Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mistweaver crisis!

I raided Mythic last night and I'm pretty sure my class is ruined forever. They turned the most innovative healing class in the game into this weird emulation of a classical healer that is allowed to deal damage only under strict regulatory guidelines outlined in paragraphs one through three of Stance of the Spirited Crane.

Over the course of the raid I did eventually get used to the weird timing of half-second GCD followed by 1.5 second GCD, and I figured out that Surging Mist is now just Heal with the ability to "cheat" the cast time...


I guess I can't help but see all of this as a big huge nerf. Back in July last year I posted about my first experiences with this class, that I loved the high skill-cap of doing two jobs at once with one set of resources, how smoothly you can transition between damage and healing, and I loved how active the class felt, having a multitude of support abilities and a multitude of responses to any situation and being able to choose the most fun.

Now the class is literally slower, with fewer support abilities, and a deliberately un-smooth transition between pure healing and damage healing.

Skill capping a Mistweaver now means changing stances in low damage phases, then dumping your Chi and changing stances again, and again and again, and again and again.

Have you ever been forced to change stances in combat? Wasn't it the most fun you've ever had playing WoW? Yeah I get to do that now. I assume that Warriors and Warlocks are stuck with an extra GCD of fun when they change stances, right? Right? It's not just my class getting fucked in the arse?

That cross nanny metaphor perfectly represents how I felt about stances while raiding last night. Melee abilities are simply not allowed while healing. And direct healing is simply not allowed while damaging. It wouldn't be proper.

This happened before with Paladins in early wrath. Stop taking away my fucking melee healing. I enjoy it. I paid for another fucking expansion because I was having so much fun with it. Why bother creating brand new innovative gameplay only to savagely homogenise it?



Assuming anyone made it this far into my rant, there's a question I've been pondering out of curiosity. Many class abilities get tweaked early on if players weren't using it as intended, but removal implies that the whole concept was a mistake to begin with:

In all of WoW's history, what active class ability (button) was in the live game for the shortest time before being removed completely?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The best WoW change ever

"When someone applies to your Group Finder group, you can see their Proving Grounds achievements."

I can't help being optimistic sometimes. I'm just so, so, so, so fucking sick of itemlevel. Plenty of players wont even be polite to you until you've told them you have a good itemlevel. I've taken to telling people my itemlevel any time I think I'm being judged as a player just as a way of minmaxing social leverage, and I hate it every time. I feel like I'm part of the problem every time I buy into it.

Now, Proving Grounds; as well as being one of the more fun solo activities that exists in the game today, are being presented to players as an easy way of judging other players. Key word: easy. Because you will never convince players not to rank every other player against themselves; gamers are a competitive bunch. And average itemlevel was never the best way of judging a player, just the easiest. All Blizzard needs to do is make one that's even easier.

So when you start a Group Finder group, each applicant will have their Proving Ground score attached. Yes, we're still judging people, but at least this one can make some distinction between a skilled raider and a social raider.

I guess all of this is predicated on players actually using this new Group Finder feature, which is hard to predict. Blizzard has a long reputation for trying to replicate third-party functions without bothering to give people a good reason to change their established method. But honestly, Openraid requires external registration and doesn't integrate with the game, and OQ is a huge piece of intrusive bullshit designed by idiots, so I can see there being reason enough.

Now bring on the PG balance complaints! As long as resto druids don't have it easy like last time I'll be happy. Those guys can stand to be brought down a peg imo.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Titan announcement cancelled

I posted when Titan was "delayed" last year that in the time since development started on that title, the MMO genre had undergone radical evolution. I didn't name it at the time but the reality is clear now; the entire MMO genre has evolved into World of Warcraft.

I'm genuinely surprised at the news, though. I assumed that today's Activision Blizzard was no longer a company that could throw out that much work. Seven years is a very, very, very long time in game development-- I can't even imagine how much money it cost.

So I applaud Blizzard for this. They made a mistake as big as any a video game company can make and they fucking owned it. It's exceedingly rare for anyone in the video games industry to demonstrate this level of maturity.

It's funny, just last week I was thinking that with WoW's subscriber numbers slowly but steadily decreasing over time (or as MMO bloggers put it, "dying"), perhaps this year's Blizzcon is when we'd finally see just what the fuck Titan was.

I wonder when we'll find out now.


On a different topic, I mentioned last week the way Blizzard seems to be specifically targeting ex-WoW-players by expiring names-- my thesis being that, today, a good name on a good realm is a valuable thing, and that for an ex-player ambivalent towards returning to WoW, preserving your character's name is in itself a compelling impetus to resubscribe. I compared the tactic to the way some social games will cause you to lose progress if you stop playing for a while.

Today Blizzard announced they will add an interface to the game client to let players recover any of their deleted WoW characters. They have also specifically confirmed that any deleted toon level 50 or above will still be recoverable, forever. (But you better do it soon or you might lose your name!)

