Friday, December 30, 2011


I don't think a big enough deal has been made about the Companion system in TOR, and what it means for group content. Now there is no excuse for pugging with people who perform poorly-- you can literally replace them with an NPC. In my mind this creates a benchmark for acceptable player performance, something WoW lacks.

I am extremely curious to see exactly how well these NPCs perform compared to an adept human player in terms of throughput numbers. I have to assume that even with perfect micromanagement, NPC performance will not be on par with a competent human player, though I may well be wrong. I've seen people mutibox dps and healing simultaneously before. Maybe this is designed as a high skill-cap to the PvE side of the game, allowing those with the aptitude to perform as well as two human players. Even if the performance isn't identical, I can easily envisage a hypothetical 10-man raid team having one or two of their players use companions to replace missing raiders, rather than gambling on unknown pugs.

I'm still playing WoW. Raiding is extremely fun, and I fully expect us to finally kill Deathwing this week.

When not raiding, I'm usually messing around with my auctions or mounts or transmog gear. Neeearly completed the Judgement recolour set from BC Heroics, which I think looks really pretty on Syrannia. [As a Warrior she so rarely gets to look pretty.]

A combination of factors has created impetus to level my cooking and fishing skill, and alerted me to the vague possibility of future acheivements in those areas. I actually ended up having a blast seeking out obscure recipes to bridge the gap between cooking skill level 250-300 such as Runn Tum Tuber Surprise from Dire Maul and Smoked Desert Dumplings from Silithus.

I picked up the Shadowmourne quest, because hey, it might happen eventually, and even if I don't complete it for a year or two, I don't think those quest rewards are going be much less leet than they are now.

I also can't help but notice how close I am to the The Exalted title, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I hit that milestone as well, what with all the old instances and raids I seem to be running these days.

I have one hundred and thirteen mounts. Last weekend I went to the trouble of actually making a list of the 40-odd "reasonably attainable" mounts I had left, from camp-fests like Aeonaxx and the Time-Lost drake, to the 1% drop-rate RNG-fests from the likes of Malygos and Attumen, to the various raiding Metas that were either before Syrannia's time or she just never got around to completing, to the thirteen Argent Tournament mounts I have yet to grind from dailies, to the three Flying Carpets that are only a short profession switcheroo away. I am certain there will be another "x number of mounts" achievement mount in Mists, the only question in my mind is whether the number will be 125 or 150. Or ideally, both. =D

Y'know, when you start thinking long-term like this, suddenly spending a night or two camping Aeonaxx doesn't seem like such a bad deal.

I would like to rant briefly about the Spine of Deathwing trinkets. There are a series of trinkets which proc a buff of 88 to a single primary stat which stacks ten times, giving basically 880 of that primary stat. This is, by a retardedly huge margin, the best itemisation a trinket could possibly have for every DPS spec of every class. 880 Intellect, 880 Agility, 880 Strength, and one for healers with 880 Spirit, plus a large chunk of static Intellect because Spirit is practically a secondary stat.

But for some reason the gear design team either hates tanks or have somehow not played a tank since BC, because for some jesus-fucking reason, this "single primary stat" design translated into giving tanks a trinket with the one stat they care least about, dodge rating. Dodge Rating. Not Stamina, which is, y'know actually a primary stat, not even Mastery rating which is about as desirable for tanks as any primary stat ever has been. They gave DPS and healers the absolutely most best ultimate itemisation ever ever and gave tanks DODGE FUCKING RATING. They didn't even give us any sympathy stats like they did the Healer trinket.

I made a rage comic about it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Previously, on Star Wars

The levelling curve in TOR seems firmly modeled after WoW, and as such it seems to suffer from the same focus on solo questing. I have just completed the questing on Dromund Kass, including all the side quests, Heroic group quests and two Flashpoints I saw along the way [though I skipped the PvP]. I am now level 19, and am informed that my next story quest is in a zone labelled [explicitly within the game UI] with a level range of 16-20.

My first instinct as a WoW player is to skip that zone and get an early start on a higher level, presumably less overlevelled-faceroll one, maybe do a Flashpoint or two, but then it occurred to me that I'm on a storyline. Can I just skip this portion of the story and pick it up again in the next zone? [And is it too much to hope for a fully-voiced "Previously, on Star Wars"-style recap?] Are there multiple class questlines or just one? If it is just one, would not doing that zone totally derail my class quest line and make me unable to continue? Will I really need to skip all the additional content and side quests just to keep from out-levelling the story?

First-world problems, I suppose. It's probably too much to ask for a game to be offer challenging content by default. Any challenge needs to be bypassable, and the game tuned for people who cannot complete it.

On a related note, the significant other and I wiped two or three times on the first boss in Hammer Station before we conceded that we would need a dedicated healer. I wouldn't have it any other way. The more this game kills me the more I like it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

More TOR

I'm really enjoying The Old Republic.

Elite fucking quests. Blizzard didn't just stop making these for WoW, they went out of their way to take the existing ones out. TOR gave me two right in the starting zone for my class. I died! While questing! In the starting zone! The game developers respect me enough to not assume that if I find a quest I can't faceroll I will instantly stop having fun and quit the game!

I'm also really enjoying the solo RP aspect of the game. It's not something I really do unless prompted, but been given constant opportunities to better define my character through his responses to different situations is a very welcome addition to the experience. I had a half-thought to aim to be just [light-side], but of course in the harsh realities of imperfect situations many of the light-side options just seemed completely unreasonable. Sometimes bad people just deserve to die.

Companions seem like a really interesting idea. At this point I'm unsure whether I like them or not. On the surface, they seem to make the game easier, which is not something I'm interested in. On the other hand, having a companion gave me the ability to complete the aforementioned elite quests "solo", though one of them still got pretty hairy.

Giving every player a companion strikes me as a way to allow the game to be balanced for grouping [see above complaints about WoW's lack of challenging questing] without leaving solo players out in the cold. Did I read somewhere that the companions were only available when ungrouped? Because that would make a lot of design sense. If questing with a partner turns out to be four characters faceraping everything in sight then we're right back to WoW-style faceroll questing.

Though if that does turn out to be the case, maybe a five-man dungeon would be feasable...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twenty minutes of TOR

The significant other purchased this for me yesterday. Twelve hours of downloading later, I was able to play for roughly twenty minutes or so this morning before I had to leave for work.

Right out of the gate TOR has a distinct art style which strikes me as being deliberately designed [like WoW's] to age well, and a very responsive interface. The one thing that killed Rift for me was that the action bar interface was laggy as hell, so this was my number-one concern for this game. I'm relieved that this wont be an issue.

I had plenty of time yesterday to read up on the classes, and so far Jedi Knight seems a fairly good fit for my preferred playstyle, being basically a carbon copy of Warcraft's Warrior class.

