Monday, December 6, 2010

Intellect shmintellect.

I rolled a Dwarf Warlock on the weekend. I know the quests are easy for the most part, but as long as I remember to read the quest text, follow the storylines and revel in the fantastic ambience of the game I always have fun playing.

The disappointing thing about playing a lowbie warlock is how ridiculously underpowered it is. I should say at this point that I'm playing on a foreign server, without heirlooms or any external cash supply, but I did the same thing with a Hunter last week on a different brand new server and could still faceroll just about everything.

In a way it's nice for the sake of a challenge, especially going into the mines in Eastern Dun Morogh where the mob density was enough to provide several very hairy accidental pulls. It's been a long time since I felt this acutely squishy, and being forced to play well to succeed is exactly what I want from a game.

On the other hand, going into an RFC run and pushing out my rotation as hard as I could and still producing less damage than the Pally tank on most pulls-- That's just frustrating.

I had really hoped that the stat changes would make low-level casters more powerful now that they can actually obtain real DPS stats, and it's really disappointing to see the lowbie-OP staples of paladin and hunter continue to dominate without even trying.

I remember very early in the Cata alpha low-level caster mobs were ridiculously overpowered due to the int change causing them to "double dip" on spell power stats. Why couldn't we have that? Just for like a week before they hotfix it? Just would really like to see the low-level balance pendulum swing the other way for once.

Monday, November 29, 2010

You mean you have to use your hands?

This morning I saw a man playing Super Mario Bros using the very latest in cutting edge consumer video game control technology, Microsoft Kinect. Do have a look.

I will now direct your attention to the fantastic irony that this state-of-the-art system performs significantly worse than a 25-year-old plastic rectangle you have to hold in your hand. [Like a baby's toy.]

I know this stuff isn't designed for me, but it still makes me sad that the developers who used to make fun games are now diverting resources to take advantage of this retarded fad.

I think this is what growing up feels like.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The important thing is that I'm right.

It didn't really occur to me until just the other day how big a deal today's patch is to people who haven't been soaking up this content in the beta. Maybe my AH rival will take a 4-hour break from camping the AH and I can sell a few gems for once. Really hard to compete with someone willing to spend that much time posting auctions.

Blizzard is apparently still suffering from their groupthink corporate delusion of thinking they can get a patch out on time. At this point I shrug and roll my eyes. Expectation management is important for keeping one's sanity in this game we play. At least predicting the worst offers the consolation of being right when you lose.

I'm wondering how much pull the new class/race combinations will have. I guess not as much as the fact that they're playing through completely new content. I thought it was interesting to note that of the new combinations, the horde gains three tanks, while the alliance gains none, and whether this will affect queue length [by which I of course mean DPS queue length] for low-level dungeons.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This is how we do it down under.

If I was to purchase Cataclysm as a digital download, I would download the game in advance, then play the minute Cata goes live, 7pm my time.

If I was to purchase Cataclysm from my local game store, I would queue up to buy the game the minute Cata goes live, 7pm my time. Then leave the store and drive home. Then install the game from the disc. Then download and apply the inevitable gigabyte of last-minute updates which have been added since the disc was pressed. And then play.

Cataclysm digital download = USD40 = ~$41

Cataclysm hard copy Australian RRP = $59.95

I welcome the digital age. Fuck Australia and fuck game stores -- from now on I live on the Internet.

Friday, November 12, 2010


In a future patch, Titan’s Grip and Single Minded Fury will be merged into one talent.

[I'm writing this now so people will know I called it back in November Twenty-ten and how awesome that therefore makes me. ]

Gevlon's magical skill.

I remember earlier this year Gevlon going on about a “magical skill” he had discovered that was easily learned, and was the key aspect that would guarantee success in most aspects of life [and WoW], which he eventually defined as asocial behavior with peers. I have to assume the buildup to this revelation was deliberate, as he wanted to be sure people understood the extent to what he was claiming before naming it as something with so many negative connotations.

I think he has missed the core ideal slightly. Not caring what people think will typically mean that you only do things that benefit you. But it’s not the fact that you’re eschewing social influence, it’s the fact that you’re taking responsibility for yourself first that causes successful behaviour. Acting asocially is just a mindset that makes self-interest easier to justify if acting this way is not automatic for you. The “magical skill” is personal responsibility.

Gevlon’s “Goblin philosophy” asserts that a self-centred attitude is not only good for an individual, but also good for society, and I find it hard to contradict him. “Self-centred” to me equates to personal responsibility, though it also has the unfortunate negative connotation to mean that one doesn’t care about other people. I really don’t understand why society would necessarily look down on a person who focuses on themselves before others, or assume that this focus necessarily precludes caring about other people.

Pleasing other people makes me feel happy and preserves my social status. If it didn’t have this positive response I wouldn’t care about doing it. Thus my motivation for pleasing others is entirely selfish. Every sociopath knows the value of getting along with and being nice to people.

I’m going to make a bold claim and say that every single “selfless” person doing things for other people has this same motivation. Even “making the world a better place” carries a self-interest. For one, you live in that world and want it to be better for you; being seen as altruistic also carries a social value; and again the thought that you are positively affecting the world will make you feel better about yourself.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. That’s just my point. Calling self-interest a negative trait is ridiculous. It’s not about creating more for yourself than other people, it’s about efficiency -- nobody else in the world can understand your needs as easily as you do, therefore any situation in which another person is responsible for understanding and meeting them -- for "helping you" -- is going to be an inefficient way of doing so.

The only time acting out of self-interest creates an unfair advantage is when the people you interact with refuse to do the same. And to be honest I find it hard to sympathise with a person who will not take that kind of responsibility for themselves.

So I suppose this is where we return to the idea of acting asocially. The social instinct to help someone who is worse-off than you is huge, for me at least. But I wont let myself go out of my way to assist someone inefficiently to do something they could much more easily do themselves. All things considered, the world would be worse off for me doing so.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dear Diary

I try to avoid posting personal things in here. I'd prefer this blog to be more about exploring ideas that I find interesting than "you'll never guess what I did last night..!"

But, you'll never guess what I did last night!

Not one, but two Lich King kills. Yes, I know, it's trivial content now, but what made this impressive was both were from pugs I joined in Trade chat.

I've had horror-story PuGs before, oh I have. These days I go in with "does your raid know the fight?" and when they answer "yes" they provide me my excuse for leaving if they don't.

The first one was a total luck-out on my part. Guy posts in trade: "LF DPS for Lich King." I'm on my Warrior at the time so I ride up to him in Dalaran and on declining his initial invitation tell him I'm happy to bring my Moonkin. I figure I wouldn't mind a chance at my fourth Kingslayer title, and if they're crap, well, he already lied to me about them knowing the fight. =) Turns out they're all alts who know the fight backwards and we execute a very comfortable one-shot -- with more than half of us, my feathery self included, getting the achievement for the kill.

I tried to downplay this easy victory from the Significant Other, who had wandered in half-way through the fight, and that I knew has been desperate for a Lich King kill.

We soon found ourselves volunteering in tandem [myself somewhat more reluctantly] for the next trade pug to advertise, which after some initially terrible first impressions and an extremely slow and rocky start managed to pull themselves together by the fourth attempt. For me it really highlighted how massive the space for error on that fight is now. We had some textbook-horrid defile placements, a warlock who didn't understand how to use his portal, melee s-keying out of defile, and I think my OT must have missed more than half of the Soul Reaper tank swaps... But in the end, nine achievements, including the Significant Other's long sought-after title.

