Monday, August 29, 2011

Somewhat mollified

Two things:
No transmogrifying Legendaries.
Blizzard intends to limit as best they can players from using balatantly "silly" items like fish and frying pans.

I'm glad the devs have at least thought this through. And I now feel silly for doubting that they had. =)

Now if they could only find a way to retroactively disable players from using blatantly retarded special characters in their names.

In other news, Firelands complete!* The Firelord has been vanquished! Also, I got my sweet T12 four-piece bonus for a fairly OP level of CTC.

*News may be over one week old at time of posting.

Thinking about Transmogrification and "silly" weapons, I'm suddenly reminded of the level-twenty-something green-quality mace my Paladin tanked with for a time. It had the appearance of a oversized gnarled wooden staff, and I put Fiery on it so it looked like it was on fire. And I would charge into battle brandishing it and yelling Feel the wrath of Canadian lumber, fool! And then I would hit things with it.

That was great.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Legitimate fear of change

Oh dear. It's not often that I am genuinely disturbed by an upcoming change to World of Warcraft.

I've spent enough time facepalming at the retarded shit players in WoW do with the few things they they already have exclusive creative control over; Character names, pets, arena teams... I can only imagine what I will be forced to view once they are actively invited to take this type of control over their character appearance too.

I see the genius of it. If, as they suggest, it will require a player to own the armour to have the appearance, this adds a whole new dimension to the game as players spend weeks working towards some specific look created by a certain combination of rare drops from a long-forgotten raid. A person with an investment in their character might strive for their own distinct visual flair, or perhaps just replace a few mismatched armour pieces to avoid looking too clownish.

But what percentage of players actually have an investment in their character as a character? For most, a WoW avatar is a platform for displaying one's epeen for all to see. And so we will see eight thousand Warriors with Thunderfury; twelve thousand Rogues with Warglaives; five million Death Knights with Shadowmourne.

For the rest of the lifetime of the game.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fear of change

As someone who plays a tank first and foremost, it was with great trepidation that I began reading the latest Ghostcrawler Dev Watercooler, entitled "Threat Level Midnight".

"Oh god..." I thought, dread filling me. "What drastic change are they forcing into the game to keep the retards playing this time?"

Hotfix: The threat generated by classes in their tanking mode has been increased from three times damage done to five times damage done.
In an upcoming patch: Vengeance no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken generates Vengeance equal to one third of the damage dealt by that attack. As Vengeance updates during the fight, it is always set to at least a third of the damage taken in the last two seconds. It still climbs from that point at the previous rate, still decays at the previous rate, and still cannot exceed the current maximum.

"Okay, okay. Sky not falling. They're just making threat a faceroll again."

Ghostcrawler then goes on to state an intention to modify tanking in the long run, replacing the requirement for active threat management with active mitigation abilities, holding the current Death Knight model up an an example of this.

So. Effect? In the short term, well tanking just got a whole lot cruisier. Tanking is fairly faceroll at the moment anyway if you're halfway-competent, the exception to this being on-the-pull threat, which I can see they are specifically acknowledging and fixing with the Vengeance "floor".

In the long term, tanking may actually become a lot more compelling when we have the ability to actually affect the mitigation performance we care about, not simply the binary: held aggro / did not hold aggro, with the only effect of any extra effort past this point being a very slight increase in overall raid damage.

I've read in the past about how the current design for Death Knight active mitigation cannot be made too powerful or central, lest the class become either overpowered when played perfectly or impossible for a less apt player to tank effectively with. I can only hope that once it is made a standard tank design, skill-based mitigation can be made to matter a lot more, perhaps even to the point where a significant and measurable difference in damage taken is possible through skilled management of the tanking "rotation", the same way that we currently see significant and measurable differences in healing and damage throughput for those roles. The possiblility of this type of gameplay is something I find very exciting.

Realistically, though, I forsee this being more a case of making Shield Block cost 60 Rage instead of 10 so you need to "manage" your Rage in order to use it, or making Holy Shield Block cost Holy Power so you need to "manage" your Holy Power to use it. Again, for the halfway-competent tank, very little will change.

Of course we can't for a second pretend this whole situation isn't yet another direct response to the "tank shortage" in LFD. We all know it. They all know it.

For bad players, and those who are randomly grouped with them [ie all of us] this is game-changing. Let's look at the current state of the five-mans in terms of unbalanced skill/gear level in groups:

A weak DPS will deal less damage. This can be compensated for by pretty much any combination of stronger players in the party.
A weak healer will have less healing throughput and run out of mana sooner. This can be compensated for by a stronger tank requiring less healing, or stronger DPS who can manage crowd-control and/or kill things faster.
A weak tank will take more damage and have a low threat output. These need to be compensated for by having both a stronger healer in terms of the increased damage they take and by the DPS making a conscious effort to either manage their own threat or execute outside-the-box play with threat-redirection/kiting/mitigation/lockdown abilities; or by a vastly stronger healer who has the reflexes, throughput and mana-management to heal any non-tanks that take aggro.

The imbalance is not hard to spot. Weak tanks require significantly stronger players to compensate for them or the group will fail. Making tank threat simple goes a long way in allowing DPS to compensate for a weak tank without necessitating more work for either themselves or the healer.

I still smile when Blizzard pulls out simple yet brilliant changes like this. Now they just need to follow it up with some compelling mitigation mechanics, or I might end up very bored with tanking.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Valor Cap

I think it's a bit telling that the only location you can view your weekly Valor cap is on the Dungeon Finder screen.

I'm not a big fan of Zul'Gurub. I never played the original, having only a level fifty-something toon by the time BC was released, and the new version seems... I don't know... a bit too gimmicky? I guess the mechanics-heavy fights are interesting, but I just don't find them all that fun.

I do enjoy Zul'Aman. The bosses are meh, but the trash is great, and having an excuse to chain pull trash is my idea of fun in WoW.

When the daily Random Heroic was first introduced as part of the Dungeon Finder back in 3.3, there were sixteen L80 Heroics in the random pool, which meant it was rare to see the same dungeon twice in a week of Frost capping. In the first tier of Cataclysm, there were only nine, but when you were only doing one per day, they didn't get too repetitive too fast.

In 4.2, not only are we doing the same two dungeons over and over and over and over, we may well end up doing them up to four times in a single day if we're being efficient about it [say, with an weekend guild group]. I don't think anyone will disgaree when I call this very poor design.

I think I understand now why they reduced the cap on Valor Points; they realised how quickly raiders would start despising the game if they had to grind seven of these bloody things a week.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I feel confident to conclude that if 11.5 million people were subscribed to a service three months ago and only 11.2 million people are subscribed now, clearly this service is in its death throes, and I can tell you for a fact that it's 100% due to the issues that I personally have been complaining about.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

lol Pandarans

There is no doubt in my mind that Blizzard is trolling us with this "Mists of Pandaria" crap.

Clue one: Pandarans are Blizzard's go-to red herring whenever they want to spread misinformation.

Clue two: That is just a shitty, shitty title for an expansion. You don't go from titles like Rage of the Lich King, Brutal Invasion of the Burning Legion and CATACLYSMOMG!!!!11 to something like Gentle Evening Mists of Hippieland

Just, no. Can we have some real news now?