Is it a coincidence, or has there been an increase in people requesting character restorations? Perhaps too much for Customer Support to handle it all manually?

This new feature is terrible news for compulsive players who deleted all their WoW toons for the same reason an alcoholic would empty all their liquor bottles down the sink.

Blizzard wants you back, baby! This time it will be different!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Still dumping on Blizzard

Blizzard has thought of a solution for those people with enough disposable income to pay extra for the Expensive Edition of the Warlords expansion, but who are upset that people who bought it online got their 90 boosts already, while they wont get it until they hand over the money.

Just buy it twice. Buy it once now for the boost, and again later for the mouse mat, and if you ask nicely, Blizzard will be generous enough to refund the money you paid for the digital key. Or wait... what's that? They don't offer that refund? They'll only refund the digital key and keep the money?

Oh.

Well... if you're not actively recruiting WoW players by buying them full-priced copies of the expansion that's your own fault now isn't it?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Doublespeak

Bashiok put out a blog today to reveal a new anti-aliasing setting they're adding for Warlords which is really really good and will improve the performance of the game and allow Blizzard to do things they never dreamed of before.

The old graphics setting wasn't that great anyway, so it's definitely not a bad thing that it's going away. You don't need to wonder why a feature was completely removed from the game because it's a crap feature anyway and you shouldn't like it because they did a load of testing and everyone agreed that it's terrible. They even asked the art and engineering teams.

You should love this new graphics setting, it's really solid and performs really well. It fulfills Blizzard's goals and it's the best they can do right now.

After Warlords release they are going to explore options for better settings, and they might even take a serious look at adding them to the game.

The graphical future has never looked brighter!

I hate the word "paradigm".

It's not often I disagree with Yahtzee, that guy is a smart cookie. Which I guess is why I was so surprised to see him in his column this week spout a bunch of distracting bullshit about "ensuring the continued survival of the species" while he tells us that a male hero / female damsel relationship is actually worse for the male because he has to do all the work (which in this case is "being a hero") while the damsel is actually better off for not having to (or being able to) do anything at all.

He says his "only" objection is that it's tired and lazy (which it is), then goes on to specifically state that he doesn't find it unrepresentative of himself. Leads me to wonder what  he expects from the real females in his life.

I'm realising that this point of view is really tricky to see past. The trouble with smart people is they are smart enough to fool themselves into believing ridiculous things if they have a good (emotional) reason to.

We all need to stop assuming that we understand all of reality. It's an illusion that your brain creates-- a necessary illusion, because a consistent reality is pretty important for human sanity. When your brain runs into ideas that don't fit in your present understanding of reality, it either ignores them or finds a reason to dismiss them. That old axiom "ignorance is bliss" is reflected in the way your brain has evolved to selectively ignore anything it thinks you don't want to know.

Some examples of ideas some people can't handle: the way we unconsciously discriminate against people we see as different from us, the fact that we are screwing up the planet with our excessive consumption, resistance to the idea of women's autonomy, the prevalence and impact of bullying on both a personal level and on the geopolitical stage. The idea of homosexuality or especially transgenderism is very hard for some people to resolve because their understanding of reality can't support an idea that complex.

And I honestly feel for those people. Society is doing things many people never even considered as possible before, and instead of explaining to everyone how our understanding of reality has evolved and improved, we just mock them for not already understanding, because our pretension forces us to deny just how easy it is to be wrong about something so fundamental. And from there people start overreacting, everyone gets angry and more time and energy goes towards controlling the conflict than tackling the ideas themselves.

So that's where we are now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Character Name Reclamation

Blizzard has realised that since they sell name changes, allowing people a richer pool of names to buy from makes very good business sense.

This idea probably came from what I assume have been extensive brainstorming sessions with the goal of finding any (cheap) changes they can make to the live game to distract players from the fact that it hasn't been updated in a year.

Or even more cynically, maybe they thought of it last year and have been keeping it in their pocket for just such a need. Hmm... would they delay the money train just so they have something to do during a slow subscription period? More active players means more purchases, right?

It strikes me as a very Farmvillian tactic; the wealth of ex-WoW players are now being dealt the news that an aspect of their character will degrade if they don't return in time-- the obvious goal being to galvanise ex-players into returning if they were on the fence.

Is this the first time that this has happened? Leaving characters the way the player left them has been a long-standing tradition for this game, and it's easy to understand why (sunk cost bias). Even deleting a toon has never been permanant.

Cynicism aside, I wonder whether this might geniunely be the best time to release unused names, in the same way that this is the best time to recruit reliable raiders: Less committed players tend to have stopped playing by now.

I'm more inclined to believe the cynical explanation though.


I've been raiding with a new 10-man group. We spent last night wiping our way through two boss kills, which isn't incredible, but being in a slower group did put me at the top of the healing numbers, which I think probably does more for my reputation in the guild overall than trying to put out good numbers against their best healers while learning a progression fight. Never underestimate the power of looking good.