Thursday, January 31, 2013

World of Warcraft

Ennui. I has it.

I keep thinking that I should go buy a fricking Fight Club [I forget what it's called] invitation because everything I've heard points to that content being something I would really enjoy. But because the tickets all sell during peak server time-- well before I get home from work. So to get one I'd have to put in a super early bid, so I'd have to work out what amount they are actually selling for so I could bid around that amount, and by that point in my line of thinking I find I just don't care that much. I want to want to put that much effort into the game again, but it's just not happening.

I reached the Valor Cap last week. I mean the total Valor cap, 3000. I would love to buy a Stamina trinket, but I'm only allowed to buy that if I complete a couple of weeks of mind-meltingly boring daily quests, so I bought 4 ilevels instead. I think I liked the game better before they "encouraged" [forced] players to complete "a variety of content" [daily quests].

I've not touched the AH in nearly a month, which since I haven't really adjusted my spending to compensate, means I've nearly run out of gold. The AH has always been a big part of my enjoyment in WoW, but unfortunately I'm locked out of my auction mule account.

Basically the situation is that I'm between Internet providers at the moment so my only way of playing has been through a wireless dongle, and Blizzard has helpfully recognised my logging in from a different IP address each time as "suspicious activity" and forced me to perform a password reset using their online form. Which is fair enough, but their online form does not fucking work.

I fill out the form, I enter my secret question, it sends me a confirmation link in an email, but when I click the confirmation link, the website tells me that An error has occurred, with no further explanation other than a helpful second line reiterating that An error has occurred. In case I was unconvinced by the first line alone, or the fact that I was still unable to access my fucking account.

I tried submitting a ticket [on my main account since you need to be able to log in to submit one] but the GM practically yelled at me that due to security reasons they were unable to help unless I called them. And it turns out their phone hours are between 2am and 3pm [adjusted for my local timezone]. So I guess I'll give them another call Saturday morning and hopefully I wont be so fed up with the process by the end that I just give up and play Star Wars instead. That game doesn't ban people for no reason, right?

Meanwhile I still log on to my main characters and just... don't know what to do any more. Tanking 5-man dungeons is still fun I guess. Healing raid finder is interesting enough. I got my Warlock to 90 a few weeks ago and basically haven't touched him since because I don't care enough to wait around for 20 minutes in a queue before I get to play.

As an aside, you know what I wish they would offer as a reward for tanking 5-man dungeons? The ability to skip the queue on a damage role. I mean the Call to Arms bonus could be a token attached to your account which would allow you to jump to the front of the queue for a future random dungeon-- in other words a reward relatively proportional to the contribution you are making to the system by accepting the unpopular role. [I say relatively because if it were truly proportional you would get four tokens, one for each of the four people whose queue time you assisted.] The satchel just doesn't cut it since experienced players, ie the ones who actually play tanks, have little need for the pittance of gold/items that the satchel offers.

I virtually always tank or heal in a group setting-- the only time I don't is when the class I'm playing physically can't do either. So when I am "stuck" on a pure damage class, sitting in that queue, all I can think of is the amount of time I've spent contributing, taking on the unpopular roles for other players, and that now that the shoe is on the other foot none of it counts for anything.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Patch 5.2 - 10 and 25 Player Raid Loot Changes -- MMO Champion

Brilliant. Fucking brilliant. I still grin like an idiot every time those Blizzard designers pull something like this out.

TL;DR version: normal and Heroic mode raids will occasionally drop a ssssuper epeen six ilevels higher version of any normal loot drop, and that these upgrades will "proc" slightly more often in 25-man raids.

I just... I don't even know where to begin. I've yet to read any other blogs since hearing about this change, so I'll just assume as usual they're all screaming about how this is the worst change to WoW since they nerfed Hogger, but I think it's awesome.

First of all, it's a decent "soft" reward for 25-man raiders. [Or, y'know, a slap in the face if you're not.]

It means that nobody will ever, ever, ever be able to complete their best in slot gear set within a raid tier. You would never be totally "done" even with farm bosses in terms of loot upgrades unless you already got extremely lucky.

I can't recall any situation in WoW which squeezed so much epeen out of so few ilevels. The 4.1 Troll 5-mans back in Cataclysm came close with their Epic quality loot having only 7 ilevels over the terrible, terrible Rare quality gear from the previous 5-mans. As with that example, the six ilevels are almost beside the point; it's the big sparkly "Thunderforged" text at the top that lets everyone know how awesome you are as a player, and the security of knowing that it's the best gear ever ever by a small margin.

It definitely adds excitement to the loot dropping process. Instead of "we killed a farm boss and he dropped an item nobody could use and another item everyone already has", you'll occasionally have "we killed a farm boss and HOLY SHIT HE DROPPED A THUNDERFORGED ITEM that nobody could use" and the raid bonds over a mutual bitching that their luck is terrible and the Thunderforged items they need never drop.