This is a joke that will probably get very, very old in time, but right now I am just so terribly amused at how much of this game is lifted straight out of World of Warcraft.

I counted the following Warrior abilities which have [what appear to be based on the tooltip descriptions] mechanically identical equivalents on the new class:

Taunt [obviously]
Battle and Defensive Stances
Sunder Armor and Devastate
Concussion Blow
Shield Wall
Last Stand
Challenging Shout
Pummel [the interrupt move is named "Force Kick"-- love it]

You really can't count this stuff against the game though. WoW came to its design through nearly a decade of iteration, and I wouldn't expect TOR to stray too far from this design, at least at first.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tank Mastery scaling out of control?

It's hard not to notice the lack of Valor tanking gear with any Mastery on it whatsoever in 4.3. Or that a significant portion of those already slim options actually have significantly less mastery than their 4.2 BiS counterparts.

Nice trinket though.

Monday, November 28, 2011

WoW developer faction bias?

Apparently a few retards have been whinging on the forums [why is this remarkable again?] that Blizzard is blatantly Horde-biased, based on the fact that one of the most significant lore characters at the moment used to be leader of the Horde, and some other miscellaneous rumours presented as fact. They must have been whinging quite a bit because Blizzard went to the trouble of getting Dave Kosak to write an explanation which boils down to "What? Do you people even understand the concept of drama?"

Wasn't the entire last expansion centred completely around a character who was a previously a major Alliance lore figure? Where was the complaining about bias then? Not to mention the prominence of Tirion Fordring and Bolvar Fordragon in that storyline, both Humans, one explicitly from the Alliance faction.

Personally, I think this is all about racism. People just aren't ready for an Orc to be their saviour.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gameplay > flavour

In WoW 5.0, activating Shield Wall no longer requires you to have a Shield.

I've been saying it for a while now. They are making WoW a better game by making these flavour sacrifices and nonsensical spell effects. In terms of gameplay, it's poor design to require players to create a macro just to access a baseline ability.

If you want flavour, I recommend Skyrim as a great game that isn't afraid to bog the player down with "realism".

[Not to disparage Skyrim. It's an excellent, excellent game.]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hybrids and Non-hybrids

MMO Champion has published yet another graph showing a clear preference in the player population for hybrid classes, which only becomes more pronounced the more group content a player does.

Of course this is only one interpretation of the graph. The raw data says that hybrids tend to have more Valor Points than non-hybrids-- easily explained by their ability to get into group content more easily due to the glut of DPS, as well as the multiple specs meaning there is a use for additional Valor past filling out your main set.

In terms of my own play experience, my tank and healer toons tend to have more Valor points because they tend to be more fun to play for me-- and this is directly related to the fact that I do not have fun waiting between fifteen and thirty minutes to get into the game. I would definitely play my Hunter and my Mage more if this was not the case.

One thing I've never been able to resolve in my head is the idea that the pure DPS classes are anything but horribly unbalanced in their lack of flexibility in grouping. Personally I thought the idea of a hybrid tax was a good one, and necessary to prevent these classes from being undervalued in raids, but Blizzard has since stated that they didn't like this as a solution and have abandoned it in favour of a vague promise of eventually coming up with a way to balance it.

Speaking of the hybrid tax, isn't this identical in concept to what we're apparently getting in 4.3, with melee being deliberately buffed to deal more damage than ranged classes? I'm surprised I haven't heard this referred to as the "ranged tax".

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PTR Raid Finder

I've had a bit of a read of the PTR Raid Finder feedback thread on the official forums. Major recurring themes include "leaders need more control over the raid" and "we need to be able to boot people faster and more easily". I'm also tickled by the idea that the queue has to pop several times over before all 25 people actually accept the invitation. It's like the Dungeon Finder times five. =P

It's of course worth noting that this is the PTR and thus player behaviour is only loosely representative of that of live realms.

I personally feel that more comprehensive Raid Leader control is the best way to go, alongside a greater emphasis on the responsibility of the player taking leadership over the group [and of course, options for usurping this person if they are unfit to lead]. This could be something as simple as a warning that pops up when you tick the Leader option to ask if you are sure you are willing to accept this responsibility, or perhaps even add some kind of moderately difficult "qualifier" task to unlock the ability to lead raids. Any kind of barrier to entry would only have a positive effect on the leadership pool, while simultaneously reinforcing the idea that leading a raid is something players need to take seriously.

At least one forum poster suggested the introduction of a Raid Leadership reputation/experience bar, granting points for each boss kill / raid clear. Fucking brilliant. I'm sure there are tracking features in the game that would easily be able to manage such a thing-- I've heard the devs make a few references over time to the way the Dungeon Finder currently tracks how many people you've kicked / times you've been kicked.

I can easily envisage a Raid Finder system in which the Leader role of a would be selected based on a simple check of whoever in the group the has the most Raid Leader experience [in this case, both senses of the word apply]. Perhaps this system could even incorporate a checkbox at the end of the raid in which each raider would be prompted to rate how satisfied they were with the raid leadership and direction, and maybe even scale XP accordingly.

And all they would have to do is make this status externally visible for players, and suddenly a not-insignificant portion of the player base will actively want to lead Raid Finder raids for the sole purpose of pursuing this alternate character progression.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More expansion thoughts

I realised I neglected to mention a major expansion feature, PvE Scenarios. It seems like a fairly obvious design evolution when you think of it; all the mission-ey stuff that's in the more recent BGs such as Isle of Conquest, just without an opposing team to gank you along the way.

I initially dismissed this as more noob pandering [er, no pun intended =\ ], recalling the eponymous Rift events from that game that got so boring, so fast. But then it occurred to me that they may actually be designed to be challenging. If they can get the challenge of a dungeon boss into a small-group encounter which does not necessitate a tank, I can see that being something well worth getting into. Of course, my inner cynic points out they will probably just make them faceroll noob fodder, so I refuse to raise my expectations until I can actually play one.

Rohan of Blessing of Kings pointed something out which bothered me:

As for tanking, it's somewhat odd, but non-shield tanks will actually outnumber the shield tanks. That does feel a bit weird to me. Legendary tanking polearm incoming?

I see how this has happened. What was at the beginning the standard [or depending on your opinion, only] tank configuration has now fallen out of fashion as every new class introduced to the game has had tanking shoehorned into it, along with the necessary stat contrivances to give them plate + shield-level armour.

I guess this is just another unfortunate effect of the evolution in design philosophy which has occurred since the classes were originally created using outdated design concepts like a non-hybrid DPS class.

