Wednesday, November 28, 2012

5.1 Patch Notes

"The conflict between the Horde and the Alliance has ignited a new series of daily quests..."

Says it all, really.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Another short post

Nearly 90 on Coreus, the last of my three "focus" toons for this expansion. I've been really enjoying dicking around as a Demonology Warlock. I'm sure I've talked before about the excellent design behind this spec in Mists. We've really come a long way since our rotation was; (1) maintain dots, (2) spam filler. These days it's all about banking/spending resources and judging when to sacrifice overall damage for burst. It's the kind of thing that I think I'd really enjoy in doing in a raid-- learning how to weave my burst into the right phases of the encounter. I'm letting myself off the hook for managing Shadowflame dot stacking too efficiently for the moment, because frequent gear upgrades, not to mention levelling, keeps shifting my casting haste so the timing keeps changing on me.

I think that's all I have to say.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blog entry for Tuesday 20th November

I've noticed my WoW playtime has seen a significant reduction recently. Mainly I just feel like I have nothing to do in the game. I honestly can't tell whether I genuinely dislike Golden Lotus daily quests or if all that time I spent hating the obligation to do them has just poisoned me against them. I like the Klaxxi stuff but as I'm already Revered I'd prefer to wait until double rep is patched in to do more of that. Crafting is boring, and I haven't even logged into my auction mule in the better part of a week.

Maybe I'm "getting over" WoW. Maybe I'm one of those people for whom Cataclysm was made, so when a million people said it was the worst expansion ever they stopped making the game that I liked and started making a game that revolves around daily quests and trivial random-group content.

Maybe I'm falling into that same trap of entitlement that I find so infuriating to read about.

I'm wondering if a goal would help. Maybe it's time to "go for goldcap" as those wankers on the gold blogs say. I've been sitting on a bunch of investment items for some time now.

I plugged in Ocarina of Time on Sunday. I played this game to death when I was a teenager, and I am honestly amazed how much it still stands up today as a pinnacle of atmosphere and exploration gameplay. That game is a fucking achievement.

Friday, November 16, 2012

All-purpose tanking

I talked about prot warrior stuff a few weeks ago, coming to the conclusion that the massive shift in the value of the Mastery stat-- depending on whether you are using mainly Shield Block or Barrier in a fight-- would mean a lot of gear-swapping, if not completely reforging.

In the weeks since that post I've become a lot less concerned with min-maxing and have adopted an "all-purpose" build; prioritising stamina, then expertise and hit caps, then mastery. I try to keep the option open for swapping in more mastery for any block fights where I can, but the thing is; I've yet to reach any point anywhere in the game where the amount of damage I'm taking is significant enough that I feel compelled to min-max my damage reduction stats. Brief periods of danger can be dealt with easily by hitting Enraged Regen in combination with a health-boosting CD/trinket, and any high-damage phase is predictable for easy CD timing.

Overall, I just don't think that healer mana is anywhere near as affected by me as by all the DPS carelessly soaking avoidable damage. As long as I am playing properly and using my damage reduction and control abilities reasonably intelligently, my damage intake is fairly predictable, and I might as well be contributing what damage I can.

That's all I have to say about theorycrafting, I suppose. But I do want to talk about how ridiculously fun prot warriors still are. It just feels very active, like you have a tool for every situation. And while the all-purpose combo of Charge-Thunderclap-Shockwave-Revenge-Shield Slam is what I end up doing 80% of the time, it's the trickier pulls that make it all worth it. The ones with multiple casters to shut down, or mobs with irritating abilities that you just want to control as much as possible.

We still have an amazingly versatile toolkit [though I miss my single-target stun] and the best mobility of any class in the game. Executing one of those pulls where you zip around like a madman sweeping all the mobs into a neat pile and then BOOM stun the whole pack in place-- wrapped up like a gift you're presenting to the DPS-- it's a great feeling.

I have a fond memory of the first time I tanked that trash before Elegon, realising a fraction of a second too late that oh shit this mob was about to knock me over the edge of the platform and oh fuck there I go... but having my well-developed Heroic Leap reflex kick in to instinctively leap straight back to solid ground again.

Then the second time I tanked that trash, the exact same thing happened.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A bit of train-of-thought

I'm led to wonder where this incredible sense of entitlement in gamers came from. Maybe it's not something unique to games, but a specific demographic which is common in games. Or maybe it's only the fact that MMO Champion puts it in front of my face daily. Maybe it's a human thing to expect the world to conform to your desires, and everybody complains about how everyone in the world is terrible except for themselves. I know I do.

Hm. I really expected that thought to go a bit further.

I was reading on another blog about The Secret World, which I played a bit before Cataclysm came out but didn't end up staying for a second month. This blogger talked about how awesome the story and the characters are, and I totally agree. I really enjoyed the ambience and feel of the world in TSW, and being reminded of how awesome it was makes me want to go back and play it again.