Two very satisfying kills, brought to you by Trade. ^^

The End.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sticks and stones...

In response to what I understand to be a fairly common phenomenon in WoW’s chat channels and some vent servers, I’ve read a few opinions on why figurative use of the word “rape” is wrong. I find it hard to argue that trivialising -- or even worse equating to a victory state -- an act of sexual violence is anything but abhorrent.

On the other hand, though, context. Language is subjective. Meaning is always, always, always contextual. It is not ever endemic to any particular combination of letters or spoken sounds. The letters “c”, “u”, “n” and “t” -- even when combined in that order -- have no meaning that isn’t one individual’s interpretation. Our past experiences with this word allow us to form a meaning. Your past experience will have set up a different context than mine, so that word will literally have a different meaning for you than it has for me.

The problem occurs when people don’t see outside of their own personal context. Many people falsely assume that their own understanding of the meaning of particular word is necessarily the same as another person’s, and therefore the only way this word will be used is in the full knowledge of their own past experience with it. It’s a ridiculous fallacy, but it happens far too often, especially on the Internet, when you lack supporting information such as tone and body language to gauge another person’s context.

I admit to be irrationally offended by some things. For instance, certain people on my server who habitually spew verbal diarrhea onto the trade channel, the kind of stupidity that causes me physical pain to be aware of, for which I wish I had a pejorative term strong enough to express my hatred. I feel like even putting them on /ignore isn’t enough because I know they’re still doing it, on my server. I wish there was a way I could banish them permanently. I fear that their behaviour will influence others to imitate them and gradually degrade the quality of our trade chat to the levels I’ve seen on other servers.

Um. Where was I? Oh right, my point is that it’s completely unrealistic to think that other people should be required to change their behaviour because I interpret what they say in my personal context and take offense to it. They have as much right to speak freely as I have to stop listening, and my only option in the above situation is to accept my /ignore solution and simply stop listening.

This comes back to personal responsibility. Other people are not responsible for what I see and hear-- I’m the only person who can make that choice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blizzard sucks at planning.

I heard in an interview somewhere that I can't recall at this moment, that Cataclysm is planned to have only three raiding tiers at 85. This is one tier shorter than Wrath, which itself was one major patch shorter than BC. "One expansion ever 12-14 months" is the long-stated intention and... I'm sure they're still working on that one.

This is the Blizzard perfectionist, "when it's ready" philosophy at work. The timing is secondary. An odd thing about this philosophy is that it goes both ways. ToC is the perfect example. It was a really short, simple raid and of course it was ready in no time.

Look at the timeline of Wrath and tell me the game would have been any worse from ToC being released two months later. Two more months of Ulduar being the top tier raid might sound boring for those who had already completed Firefighter at the time, but compare that to the last two months of nerfed Icecrown. Or two months of ToC's "twenty" bosses.

From a simple planning decision, we could have had two more months of what I consider to be the best raid Blizzard has ever made, and two less months of "God, I am so sick of this place. When is the next patch coming?" -- but they didn't, because ToC was ready.

It's not really apparent unless you've been watching the expansion progress over the months just how fucking much work they set themselves up to do for Cata. I have to assume the devs themselves didn't really understand what they were getting themselves in for when they pitched it.

I don't have an issue with being patient. I see it as the ground work. They're basically rebuilding the game as a solid foundation to iterate upon through future patches and expansions. Maybe we might actually reach that 12-14 month goal.

Maybe Blizzard will even start planning ahead. Maybe, y'know, they'll plan a schedule and give themselves enough time to have content ready ahead of it. I don't think any lack-of-resources argument really stands up to the hundred million dollars we're paying them every month, only lack of planning.

So I'm still patiently optimistic for the future, assuming its going to be ready soon.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I love what Blizzard has done to healing. =) I've been healing on my Paladin and my now L73 Priest as Discipline and they're both amazingly well-designed. The new healing model in general is just really well done -- fast heals actually feel meaningful with a significant heal, but a high price for the convenience.

Thank you for making me have to think. Discipline hasn't seen much change -- it's as CD focused as ever, but I can't imagine that any of the other healing classes are anywhere near as reactionary as the Paladin's is now. I mentioned the learning curve in an earlier post, and it's a spot-on assessment. This shit is going to take a bit of getting used to before it becomes second nature. I'm not going to be comfortable that I'm a competent healer until I can reach an incident of high party damage and not panic because I suddenly can't figure out what buttons to press for maximum throughput.

The DPS talents are a stroke of genius. And I know they're only there to placate bored healers when they overgear content. But I have to admit, I am placated as hell. =) That 2k of damage per second may not be what I'm used to pulling, but it keeps me sane by allowing me to try to DPS. I can engage my competitive DPS mindset at times when the healing one would only lie idle, lazily hitting a button every six to ten seconds. In the future I think I'm going to enjoy finding a combination of gear, glyphs and talents that will give me the most supplementary DPS without nerfing my healing too much.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Personal Responsibility post no. 1

I'm told that personal responsibility is something I tend to start ranting about a lot if someone gets me going, but that's because I tend to think that it's the root cause of all of society's problems. So I'll most likely return to this topic a few times.

In fact, personal responsibility is what the title of this blog is about, in case you missed it.

What got me going today is all the complaining about the current state of the game. I tired of it. People [by which I mean bloggers and forum-posters, mainly] are so focused on the extent of their perceived problems, but without actually looking for a solution.

I'm going to give you an example from Nils' MMO blog. I don't mean to pick on Nils specifically, but it's what in front of me right now.

In this post, our friend Nils talks about how overpowered his newly-rolled feral druid became at L10 when he gained Mangle and the mobs didn't survive long enough for him to get off a finishing move. He found this boring [which I'm sure I would too]. He took a good step forward in choosing higher level mobs to hit, but then decreed that having an inflated chance to miss made this no fun either. [Which I have to assume is due to his Pavlovian expectation that every button he presses should return an immediate reward and when this fails to happen it causes him disappointment and/or distress.]

What kind of boggles my mind, coming from someone I know is intelligent, is when he proposes the rhetorical question: "Now, that cannot be the designers' intent. Can it?"

No amount of sarcasm could properly answer this question derisively enough for my tastes. It implies an expectation completely disconnected from reality, and outrage at being forced to accept the imperfect reality.

This is just an example, but I'm sure there are many like it. Now I'm going to give you my own example.

Last week I tried tanking with my druid. I found that Swipe was woefully inadequate to hold AoE threat on mobs, so I started shifting out to thorns myself before every pull. I found this necessary two-global ritual quickly became very tedious to have to repeat constantly, and even with thorns I found I had to work far too hard to maintain AoE threat.

I stopped enjoying bear tanking. I don't think I'm going to go back to it until the designers make a significant change to this, or until I can get to L81 and learn Thrash.

Stopping tanking on my druid is not an ideal solution for me, but it's my only solution for not enjoying playing it. It's a solution. It's not getting mad at the designers because I expect the game to be perfect. Or continuing to do it while cursing the fact that I can't enjoy it properly. There are too many other things I can do that I will enjoy.