Actually, one more thought occurs to me. With twice as many Leather tanking classes [and Druids being given the added endorsement of a tank-specific spec], perhaps there is enough reason to finally put Leather tanking gear back into the game. =D

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gentle Evening Mists of Hippieland

Well, isn't this a joke. =|

The thing I am most curious about is how terrible the rejected ideas were to make this bottom-of-the-barrel concept seem like a good idea.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way I must remind myself that Blizzard does not make bad games and regardless of the story concept, WoW will continue to be an excellent game for the forseeable future, especially now that they are done with that cataclysmic timesink of redesigning Azeroth and can focus more on developing actual game systems.

The new talent system is really well thought-out. The Challenge dungeons sound fucking awesome and I can't wait for an excuse to do more five-man content. The introduction of gear-normalisation [along with smoothing the gear progression from levels one through eighty-five] opens up all kinds of future options to expand gameplay which would otherwise be restricted by level. Going from three to two weapon slots is an extremely overdue change. Resilience is being made into a base stat, and I still hope that Spirit becomes a secondary stat at the same time.

The critter pet battling sounds pretty lame, but if I know me, I'll end up getting into it. >_>

I'll have to hear more about the new class before I pass judgement, but the idea of a melee healer gets me very, very excited. Let's just hope it doesn't become one of those unbalanceable concepts like Death Knight tanking or Discipline healing where they end up homogenising the hell out of it just to stop it from being overpowered. I also like the idea of a melee class without auto-attacks [though this may not end up being final] and disagree that this is really anything unusual. We already have loads of classes that don't use autoattacks and have to press a button for every offensive move. We call them casters.

I still eyetwitch every time I hear Blizzard talking about how a Legendary needs a story to go along with it, considering that when the Rogue daggers were first announced, they also said they had yet to make up a story to go with them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Australia fail

I've heard a bit of discussion of Dark Souls, and it strikes me as being very much a gamer's game. Though my first reaction is to dismiss it on the grounds that it's probably too hard for me, I only have to remind myself that I had the same thought when I first heard about Super Meat Boy, before I ended up playing that and having about as much fun as I ever have playing a video game. [Seriously, seriously cannot recommend that game enough.]

But then I checked into the availability of the game: it's only on consoles [strike one], and the US version is not compatible with my Australian X-Box, so I would have to pay Australian retail price for it. $90+ is far more than I'm willing to pay for a game that I'm not certain I'll even get into for more than a few hours.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Diablo III

First of all, calling this a Beta is a gross misrepresentation. When you release something for free that only includes the first chapter of the first act, that is called a demo. I'm extremely skeptical of the actual testing usefulness of this beta with only around two hours of gameplay to be had per tester. Ten, I suppose, if you play the same chapter five times to see each class.

Prior to this weekend I had never played more than 20 minutes of a Diablo game, though according to Steam I've logged about 20 hours on Torchlight, so I'm not really sure whether to qualify myself as a noob to the genre or not...

I am thoroughly, thoroughly impressed with this game. The gameplay is just so ridiculously smooth... it reeks of a refinement that you see in very few games.

I just have nothing bad to say about it whatsoever. My favourite class so far is the Wizard, mainly because of how immensely satisfying it is to evaporate a group of monsters from across the screen with a few lazy bursts of chain lightning.

It's easy to understand the direction WoW has been going recently after seeing how streamlined Diablo III is. Every peripheral feature is secondary to the gameplay itself. Sell and salvage straight from your bag. No talent trees-- just choose the abilities you want at that minute. No equipment binding. Shared professions between characters. Mana regeneration is fast and constant. Skip all the quest text and follow the map arrows.

Just kill monsters, get loot.

I can't believe how fucking short this damn demo is. =|

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


As of 4.3:

"North American realms (excluding Brazilian, Latin American, and Oceanic realms) no longer permit letters with accents in character or guild names."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Colossal Dragonplate; LFR

Warrior Tier 13:
Protection, 2P -- Your Revenge ability now also grants a physical absorption shield equal to 20% of the damage done by Revenge.
Protection, 4P -- Your Shield Wall ability now grants 50% of its effect to all party and raid members.

Just wow. Two things: The beginnings of active abilities that affect mitigation makes me very excited. And for the first time since Strength stopped affecting Block Value, Warrior tanks will have a mitigation contribution from damage stats.

I can't wait to see what the EJ theorycrafters do with this-- at what avoidance DR point Expertise will be better point for point than Dodge/Parry. Or whether the always helpful "damage smoothing" effect of absorb shields over RNG avoidance may even be considered absolutely better in the same way Mastery was considered better even when avoidance was providing more overall damage reduction.

Shield Wall has been one of my favourite Warrior abilities since you could glyph it down to a 2-minute CD, and I'm certain that the fact that all tanks are getting a similar version of "apply tanking CD to the whole raid" means that this was designed with specific fight mechanics in mind.

I am so, so curious to see how "hard" the 25-man LFR raids end up being. On one hand, you have the massive raid-incompetence of the general WoW populace, combined with the massive co-ordination clusterfuck of twenty-five people who don't know and don't care to know each other being forced into a small space together; and on the other you have Blizzard's intimate knowledge of how simple these people require things to be in order to succeed. It really could go either way here.

I just keep thinking about how often you get a single jerk in a 5-man PuG who is intent on ruining the run for the other four... and then multiplying that by five. I wonder how many votekicks we will be restricted to per group-- and if you get booted, whether you would get any chance to recover your lockout for the rest of the week.

The more I think about this the more I remember why raiding is something that only works with an organised group.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"We thought that Rogues had maybe felt a little bit not special"

Ghostcrawler said the above in an interview with IGN.

He talked about how the idea people have suggested of a "transforming" Legendary which might be used by a wider range of classes diminishes the concept, but oh this one acts like a sword if you're a Combat Rogue and a dagger if you're Assasination or Subtlely.

He talked about how ridiculous it is to expect Legendaries to be made for esoteric roles, but the only reason he could come up with for this design decision was that Rogues were feeling a bit sad and needed some cheering up.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Legendary for a single class

In the most absurd example of player-manipulation in recent memory, Blizzard is encouraging people to play Rogues again by creating a Legendary dagger just for them.

Well what else am I supposed to think? We already know it is not lore-related, so it's clearly a design decision.

The devs have stated on many occasions their lack of willingness to create content which is only open to one class. We've also been told that a tanking Legendary would not be possible because the tanking classes don't all use the same type of weapon-- so any they created would be used by two classes at most.

But now they have decided on a Legendary which seems to break both of these conventions... and the only reason I can think of that makes any sense is that they're trying to make raiders more inclined to play their Rogues again.

The reason Rogues are so unpopular is only due to poor design in the first place. As far as PvE's concerned, they're just a melee class that's missing a tanking spec.

(Also, are daggers even useful to all Rogue specs? I was under the impression only one spec was PvE viable with daggers.)

