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There was an article on WoW.com this morning when I made my brief visit about which acheivments the author liked to get on all of their toons. One of the things she mentioned was Blackrock Depths.In it is mentioned both the horrors and joys of the place, which is something everyone can understand. As a warning this post is fairly long .. a TL;DR is at the bottom but I suggest that you do read it.

When I levelled my druid he did several guild runs of Blackrock Depths (BRD) in his 50’s some were smooth runs and some were huge wipefests. At 70 when were were trying to get the guild attuned for older raids like Molten Core we ran BD so many times it wasn’t funny. But I did enjoy it.

Recently I levelled my shammy and in the 50s he spent most of 50-58 pugging of which a lot was BRD. The Looking For Dungeon system though has killed the true essence of BRD. I must have had 12 or so pug groups. Only 1 did we clear all the way, on another we got all the way to the room where you choose to head to the Emperor or the Molten Core, on those two runs alone I managed to gain almost six levels through xp. Of the other 10 or so pug groups there was only 3 times when I did more than the first boss, all that the tanks, and half the dps wanted to do was run in kill the boss needed for the free grab bag.
As a dps trying to level this was dissapointing .. let me put it in a clearer format that expresses my frustration easier. The full clear took us just over an hour and a half, I waited about 25 minutes for the dungeon to pop. So that means in 2 hours I levelled my toon 3 levels. With the groups that only did the first boss I would spend 25 minutes in a que, about 3 minutes running and killing the first boss and then finding myself needing to look for a group again. Total sum xp .. less than 3 bubbles at most.

Each time we were in there I said “can we at least do 4 bosses” to which for the most part I was told no, all people wanted was the goody bag. Which makes me wonder why? The gear in the bags is not overly great and besides which as a levelling toon I would have expected them to want xp more than a bag which will drop gear good for maybe 2 or 3 levels tops.

The group that we did the full clear on initially didn’t want to do more than the first boss, the arena boss and the giant .. but I said “hey I’ve done this so many times it isn’t funny there is no way we can get lost”, and it was true. It turned out that the other 2 dps also had they quest to get the key, we cleared the entire instance. At the end the pally in her BoA gear turns to me and says that it was the first time she had cleared the instance. I said yeh I always enjoy a full clear on a toon at the right level and she stops me and said that I didn’t understand, this was her first clear ever on any toon, and that over half of what we had seen she had never encountered before, and she was glad that despite her initial reluctance she had staid for the entire run.

BRD and so many of the other late classic instances have a lot of stigma attached to them. Everyone thinks its too long, the rewards arn’t worth it, and that overall .. its just too hard. The problem is none of those things just mentioned. The problem is the players.  Most of the current problems with BRD come from older players .. after all new players have no idea what they are in for until they do it.

The problem group is the “Alts” who seem to be most of those running these days. BoA gear has made levelling a lot easier, especially since the stats on BoA gear are workable stats that are more useful then a lot of pre BC gear had. the problem is that many of these Alt levellers are stuck in two places they can’t seem to get out of.

– The first place is their original levelling days when without any experience in leangthy dungeons they woudl stumble into a BRD wipefest .. usually in gear that is by no means useful. Despite the fact that they now have decent gear for the dungeon they seem to forget this fact
– The second place a lot of them are stuck is at level 80. You see their 80’s are geared to the hilt don’t even pause when running through a heroic in Northrend and are done in 15 to 20 minutes. Classic dungeons wern’t designed that way. Your levelling, people around you may not be able to chain pull, you may need to concentrate on what you are doing and yes.. it may take longer than an 80 heroic. In an 8 heroic you face off on average between 3 and 5 bosses. with trash that is for the most part a laugh. BRD however has over 20 bosses and trash that has to be watched & dealt with clearly.

Its due to these reasons that groups flounder in BRD, LBRS, DM, Stratholme and other classic instances. Reasons that in the end are truly .. no reasons at all. In todays game these instances are relatively easy compared to what they once were, they are xp heavens for levellers, and they do drop gear that will be useful as it is these instances which were used to gear people for the early raids. As a levelling toon to jump into these instances and not complete them would be like a group of  fresh 80s who desperatly needs badges to gear finding himself in a dungeon he knows can get him 5-7 badges but they are only doing one or two bosses and coming out with 3.

What I am saying is people should love clearing these instances not fear it. Yes they take longer than 20 mins, but if your on a toon this level you either don’t have raiding commitments because you don’t have a high level toon .. or you are an Alt who should know how long pre BC instances take.

This gets me to the point of this whole rambling post. I miss, truly miss, these longer and more convoluted instances. Blackrock Depths, Stratholme, Scholomance, Dire Maul, Lower Blackrock Spire .. these were truly epic instances. Cities unto themselves they are to my mind the equivelent of a 5 man raid. I personally think that more of these style dungeons are needed in Cataclysm.

