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So, it's possible that nearly one of you cares how my space goat pallie got on with the quest to hit 40 at the weekend?

Well:

Ularia40
I've finally let go of the "completist" approach to questing I had with Leafy – following quest chains to the very end and trying to clear out each zone before I move on. But that doesn't matter with an alt – I've done most of the stuff before – especially as Leafy is within a hair's breadth of being a Loremaster – and given heirlooms and levelling boosts since the days of classic WoW, I'm going to be skipping great chunks of the old world and Outlands anyway. In fact, doing Loremaster has taught me where I can find clusters of quests that can be done quickly and efficiently. And that, combined with Epic riding, meant this:  

Ularia41
 And then this:

Ularia42
Three levels in one day…? Inconceivable!

42 levels done. 38 to go. I think I might, finally, have got the hang of alt levelling… 

Ularia39
This is an almost unbearably exciting screenshot for me. This is Ularia, my space goat pallie, hitting 39, as she did about 20 minutes ago.

This weekend, she will be the first of my alts to reach 40 (bar the cheating Death Knight Boltcracker). My second toon to hit Epic Mount speed. These are exciting pre-expansion time for me.

You see, traditionally I fail as an altaholic. Leafy is pretty much all I play. The observant who followed the first link above will have noted that it has taken over two years for Ularia to gain 12 levels – and she's the fastest moving of my alts right now. But I am running out of things to do with Leaf. Loremaster is in sight, and I do like to fight my way, Boomkin style, through some old dungeons for the Classic Dungeon achievement. And I have stuff I want from Argent Tournament dailies. But these are activities with limited appeal, so the space goat is finally getting some play time again.

Anyone want to bet how high I get her before Cataclysm?

The reality is that it’s not just the gaming aspect of apps that captures users. It’s the sociability – and that’s what differentiates the social gaming industry from the traditional industry. The top apps on Facebook right now are Farmville, Texas HoldEm Poker, Birthday Cards, Treasure Isle, Cafe World, and Friend Quiz, respectively. In fact, the top gainers this week have been (according to AppData): Quiz Planet!, Quiz Monster, Friend Quiz, Friend Interview and Status Shuffle, respectively, indicating that social and interest in friends is king.

via www.socialtimes.com

Many online enterprises are figuring out that the future is social. RealID is Blizzard's hedge against the way that online gaming is developing, not a feature of WoW per se.

Amongst the blog posts discussing Gameplanet’s interview with Ghostcrawler, I completely missed the the fact that there was one with Cory Stockton, lead content designer, as well. (This says something, I think, about the WoW blogging community’s emphasis on game mechanics over narrative and experience, but that’s fodder for another post). I found much more of personal interest to me in that post. For example:

For example, on a quest we might send you to go kill a specific quest mob. When we do that now, we can phase you and have that mob act like you’re the only person there – no other players are visible. It creates a much more customised experience, we can do a cinematic, you’ll get more of an individual set up.

Now, that’s awesome. Quest-specific phasing and encounters? That really opens up the storytelling opportunities for Blizz this time around. They can craft genuinely dramatic encounters with individuals or groups at the end of quest chains that are much more in tune with what we’d see in film or tv as compared to the convention for MMoRPGs.

The fact that the revamped Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep won’t hit until 4.1 is revealed there, too. But I found this revealing:

And a zone that you didn’t see today, but a zone that has had a 95% revamp would be Westfall. Westfall is completely different, huge changes. Almost no quest line is intact because the Defias don’t make sense any more as a threat. Now the Cataclysm is a threat, so things have really changed and all of that will play into the new Deadmines, the boss there and the way that experience is going to happen.

So, there’s going to be a narrative reason for the new dungeons? It’s not just Van Cleef on Heroic? I suspect some people will be disappointed by this news, but I find it rather exciting. Long-term players are really going to get a sense of an evolving, changing world.

And there’s an interesting little hint of a revised strategy for patches:

We actually have a list of old dungeons that are the highest candidates to actually do revamps for. Stratholme’s on that list, Scholomance and Diremaul are there – there are a couple of others that players also really, really liked. So [revamping] those instances are things for when there’s a patch, a gap, and there’s time for us to do it, that’s what we’d fill it with, rather than making entirely new content.

That’s revealing – possibly more so than meets the eye. Can we read a new approach to the patch/expansion cycle in this? They’ve got scheduled time for each patch, and any spare will go on revamping old content to make it relevant again – which must be more time-efficient than starting from scratch. There’s no doubt that accelerating the patch cycle will be crucial to picking up the pace of expansion releases. It may be wishful thinking – but I think I can see something beginning to emerge…