I feel like I keep coming back to the same arguments again and again... Blizzard seems to be spending more of their design budget inventing systems to push people into playing the way Blizzard thinks they should play than actually designing gameplay systems.

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?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Star Wars: A New MMO

So far, TOR seems to have won over the other members of my household, and so there seems a high likelyhood that I will end up trying it out with them. We've each seen the preview videos and, though I don't think any of us expects anything revolutionary in the gameplay department, what we agree on is that Star Wars unverse seems like an awesome world to inhabit.

What I am concerned about is price; specifically that there may be an arbitrary mark-up for Australian IP addresses. I'm willing to pay $50 for a decent sized game if I'm confident I will want to play it long enough to get that much value out of it, but $80+ for a video game is retarded and prices me out in 95% of cases. There's only one game I can think of that is "worth" that much money to me, and I already pay $15 a month for it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I generally respect Blizzard as a developer, and I enjoy WoW immensely. I just thought I might establish that before I start QQing.

What is going on? Seriously. I mean, I get the whole "you don't want to watch the sausage being made" thing, but when sausages are being recalled left and right for quality issues, it's hard to imagine they have a firm grasp of what they're putting into them to begin with.

I remember Yahtzee in his Portal 2 review saying that Valve playtests everything to a fault; that if a player so much as looked at a wall for too long they painted a big sign on it saying "STOP LOOKING AT THIS WALL." This is the impression I get of Blizzard recently. It's like they're trying less to create a game than to create increasingly creative methods of firmly nudging players into the small parts of the game Blizzard thinks they should be playing.

Yes, I know I've been over this before. There are no new arguments. Every time I got to type something else I realise I've said it before.

What I want to see is some kind of obvious and consistent concept of the value of Valor Points. Something that gives me the impression that getting ten people together and downing four bosses in the Firelands is "worth" more in the game than doing four Random Zandalari Heroics in a row. That downing a Heroic-mode T11 raid boss is "worth" more than a Random Heroic dungeon.

Something that gives me the impression that the Valor Point system isn't completely designed around placating noobs.

So to be constructive, I will offer my own advice on what can be done about the Valor Point inflation caused by the Zandalari Heroics: Make tier-12 cost more. Pants for 4400VP; gloves for 3300VP; and so on. Maybe increase the weekly Valor Cap in proportion. I call this concept "scaling", and I feel it to be pretty revolutionary. I should apply for a job as a game designer.

Blizzard needs to grow some fucking balls, seriously. Design the game around being a good game, not around retards who are trying their hardest not to enjoy it.

This blog post is over.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

6 ilevels

Oh boy. My condolences to anyone who purchased Honour PvP gear last week. My condolences as well to Blizzard, who have accidentally made enemies with pretty much every PvPer recently. I know I sure as hell wouldn't want to be on any WoW PvPers' bad sides. Those people are fucking psychopaths.

6 ilevels might not seem like a lot on paper when most players are running around with at least 350 of them, but the way stats work-- positively affecting each other so overall power increase is more-or-less exponential relative to actual ilevel-- means that this is actually a significant increase to both damage/healing output and survivability, each of those things again positively affecting the other in terms of acheiving success during actual gameplay.

But it's only gear. We all know that. Anyone who actually PvPs regularly will quickly make up the difference. So what's the big deal?

It's because it feels unfair. Gear aquisition is one of WoW's major game systems, and in any game system predictability is essential for the player to feel that they have some control over the outcome [ie, gameplay]. When the outcome changes randomly, the player loses this sense of control and so loses the feeling that they are actually "playing" the game.

Players took the time to gain an understanding of the loot system, determined a strategy to acquire it and executed that strategy, only to have the game change under their feet. And even though they [presumably] enjoyed this gameplay while it was happening, they have now lost faith in the fairness of the system, having learned that their success* or failure will always rely on arbitrary and unanticipated developer decisions ahead of their own gameplay decisions.

Gear is gear is gear, but fucking up a game system like this causes me a loss of respect for the WoW developers. I really would like to see Blizzard "fix" this error by providing the upgraded gear to players who unknowingly purchased outdated gear last week. A social apology is fine for a social situation, but when you are talking about a business relationship with a paying customer, only retards are completely satisfied by nice cheap words. Though I don't have high hopes for this happening, so for some players it may become just another in a long list of dissatisfactions with WoW.

Even so, I'd really like to urge anyone who is upset by this blunder to please remember that it is just a game. While having passion for a game makes it more meaningful and enhances the experience, if it's reached the point where a lack of success in the game causes you emotional distress, you might want to dial it back a bit.

* "success" in this case is acquiring gear which is relatively competitive.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A sense of entitlement

I came across this gem on one of the blue trackers on MMO Champion, on the subject of T11 being made puggable.

So casuals will constantly be a tier behind for the rest of the life of this game? If that is what is actually coming out of your mouth I'll save myself the time and unsub now. What a piss poor vision for your game. There are normal and heroic versions of raids for a reason. That heroic difficulty was implemented so that the two segments of the population (casual and hardcore) would both have something to do. You are now bifurcating the raiding population AGAIN, by telling casuals that they have to run around in the left overs.


Note the difference between "casual" and "I need to be one of the cool kids but I'm terrible at the game so pls make the coolest stuff especially for me".

I can live with Blizzard's resources being diverted to work on crap like the sparkle pony and the flion, but it really rubs me the wrong way that the money I pay blizzard is being spent on hiring people to actually spend time composing well-worded responses to retards like this.

Video games matter?

I would like to rant for a moment about Extra Credits, a video series on that website that hosts Zero Punctuation. Man, what a bunch of windbags. I get that it's interesting to talk about philosophies of video game design and so on, but it was about the point where they decided they were going to speak for all video game players and be the self-appointed lone voice of reason in an industry of morons that I started finding them less "interesting" and more "excruciating", as they gently explainined to the unwashed masses what a "true female character" is, why we should care about video game piracy, and how Missile Command had one the most meaningful storylines of any game ever. It's all very.... pseudo intellectual. [You have to imagine the venom with which I speak that term.]

Recently they've come up with a new tagline; "Because video games matter". This to me perfectly defines what I dislike about this series. Sure, in terms of the millions of people producing, purchasing and playing them, video games "matter", but by the same definition, so does pornography.

These people are video game connoisseurs. Yes, sometimes games are made with strong characters, compelling story, "meaningful choices" and other peripheral features, and as long as it's built on top of a fun experience those things are a fantastic addition, but the games that actually do this well are a serious minority. Video games are a pasttime, just pure entertainment, and no amount of pretension is going to convince me they "matter" in the real world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A name change

A comment was made to me recently recently that all I do in this blog is QQ about stuff. I found I couldn't necessarily disagree except to assert that it's all constructive QQ.