But I know better than this. It's far from the first time I've had a nostalgic craving like that; to go back and experience a video game's world and ambience and characters again. Sometimes I attempt to indulge those cravings by booting up the old game; but with very few exceptions [Chrono Trigger still holds up amazingly well today] I would get as far as the first lengthy gameplay sequence, get bored and switch it off again.

To me it comes back to that all-too-common disconnect between story and game. I like the story; but the game itself has become just an annoying obstacle to experiencing that story. My question becomes: why does this story need a game attached to it? We have plenty of media capable of telling stories, putting one in a game waters down the impact at best. Putting one on a sub-par game is just a complete waste of time and creativity.

To be honest I think the average video game player these days appreciates the concept of video games more than the actual product. They're attracted to the hype and spectacle of blockbuster games, play through each level once to view the cutscene at the end, until they reach a part they can't beat on the first few tries and lose interest. You know, the kind of player who gets excited when control of their avatar is yanked away, because it means something cool is about to happen and they get a short reprieve from actually having to play the game.

Basically, I tend to think that kind of player who demands an awesome story from their video game is the one who didn't really care about the game that much to begin with.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Super Fucking Meat Boy

I know this blog is about WoW, but I am unable to not rave about this game. Having finished the "main" game a year or two ago but losing my progress to a PC upgrade, I turned it on last night last night on a whim and ended up playing all the way through The Hospital's Dark World [with A+ time on all but that god damn vertical fan level] and once again found myself having the most fun playing a video game ever.

Every gamer should play this game. Don't be frightened by people telling you how stupidly hard it is. Don't think it's like Dark Souls-- a game which uses the argument of "it's supposed to be hard" basically to excuse the developer not bothering to fix any blatantly unfair design issues. Yeah-- I get that Dark Souls is "genuinely" retro in that way, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater in terms of modern game design.

Super Meat Boy is not a retro game, it's a game that builds on a quarter-century of refinement of the platform genre.

Super Meat Boy is not designed to be "finished" by more than some ridiculous top percentile of gamers, but the game does have a smooth difficulty curve to gradually push you into trickier and trickier challenges. It's about seeing how far you can get-- exploring and expanding the outer limits of your skill as a gamer. And although you will inevitably end up dying over and over, the constant refinement of your play skill [the purest form of video game fun] will compel you to keep going, attempt after attempt, until you finally nail it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Character progression

I really enjoy pet battles, but WoW has trained me to not "waste" my playtime on activities which do not provide any character progression [or at least high gold per hour]. I was joking when I first suggested providing Valor Points for max-level pet battle wins, but I've actually come to the opinion that it would be a really good reward to add to the system.

At, say, six minutes per battle and assuming average skill [ie 50% win rate], five VP per pet battle win would still be worse Valor/minute on average than daily quests, so it wouldn't break the system. It would be akin to XP in levelling BGs-- a small bonus to the activity so that your progression doesn't completely stagnate if that's what you spend all your playtime doing. And at around 20 hours playtime to cap Valor this way, I'm sure it would satisfy Blizzard's "give the player plenty to do" policy on everything being a huge grind.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Playing dumb

I think it's pretty silly how the CMs are responding to players complaining being "forced" to do Raid Finder by saying in no way is this content compulsory, it's just optimal.

Come on guys, we know you're smarter than that. For many players, being sub-optimal is not an acceptable option. We know you know this because we've seen whole game systems designed around this fact so many times in the past. All you're doing by feigning ignorance is insulting the players who pose these legitimate questions.

But to the people who ask, the reason is not hard to figure out if you think about it. Blizzard just can't admit to it.

Raiders are "forced" to do Raid Finder because bad players need to be carried. Raid Finder is designed around this idea. It's about preserving the illusion of competence and therefore self-esteem of the bad players; to keep them feeling good about the game and keep them playing. Pretty much every developer decision that unfairly inconveniences raiders comes down to that same reasoning: to protect bad players from realising that they are bad.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

GC's PvP propositions

Ghostcrawer has a blog up about the current state of PvP. He went over some of the ideas the dev team has been considering implementing, a couple of which caught my eye. I should mention I don't PvP very much because while half the time it's really enjoyable, the other half makes me hate everyone and everything in the universe.

"Loss-of-control UI"-- that being some kind of dealie on the interface which shows you very clearly that you have been controlled so that you don't have the frustrating experience of trying to push buttons and nothing happening. I fucking love it. Literally just last night I died to a pack of really annoying chain-1sec-stunning elites on my Shaman because I thought I had hit my healing CD, but didn't notice that I was momentarily stunned when I pressed it so it never went off. I mean fears and disorient effects are easy to notice and react to, snares and roots too if you're trying to move at the time; but for things like stuns, hexes, disarms; in the thick of battle it often takes me a second or two to realise why my buttons are suddenly not doing anything.

Queueing for Rated BGs with only 5 people would be fantastic-- enough of a barrier to entry to ensure that the individuals who join the group and least think they know what they're doing and have some accountability to the team, but drastically reduces the logistical issue of needing so many people online at the same time to access this part of the game.