Spiral Situation: PvP in Wizard101

As promised, I dove into Wizard101 ranked PvP this summer. This was to follow up on some heavy bitching I did last spring about KingsIsle’s (KI) long-standing neglect of glitches in the system. My level 20 Diviner has achieved the rank of Captain via 1v1. The game’s level cap is 60. So in all modesty, this is no small accomplishment. Diviners have the lowest hit points and base accuracy in the game. However, Diviner spells also deal the most hit points in the game. After weeks of deck revisions, spending training points in new schools, and hatching pets to support my toon, I have but one thing to say: I can stop any time I want. Really. Not.

I wrote about this before, but I want to reiterate that KI fixed the questionable nature of Mastery Amulets, and how that equipment could benefit players in PvP by helping them reach Warlord if they could afford to get one from the cash shop. This came about not only from fixing the flaw with the spell Earthquake. KI implemented so many new layers and complexities to PvP that Mastery Amulets are reduced to a standard strategy to which PvP players must simply “learn and adapt” to succeed.

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Spiral Situation: KingsIsle outdoes itself in May 2011

Before I start my high-octane squee, I’d like to beg forgiveness for being away from KTR for so long after starting relatively recently. My parents, who live in another state, are in their late seventies and had a crisis that required me to be with them and give them my full attention.  Immediately upon my return home, I had to prep and fly to participate in an out-of-state industry convention.  I’m very happy to be back among the rat killers.

I’ve stated more than once that I’m not the president of the KingsIsle (KI) fan club. But you might not believe it after reading this entry. Wizard101 truly reached new heights of excellence in May, and it’s an unabashed pleasure to feature the highlights.  I hope that after reading this, you’ll visit The Spiral.

First up, Wintertusk was released. I reviewed this briefly while it was in test realm, and when it went live it exceeded all expectations.  The single most remarked-upon feature is the music. Nick Jonas, who got his start as a performer on The Disney Channel, contributed to the music for Wintertusk.

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Spiral Situation: Wizard101 Test Realm: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The first thing that must be said about the April (now May) Test Realm for Wizard101 is that there is not a single ugly thing about it. There’s not even a single bad thing about it. It’s all good.

First and foremost, Wintertusk is breathtaking. The music of Wintertusk has received adulation from players of all ages – it’s the one feature that players have praised the most. The Wintertusk graphics and the battles also reach new levels of amazing.

There are new school (i.e., class) spell quests for toons level 35 and 58. As always, there is debate among players as to the usefulness of the spells that have been awarded. For example, Ice School players seem fond of the spell they can cast to reduced damage from the next spell of any class. However, they aren’t big fans of the so-called “upgraded ice armor” spell.

Players of each school will receive an additional school pet at level 58. As with the new spells, players debate over the choice of spell for each school. Many Storm school players wish their pet was a Leviathan instead of a Kraken (or a “stupid sneezing Kraken” as one of my Diviner friends calls it). However, they soon swarmed Doctor Purreau’s Hatchery to mix and match pets and see what neat-o hybrids might be obtained. A Death Phoenix? Yes please!

New gardening features have been added, primarily the addition of new seeds. New seeds are fun, because they present new challenges in terms of needs and likes, and drop new loot upon harvesting. The loot dropped from gardening might be low-level reagents which can be sold at the Bazaar, or it might be Mega-Snacks which otherwise can only be obtained through the cash shop.

The Test Realm also rolls out not one but two things that players have dearly wished for yet didn’t believe they would ever live to see. First off, wand stitching. This will enable players to take the stats from one wand (or sword, which is the other casting implement in Wizard101) to the appearance of another. So if you have a wand that looks kickin’ with your favorite battle duds, but it casts strikes that waste all of your best-laid class traps, you can have the best of both worlds once the Test Realm goes live by stitching it to an implement with wand strikes of a different school.

The second /swoon! addition currently being tested is the ability to set unequipped mounts free in your house or dorm room. The player community has been longing for this ever since mounts came out – we’ve wanted to see them float around our homes alongside our pets. Truthfully, I don’t think any of us thought KingsIsle would give in to this whimsical desire. But they have in spades. Bravo KingsIsle!