Thoughts for Tuesday 28th June

Something that I always thought was odd back in Wrath was when there were seperate titles for 10- and 25-man versions of raid achievements, though the 25-man versions had a more blatant prestige to them, that the 10-man version always seemed to have a nicer... poetry to them;

the Astral Walker vs Starcaller
the Immortal vs the Undying
Twilight Vanquisher vs of the Nightfall

at least until Heroic Lich King bucked the trend with;

Bane of the Fallen King vs the Light of Dawn

One of the recent additions to our raid made a comment last week that he thought it was awesome that we raided and progressed, but still had fun while doing it.

I thought it was interesting, because it didn't really occur to me that having fun while playing a video game was anything remarkable.

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's a portal, not a stone!

Why does it irritate me so much when people refer to the Warlock Ritual of Summoning portal as a "stone"?

And as long as I'm whinging, and I know this isn't the timeliest of complaints, but "Shadow Labs" -- where the fuck did the "s" come from? There is no "s" in Labyrinth!

I am just a sad, pedantic little man.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I hated this spec when I tried it back in Wrath. Compared to Destruction, it felt slow, uninteractive and overly-focussed on maintaing a full list of dots. So for a long time I assumed that it would be the same in Cata, up until I actually tried it.

Hand of Gul'dan is the exciting new spell, and forms the centre of the rotation, being your highest damage nuke, increasing the damage of your demon, refreshing the duration of Immolate, and [if talented] an AoE snare.

The spec focusses mainly on increasing the damage your minion does through applying dots and Curse of Gul'dan, but the special thing now is the benefit of being in melee range to use Shadowflame and Immolation Aura. The spec actually reminds me an awful lot of playing an Enhancement Shaman, with the hybrid-yness of being a caster in melee, using a smattering of abilities that all deal damage in slighty different ways, and that it's less about the direct damage individual spells do, but about the combinations of spells and abilities that feed into each other to contribute to overall damage.

Also, you get to transform into a huge motherfucking demon.

I just don't like refreshing dots. It's not compelling gameplay to me. I feel less like I'm directly damaging the boss than on a production line responsible for the upkeep of damage spells. I liked Destruction in Wrath basically because the weakness of DoTs at that time meant you only really had to worry about Immolate and your direct damage spells. Demonology, as I mentioned above, was the opposite.

Destruction in Cata has not only had the full compliment of Warlock dots made worth casting again, but now has an additional short duration buff to keep up with Improved Soul Fire. Demonology, with Hand of Gul'dan to automatically refresh Immolate, only regularly needs to keep an eye on Corruption. Even I am happy to deal with that.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Three more Spirit Beasts in patch 4.2

Because people love to have rare and unique things, so obviously the best way to improve the game is to add more and more rare and unique things.

Now everyone can be rare and unique!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The threat/avoidance cycle

I like the Vengeance mechanic a lot. Seeing my AP scale up past 26k and topping the DPS on certain AoE pulls is a nice epeen boost for a role that doesn't often get to epeen.

And while Vengeance does solve the issue with threat scaling with gear for bosses that do enough damage to you to reach that cap, as bosses move to farm and gear improves past the point where boss damage is enough to cap Vengeance, once again our threat naturally declines as gear improves, while the damage classes only scale upwards.

At this point in the tier I'm finding that holding aggro on the pull has once again become an issue. So I've had to refocus on reforging for threat stats, taking myself to the expertise soft cap, and any other convenient stat trades for extra expertise or hit rating are at the moment easy choices to make.

I've also, for the first time in a long time, felt it necessary to shine a bright light onto my threat rotation, just to make sure that I am maximising my own damage, and I'm a bit ashamed at the significant improvement I've only recently achieved in this aspect.

This is all a temporary issue, I know, and once we're in Firelands and the bosses are smacking me as hard as I can take it I'll be back to reforging off as much expertise and hit rating as I can just to get a few more parrys in. But it's interesting to note all the same.

So, TO DO: get a mod that displays my current vengeance stack and/or total AP, because this is valuable information for a tank to track in order to manage threat output. Bonus points for having an awesome audio cue when it caps. Or, or, maybe awesome music that starts when it caps and stops when you drop below 80%. That would be neat.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bloggers; nerfs; the evolution of WoW

I'm a bit fed up with all people.

To the point, I'm fed up with WoW bloggers. Even the smart ones blow everything out of proportion. Why is this round of nerfs any different from the steady stream of them we've gotten since Burning Crusade gear made Vanilla content blatantly puggable? Have you been asleep right the way through Wrath when Blizzard made it perfectly clear that the current tier was the only one that mattered at any given time?

Do you even remember the progression nightmare that was late Burning Crusade, in which each tier required months of farming the previous one to even begin? You better hope you never fell behind the gear progression curve because there was no easy and quick way to catch up.

I wish more people could enjoy the game for what it is; a game. You play it. You enjoy it. Or you don't. Making a big deal about deciding not to play is just fucking retarded. Like it's some huge major life decision. I think it takes a pretty shallow person to make whether or not you engage in a particular leisure activity a major part of your identity. But I suppose that's just people in general, isn't it. Little difference from anyone else who adheres themselves to a rigidly defined subculture to avoid having to actually define themselves in any unique way.

So yeah. I'm just sick of people.

I have pretty significant faith in the Blizzard devs' ability to design good systems. I understand the reasoning for making older content easier once the competent players have something new and better to work on. I understand how gameplay restrictions make the things that you can do more meaningful. I understand why class nerfs are necessary, even if it's a class that I play.

When I first read that Holy Pallys were being nerfed in 4.2 my first reaction was a to cry out in anguish, and my second reaction was to remember how ridiculously mana-efficient Paladins were compared to other healers and realise the nerf is warranted.

But that's not to say I think every change has been a positive one. I can't give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.

I don't think it's a big stretch to conclude that Blizzard has been been trying to please everyone for the last three years or so. I just don't think it's at all reasonable to expect a company, no matter how well-resourced they are, to create a single product that consistently satisfies twelve million people. But dammit if they're not going to try.

I think that's the issue, really, with the evolution [or perhaps devolution, depending on your outlook] of WoW recently. It's become too big and too valuable for Blizzard to concentrate on developing it as a quality game experience without being distracted by trying to keep from losing customers who by definition have little interest in playing the game as Blizzard intends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A video game

Lately I've been enjoying just playing WoW. According to the Dungeon Finder I've completed seven random tier-1 Heroics this week on my raid-geared [pre-Heroic BiS] Warrior tank, which is something I haven't done since January. I've just been really enjoying the easygoing, mindless fun.

There's no gear to gain or any other character-specific benefit; though it definitely makes me money through Valor Points, Chaos Orbs [now that I'm a Blacksmith] and random Sack rewards. I suppose all it takes is this small incentive to get me in and playing again-- I'm anything but wanting for gold right now, but as a minmaxing player I've become so accustomed to needing my playtime to be productive that I don't know if I could convince myself to go otherwise.