The game is in a weird place at the moment. I have immense faith in Blizzard to eventually balance everything, but for the moment it's all in flux. The only thing I as a player have control over is how I play it, and I only play it to enjoy it. Blizzard gives me a medium for play and it is my own responsibility to myself to enjoy it in whatever way I find. If by some strange turn of events I can't find a way to enjoy it, the solution is to stop playing.

The world* is not perfect, and it bugs me that so many people have the expectation that it should be. Regardless of who you think should be responsible for creating a perfect solution, it's only your own fault for not accepting the imperfect one purely on the grounds that there should be a perfect one.

Don't curse the darkness, light a candle.

* This also applies to any worlds which may be of Warcraft.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reforging > Gemming

I would like to express how satisfied I am with the new Reforging system. It gives me a serious maths-boner.

With every gear upgrade you literally have to solve the equivalent of an algebraic equation to find the most efficient way to forge your gear to hit all the relevant caps and have the best combination of DPS stats afterwards. It's the kind of thing that I fully expect someone to create a mod to automate, where you enter your stat weightings and it tells you how to reforge optimally. Which will be a bit of a shame, because I had a lot of fun using an physical A4 notepad and pen to jot down notes while minmaxing my Warlock last week. Though I shudder a bit when I think of how complicated this equation would be for non-DW melee classes who will have both expertise and hit to contend with.

The best thing about this change is that it takes the pressure off gems to reach stat caps. Reforging will much more efficient and effective at hitting those numbers exactly, so your gem sockets can be better used to stack the non-reforgable Primary stats. So this change will probably negatively affect the market for gems, as they lose their previous place as the easiest [if not only] way to fine tune your stats, though straightforward gemming is going to be a really helpful thing for most players.

There is one more diatribe I would like to get out before I post, which is that Spirit really should not be a Primary stat.

No system in the game treats it like a primary stat any more; it shares its stat budget with "green" stats, Kings doesn't buff it, there's no restriction to reforging it, it is equivalent to mp5 for healers and equivalent to hit rating for others, and is basically inferior to primary stats for any class of any spec. When I see Spirit on gear, I have to try to visualise it down with the other green stats to get a sense of the item's value.

With this new re-working of the game to focus back on primary stats, I'm really disappointed that Spirit is still included as one. It's a green stat dressed up.

Yes, this is the kind of thing that irritates me. I am that type of person. Nerf my class if you must, but dammit the stats must be the correct colour. I also propose we rename it to Spirit Rating and make the number on the item three or four times removed from the actual benefit, just for congruency. =)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In which Coreus offers his help to a noob.

Last night a Warrior whose name contained the words "tank" and "heal" and special characters posted in Trade requesting a Prot Warrior whisper him for advice. In a not unpredictable [for me] response, I wrote that I would love to help, but that his name strongly suggested he wasn't worth talking to.

There was a brief back and forth in which he whispered me;

"Nice insult, bro."

To which I replied;


He posted his request for advice again but this time he offered gold in return for help. So I whispered him again to ask him what he needed to know.

He said he was having issues with AoE threat after the patch, and that he was losing aggro to DPS, even to an Imp, which is pretty fail on the Warlock's part if you ask me, but I heard him out. His gear was mostly T9 level, he had a few misplaced talents and was using a dodge trinket, but he had a solid grasp of the fundamentals, so I took him through the rotation I use for AoE threat, recommended a couple of talent changes and showed him what glyphs I was using, and reminded him that him that fail DPS is fail and it's not his job to compensate for their terribleness. And he slipped me 40g after all was done, thanked me and remarked that you can't judge a book by its cover. I didn't really feel like correcting him.

The reason I find this story interesting is that it's a real example of a real person who is dealing with his small piece of the paradigm-shift that the game is undergoing. I've long ago come to the conclusion that the DPS' threat is always, always their own responsibility*, but this opinion is not pervasive among less-skilled players, and it going to be a tough pill to swallow for some people.

*For that matter as a healer I take the opinion that if someone dies, it's always their own fault for taking "unhealable" damage. -- Do you think I'm standing here with my thumb up my arse? If I could have healed that damage, I would have. Therefore the damage was unhealable.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In which Coreus offers his opinions on class changes in 4.0

In order of win:

Destro Warlock

Perfect. No complaints whatsoever. Everything it was before and more.

Prot Warrior

Little has changed, really. Still the most fun tanking class by far. The unthinkable has happened, as other tanks have had their spammable AoEs nerfed in to bring them line with Warriors. =) In fact, Warriors get a slight buff. You Rend before you Thunderclap and chain that thing [a la Pestilence] to dot up everything you touch. It’s almost a shame it doesn’t do more damage, because I love the mechanic.

Balance Druid

Fantastic improvements here. The core Eclipse mechanic of the spec is still there, minus its major drawbacks. DoTs are no longer worthless! Long range silence is very welcome, though the CD is long. It does kind of bug me that separate “solar” and “lunar” power generation is an illusion -- in practice the meter will only maintain its present "direction" and using the "wrong" spell just doesn’t affect it.

New line for emphasis: New Thorns = epic win.

Seriously, this spell is all amazing, all the time. Glyph it for ~80% uptime and put it on whoever the mobs are smacking. Its DPE makes it worth casting even in single target situations, and it's a threat Misdirect to the tank. It’s so good I’m fully expecting a nerf before too long. I also fully expect it to be fixed so that the reflective damage done is counted as belonging to the caster of the buff [like Earth Shield does now with healing] otherwise meter-conscious idiots will just ignore it.

Feral Druid Tank

Finally we can put Dodge Rating on our gear. Mitigation OP-ness incoming. =) I predict BiS for feral druids will always be whatever item has the highest single green stat that can be reforged into Dodge Rating.

Single target threat is very solid, but AoE threat is a huge, huge headache, and requires you to shift out to Thorns yourself and then shift back into Bear Form before every pull or your threat wont keep up with the DPS. Again, Thorns = win, and it’s good thing it is, because bears wont get their main AoE move until L81.

I'm trying to decide for myself whether Thorns being castable while in Bear Form would be completely overpowered, because that spell is way too useful in its current state, thus encouraging players to switch out constantly to take advantage of it.

I’ve also spent a short time in the following specs.

Holy Paladin

Instant spells up the wazoo and eight different procs that each buff a different spell in a different way. Also none of my UI mods seem to support Holy Power yet, so I'm forced to keep my default Player frame turned on, and constantly cast my eyes all the way up to the top corner of the screen to check my Holy Power level. Ugh, default UI flt. I’m looking forward to putting some dedicated time into tackling this learning curve, once I can work out the Holy Power display issue.

Ret Paladin

I like it. I always found the Ret spec to be utterly boring to play, but I like this. =) See above comments on Holy Power UI.

Fury Warrior

A bit broken at the moment, which I’m sure is the result of the spec being tuned for L85 Rage generation, less haste/crit and using more abilities such as Colossus Smash. I never before heard of a DW class wanting to cap out a full 27% Hit chance ahead of all other stats, and I’m sure this is unintended result of white damage currently being much higher than ability damage.

