Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hypocrisy

The very same day I was complaining in this blog about my raid giving gear to healers and tanks first I found myself in a position to benefit from that very policy and completely forgot to protest. Our warrior tank has all his tier bonuses so I'm only competing with one other healer for token drops now. I feel a bit guilty, like any situation where I notice that I'm benefiting from an unfair system. Should I have refused the token on principle?

It's weird to realise that if I had been any higher on the list I wouldn't have ended up with only Heroic tokens-- previous token drops were almost all from the normal modes that we've been farming for this purpose. The people who got tokens before me are going to have to wait for the DPS to complete their bonuses before they can justify taking the ilevel upgrade. This tier sure is about the bonuses.

Speaking of which, the legendary ring has been depressing me. I feel like we are moving towards this ring being absolutely compulsory for all raiders, and I have lost faith in Blizzard to have any awareness of this kind of power creep.

It would be nice if I could just raid normally and get it, but several months ago I made the mistake of not playing the game for a bit. When I came back to raiding I still needed Highmaul drops for the quest, but my raid was only doing Blackrock Foundry. Today I still need Blackrock Foundry drops when my raid is only doing Hellfire Citadel-- basically I never caught up and actually probably fell further behind because I'm out of sync with the reward structure. Doesn't really seem fair, but I don't care so much that I'm willing to resort to grinding for the sake of "efficiency".

Friday, July 24, 2015

Avoidable mechanics

Spirit spirit everywhere but not a GCD to drink.

Y'know because mana tea is based on spirit now but GCDs are too valuable to spend drinking it. So it's an accurate analogy.

For most of the previous raid tier I felt distinctly regen starved, but having the opposite problem is way more frustrating. Being low on regen at least forces you to play better to compensate. Too much mana will always dumb down healer gameplay, and I have to say I feel pretty dumb running a spam healing rotation on the entire raid at all times because I literally don't have anything else to do with the mana and if I don't overheal I'll end up at the bottom of the numbers.

My raid has been overhealing every single fight. Even progression fights. It's completely ridiculous. I switched to DPS at the beginning of last night's raid (even though I hate melee) because the excess of healing is so obvious that I feel like a dickhead contributing to it. They asked me to switch back to healing on the second boss after a few wipes that of course had zero to do with healing throughput, and we overhealed the rest of the raid.

Is there a way I can point this out without seeming like I'm acting subversively towards the guild? WoW players are a passionate bunch and experience has taught me that their sense of loyalty is very easily offended.

How do players usually figure out an ideal healer/dps ratio? Most people seem to want more healing than they need-- is it a common cognitive bias to think this? Does Blizzard quote any specific ideal ratio? Does the skill level of the group affect healing demand? Should it? I'd hazard a guess that the top ten raiding guilds use fewer healers than most groups.

What I know is that when I heal a challenging 5-man dungeon, I feel like I'm using all the tools of my class as intended, making efficient choices and reacting to dangerous situations. When I heal as part of a team I try to see "around" what all the other healers are doing to fill the gaps, and most of the time it's just really obvious that the gap remaining is far smaller than the throughput that I'm capable of. I feel like I'm spending all my time competing with other healers to fill the limited opportunities for healing in the fight as quickly as possible, since nobody is ever in the danger zone for longer than it takes for five instant heals to land on them.

No amount of healing gear will prevent people from dying stupidly to avoidable mechanics.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The patch cycle

Tier sets and trinkets threaten to change my gameplay with every new drop. I think the designers have let the final tier of the expansion become an excuse to go fucking nuts with any and all class bonuses. So now I feel like a complete dolt for thinking item level was going to matter at all when it's actually all about the bonuses.

I understand Rushing Jade Wind is popular now. Makes sense to take it into fights with heavy stacking, but it's the definition of situational, and it's really not a situation that happens so consistently that you need to improve the spell that you already have for that situation-- at least not at the expense of one of our most powerful cooldowns.

Apparently, Xuen has been declared underpowered this tier. I'm not sure how they are measuring relative "power" in this case, because one talent is a spell that costs a a shitload of mana and only hits the people standing right next to you, while the other doesn't even cost a GCD and does more than half a million healing. Xuen saves lives. Having a tiger up is like having another half healer for 45 seconds. It makes a hard phase easy, even if you don't happen to be standing next to all the people who need healing.

It's obvious what's happening. Monks have too much regen, again. Same as last expansion. Rushing Jade Wind is a mana dump. The ridiculously slow GCD we've been given this expansion probably doesn't help either-- it's not surprising that Mistweavers feel like their GCD is limiting them more than mana.

If you're overflowing with mana you don't need to waste a talent on a spell upgrade that will only help some of the time-- just cast more Surging Mists. One of the strongest points of our class is the 0.5-second channel fast heal combo. If you're not using this every time a raid member is in danger you're not playing a Monk properly.


I joined a new raid. They have some great players but they care way too much about gear and have a stupid policy of prioritising healers and tanks. It kind of makes sense, until you consider the central leadership of the guild all play tanks and healers, and then it makes perfect sense.

I think I'll ask them whether they think this policy might affect raider turnover. It's not unusual to have something of a "curve" to your raiders' performance, but I can't help but notice that this guild is overflowing with skilled healers and tanks (even ones that aren't guild officers) but has only a handful of DPS with a similar level of performance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

SWOTOR lives!