I also gave Pally tanking a go yesterday for the first time post-4.0.

Man, that spec is weeeird. I think it's mainly the holy power mechanic, but at first glance and compared to Warrior tanking the rotation just seems a bit backwards-intuitive. Also wtfspareglobalszomg!? But still just as faceroll-ey as I had expected-- I dont' know if it was becuase I was overgeared in my mixture of offset-rolled tanking and DPS gear [probably] but I pretty much just mashed whatever button was lit up and seemed to do just fine.

Also, roflol at "Hammer" of the Righteous spell effect resembling absolutely nothing like a hammer any more. Now it's just an AoE pulse that for some reason makes a clang sound.

Also, what the hell happened to the idea that tanks wouldn't have spammable AoE any more? Being able to fill three out of every four globals with an aoe move may not be "spammable" in the traditional sense of 100% consecrate/D&D/swipe uptime, but it's pretty damn close in my opinion. This was the one area in which I thought Warriors were finally actually on par with other tanks, but it turns out we once again have the longest gap between basic AoE moves [6 second CD for Thunder Clap].

Not that I'm complaining. Warriors are still by far the most fun tanking class to play. Which I suppose is the [eventual] point of this whole post. I am having fun playing a video game.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An anecdote

I tried to sell Valor boots in Trade on the weekend, had a couple of people express interest, but nobody willing to pay my asking price of 5k gold. In fact, many people in Trade chat were openly hostile to the idea that a person would charge money for gear when one could "easily grind it." In the end, I purchased the Plate DPS boots [since I'm certain this is the most popular armour type] and sold them on the AH first try for 6k. Next time, 8.

I've realised I really need to stay out of Trade completely on the weekends. The quality degrades into a physical-pain-inducing level of idiocy, people tending to be too stupid to even troll in any kind of entertaining way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

More patch change thoughts

I know I'm a bit late to the game with this, but I have some opinions to opine on some of the proposed 4.2 patch changes.

Innervate nerf!
I had previously predicted that one or more other classes would get their own version of this spell, the ability to grant healers 20% of their total mana is pretty overpowered for only one class to have, but nerfing it by 75% is probably just as effective a way to achieve relative class balance.

As we all know, Warrior Stances had a pretty archaic design up until recently [compare them to Death Knight Presences and you'll see what I mean] and I'm glad to see some of the remaining pointless restrictions being lifted, as three pretty major CDs; Retaliation, Recklessness and Shield Wall will no longer have stance requirements.

So end result: Prot can use Retaliation for AoE pulls, Arms can use Recklessness without having to stance dance, and all DPS Warriors [I still can't use that term without snorting derisively] have to spend one less theoretical GCD on getting their emergency mitigation up after they pull aggro on everything because they suck at the game.

Oh who am I kidding, as if a DPS Warrior would ever sacrifice damage to save their own life...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

4.1 Prot Warrior changes, [4.0 Warlock changes]

Two things in patch 4.1 combine to make me a more competent raider. One: Improved net code gives me a stable ~230ms latency in raids. Two: My interrupts no longer miss, and have a shorter CD. The result of these changes is that the only time I'll miss an interrupt is when I personally fail at paying attention. [Or if Ignacious and Fellatius* gang up on me, but that's another rant.] You cannot imagine how much this reduces my stress levels for bosses than require an interrupt.

I love the idea of Shield Block reducing magic damage as well, but realistically you'll still use Shield Block on CD for the physical damage mitigation [assuming you are tanking], so the end result is an RNG 4% overall magic damage reduction, assuming maximum Shield Block uptime. It's a very welcome mitigation buff, but nothing revolutionary. I seem to recall it having both a higher uptime and a larger % reduction when it was first included in the PTR notes-- I'm assuming it just got "balanced" down to its current level.

Spell reflect CD has more than doubled. I'm not sure where this nerf has come from. This was a situational ability in PvE, but very useful in PvP, so I'm assuming that this is part of the PvP nerf warriors seem to have had. Another thought is that perhaps there is a boss in Firelands which casts single target spells at the tank and Warriors had too much of an advantage over other tanks at this boss.

Raid Last Stand. This came a bit out of left field. I'm not used to needing the level of raid-awareness [when playing my Warrior] that this ability would require to be useful as an OSHT button. I can think of a few situational uses, phases of high raid damage, Chimaeron comes to mind of course, and it will nicely buff any percentage-of-total-HP healing abilities, but the very short ten-second duration and the fact that the healers may not be prepared for the entire raid to lose 30k health simultaneously when it fades makes me extremely hesitant to use it. I think this ability was probably intended to be a much more meaningful effect, but like Shield Mastery was eventually "balanced" into its current form. It just seems like one of those "no real use" abilities and I have a feeling that they'll end up buffing it just to get people to use it at all.

Going through my old blog posts to remove the crappy formatting I came across a draft that I never got around to posting from late November last year [shortly after The Shattering]. Reading this makes me want to play my Warlock again.


Well here we go. Exciting time. I actually finally got around to trying the new Destruction last night and it is sweet. It’s every bit as Shadowfury-Conflagrate-fast-cast satisfying as pre-4.0, but now it has:

- All-magic-damage ward which has the old Nether Protection effect built in.
- CD instant pyroblast
- Imp proc instant pyroblast
- Imp has lost Fire Shield. =(
- Oh but now he can dispel magic. =D
- Did I mention the instant pyroblasts? <3

They’ve also done some fantastic things with making each demon useful in a different way, to the point where each feels like a subspec in itself. Succubus can CC and has a new knockback, Imp buffs your stamina, can dispel and works with Destro DPS, Voidy is for tankz and survivability, Fel puppy is for Affliction DPS and anti-casters. [And Demonology of course has the ultra demon that trumps them all, as it should.]

What’s interesting about the new Soul Burn multipurpose CD is that they seem to have deliberately avoided any obvious "increase dps" use for it. You can use it for instant demons or instant pyro or fast movement or a temporary health increase or as a threat CD for tanking, but I was really anticipating at least one or two along the lines of "decreases cast time for your next five Shadowbolt casts" that would be an obvious DPS gain.

There are too many classes and I want to play them all. =(

Monday, May 2, 2011

Progression yay!

Killed Nef for the first time twice this week, with each of my raids. Seems like a few raids got him down this week, actually. Post-nerf for the win, I guess.

The one I tanked for was definitely the more satisfying of the two kills. Finally getting the hang of the Shadowflame waltz [move, 2, 3, move, 2, 3...] was incredibly satisfying, helped to a massive degree by some uberpro add management in first phase leaving a very neat pile for me to sweep up in phase three. Looking back it's difficult to see what exactly was so hard about that fight in the first place. =P

But it's nice to finally join the cool kids in their defense of a shattered world, and in the case of my Guild-exalted toon, ride that shiny new mount which is probably going to be awesome for at least a few months before everyone else has one. [Though I did say the same thing about "Kingslayer" a while back, which seemed to take a lot longer than I expected to become common.]