I wonder how much this will devalue non-Thunderforged drops in players' minds...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to enjoy Raid Finder

So we all know that Raid Finder is designed for the lowest common denominator and success is guaranteed no matter what you do, but it can be enjoyable if you approach it with the right attitude.

Some things you may enjoy:

- Healing meter competition. The best way to Raid Finder in my opinion, because the players typically take enough avoidable damage that you'll have plenty of raid heals to snipe. Fast, competitive fun. Many normal mode skills still apply: you still want to learn the damage flow of the fight to use CDs effectively and heal proactively, and mana management still applies as you'll easily waste a ton on overheals. Hard mode: actually tell the other healers you want a meter competition.

- Damage meter competition. Same again but no need to pay attention to the fight. Plant your feet, tunnel your vision, AoE indiscriminately and ignore any mechanics that wont instakill you. That's what healers are for.

- Tanking ALL THE THINGS for Vengeance epeen. Take as much damage as possible to deal as much damage as possible. Wind Lord Mel'jarak is especially great for this-- if you pull all the Menders and let their damage and attack speed buff stack you can get yourself a few hundred thousand AP and really show all those DPS losers how irrelevant they are.

- Actively griefing the raid. I would never do that. Only a huge jerk would do that.

Just be careful; tools like Leap of Faith, Hand of Protection, Void Shift and Demonic Gateway which are meant to be used strategically could be used to manipulate raid members into situations which they may not be able to recover from. Mind that brief window in Spirit Kings that lets other raid members hit you with damaging abilities; this window can also be used to apply stuns, debuffs or crowd-controls. Watch out for people using knockback or taunts on mobs which need to be positioned correctly to avoid cleave/breath damage hitting the raid. And as for the rage potential of an poorly-timed Heroism or equivalent... well... just kill yourself and you'll be good to go for the next one.

Friday, January 4, 2013

WoW's real money transactions

Spending extra money on Star Wars has made me rethink my stance a bit on whether WoW "should" allow real money transactions [RMTs] for players to buy bonuses in the game. Then I realised they already did, and I already had.

WoW has always shied away from offering any "direct" character bonuses for real money. But you only have to look as far as server transfers and faction changes -- convenience RMTs. They save you the time of levelling and progressing a new character in order to play with people on a different server or faction.

I hesitate to actually total how many of these transactions I've used over the six-plus years I've been playing WoW, but for an example my very first WoW toon Coreus has in that time been realm transferred seven times and faction changed four times; playing at various times on Tanaris, Aman'thul, Feathermoon, Barthilas and Nagrand realms, and varying between Human, Forsaken and Goblin. [His Goblin name was Rixwhimps, which I was a bit sad to leg go of at the time. Goblin names are such fun.] Each of these transfers was used to play with people I otherwise would have needed to make other sacrifices; ie time, choice of playstyle; to play with.

Race changes and character customisation are ostensibly cosmetic RMTs, until you consider the massive number of hardcore players who race change just to get whatever 1% racial bonus is most competitive this tier/season.

Recruit-a friend is a big one, giving players who are willing and able to multibox [and pay for the extra accounts] triple experience. I used this to level my Warrior in late Wrath, which soon after became my favourite class in the game, and has been my main toon for over three years now.

Scroll of Resurrection is the other big RMT when used to create a level 80 character at the cost of one-month's subscription [and usually an account transfer]. I took advantage of this myself last year to create a level 80 Death Knight, at the time one of only two classes I didn't have the patience to level [Rogue was the other]. Death Knight is still my second-favourite tanking class, and would probably never have known that if I hadn't been able to "buy" one.

Pets have never been compelling purchases to me, but now that they BATTLE I can see them being a lot more attractive in that you're actually purchasing a new gameplay style-- most of the purchased pets have unique movesets.

When the Sparkle Pony was on special for $10 I bought it because it was account-wide [before this was true of all mounts] and I had several alts who only had the default mount and it would be a nice visual upgrade for then. These days, account-wide mounts [especially for someone who spent a year or two collecting rare ones] removes a major reason to purchase one for real money.

I think the more rational people start spending money in RMT games, on things which are actually worth paying for, the more developers will start creating things that are worth paying for, and we might eventually get to what I see as the holy grail of "free" games; a game which allows people to pay what the game is worth to them, and feel like they are getting good value for their money whatever the actual amount is.

If we let the whales* dictate what is worth developing then we're only going to see more and more useless crap sold for ridiculous amounts. That shit needs to stop.

It occurs to me that most of my views on RMTs and "Free to play" games, as well as my generally optimistic view of them was actually mostly gleaned from this blog post that Raph Koster posted about a year ago [I had to google it]. It's a fantastic post and well worth reading, if you're interested.

*whales is the term used for the really big spenders in RMT games; the ones that often just buy everything.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Picture related

The way I think of it is; if I care enough about a game that I'm willing to spend more money on relatively minor bonuses than I did on the game itself, they've earned it.