I’m really looking forward to playing Fury without the retardedness that is dual-weieding 2H weapons, so it’s a bit disappointing to realise that Single Minded Fury is going to be subpar until Cata gives us slow 1H weapons with Strength on them. Of course, not having a full set of plate DPS gear yet is probably a slightly bigger issue for me at this stage. =P

Enhancement Shaman

I haven’t actually gotten around to doing anything on my Shaman yet, but I smacked a target dummy for a minute or two, after which I fully understood those whining forum idiots’ complaints about going from being GCD locked to having nothing to press.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shaman 4.0

I've seen a few people writing guides for playing the various classes after the 4.0 changes, since most WoW players lack the ability to read tooltips and need other people to tell them how to play. So here's my 4.0 guide to Enhancement Shaman.

Step one: Glyph your Lightning Shield

Step two: Swap out Magma totem for Searing totem.

Step three: Congratulations, you are now a ret paladin. If you are still reading this, your face is not on the keyboard and you are losing DPS.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fail DPS makes my game more fun.

The current player mentality in WoW's endgame is unfairly biased to place responsibility on the tank and healer. The tank is responsible for holding aggro on all mobs at all times, and the healer is responsible for healing any and all damage no matter how preventable. I tend to think that this type of mentality is partially responsible for the shortage of people willing to play these roles -- some people either do not have the capabilities or simply lack the drive to develop them from scratch in a sink-or-swim situation with people who shouting things like “ur a fail tank y did i get agro u nub”.

I’ve come to realise something just at this moment -- I like it this way. Not as DPS, obviously; I already know how to target an AoE spell and doing it for the five-millionth time is not my idea of fun gameplay. But as a tank, this is brilliant. You need to use all the tools you have to control the whole playing field at once. As a healer, this is brilliant. You’ve got people who couldn’t take more damage if they tried and you’re the one who has to save them from death. When the DPS drops the ball, I'm forced to jump back and forth to keep it in the air, and this creates fun gameplay for me.

So now I’m filled with mixed feelings. I suppose at least playing DPS is going to be interesting again. And for that matter the healing game promises to require a lot more thought so it wont be so monotonous. But we’ll have to wait and see whether the changes in the tanking game are going to make tanking necessarily more fun, or just easier.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fun per second

Theorycrafting and min-maxing is an important part of the fun of WoW to me. I’ve always been a maths geek [among other flavours of geekdom] and calculating stats and converting them into theoretical DPS and so on is something I enjoy immensely.

But there’s a line you can very easily cross if you're not careful, where you stop seeing it something you’re aiming towards and start seeing the best possible actions as a preset path that must be followed, to the point where you restrict yourself to that path. I don’t understand how anyone can still have fun in this game when the only options they give themselves are “rigid conformity” and “failure to maximise”. You have only to browse past the first post of any EJ thread to see perfect examples of this thinking.

The official forums aren’t much better. The parts that I see pasted on the front page of MMO Champion are more than enough to depress me. We have people who set themselves up to play in the most restrictive way possible, then complain about the lack of choice and variety in the game. People who will exploit every possible advantage their class offers, but complain about the advantages that other classes have. I have to remind myself that these people are outliers and not representative of the player base as a whole [for one thing a lot of them can spell], they're just the ones with the the highest ratio of spare time to relevant opinions.

And then I see Ghostcrawler, whom I have a good deal of respect for as a designer, actually take these complains to heart and respond to them, over and over, seemingly forced to design the game around the people who are trying their hardest not to enjoy it. I have to giggle every time I see him gently reminding people that, while their opinions are perfectly valid and not at all retarded, the game is being designed to allow as many people as possible to enjoy it as much as possible, and concentrating on increasing players’ fun per second is a more important design prerogative than increasing your damage per second.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nostalgia reborn

I’ve been playing the Cata beta for more than four months now and it occurred to me that I haven’t really felt compelled to post anything about it in this blog until now. Not that I haven’t been terribly, terribly impressed with everything I’ve seen so far. It’s that don’t see any point in writing just to report things if I don't have anything unique to say about them, and my most common reaction to new things in the beta of “oh my god holy shit that is so fucking cool” isn’t really that interesting or original.

What I did think was interesting was going into Stonecore on my fresh Druid template and finding I couldn’t hold aggro on anything. That all my best abilities had five hour cooldowns [any tank will tell you six seconds is an eternity when you’re losing mobs left and right] and that -gasp- the only way we were going to progress was to coordinate, CC and focus fire.

It’s a paradigm shift, all right. Suddenly a great crashing wave of nostalgia broke over my shoulders and I was back in The Botanica, looking at each pull and working out what CCs to use and what combination of abilities I would need to use to gain initial aggro on the mobs I needed to tank. Back when holding aggro on multiple mobs [if you weren’t a Paladin] was something you had to work for.

I remember the patch when Roots was made to be usable indoors. I remember thinking how fantastic it was to be a Druid tank, now with two CCs, one of which was going to get me threat on the mob in question. And then I never ever got to use it because any trash pull with more than two mobs devolved into AoE spam.

I predict Cataclysm is going to be a great time to be a tank. Now just make it live already, dammit.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I am feeling a rather shameful amount of joy about the weapon drop I got yesterday.

Last Word

One-Hand Mace

285 - 531 Damage Speed 1.80

(226.7 damage per second)

+104 Stamina

Item Level 264

Equip: Your melee attacks have a chance to grant you Blessing of Light, increasing your strength by 100 and your healing received by up to 300 for 10 sec.

It's not apparent from the tooltip, but there is no hidden CD on that proc. As long as you're hitting something, it never falls off. Nothing makes me feel more epic tank than holding off a wave of mobs while surrounded by a glorious blaze of healing energy.

Shut up, Pally. I'm not talking to you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Prayer of Mending is a dumb heal.

I’ve been playing my Priest again. I feel silly for not twigging earlier to the fact that she’s another toon I’ve got that loses nothing in progressing now rather than waiting for Cata. So I’ve been getting a feel for the Discipline spec as I level through the dungeon finder, and at the moment enjoying the hell out of it.

Similar to how a warrior tanks, I love the way this very CD-focused spec forces you to actually think about what buttons to press in what situation, rather than just using the same two spells 90% of the time. Though I have to admit, Prayer of Mending is a distinct disappointment after being spoiled by Shaman smart heals.

While Priest is as of right now the only class I haven’t healed with at endgame, I’ve never found raid healing to be terribly satisfying to play. When you DPS, you get a visceral image of your character smacking the boss with all his might, and you have that wonderful number at the end to gauge your impact on the fight. Of course a smart raider understands that parts of that damage, for instance damage to adds, is “high priority” damage and will take this into account when judging their own performance.

When you heal, again you get that big number, but unlike DPS, “high priority” healing is not something you can monitor with an add-on, and it can be very hard to understand whether your healing contribution even mattered to the fight. This is especially true of druids, the first healing class I tried. Trees have always rocked the meters, but I am fairly confident to assume that a large proportion of their total healing will inevitably be supplementary -- topping people off who are in no immediate danger of death at the time your healing is done to them. For me at least [this goes back to what I was talking about in my last post], once I lose the sense that I’m actually impacting the outcome, the sense of challenge becomes very hard to maintain, and following that goes the fun.

I’m extremely optimistic, though, about what the healing game is going to look like in Cataclysm. When I was healing Heroics on my druid, not long after hitting 80, I found immense fun in the game of trying to be as mana-efficient as possible, playing to the class’ strengths by anticipating incoming damage with the appropriate HoTs. Of course this was all unnecessary because it soon became apparent that mana-efficiency wasn’t going to be an issue in this expansion. In Cata, they promise, we’ll all be forced to play like this. They’re giving me exactly the game I want to play.