Due to the above problems and of course everyones time constraints at end game here is how I believe they should be implemented. They should not be listed as dungeons such as those used for daily emblam gathering but as “Epic Dungeons”, they should drop badges like the others, but should also drop gear that is equivalent to the effort so loot that is one step down from the raiding gear, they should provide the challenge to players rather than being a mostly loot factory.

Its a pipe-dream I know, and I fear we will never see dungeons of epic proportions again and that the only places that will feel the touch of such depths will be raids .. but one can always hope.

TL;DR
– BRD is not hard, Nor is it too long. Shed your preconceived handicaps and enjoy the ride
– BRD is a XP goldmine especially for BoA geared players who know how to play
– Cataclysm needs more BRD style instances, though ones that are not tied to the daily dungeon system.

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About few years ago I bought myself a new camera before I headed off to the middle east for another Egypt trip. At the time I had read all the cool stuff it could do which included stitching together up to 3 images on the camera itself and creating a panoramic photo (like the ones below), which I thought would work really well for some of the promo stuff I do at work.

In the booklet though it suggested a few programmes that I could use to make larger and better quality panoramics .. after 2 weeks of happy snaps very few of them stiched well together using that programme. I was to be honest a little dissapointed but figured that I’d try it out a few different techniques on my next trip.  This would have been great except I’ve been chained to my table the last twelve months.

I was though a few months back taking a screencap in WoW of myself doing something or another down in Thousand Needles (base jumping or something), and I realised that a lot of what i would need to do to get the programme working for real life shots could be done through World of Warcraft.

At first my attempts were no better than those I had acheived using the camera in real life. Images with big black spots in the middle, or with one side towering miles above the other (to state just a few worries). I did stick it out though and after countless attempts actually started producing some decent panoramics from WoW like the following:

The problem was the quality of the images were a bit short of what I was after. I have though found out now how to stich full screencaps and photos together without reducing quality, or reducing it to a preferred level.  To that end I spent a happy few hours running my toon around Mulgore grabbing some nice snaps and converting them at full quality.

So now I know that I can within reason (as in should I not forget to take enough overlaps) be able to build larger panoramics and images from between 1 and a hundred or more photos .. which will for me come in really handy. Who knows, if I manage to break free of these chains I may even post some images here from around the world.

On the down side I have been convinced that since Cataclysm is changing i should get as many panoramics done as I can .. to which at the time I agreed. 3 months and 5 zones later I wish I hadn’t. Still I will try and get as much as I can done before the expansion and will post them here (on a seperate page) for those interested.

I will admit, I am a Horde fan when you talk about Warcraft. The Lore, the History and for most part the Characters. The direction that the Horde has taken since the 2nd War though has been fantastic and has moved away from classic fantasy of good vs evil, human vs non-human to something more grey and much much more fascinating. The more I see about Cataclysm the more I worry over the fate of my beloved Horde .. why? what am I seeing?

– Garrosh is now Warcheif, where is Thrall?
– Vol’jin has it out with Garrosh and deserts Orgrimmar (one upside so far)
– Cairne Bloodhoof: Status: Probably dead by execution
– Baine appears to be in charge in Thunder Bluff
– Horde allied with the Dragonmaw Orcs. I mean WTF?
– Stonemaul Hold in Ferales .. have they been kicked out of Dustwallow?
– Destruction of Camp Taurajo
– Dreadmaul Hold. Have we taken it over or allied with these Ogres?
– Extensive Campaign in Ashenvale while the Southern Barrens Fall

I have never been a fan of Garrosh, not when he was a self pitying leader in Outland and not now that he is a hot-headed, non-thinking warmonger in Northrend. To think of him in charge of the Horde makes me worry. Especially when you look at the changes he is bringing in. First the Goblins, the changes to the landscape they are making is huge. Then there is the Dragonmaw .. I mean these along with the Blackrock Clan were the last bastions of the Old Horde. When everyone else was setting sail with Thrall these guys were still trying to succed where they had failed in the second war.

Either way I am looking forward to wat is going to happen with anticipation, and with dread that all I have enjoyed about the horde is going to die. So I’ll sit back and anticipate eagerly the changes, and plot on how to help the allies kill Garrosh should he indeed be behind Cairnes death.

On another note I have for about a month now slowly been reading throught “Destrons Travels Through Azeroth and Outland” blog, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all his viewpoints I will say this, it is a fantastic read and for those that like to immerse themselves further into World of Warcraft this is a perfect example of someone who has, and someone who can help you to.

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