I haven’t covered every last feature currently in the Test Realm. There are new mounts, and the new spells for each school deserve careful review and dissection. When the Test Realm goes live, I’ll be sure to at least hit the highlights.

KI Teases Earthquake Fairness in Test Realm

So, after my big ranty rant last week about Wizard101, addressing the Earthquake spell exploit in PvP, and how the cash-shop equipment making it possible for anyone to buy the highest PvP title in the game, KingsIsle goes and launches the test realm today.

One of the updates being tested? Earthquake will no longer remove stun shields.

If this makes it to the live realm, and actually WORKS, I’ll be impressed.

There’s lots of other updates to truly be excited about, including the much-desired ability (for cash) to change the appearance of your wand/sword. New pets, new spells, and new content (the Wintertusk area, which is linked to the storyline in Grizzleheim). There’s also a new dungeon (i.e., optional quest area with high-quality drops) for players who have hit the level max.

I’ll investigate the Test Realm for a few days before asking you to suffer through an in-depth analysis. But I’ll leave you with this thought:

When will KI realize it’s not too smart to release new questing areas if they aren’t going to raise the level cap at the same time?


Who’s getting it their way now? The Saga of the Burger King Amulet continues

Remember that I’ve previously asserted that I’m not President of the KingsIsle fan club. Here be well-founded anger.

On Friday, April 8th, the Test Realm for Wizard101 opened to test new equipment. These amulets allows a player to convert otherwise school-specific double-powered pips (sort of like combo points) for equal-strength use in a different school. For example, if you play Ice school you could buy a Myth school amulet and have essentially the same power with Myth spells.

The amulets went live in a shockingly short amount of time: the following Wednesday, April 13th. In more than two years of playing the game, since five months after its release, I have never seen anything move from test realm to live so rapidly. I can’t fathom why KingsIsle moved so quickly. They knew, without a doubt, that the programming on this equipment was clearly, deeply and unfairly flawed in regards to the PvP component of the game.
Continue reading Who’s getting it their way now? The Saga of the Burger King Amulet continues

Spiral Situation

Test Realm April 2011: Burger King Amulets

Having asked Ethic if I could establish a bi-weekly column, I wasn’t expecting to post again so soon after bashing bubbly on the hull of my Spiral Situation. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear but those magical words: Test Realm Status: ONLINE!

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Spiral Situation

For about two weeks, Wizard101 players were tantalized by a countdown clock on the patch screen. We quickly deduced that the “something special coming to The Spiral” would arrive on April 1: anyone with a speck of common sense realized it would be something at least slightly humorous.

It was not until the lid was ripped off the surprise that the community realized the limited range of some players’ sense of humor. The big announcement was the arrival of a new pet in the Crowns Shop (i.e. cash shop): KingsIsle’s iteration of that fabled fad of the 1970s, the Pet Rock.
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In February 2009, I had never played an MMO and had never listened to a podcast. I’d made a living as a technical writer for about 20 years, but freelance work had dried up in the plunging economy. I was a 39 year-old former junkie for fantasy and sci-fi literature stuffed into the stale mold of soccer mom. Except I was driving a 1996 Saturn and sporting ripped cuticles instead of a shiny SUV and weekly manicures.

But I wasn’t bitter or anything.

Now, I subscribe to three MMOs: Wizard101, WoW, and LotRO, and I’ve dabbled in countless others. And I’m on four gaming podcasts, but those are irrelevant here on Kill Ten Rats. Because I came to KTR on bended knee asking to write about my first MMO, Wizard101.

I still drive the 1996 Saturn, sporting ripped cuticles as I grip the steering wheel, to tote my uber-son about town. Said uber-son introduced me to Wizard101,  showed me how to use WASD, and has been my biggest cheerleader every step of the way as I pursued projects related to gaming.

To be sure, I’m still bitter and full of snark. But life has become infinitely more tasty since I ventured into MMOs. Becoming part of KTR feels like extra sprinkles on my whipped cream. I hope you enjoy my contributions to the site as much as I enjoy writing them.