple web search you can quite easily end up at an old post that is out of date (and now incorrect) with no way of telling whether it's correct or not.

All in all its rather difficult to find concise information which you can have confidence in nowadays, I have to say I've been quite disappointed with the amount of erroneous information that's out there, especially the occasional sites which are pulling nasty tricks with keywords to get hits; as a result I've made sure my tags are all up to date, and the permanent information pages which I'm writing (watch this space) to supplement the blog musings will be kept up to date (or at the very least marked as out of date).

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