(New) Shadowlands release date

So a while back, we got the (new) release date for Shadowlands, 24.11.2020.

My feelings toward this are rather mixed, one the one hand, it means we get to play new content and hopefully properly explore the new zones, something I've put off doing on the beta for the release. On the other hand, though I'm hopeful that Blizzard will figure everything out in time for release, it all feels somewhat unfinished in the state it is in during my last testing.

Beyond that, the release date along with the two week delay until the raid opens and one week delay until mythic becomes available, means we will once more have progress over the holidays which is never really a nice thing. I mean, there'll probably be less going on anyway what with the pandemic going on, but still, having that sort of split attention is never all that nice—much prefer simply being able to take a break from raiding during that time rather than having it lurking in the background.

At this very moment though, I think my elation is winning over my pessimism, since I am actually rather looking forward to playing more World of Warcraft, especially with how good the opportunities to play several characters look in the expansion. Now, sure, I can do that during the prepatch, but there just isn't a lot of content to pursue that feels in any way shape or form meaningful at the moment—the raid is on farm since months at this point, gear is about to become completely obsolete, and the whole transmog and mount farming thing wasn't really my, well, thing to any great extent. Sure, getting some specific transmogs can be nice at times, but I rarely feel any particular need to simply catch them all as it were.

To be fair, we are even doing that to a degree, with a somewhat long-running at this point weekly Molten Core run, trying to get Thunderfury. But it's not exactly the kind of content that provides a lot of engagement with a character nor does it take a significant amount of time, so it's not really the experience I'm looking for in the game most of the time.

At any rate, there is that old saying of learning to accept the things one cannot change, and my actions at this point in time have rather little influence on the outcome of the release so all I can do is wait and see, making any sort of premature worrying and overthinking of the whole thing rather pointless. I'll just have to end up showing up for the launch—which I'm hoping goes smoothly once more—level a bit, have some fun with friends, and take my time enjoying the start of the expansion, since it's looking like that too is an option this time around. In the meantime, my energy is better spent making sure the time up until that point is spent enjoyably in good company.

World of Warcraft

Anxiety

So, lately, I've noticed a certain trend in myself of being rather anxious, or perhaps stressed. I worry about the things I need to do, I feel like I get almost nothing done, and I feel like I have this recurring problem with my scalp getting itchy where I'm not quite sure if it actually gets itchy or I'm so anxious about it happening that I focus on it and start noticing the itchiness and then it all snowballs from there.

Now that last one, to be fair, is probably combination of factors and my scalp actually being really dry and itchy is definitely also a contributing factor, but it feels like the anxiety might also be contributing to how they are manifesting and making themselves noticed.

As for the worrying, well, it feels like it's partially down to trying to create some new healthy routines—and routine in general—and the stress associated with making sure not only that I do those things but also the perceived time they take, along with the effort of actually going through with it.

These routines still feel like a gain in the long run but it seems that building them up is taking something of a bigger toll than I had anticipated at the start, especially since they are daily things and as such I never really get respite and a chance to recouperate from trying to adapt and adopt these new changes. Luckily it isn't something I'm undertaking alone which makes it all doable, but we both have our own challenges in actually achieving this goal.

Now, I guess, comes the hard part, after having identified the problem and its potential causes, trying to figure out a way to solve it and actually move past this all. That part I am unfortunately still working on, might be that merely time will solve it for me once the new routines actually become routine and not something I have to really think about, or maybe there are greater unknowns still somewhere lurking that I need to solve in order for this to be over.

Still, I suppose this chronichling of those challenges is a step in the right direction, helping me in my thought process by making it all a bit easier to analyse and take in. I do hope I find a solution soon, this itchiness is really starting to get annyoing, worst part is it was away for a bit and then came back again...

Misc

Router

I did something a bit interesting recently, namely replace my pfSense virtual machine with just a plain Debian install which I configured myself. There were a few reasons I decided to do this replacement and build something myself instead of going with some sort of ready-made package, chief among them the feeling that almost all router distributions (at least the free ones that I have access to) had really subpar IPv6 support which is a problem since I want to look into potentially moving the home network into a single-stack IPv6 world if possible—spoiler alert: not possible.