So I’m pondering, assuming I don’t lose interest in my priest before I get her to 80, whether she might be an excellent choice to finally give raid healing a proper try.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I had a go through Operation Gnomeregan last night. A nice little quest line going from Ironforge down through Dun Morogh and ending with the eponymous battle to retake the Gnomish capital, that follows Blizzard’s recent quest design MO of giving the player lots of “cool” things to do, while offering no challenge whatsoever.

This is the perfect example of why I don’t like questing. To have fun in a game I need at the very least to feel as though I'm playing it.

We call this type of content PvE. That little “v” may be lower case, but it’s bloody important. Versus. I am supposed to be playing against the game. If I push the game and the game doesn’t push back -- if there is no danger I will fail, then my decisions and my input don’t matter and it’s not a game anymore, it’s a task. I put in my time [or grind, if you will] in order to receive a reward, whether that reward is gold, XP, gear, a cosmetic frill or even just the next advancement to a storyline.

I don’t know whether many people share this sentiment, but I’m always deeply disappointed when I feel like I am making repeated failures in a game and I still win. I want to be punished for my mistakes. I want to feel the threat of defeat nipping at my heels. I want to earn my ultimate victory. This is what a video game is for me.

I understand this game has a fantastic collection of storylines and lore and characters and a magnificently designed ambience and this is all a fantastic addition to the experience, but the reason I'm here is to play a game. The rest is secondary. There are plenty of much better options for experiencing storylines and characters that don’t require me to sit and click on things to perform repetitive tasks while doing it.

So I’ve invented a new perjorative term for unchallenging gameplay in an MMO. I call it “PeE” -- Player Experiencing Environment. Here’s to hoping Blizzard doesn’t give me too many more chances to use it in the future. =)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Step Into The Arena

I did some PvP the other night for the first time in a while. I've found Resto Shaman to be an extremely fun spec to PvP with. You’ve got the healing of course, but shamans also have some amazing support abilities to keep it fun when you’re not frantically keeping people alive. Priests are my favourite plaything. They have so many yummy buffs to purge.

I tend to stick with EotS and AB, since these are the BGs I have the best understanding of strategy for. I don’t care so much about winning, I’m here for fun, and it’s the matches that are even enough to have a fluid back-and-forth that are the most fun. And the one-sided ones at least tend to be over quickly.

While I was standing around in Stormwind afterwards, still wearing my PvP gear, a Rogue whispered me asking if I’d like to do some arenas for points. I told him I’m not very good, which is true. I’m a long way off understanding the tactical dance that is arena PvP. But he invited me to his arena team -- named “Rogue ‘n healer” which made me smirk [I feel compelled to create a “Resto Shaman ‘n dps” team as a subtle form of protest] and queued us up for a total of seven matches, which I guessed he would since he already had three recorded for that week, dropping group without a word the moment the seventh ended. Always slightly disappointing when people live down to your low expectations.

In the end I received no in-game reward from this experience, but what I gained was a reminder that arenas are god damn fun. I always enjoyed this aspect of the game, what little I did of it, and especially considering how poor I always was at it. And though my Rogue friend and I only won one of those seven matches, I felt by the end that I was starting to catch on; that I was learning how to watch what my two opponents were doing and how to counter it, what abilities and techniques to use to disable one while keeping pressure on the other.

The only thing currently preventing me from creating a team of my own is a reluctance to foist my noob arse onto someone more experienced and have them lose patiently with me while I learn how things work. Or I suppose the alternative is to find the first trade chat idiot who will accept an unconditional invite.

Oh, and I lied when I said I didn’t get anything out of this. That one match we won nabbed this Glorious Icecrown Raider his Step Into The Arena achievement. Told you I was inexperienced. =P

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Worth fighting

Some bloggers have been irritating me recently.

It’s the arguing. I don’t see the point. Expressing your opinion is great. Put your points out there and see if anyone else judges them valuable enough to consider. But why do we need attack each other? I know, I know, it’s a human thing. Life is an incredibly complicated place and we find it so much easier to think of things in a dualistic way; either you’re with me or your against me.

There is a point in every conflict when benefit in continuing it will be outweighed by the effort expended in doing so. People very often lose sight of this. The world is never going to be perfect place, and I think a lot of people have trouble deciding what battles are worth fighting.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I am not a doodoo-head!

So many contemporary proverbs come to mind when I think about Internet arguments. My personal favourite is the “Special Olympics” simile. The trick is to realise that you’re competing against retards.

I’ve been casually following this big controversy over at the Noisy Rogue blog. Apparently he made some kind of sexist/misogynistic comment on his blog, and this caused some people to become terribly offended. You know, the kind of people that are offended by the idea that there exist people who disagree with their own world view. People who will necessarily feel compelled to reinforce their opinion by shouting it as loudly as possible and attacking their newly discovered enemy with any weapon they can devise. Which is their right as morons on the Internet, I suppose.

It starts to get sad when the poor guy actually responds to these retarded attacks. You can’t really blame him. It’s an evolved response; If someone attacks you, you defend yourself.

Retarded arguments speak for themselves. If a child calls you a doodoo-head, you probably don’t need put together a concise argument detailing specific instances wherein you have specifically avoided cranial contact with feces. Similarly, you’re only wasting your own time making a reasonable counter-argument to someone who has already demonstrated their own ignorance of reason.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jaded rambling

I’ve been bored with WoW. I log in, I build my little robots, list them on the AH, and then realise that there is very little that I can do now to advance my toons.

My guild 25-man ended a couple of months ago, and while the officers and a few core raiders still have a 10-man going, I can’t find a lot of motivation to try and attend. I was sent an in-game mail asking if I was interested... or rather, if my Shaman was interested. Actually, my Shaman is not interested in re-running content from which he can gain no new gear and is a step backwards in terms of progression. As much fun as wiping on Sindy achievement-mode over and over so that one more person in the raid can finish their meta sounds. Would you like to come to my Deadmines run? L40+ only pls!

I’m probably being oversensitive, but I find it slightly insulting that my invitation would be implied to only extend as far as my best-geared toon. I’ve offered to tank for them on my aptly-geared Warrior, but they seem to already have a surplus of either officer alt tanks or druids who have been geared up by our now-defunct 25-man raid, neither of which is something I can compete with.

So I pug. It’s RNG at its finest. You really never know what you’re going to get. Inevitably I have fun, I get one or two minor upgrades. Then one person leaves and the raid is over because you’ll never find a replacement willing to join an Icecrown pug that is past the first few bosses.

Friday, August 27, 2010

lol Rofldots

Gevlon made a post last week mentioning a player named “Rofldots” who had asked to join his antisocial PuG guild, and whom Gevlon rejected instantly based on his retarded name. This caused a bit of a stir in the comments, as apparently a lot of people took issue with the idea that someone who claimed to be good at the game was rejected on grounds completely unrelated to gameplay. It’s definitely food for thought. Gevlon claims to be rational above all else, but in this case made a snap decision based on an assumption which was based on prejudice.

He made a follow-up post later attempting to justify this prejudice, the thesis of which appeared to be that you will never find an instance where a quality raider will use these types of internet acronyms. I took issue with this, as I believe myself to be a quality raider and I often use this type of language.

I just don’t fucking name my toons with it.

