Friday, July 26, 2013


[stolen from]

I recall this comic every time I see someone arguing about anything at all. Some people will never question their most basic assumptions about the world, preferring that the burden fall to the facts to comply with this reality.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My first compulsory server merge

The Star Wars MMO decided a while back that its Australian (that's what "Asia-Pacific" means, right?) players are no longer worth specifically catering for, so I've just been informed that should I not elect to utilise my "free" character transfers voluntarily in the next month that all my characters will all be moved anyway (though helpfully this is also free) to a server in another country twelve thousand kilometres away on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

I realise that Australian players who care about game latency are probably a bit of a minority among the Star Wars MMO playerbase, so don't feel I have the right to get too upset, but at the same time this decision has significantly soured my feelings for the game, knowing that I'm being given a lesser service now than I was before. Playing MMOs without at least 200ms of latency is a luxury I don't get to experience with many games.

I'm honestly curious to see whether the hypothetical "average player" will notice the change. Whether they will think the game kind of feel slower sometimes, or complain that the buttons take longer to register, or notice lag spikes are happening more often. Probably not, I guess.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mistweaver levelling

What's been interesting to notice is the massive jump in complexity going into Cataclysm dungeons. When these dungeons first appeared I attributed their difficulty mostly to the expansion gear reset, but after spending the last eight months in Mists dungeons, the Cata ones are a very noticeable step up in complexity, not just numbers. It's easy to recognise in hindsight that the amount of work and design ambition that went into these dungeons was well out of proportion to how most players wanted to play them. And I thought that lesson was learned after the Vanilla dungeons...

I bought one of those ridiculous Mists BoE weapons for my Monk, and I think it tripled her output. I've been out-damaging everyone in the levelling dungeons I'm healing, with the exception of the times I run into another player using a Mists BoE. For context, my upgrade was from an i285 polearm to an i425 1H sword, the former having 900 spell power, the latter 3600. Also, I put a Jade Spirit enchant on it. So you understand my use of the term "ridiculous".

I also found an awesome 1H sword transmog, which has swayed me from my previous intention of playing this character as unarmed. With Jade Spirit on it that sword looks amazing.

Kiddow is eighty-four currently and I'm really looking forward to getting her to Pandaria. Not so much because I expect levelling to become more interesting-- there are actually fewer levelling dungeons in the current expansion, it's more the case of the character becoming current in a lot of ways. I can set my hearth in Pandaria, access profession bonuses and cooldowns and start accruing Harmony, farm rare spawns, start on reputation grinds which will be useful at endgame... I've heard you can get world boss loot even if you're not 90 yet, but I've yet to actually confirm this.

Monday, July 8, 2013

More microtransactions?

I would probably pay real money for a double XP potion, but I'm also one of the players least in need of one-- the Monk is likely to hit 90 in the next week, and that once again will leave Rogue as the only class I've yet to get to max level.

As an aside, if anyone who reads this blog "gets" what makes a Rogue fun to play, feel free to point me in the right direction... to me it seems like a class built around a mechanic that just isn't that relevant to PvE group content. "You can gank people" isn't a big selling point for me.

But anyway, I wanted to talk about microtransactions.

Basically, I don't care about microtransactions. If I feel like a virtual item/currency is worth the money I'll usually buy it, if I don't then the point is moot. I used to say that this kind of thing would create a biased development schedule, where it's more "important" to create small new things to sell in the store than actual game content, but I don't think that's true unless the developer is really sleazy to begin with. Blizzard is still for the most part a developer I trust, if only because they are clearly so obsessed with their corporate image that they will let their fans keep them in line. Group mentality has its downsides, but following a crowd is a great way to avoid being marginalised.

Blizzard currently has eight million reasons not to make their game suddenly free, but I have to assume they are investigating any possible future revenue streams. I'm sure they're also looking very, very closely at all the other MMOS which managed to increase revenues by making the game free to play (or "Free2Play" as dumb people call it for some reason). For Blizzard, figuring out whether this might actually be true of their eight-million-subscriber MMO as well is a question worth literally billions of dollars.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Like everyone else, I rolled [hah, pun] a Monk last year, and have been leveling him on and off since then. I tried each of the specs early on, eventually finding the healing spec, Mistweaver, was the most interesting by far, and I have had an absolute blast leveling through Dungeon Finder [since healers are usually the bottleneck in leveling dungeons].

Mistweaver Monk is the best implementation of melee healing I've ever played, with an amazing variety of abilities that create room for several completely viable playstyles. The option to swing your focus from pure healing to damage/healing makes you a much more useful party member by only healing as much as is needed and putting the rest of your resources into damage, and the transition between these two focuses is very, very smooth. The player is also given some great tools to maximise resource use between healing and damage, and what that all translates into is a very high skill-cap.

The class feels very active, in the same way I've said before that the Warrior tank class feels very active compared to the other tanks. My best guess for where this feeling comes from is that most of the time you will quickly notice two or maybe three ways to deal with a given situation, and actively choose the most effective, or perhaps the most fun. :)

Having a channel lead into an instant cast spell is the most awesome and innovative implementation of a "fast expensive heal" I've seen in the game so far. For all other healing classes it's a 1.5-second cast heal, which is usually not significantly faster than the next-fastest heal, but can't really be shortened or it would introduce a severe haste DR.

I've yet to really figure out how to use Healing Sphere. I think for a WoW spell it's a pretty radical design-- you toggle the spell on [like Keg Toss], and place Healing Spheres with the mouse on a 0.5-second global CD, which deal a not-insignificant amount of healing and will hit the people who need it.

At this point it's still really hard to tell what this stuff is going to look like at endgame. The dungeons I'm healing all seem very trivial, and when my weakest channel heal can tick for as much as half of a tank's health, I get the feeling I might be overgeared for the content.

I've also noticed that moving into Wrath content, DPS seems more and more to be holding their own against me, usually beating my damage on boss fights. Even though I am doing two jobs at once, seeing myself at the bottom of the damage meter is still just a little bit demoralising.

Since I wrote the bulk of the above, I've actually race changed my Monk to a female human, named Kiddow. I got tired of the panda very quickly, and while brainstorming, the idea of an homage to [ripoff of] Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill was one I found extremely resonant. So I'm playing her as a late-30s, hardened warrior, who has aged somewhat, but so far lost very little of her agility. She's extremely disciplined and patient thanks to years of intense training to master the forces of nature.

Okay give me a break I'm still a newbie at this.