Hit the ground digging

1st February 2011 – 5.03 pm

The stricter rationing of quests and over-reliance on phasing may be frustrating me in post-cataclysmic Azeroth, but I am still quite enjoying archaeology. And it is perhaps only because of the cataclysm that archaeology holds its appeal. Being sent to dig sites across the old world would be fairly tedious if it weren't for free flight now allowed, making it easy to point yourself in the right direction and let your mount of choice take you directly there. Even so, there is not much difference in riding your own mount and catching a gryphon taxi, but the changes made as part of the shattering have changed almost the entire landscape. Stopping to admire the scenery, marvel at the damage wreaked, or appreciate the shifting boundaries between Alliance and Horde all make flying from one dig site to another an interesting experience.

I like seeing the seams of the world too. There was some fuss made much earlier, when flying mounts became available in Outlands, about how Azeroth was not designed to be flown over and it would take a complete redesign for it to be feasible. And to continue their commitment to new content, the cataclysm became the perfect excuse to recreate the old world whilst continuing to create. Now it is possible to fly everywhere, and if you look in the right places it is obvious where no one was supposed to look—or even be—in the old world. Although there were nice touches made along unreachable areas but seen from gryphon routes, there are plenty of areas that were simply too high or completely unpassable on foot that were essentially undefined. It's fabulous to soar over them and see the joins that had to be made in order for flight to come to Azeroth. It is almost a peak behind-the-scenes.

Flying over Azeroth is even more fulfilling than I imagined it would be. Outlands and Northrend were designed from the start to be flown over, and it is only when looking down over a region like Duskwood that the design of those areas can be better appreciated. The rich, dense forest of Duskwood makes for a richly shadowy atmosphere on the ground, one that perhaps made me enjoy adventuring there more. And seen from the sky it becomes a blanket of trees, patches of ground barely visible for the most part. Although this obscured view may be undesirable as a design practice, preventing players from seeing mobs, resources, or other players, it makes for a more realistic vista. Of course, I must have taken dozens of gryphon flights alongside the region, but now that I am in control of my flight maybe I am paying more attention. I find flying in Azeroth and experiencing my old haunts from a different perspective to be quite relaxing.

And, actually, despite my earlier claim, it is not possible to fly 'everywhere'. Flying up and down the Eastern Kingdoms tickles my explorer bone and I determine to complete the exploration achievements, which I have done on my warrior but not death knight. I thought it would be simple enough, too, with only the blood elf starting zones of Eversong Woods and Ghostlands to discover to have explored the entire continent. But though I understand how I cannot fly across the mountainous border in to Ghostlands, as strictly the blood elves are content from the Burning Crusade expansion and cannot be accessed directly, I don't see why passing through the portal to Ghostlands removes my ability to fly. My first thought is that this is to protect the newbies, but that clearly isn't the case, as flight is allowed over the standard races' starting zones. And I even accidentally—at first—found myself flying over Orgrimmar recently, so there are no anti-flight zones as such. I'm wondering if the redesign of Azeroth completely bypassed these cordoned-off regions, and flipping the flag to allow flight was forgotten about. A quick ride around the regions on my black war bear completed my exploration achievement, allowing me to open a death gate and get back to civilisation.

My death gate, what a great spell. It's what is keeping me in the Eastern Kingdoms for my archaeological digs. The dig sites appear everywhere and can easily send you the length of the continent a couple of times in a session. Keeping my hearthstone set for Stormwind and having my death gate let me return to the Eastern Plaguelands once every three minutes can really cut down on travel time. It depends where the dig sites appear, but going from one end of the continent to the other in a matter of seconds is really convenient. I tried briefly digging in Kalimdor, to see the changes made to that continent and, apparently, to fly over Orgrimmar, but the lack of a death gate-equivalent travel option and the rather tall Mount Hyjal made flying across regions a little more awkward.

I felt I needed the change, though. Flying around the Eastern Kingdoms has managed to keep my attention for a good length of time, but the unchanged skill rankings are showing the strains again. I need to get from rank one to rank three hundred in Azeroth alone before I can head to Outlands for a change of scenery. The expansion continents are only designed for ten levels of development, which equates to fifty skill points, whereas the old world's sixty levels needs to cram six times as much skill progress in to its borders. The increased land mass helps, but not by a factor of six. I've enjoyed flying around and digging for quite a while, at least a good forty levels' worth of progress, but the strain of digging in the same sites is beginning to show. I can almost guess where the pseudo-random position of artefacts will appear now, I've dug the same sites so many times. But I will persevere, because it is only a little while longer and I can move on, and progress will continue apace as Outlands changes to Northrend, and then I will be in the cataclysmic regions and perhaps want to complete the occasional quest as I dig.

Maybe the old world progress from digging is already enhanced, and it will slow down from Outlands onwards. I hope not, but it's possible. The number of digs needed so far is high, although I am making decent headway, but I am already wondering if I could do the same with a second character. Gnomesblight, my death knight, has always been secondary to my warrior Sapphire, at least as far as achievements go. There is only so much grinding I can do, for pets, reputation, or completion, and I never wanted to double my effort for the ephemeral 'reward' of an achievement on a second character. So when Gnomesblight digs too close to a pet cemetery and finds a fossilised hatchling I am a little disappointed that my pet collector doesn't have this new addition, nor can it be given to her. And although I soon afterwards get Sapphire trained in archaeology in a bid to repeat the find, with Gnomesblight still digging in Azeroth I can't bring myself to repeat the effort whilst it is still continuing. Some good comes out of finding the dead pet, though, as Gnomesblight receives the title of 'assistant professor', her first title at that. She's going for tenure now.

  1. 2 Responses to “Hit the ground digging”

  2. LOL, I have been reading from the top (going backwards with age) and after three months of non-stop EVE posts, when I hit this one I was up to the third paragraph and still thinking:


    Then I was checking dates (April Fools post?) or trying to figure out if it was some sort of humorous analogy post, before finally realizing, no, this never claimed to be an exclusive EVE blog, it just happens to have been one lately.

    Talk about cognitive dissonance, my head is still reeling. ;-)

    By Marlenus on Apr 28, 2011

  3. Always happy to entertain, even in unanticipated ways.

    And it's been three months, huh? I should probably mention to my guild that I've stopped playing World of Warcarft.

    By pjharvey on Apr 28, 2011

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.