Now this changeover didn't go quite as painlessly as I had probably hoped, mainly because even in bespoke world there was quite a lot of additional scripting I needed to do in order to support some of the configurations I wanted, and even then there are some outliers like the "smart"-TV that seem to not like being in an IPv6-only world even though all the services the TV accesses are IPv6 enabled.

The first hurdle came fairly early on, after I had gotten the automatic address assignment working primarily through DHCPv6 when I wanted those addresses to get registered in DNS since an IPv6-address is obviously something of a pain to type in and relearn every time they go around changing due to the automatic assignment. Now, while this is something of a supported thing in the ISC DHCP and DNS servers, unfortunately the most important clients for this feature—the servers, mostly running Debian—didn't include the necessary configuration in their DHCP clients out of the box to enable this to happen meaning they all needed to be reconfigured. Not a big deal—and something that makes me want to take another look at configuration management tools even if most of the configuration of most of my servers is still in the "pet" category since they tend to be one-offs serving only one purpose—but still rather annoying and required some debugging to find out why they were behaving that way since my Windows workstation had no problem registering itself.

The second problem in this saga came from reverse DNS entries. Since my address prefix is dynamic and assigned through DHCPv6 from my ISP, even if it rarely changes, I couldn't go the easy route of simply configuring it in the DNS and DHCP server and letting the updates happen that way automatically but rather ended up having to add a hook on the router for the DHCP client to modify the configuration files of the two other services and then reload them as needed. Now this works and is the implementation that I'm currently using, but there were some growing pains since at one point the DNS server decided that these reloads meant it could also drop all of the dynamically assigned addresses from the DHCP server which meant ever time the router got a new DHCP assignemnt it also forgot where all the server were—or rather, their names—which is a less than ideal situation to be in. I found a workaround for this that is less than ideal—simply not updating the serial number of the DNS zone—and somewhat hacky but hey, at least it all works for now.

Having had all of this running now for a while has been something of a mixed bag. Sure, everything basically works and having been able to mostly switch over to IPv6 for internal traffic like was my goal from the start has been really nice, but it is all still a bit janky which I noticed most recently when the server froze due to a CPU bug and needed rebooting, which unfortunately did not lead to the router rebooting itself gracefully and it was instead stuck on bringing up network interfaces for something like 5 minutes before giving up and just booting up without doing that. So even a month or so later, it all still has some rough edges but to be fair I think that was to be expected what with there actually being so big a market for ready-made solutions. It just means I need to start taking the long view on this project instead of assuming it's something I'm simply done with, which is fine.

Misc

Prepatch

So the prepatch is here, has been for a few days even, and it has started in usual fashion, with things being very broken. There's the usual thing, of most addons being broken with the changes that came, I think the biggest problem for them has been the change to require some extra code for frames that need a backdrop since apparently time was being spent figuring out to render non-existent backdrops before so Blizzard changed how they handle all of that.

A bit more annoyingly, what was also rather broken the first couple of days were the servers, which considering how well Blizzard has handled the expansion launches recently was something of a surprise. Patch-day itself was pretty much unplayable, we wanted to do some leveling and couldn't really get started at all before late into the evening when things mostly stabilized somewhat. At this point, the servers are mostly stable again from what I can tell so things seem to have settled, which is nice.

A lot more annoyingly, the patch seems to have brought a couple of bugs along with it, the worst of which is some sort of desynchronisation between the clients and the server, where a player ends up just showing in the completely wrong location. Have had it happen both in dungeons and in the raid, and is rather annoying when it does especially as a healer since the player in question will only be shown in range on the desynchronised position not their actual position, making healing them in dungeons essentially impossible. Raid fights, well depends on the fight and how far one has to move, though luckily we only had this bug come up once and some strategical relogging seemed to fix it so.