Of course, having a retarded name does not preclude one from being a good player, or even necessarily mean that a player named so would explicitly break the rules of the guild they were joining by using that type of language in Guild chat. It’s entirely possible that Rofldots was a perfectly competent player, despite his obvious lack of creativity or original thought.

But if it were me, and the first thing I found out about a player was that they apparently had so little intelligence that they could think of no better way to represent themselves to other players in the game than with the name “Rofldots”, I would immediately assume he was a retard.

But I’d also give him a chance to prove my assumption wrong. I don’t often have faith in people in general, but if there is one thing I do have faith in, it's the ability of retards to make their lack of intelligence blindingly obvious if you only give them a chance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Druid tanking itemisation

Druids are the only tanking class in the game which has to tank in DPS gear. This has always been an irritation of mine. Partly because I have to roll against rogues and melee druids [and even hunters and shamans sometimes] while plate tanking classes seem to get free dibs on any drops they care about. 

But my main complaint is that we’ve ended up in a situation where, because we are using DPS gear, we have had our tanking ability balanced around the fact that only 40-60% of the stats on our gear actually contribute to it -- the rest are just frill left over from it being designed as DPS gear. 

[While I understand the situational usefulness of being able to gear a tank more towards damage/threat over mitigation, I’m mainly speaking in the context of progression bosses, where mitigation is your highest priority.]

As with most hybrid classes, druid tanking itemisation has always been a bit wonky. BC was the golden age of druid tanking as we were then able to fully exploit the Bear Form armour multiplier, which was designed to grant plate-equivalent levels of armour by multiplying the armour on your leather-covered arse by the factor of difference. But because it multiplied your total armour, [not just the leather slots which would have otherwise been plate on a plate tank] this meant that any armour bonuses you could find on non-leather items; rings, cloak, neck, etc; would grant druids a huge armour bonus which the item was not designed to give, throwing off itemisation balance and making these items virtually mandatory for druid tanks. 
One great example of this was the Badge of Tenacity. Aside from the Agility on-use which was also fantastic, this BoE Heroic-level blue trinket was the only L70 trinket with armour on it, which meant that for druids it was on par with Epics three tiers above it in terms of damage mitigation. 

This was all eventually patched out in 3.1, leaving behind our current and rather confusing tooltip, the gist of which is:
“Going into bear form will multiply the armour on your leather and cloth items ONLY. Also if any of your gear is itemised with bonus armour this multiplier only applies to the armour that that item would otherwise have had if it did not have any bonus armour itemisation.”
So now we have this armour mechanic which was wonky to begin with but now without the ability to take any advantage of this "alternate" class itemisation.

It had to be done, though. Balance is more important than flavour these days. Plus it's no fun to be passing on the new tier of gear because some old BoE Blue is too good to ever replace.

But back to the DPS gear. Because we’re balanced at the class level to use gear which is inefficiently itemised for tanking, this system could still be exploited, just by itemising the gear efficiently. What happens if you introduce gear on which all the stats are useful? The Wrath equivalent of Badge of Tenacity in terms of efficient itemisation. I’d be really interested to calculate this; what would you get if you re-itemised a druid’s leather items -- without changing the item level -- based on what is actually useful to tanking?

Obviously the green stats [combat ratings; crit, haste etc] are the first to go. Itemising for fewer number of individual stats would allow for larger amounts of base stam and agi, and for the ideal one green stat per item you’d probably want a focus on Expertise, with maybe enough Hit to reach the cap but avoiding the huge amount that you always get on rogue gear.

The ability to itemise for only useful stats would make druid tanks ridiculously overpowered. And this is all before we even consider throwing in a pure tanking stat like Dodge Rating, which every plate tank has plentiful access to, but that does not exist on any leather gear for this very reason. Efficient tanking itemisation for druids would break the class in its current state.

Of course this is all hypothetical, again because this gear does not actually exist in-game. The mechanic is broken, but as long as there is no way to really exploit it, the devs are free to ignore the problem. 

I heard at one point during the Cataclysm discussion one of the devs say that they had briefly considered the idea of removing tanking gear completely and [I have to assume] letting the plate tanks just use plate DPS gear. I also have to assume they decided against it once they realised what druid tanks have understood for this whole expansion; only caring about 40-60% of the stats on your gear is really boring for the player.

Also in that instance, we’re talking about making tanking gear that three different Plate classes share. One could make the argument that it’s not efficient to itemise gear specifically for just one spec of one class. In response to that I would have to ask whether a smart Holy Paladin would ever pass on a healing upgrade because it happened to be Mail.

The Holy Paladin is the one spec of the one class that already gets its very own gear, and they don’t even need it. Resto Shaman itemisation is identical to Holy Pally itemisation. I doubt the game would change at all if Plate Healing gear disappeared completely and Holy Pallys just used Mail. If people whined that they needed the mitigation, well, maybe we could just give Holy a top-tier talent that multiplies armour for them. What an innovative concept!

Of course, the issue of downgrading armour classes is going to be practically moot in Cataclysm -- though it’s worth noting that it’s an entirely artificial "restriction." It’s also worth noting that the actual armour stat difference between armour classes is being very deliberately flattened. I can't help wondering if it was debated at some stage whether seperate armour classes should even remain in the game, coming back to the idea that balance is more important than flavour.

I can see them pulling strings both ways; making gear as attractive as possible to as many people as possible but avoiding it becoming generic to the point where half the raid is rolling on the same drop. In the end I do still trust Blizzard to make smart design decisions. For now.

I just really envy those holy pallys...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Turns out we have 3.3.5 as of this morning. I was surprised. But apparently from what I've heard the reason we are not allowed to play Ruby Sanctum until next week is because the European servers don't get the patch until next week and if we could play it now all the European competitive guilds would QQ their heads off because THE AMERICANS GOT IT A WEEK BEFORE US and that's UNFAAAIIIIR.

lol is all I have to say. I see the decisions Blizzard makes so much these days as like a judicious parent trying to manage a bunch of idiotic crying children who lack the maturity to understand it's only a game. =)

Also, I'm not sure I have ever, ever seen them actually get a patch out and properly playable within the 8-hour maintenance window. I really don't know why they even think they can any more. They should advertise a 12-hour window and look at it again towards the end. As I type this the realms are still down and there is no current estimate when they'll be playable again.

I missed posting my Wednesday auctions and this disappoints me. If only there was some way of doing this stuff from my desk at work...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

lol gearscore

I've been preaching the retardedness of gearscore since I became generally aware of its existence. I have two go-to reponses that I feel compelled to add whenever I see gearscore mentioned. The rational

"Y'know, I always say that it's a good thing bad players can't get good gear, or else gearscore would be practically meaningless"

or the equally valid

"lol gearscore"

after which I will never allow any time for rebuttal before I swiftly conclude my argument with


I always say the best way to judge a player you haven’t yet played with is by looking at the parts of their character that the player does have direct control over, like gems and enchants and talent spec. I guarantee you that a crap player will make his lack of class knowledge blindingly obvious in his choices there.