I find the irony interesting that the two characters which have this prestige are the ones I have little reason to run around with outside of raids, so I don't really get much of an opportunity to show it off. Dammit, I need those random pugs to recognise my awesomeness on sight, not just see another Huntard the Patient in BoEs who can't adjust his camera without pulling a boss.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A realisation

Playing a Hunter makes me hate Blizzard for making every other class less fun than playing a Hunter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"x is dying"

Can't something just be "less popular than it was." Why does everyone seem to think in terms of life and death?

Just a quick thought.

The leader shortage in WoW

I don't believe tanking is significantly harder than other roles in WoW for a halfway-competent player. In Cataclysm content all players are generally required to deal with fight mechanics, the tank is just the guy getting hit in the face while it happens. The major difference in my view is the expectation of a large proportion of the playerbase that the tank also needs to lead the group.

There's a reason for this. Tanks are natural group leaders, leading the group literally in terms of the gameplay itself. A well-geared tank who knows what she's doing can lead a group without saying a word, brute-forcing everything with the DPS following her lead. The problem only exists when the tank is not able to lead the group, and for some reason nobody else will.

This is the attitude which is discouraging people from tanking. I've been in plenty of PuGs that did splendidly with an undergeared and inexperienced tank because just one of the five players took responsibility to co-ordinate the group.

This is something that Blizzard has attempted to build into the LFD system. You know that little "Leader" crown icon you tick without thinking when you queue for LFD? That's you volunteering to lead the group. In practise, though, all it really does is give one group member different coloured chat text. And while many people don't have a problem with barking orders at other people-- suggesting that they at least think they know better than the rest of the group, only a small proportion of people seem willing to take on the responsibility of actually leading that group.

You can see this lack of responsibility in the public chat channels, with people posting every five to ten seconds along the lines of "Hunter LF raid". To me, those three little words paint a broad picture: "Although I'm too lazy to try to put together a raid myself or even seek out an existing group past posting three words in a chat channel, if someone else would like to put the effort in to recruit me, summon me there and lead the group I'll gladly press my buttons to receive loot."

The sad thing about the state of WoW at the moment is that a lot of the recent evolution of the game has been to cater to this type of player; to put them as much as possible on the same level as the people who can and do put effort in. In creating the LFD system, they gave players otherwise too lazy to seek a group on their own push-button entry into dungeon groups.

I don't blame Blizzard for this-- they're a business and those people pay the same $15 per month that I do, and so it's in Blizzard's best interests to keep lazy players happy customers. But this is negatively affecting the gameplay of those who are and have always been willing to put effort into the their group play.

Someone look at me straight faced and tell me it wasn't faster for a DPS class to assemble a Heroic group before the Dungeon Finder made it "instant". You asked in trade, you did a filtered /who, you whispered people and you started your own group. It required more effort, but even as DPS if you were willing to lead in that way, you got a group in 5-10 minutes, depending on the time of day. And since it was your group, you didn't even need to pass a vote to remove any fuckwads you might have accidentally picked up.

So how did we all get roped into this LFD system when doing it manually is so clearly superior?

I blame tanks.

I'm laughing now because those are three words I never though I'd ever use in that order. But bear with me:

As a tank, you are the bottleneck in the system, so you have the power. You push a button, you get a group. If the group was crap, you could probably still carry them... but if you found you couldn't, all you have to do is refuse to pull until they boot you and you can get another group with another button push. Nothing speaks for the broken-ness of the LFD system quite as strongly as there being a purpose and a benefit under the current system for acting like an ass.

But really I can't blame tanks for long before I have to trace that blame back to this LFD system that supports them universally no matter what they do, a system soon to provide even more support via additional rewards, so there's not only little reason for tanks to look outside the LFD for pick-up groups, they are being actively encouraged not to. And with zero tanks outside the system, anyone who is still willing to create and lead their own PuG can't find one, and their only remaining choice is the LFD system...

The disturbing thing in my opinion about this new system, and something I don't think many bloggers I read have realised [because they would be whinging about it if they had] is that Call to Arms may cause a tank to refuse to run randoms with their own guild-mates, because queueing as a group would mean he didn't get the extra reward.

Attaching rewards to an antisocial system results in people being rewarded for being antisocial in WoW.

This is seriously blowing my mind right here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Syrannia's raid isn't going well. Hitting a progression wall [Nefarian, in case you're curious] has been fairly demoralising for the group as a whole, and this in turn has caused a few of our more casual players [the ones that returned for Cataclysm] to lose interest in raiding again, which is practically a step backwards.

I should say that I'm glad, though, that these people are not allowing themselves to feel obligated to "play" a game that they're no longer enjoying, and though it is to the detriment of the group, I would never want or expect a raid member to show up solely for the benefit of the other raiders. It's only a game, after all.

I don't have an issue with progressing slowly on a single boss, as long as we are learning and progressing in our own understanding and competence, but at this point I'm starting to doubt we even will down Nefarian before the lack of interest has claimed too much of our group to really hope to continue.

The major thing I find demoralising is my own mistakes. As I've said in previous posts, I'm not what I would consider a really good player. My reaction time is fairly slow and I have trouble making decisions on the fly, not to mention a lack of concentration causing me to space out occasionally and miss important fight mechanics.

I feel as though I'm kind of done for the tier. I've replaced my last couple of blue slots and now have a complete matching set of gear which feels like a natural completion point for me-- the same way my Shaman feels "complete" in his T10 Frost Witch gear. I like my WoW characters to be neat.

So I've been giving a lot of thought to a class change for the next tier. I love tanking to death, but I feel like the raid as a whole might be better off with me playing a role which was not quite so pivotal in terms of playing without error.

Obviously I've been recently smitten with the Hunter class, but our raid already has both a Hunter and a Warlock [my second choice for DPS] which are both those respective players' "main" toons, and returning to the neat freak thing, it would kind of irritate me to double up an existing class in the raid-- in terms of class balance my prot Warrior is a really good fit as the raid stands. And no, I have no interest in playing a melee DPS, especially not Warrior.

I suppose I'll just need to wait and see what our raid looks like when 4.2 hits.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Unnecessary buffs

A few bloggers I read have responded predictably to the new LFD queue reward system with their typical fear of change, making their wild claims of what will happen based on totally-not-circumstantial "facts" that of course apply to the entire playerbase.

I've been keeping an eye on the 4.1 patch notes and noticed a few things that I thought were interesting.