Remember that weird time in the 2000s when EA purchased the James Bond license without realising that the success of Goldeneye on the N64 had nothing to do with the license, and after the first few half-arsed James Bond games had failed to replicate the success of Rare's masterpiece, they made a James Bond game featuring a character with a gold-hued cybernetic eye, a game which they named Goldeneye-- because what else do you call a game featuring a character with a golden eye?

It should be noted that the in the movie Goldeneye (starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond) upon which the N64 game was based, Goldeneye was the name of an orbital laser weapon.

A cynical person might deduce that EA wanted to make a game called Goldeneye first, and contrived the reasons later. This seems even more likely when you consider that in 2010 the same company produced yet another James Bond game called Goldeneye. This time not due to any golden eyes-- this was a "reimagining" of the famously successful 1997 N64 game based on the 1995 movie Goldeneye.

Which brings me back to the Knights in our Old Republic.

I can't tell whether I'm imagining it any more, but the SWOTOR marketing copy always seems so.... desperate.

I know it's difficult for a person to measure their own bias, but I really don't think I'm being biased here. I fucking love SWOTOR. I mean I don't spend hundreds of bucks on a game I only kind of enjoy. I want it to "succeed", whatever that means in the MMO space these days. Is that what SWOTOR is now? A mild success?

I guess it's just hard to see the game as successful while every launch event is being pushed like it's the last desperate hope in a futile struggle against oblivion.

A small detail that was lost on me until I went looking is that this expansion doesn't cost anything, it's just being added to the live game. Ironic that these guys (oh hey look it's EA again) are giving away the last thing that WoW players still have to pay handsomely for-- I can't be the only person who's noticed the steady upward creep in Blizzard's expansion pricing.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Waiting for the next patch

My subscription is down to hours remaining again. I might let it lapse until the next raid. My gold reserves are plenty healthy so I'm not worried about a sudden spike in the Token price, but it's been disappointing me for the past few weeks in its stubborn refusal to drop even below 22k at any of the times I checked.

I've been predicting since the beginning that the Token price will gradually decline to somewhere closer to 10k than 20k, a prediction that has so far been completely false. My judgement of the people who buy and sell Tokens might be way off, but I feel like it's also likely that Blizzard inflates the price beyond the point normal supply and demand would otherwise place it.

I should read around the WoW auction house blogs to see whether there's been much speculation or experimentation into the mechanics that control the actual Token price. I will begin my own speculation now.

I have to assume they started with an idea of how much gold they want to sell for $20. Maybe based on 3rd party gold price, maybe on player psychology and focus testing.

Then they would probably have some kind of price index that they can use to calculate inflation for each realm and adjust for it so the value of buying gold is more or less the same between realms.

Then maybe add a small variable that makes the price move by incidental amounts in step with actual supply and demand, to give players a sort-of-true impression that the price is affected by actual supply and demand.

This is what makes the most sense to me based on what I've read and observed. A price this steady is suspiciously suspicious.

I would really love to hear any competing theories though.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free to play

Last weekend when I logged into WoW I was greeted with a big friendly button offering me a month of game time in exchange for a bit over 22,000 of my in-game gold. I realised a short moment later that this notice meant that my subscription had run out. Being short on cash at the time, I clicked the button.

WoW is free to play now.

Making 20k gold in a month is "in my sleep" territory, so the question becomes: Do I want more money or more WoW gold?

You could probably make a good case for paying real money for a monthly BoE to raid with, but I don't care enough about gear that I want to spend real money on it. It makes sense that anyone already interested in spending real money on mounts might be willing to cash in a Token to buy more mounts; though the value proposition probably isn't quite as good for the fairly common BoE mounts as for the spectacular Blizzard Store mounts.

The introduction of the Token does make a lot more sense of how restrictive the crafting system is this expansion; it's been hard not to notice that we had a new expansion drop without the game economy experiencing massive inflation. I thought it was weird when they started selling heirloom gear for gold-sink amounts, but it makes perfect sense in the context of a new player "buying" experience and damage bonuses for their leveling character.

It's a bit interesting that the Token includes a 30%-ish markup on the normal subscription price. The fact that all things considered Blizzard is getting more money on my behalf from the Token process than I would otherwise spend on my subscription is something I feel like I need to note. But it doesn't stop me.

I'm having an incredible amount of fun in my progression raid currently. After spending all of last Monday's raid wiping on Heroic Iron Maidens, it was immensely satisfying to finally get it down last night.

I don't think I'm going to get bored with Mistweaver healing. The channel HoT paradigm is fast and effective and has a flow to it like no other healing class has. I'm still not happy with how clunky the stance changes are and always will be, but they also made our melee healing too weak for progression raiding anyway, so no big deal I just don't use it.

Everything that isn't stance changing is just awesome.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Talk like a blogger

How I pay4a game is the most important thing about it. Most payment models are good: I pay $100 for a game and then I get2play it2find out if I like it.

But some payment models are very, very bad. They try2trick you by putting prices on things that aren't essential2play the game, like alternate colours and even alternate styles of gameplay. This is bad because it forces you2pay for it, and it ruins the game, which you are also forced2play.

This blatant affront2the sanctity of game prices will not stand. I DEMAND to pay $100 for each and every video game I play, even if it's just4five minutes. Strictly flat pay2buy pricing for all games no matter how vastly they differ in fun or complexity is simply the right thing2do. Making a game free shouldBillegal because all they do is trick the players into paying4everything without providing any fun experiences in return.