And if you do need a clincher, look at his name. Does it contain his race, class or spec? Does it contain the words “leet”, “pwn”, “dps”, or all of the above? Bonus fail points for a Tauren who name contains an ingenious pun alluding to the hilarious fact that Taurens resemble cattle.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I love Feathermoon to death, but trying to find a raid group at Aussie-friendly times on a US realm can be very difficult. A few months ago I toyed a bit with the idea of transferring my Warlock to Barthilas Horde, for the dual reasons that I could play with a friend of mine from work and that it’s an Oceanic-designated realm so I could easily find a guild that raided Aussie weeknights. It was only a vague thought, but I put in an guild application anyway, to test the waters so to speak.

I was surprised a day or so later to find an in-game mail sent to me back on Feathermoon from a guild I didn't apply for, who had seen my application and asked if I'd be interested in putting in an application to join them on Aman'thul Horde, another Oceanic realm. They liked my application, and though I was reluctant to spend the USD55 [both a server and faction transfer] to move to what I knew to be a fairly underpopulated realm, I was flattered that the top Horde progression guild on the server had taken the time to seek me out on my own realm.

Unfortunately my assessment of Aman’thul was correct, and after raiding for less than two weeks with my new guild, during which at least three scheduled 25-man raids were cancelled due to lack of attendance, the leadership decided they were going to transfer servers to Frostmourne. And I couldn't bring myself to spend another USD25 to follow them.

At least I got a neat title out of it.

It’s dumb to assume that spending more money on the game is necessarily going to increase your enjoyment of it. People are jerks everywhere. The grass is no greener and the money you spend repeatedly jumping the fence adds up to a lot.

I did eventually end up transferring to Barthilas as I'd originally intended [another $25] since by that time I’d rolled a few horde toons there. But for the moment I’ve just lost interest in playing my warlock. I don’t think it helped that around the same time the above went down I had decided to try out Demonology spec, which I found nowhere near as fun or fluid to play as Destro. Now when I look at my warlock I see an orphaned toon which has fallen well behind the raiding gear curve, has clunky play mechanics and who can’t produce the satisfyingly large numbers that my Shaman can.

I know all I need to do is apply for a progression guild again. I’m sure my passion for demonic power would return once I stepped into a raid and started letting the fire fly again...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The way I play

I have to admit I’m not a very good player. I have a lot of trouble thinking clearly on the fly and this causes me to make mistakes often. The reason I can do well in WoW while still being very average in this area is that WoW is a game that lets you make up for your shortcomings by putting more time into other areas.

I like to think of overcoming challenges in WoW as requiring a combination of three facets, character/gear level, strategy and execution. A shortcoming in one can be made compensated for by a combination of the other two. This means I can make up for my lack of skill in execution by putting the maximum effort into gearing and strategy.

Gearing for me isn’t just researching drops and bidding strategically, but usually spending an hour or so after getting a new drop rebalancing my stats, hitting the necessary caps and running a sim over and over to see if modifying my gems could get me an extra 10 theoretical dps.

The strategy part is in managing headspace for the fight mechanics. I don’t know about other people, but if I have to glance down at seven different abilities literally every second to ascertain which is the highest priory ability that will be useable by the end of this GCD there’s no way I’m paying attention to boss mechanics while doing it.

While I consider Enhancement DPS to be something of a faceroll spec, a rogue once told me it’s one of the more complicated priority systems. Let’s look at the priority list:

- Lightning Bolt if five stacks of Maelstrom Weapon [MW5]

- Fire Elemental totem [if Heroism will occur in the next minute-twenty]

- Spirit Wolves

- Heroism [depending on boss strat]

- Shamanistic Rage [I also use engineering bombs and hyperspeed accelerators as they share the 1min CD]

- Stormstrike if no debuff charges left on target

- Flame Shock if dot has expired

- Earth Shock

- Stormstrike

- Magma Totem if less than 4 seconds remaining [skip if Ele totem is out]

- Lightning Shield if less than 3 charges remaining

- Lava Lash

- Fire Nova

The way I handle it is to have my ability bars set up to have one central point of focus with a couple of branches around it. There’s one place I need to look and anything I do need to press on proc or CD I have set up to present me with a visual [and aural, in the case of MW5] cue to press that button or follow that branch when its priority next appears.

So while I still do make a lot of mistakes while playing, the ability to put this effort in ahead of time to make the execution as straightfoward as possible can more than make up for it, and I can link you the logs to prove it.

And all the time I spend researching drops or putting together a slightly better gemming arrangement or agonising over how to lay out my interface or writing macros or setting up Power Auras is to me all as much a part of playing WoW as its culmination in the raid execution itself. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

With the exception of the Armour Penetration stat. That bullshit can burn in hell.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gearscore is a cosmetic effect.

I was listening to the WoW Insider podcast this morning and the subject of the infamous sparklepony came up [again.] As most rational people do, the guys on the podcast agree that as long as this bonus to the game is purely cosmetic and offered no real advantage in-game they had no problem with it.

What immediately came to me on hearing this was that for the major group of people buying these horses, a cosmetic advantage is the only type of advantage in-game.

I’m talking about people who either play WoW socially or as a form of escapism; as an online world they can inhabit with other people. People to whom even the gear upgrades they get might as well be a cosmetic effect, since they’ll never really contribute to any challenging content, but having better gear allows them to wear a higher gearscore and causes them to produce a bigger recount meter they can show off.

This is the market that covets these horses the most. They often call themselves “casual” players, though you'll find that these “casual” players may be online up to 30 hours a week and tend to be the ones least likely to have a “casual” attitude when it comes to loot drops.

I like the term Gevlon uses, so I call them Socials, and I have to believe they make up a larger percentage of our 11 million subscriber pool than any of us realise. And I think that’s why so many real players have been surprised by the massive number of already-paying subscribers who paid extra money for something that does essentially nothing.

While this horse may offer no real advantage to a WoW player* haven’t we been told time and time again, even officially, that these people are in the vast minority? Isn’t this fact the impetus for making raid content accessible to the people who don’t play the game like we do?

*I might end up using this term until I find a better one to distinguish those who play WoW as a game from those who inhabit the world socially.

And in keeping all that in mind, can we still say that this horse is intended purely as a cosmetic frill? I tend to think the high price-point as compared to the monthly subscription fee contradicts that idea, as I think would the five people I saw standing on their new horses outside the Dalaran bank giving me ample opportunity to notice their obvious superiority in having spent $25 more than other players in the game.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Something that has always annoyed me in WoW is the apparent addiction the WoW community has to propagating retarded acronyms. I don't have anything against the idea of abbreviating, but when it somehow becomes necessary to make a three-letter acronym for every dungeon, despite most of them only having two words in the title, I start to eye-twitch.

I'm talking about War Song Gulch, Ma Gister's Terrace and Ice Crown Citadel. [Also, Razor Fen Kraul, Sun Well Plateau, Black Fathom Deeps...]

I was always confused by people who wanted me to run Shadow Labs with them, since I only knew of one Shadow Labyrinth.

Hunters get bonus retard points for having two specs apparently entitled Marks Manship and Sur Vival.

I'm also perplexed at why putting an H before the name of a dungeon is so ambiguous that it must be expanded to HC, which I must assume stands for "Heroi Cmode"

And don't even get me started on the lack of understanding of basic English grammar displayed by those players attempting to name people with the Inscription profession. Let me help you out. Scribes are people who inscribe glyphs through the act of inscription. See how simple it is? "Scribe" is a word. "Inscriptionationatorister" is a retard sandwich.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cataclysm in name only.