Another more minor bug but rather annoying one non the less is the inability as Alliance to start questing and leveling in Battle for Azeroth at the start unless one does Exile's Reach as starting zone. Which would be fine, except the whole reason we are leveling Alliance characters at the moment is in order to unlock the heritage armor which means playing allied races which means we can't play Exile's Reach since we start at level 10. This is a minor bug for me since there are other avenues to level and we mostly wanted to do Battle for Azeroth to see how the scaling on the neck was at early levels and it seems that gets unlocked later anyway, but still it was rather annoying to find it since we spent a good while trying to figure out how to start questing there—including leveling other characters through Exile's Reach to see how that works and seeing if maybe party sync could allow us to finagle our way in there—but unfortunately it all seems very buggy at the moment.

Beyond that, we had our first prepatch raid yesterday—moved from Wednesday due to the aforementioned server/addon issues—and it was all a surprisingly fun time, since we got to do content that was rather familiar while at the same time having to relearn how to play it to a degree due to the class changes and consequent damage output changes following that. Especially prominent in this was no longer having the burst from fire mages which meant we had to adapt some of our strategies somewhat to reach some key damage checks, but overall it seemed that our relative damage had actually increased since we seemed to kill N'Zoth at a earlier point than before. The lack of haste hasn't hit me too badly yet—though the worst part of course comes when we start leveling in Shadowlands—but it was definitely noticeable when doing my ramps on my priest since it means I have to time things differently and potentially not cover as many people. I'll get used to it with time but still a bit sad to have it all gone.

Overall the prepatch has been a fun time so far despite the hiccups, so should be able to tide me over well until the expansion itself launches.

World of Warcraft

Shadowlands

So the expansion got delayed, the pre-patch is hitting soon, I've played some more beta and barely play any live. All of these factors are condensing into quite a lot of feelings towards the game, so I thought it prudent to write those down to process them better.

Delay

Shadowlands getting delayed is old news at this point, and I haven't really mentioned it so far because all I can really say about it is echo what I think the general sentiment seems to be: great news, a bit unfortunate that we have to wait longer since I was really looking forward to having new things to test out—not just in beta form—but the expansion really needed this and I'm hoping it gives Blizzard what they need to make it great. It's giving me more hope that the expansion will be good on launch which is a positive thing, even if it does mean some boredom in the short term.

Pre-patch

With the announcement of the delay we also got the date for the pre-patch, which mostly felt like a concession so that people would have something new to grab on to during the extended wait for the expansion. It is cool, since it will give more people the opportunity to play around with the class changes that were restricted to people with beta access before, and it will mean that we get to do some more allied race leveling we had been postponing so that's a nice bonus.

On the other hand, pre-patch is generally the worst time of the games lifecycle, since it's the time when the old stuff gets disabled or weaker—looking at you, corruption disappearing and secondary stats getting a lot weaker—and the new stuff isn't quite there yet to replace it so it tends to play rather poorly. Still, my time playing it will probably be quite restricted—at least on max level characters where the negatives are most noticeable—so it shouldn't be that noticeable to me and as said brings with it the opportunity to level some allied races so on the whole it's probably more positive than negative.

Beta

Having played more of the beta however, oof. It makes really clear to me why they delayed the expansion and why I was hoping for it, but even though there have been some changes for the positive so far, it still feels like there is quite a lot of work to go before the expansion is in any state that could be classified as fun or good.

The covenants and soulbinds still feel like a mess, more limiting of player choice than actually enabling it. The class changes I'm rather unsure about, sure there is some good stuff in there but the tuning is a bit all over the place which makes it hard to predict if the fun things are the things that will actually stick. The Maw is an unfun mess that I would prefer to completely avoid at this point yet they stuck the gem vendor in there making it essentially mandatory content where you seemingly in its current iteration can spend quite a lot of time there daily.

Barely playing any live

Among all of this, it feels like there's barely any reason to log into the live game, excepting maybe doing the weekly keys and arena on my latest alt.

All of this is putting me into the somewhat strange place of having alternating phases of hype and dread towards the new expansion. On one hand, I'm really read for something new, on the other, the thing we're getting really doesn't look all that good at the moment and even though Blizzard took more time in order to be able to fix that, I'm really worried that it just won't be enough.

At the moment, I'm in more of a down phase which I'm sure shines through in what I've written, and I'm really hoping Blizzard proves me wrong because I would really like another good expansion right about now.

World of Warcraft