So I’m thinking about how I personally will end up raiding in Cataclysm. I like to be optimistic that my 25-man raid will continue, but then I started thinking through the logistics on the ground, so to speak.

I’m going to add some personal context so you know where I’m coming from. If you really don’t care, cast your eyes downward to TL;DR.

My guild has never been a “hardcore” top tier guild, in my opinion, but we are in the server top ten for Feathermoon.

When I started raiding with them, they were working on Mimiron, and I had never been past Kolagarn. It wasn’t until about half way through ToC that my gear allowed me to show my ability in the game. The guys who had a 10-man after the main raid noticed my performance and I began to accompany them on a regular basis. I was there for our first 10-man Heroic Anub kill as well as our first Insanity achievement.

Those were my own glory days for 10-man raiding. After our main 25-man raid spent five hours a week learning the Heroic bosses, we would go in there and blast through Insanity [most weeks =P] in less than an hour.

Because as much as we try to keep our 25-man raid as professional as possible and weed out any players who don’t make the grade, there will always be a player skill curve. This seemed fairly evident at the time, since cutting the bottom 15 players loose apparently made the difference between success and failure in Heroic modes for us.

TL;DR -- The point I am trying to get at with this story is that I can very easily envision that once Cataclysm raiding hits its swing that the top 10 players in my 25-man raid are going to have to choose between wiping with the 25-man raid on whatever boss they happen to be up to, or unlocking and downing Heroic-mode 10-man bosses, for superior loot.

This choice is going to create social friction no matter which option is taken. It’s not hard to understand a quality player becoming resentful of their 25-man group if they feel like they're being held back. But the social pressure to stay with the group would be immense, as losing their ten best players to a separate lockout could spell the end of a 25-man raid team.

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers crying about this change, and I ask myself when I read their rants whether they have thought at all about what makes 25-man raiding worth saving in the first place. To me it comes from a concept people have in their heads, derived from the current loot model and apparent difference in difficulty; that 25-man is and should be the “real” version of the raid. They feel as though Blizzard is taking away their “real” raids, leaving them to swim with the 10-man kiddies in their easy-mode runs. EDIT: Since I wrote this, I’ve read that Zarhym basically said the same thing on the official forums, complete with quotation marks. =)

I don’t believe that this change spells the end of 25-man raiding, though I do predict a vast reduction in the number of players running them. The most likely outcome I can see happening is that 25-man raiding is going to end up as a “hardcore”-only option . I definitely can’t see the high-end guilds declining any kind of advantage to gearing their raid more quickly in the competition for first kills. What I am extremely curious to see is just how much of an advantage it will end up being.

The significance of this advantage is what is going to paint the line, so to speak, between any 25-man raid with a significant player skill curve sticking together or disbanding as the top ten players realise they can achieve more if they dump the other fifteen. The lower down you go in average skill, the more painfully obvious the skill gap between 25 players in a raid becomes, and the wider the gap, the more incentive there is to break away. Only the raid groups with strictest standards and the recruiting clout to keep to them will be able to progress equally in 25- as 10-man.

For the first couple of months of Icecrown Citadel, though our 25-man was progressing, to me just felt like a loot grind so I could do better in the raid that I cared about. 10-man was a blast. The fights were challenging enough to be satisfying when they went down, but our progress was streets ahead of the 25-man. Up to Blood Queen everything went down the week it was out, with the exception of Putricide, whom I maintain would have gone down first week had we not run out of raid time and been able to use our remaining attempts.

Which brings me to the thing that killed my ten-man group: time.

For us, Insanity was the perfect raid. We could go in there after the main raid finished [11pm server time] and blast through what was at the time the hardest ten-man content in the game in less than an hour. For the first couple of months, Icecrown was similar. We could do seven bosses and still fit them in after the main raid, but then seven stretched to nine and by the time Lich King was available we realised we were never going to get it all done without people falling asleep at their keyboards.

A few attempts were made to schedule another raid time continuation, but our geographical spread is about half Aussie, half North American, and no schedule seemed to suit enough of us to work. On top of this, we lost our main tank, one of our best players too, to burnout. Presently we’re sitting on a 11/12 continuation, just waiting for an opportunity when enough quality players are around at the same time to learn and then complete the Lich King encounter. I don’t doubt that the numbers would return once we unlocked Heroic mode and they had a gear incentive. [I will save that for another rant, though.]

TL;DR -- I am vehemently anti-grind. If I am playing the game it is to have fun. I tend to think there are few minor advantages or cosmetic frills capable of increase my fun so much as to make up for the un-fun time I spent grinding for it. So this is where I’m coming from when I say the second reason I believe the new system is an improvement is in time-management.

If you were in a progression raid when Icecrown came out, you had to run the whole thing twice, every week to get the gear you needed to be competitive. If you only had a regular 10-man, you still pugged the first few bosses on 25 every week for a chance at gear better than anything you’d see in your main raid.

The upcoming change forces players to choose one or the other instead of hedging their bets. Because, be honest, there’s only one raid you really care about. The other one you just grind for extra loot.

I guess here is where I have to say that if you disagree with me, tough titties, because I know this is where a lot of people have valid complaints. If you have only one raiding toon, this sucks for you because it will limit the number of raids you can do in a week and you have my full sympathy. [Roll an alt already, nub!]

But if you’re like me with multiple level-capped toons and the prospect of more before the expansion is over, this change rocks. The extra time gives you the option, instead of taking your main toon through a secondary raid, of participating in a second raid with an alt. And still be doing a challenging, progression-level raid. Again because you don’t need to spend the extra hours grinding to keep your alt raid-competitive. I have a sneaking suspicion that Blizzard has an overarching strategy of encouraging multiple alts over a single toon.

I can also really easily envision this alt-friendlyness actually feeding back into 25-man raiding. If you can get your progression from a 10-man raid, you might care less about the slower progression in a 25-man social group. And so we come full circle.

In conclusion, these changes and their increased focus on 10-man raiding will lead to some really positive improvements to the game:

- Easier to manage high-end raid groups.

- Less nubs carried through raids, since mid-level players won't need to fill 25-mans.

- Less grinding means you can focus on the raiding you care about.

- More opportunities for raiding alts.


And that’s my take. To be honest, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Blizzard does end up backpedalling on this decision if they judge the reaction to be too harsh, since it is such an immensely contentious one, even internally as Blizzard posters have admitted.

There is one thing that I am slightly worried about, and that is the difficulty balance. I will be sorely disappointed in Blizzard if the top guilds end up using the gear they accumulated quickly in 25-man raids to get first kills in 10-man. That would be a failure in my book.

I can do better.

I finally did it. I've toyed with the idea, internally, of starting a blog about WoW for a while now, as a preferable alternative to boring the people I know in person about it.

As usual the impetus for actually taking this step was a response to seeing what other people have done and thinking I can do better.

The reaction I've seen from several bloggers over the proposed changes to raiding in Cataclysm has severely disappointed me. People who I'm sure consider themselves intelligent, rational people devolving into crying children, paralysed by the fear of change, assuming that the world they knew is doomed. And most annoyingly, coming to the most ridiculous conclusions about what will happen in a future system which has not even been fully realised yet, without offering any kind of supporting argument.

So this is my blog. More specifically this is an introductory post. In a moment I'll put up some words I composed yesterday which give my opinion on the aforementioned changes, including a bit of background on my own raiding experience.