Tame Beast now tames pets to match the hunter's level, rather than 3 levels below.

In my opinion this is an iconic example of the way features which add flavour to the game are streamlined out for gameplay reasons. I happen to really like the immersive aspect that my newly-tamed pet wont perform at its peak until I spend three levels training and "bonding" with it. But one person's flavour is another person's annoyance, and so everything must now happen instantly to save players from the "inconvenience" of having to play the game.

[I'm less attached to the also-to-be-removed Happiness mechanic, as the only interaction I typically have with it is to waste the occasional GCD casting Mend Pet if I notice my pet has dropped below "Happy".]

Druid tanking seems to be getting a significant buff. I wasn't aware Druid tanks were doing that badly, and suspect this is just that whole "x class/spec is underrepresented-- buff it until it's FOTM again" reaction Blizzard seems to have.

With interrupts now joining taunts as non-missing abilities, Hit Rating will be even more of a junk stat for tanks. While I'm extremely happy with the change from a gameplay perspective, but it's hard not to be a little bit sad that this stat which is already plastered all over our gear will lose its only unique purpose, and now is just a gimped version of expertise. I'm guessing there's probably some "major technical limitation" that would prevent Blizzard from changing all the hit rating on tank-specific gear into expertise, but it would be nice for them to go all the way with it.

And I'd like to say a few words for another classic piece of flavour which is being patched out in 4.1:

Rest In Peace, Sheild Bash.

You were the original Warrior interrupt. You've been with us since the beginning, and now this young upstart with a shorter CD has come and muscled you out.

Remember when off-global interrupts were still relatively underground? Now everyone's got one. How times have changed. You will be missed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Called it

Fucking. called. it.

Back in February I said, on the topic of the tank shortage in LFD:

"I for one would love to see a weighted system, where the rewards scale with the demand for that role at that time. I don't care what the incentive is-- gold, points, rep, critter pets [hah, now that's a good idea]-- more is needed to offset the vast imbalance in supply/demand."

Today, on MMO Champion:

"To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, ... you'll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold ... a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount."

I love you too, Blizzard.

And y'know what? My old druid tank, who gave up so long ago on farming Anzu, suddenly has an acute sense of unfinished business...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WoW huntering. Rift nerfs; pets; minmaxing.

Huntering and still enjoying it a lot. My search for Loque and Aotona is ongoing [I have decided the latter is the perfect soloing pet].

I've spoken about this before, but what I often find I enjoy in WoW is getting lost in the immense amount of stuff there is to do and collecting pets is just one more thing to do. And it's a big one too. Seems a bit unfair that we have what amounts to a fair chunk of gameplay only relevant to that one class. None of the other classes get anything like this huge alternative-progression aspect that Hunters do.

I've played a bit more Rift, enjoying my Warrior Riftblade>Reaver>Beastmaster build. Big patch has brought some minor nerfs: Flame Spear is still more powerful than any of your melee abilities but is no longer spammable. Fiery Burst is still off the GCD [effectively 33% haste as it takes your rotation from 4 GCDs to 3] ...and has still yet to be nerfed.

Something that kind of bugs me in Rift is how prevalent pets are. Even when you're not speccing yourself primarily or even secondarily into a pet soul, I don't think I've seen a single case outside of healing/tanking builds where it is not a completely obvious choice to just chuck a pet class into your third soul for free damage without having to spend a single GCD, as well as add-management while soloing. And so every single player in the game has a pet running next to them because there's no benefit in not having one.

Dear Trion, I want a damage meter.


It has nothing to do with epeen, it's part of the way I enjoy the game. I find way too much fun in min-maxing and theorycrafting and not being able to verify my conclusions past "it feels like the mob is dying faster" is a bit frustrating.

I'm right now looking at the Soul tree calculator trying to decide whether I could get more DPS by changing my subspec from Reaver to Champion, but without being able to see how much damage my Reaver DoTs or Fiery Burst abilities are doing individually, I have no data with which to calculate this.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hunters, Dungeon Finder

Hunter [predictably] hit 85, making it my sixth character to reach the level cap, and the second pure DPS class.

And there is no other DPS class like this. The main feature of a Hunter as I see it isn't the pet or the ranged attacks, it's the amazing control abilities. I've mentioned it before, but MD allowing for burst AoE on the pull still feels like cheating. And a 25sec-CD off-global aggro WIPE makes every other class' aggro dump ability look really, really shitty. And don't even get me started on the moving while DPSing...

I know Hunters are seen as a very noob-friendly class, and I don't disagree with that in the slightest, but what I discovered pretty early on is the high skill cap they allow for, and the ridiculous amount of fun the class is to play because of that.


Of course I've done a few random Heroics using the Dungeon Finder...

Is this what you DPS classes have had to put with all expansion? Christ, no wonder you're all so jaded. No wonder you feel these retarded profiling bylaws are a good idea. No wonder you are so protective of your drops-- it might be days before you can even see this dungeon again let alone see it drop again. Now I feel like a douchebag.

Adding insult to injury, it also turns out that the success rate for random PUGs drops even lower when you can't lead the group as a tank or heal through stupid.

I remember considering levelling my Warlock at the beginning of the expansion, and the longer queues for randoms was a major factor in my decision not to, and while it's a small consolation to be vindicated in that decision, I'm incredibly disappointed in the the game for not having addressed this issue in any significant way.

Like everything else in the game, this can be easily blamed on nub DPS. I speak from a good deal of experience when I say that the only time tanking is truly unpleasant is when you feel like you're fighting your own party members as much as the mobs. For a new undergeared tank this is twenty times worse because if your DPS is that terrible, chances are they will then yell at you for not holding aggro, and call you a fail tank. DPS, this shit needs to stop. Do it for your own queue length if nothing else.

I used to yell at tanking classes posting than they need a tank for being part of the problem. I now think the problem is bigger than that. It's not just noobs, it's the system supporting them.

I personally think the solution needs to be something akin to affirmative action, we need to create weighted reward structures [outside of gear] that encourage people to take the more in-demand roles. And when people do decide to try tanking, we need to keep them from being scared off early on. There will always be terrible players in the game, we just need them to stop blaming the tank and encourage them to be the tank.

Unless your DPS is stupid [hah], tanking is not hard. 90% of the job is just standing in place and getting hit in the face, and I see far too many DPS demonstrate aptitude at this to think the tank shortage is anything we can't fix.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Solo RPing

Hunter is level 82. Two more Northrend Spirit Beasts tamed and ticked off the list, leaving only Loque'nahak, who I've yet to so much as sight. Hunting them down been a really compelling and fun experience, and though I know I'm essentially making educated guesses based on spawn timers and taking a wormhole to Northrend to do a sweep every 4-6 hours -- a very game-y system, for me it feels like the essence of what being a Hunter is about; patiently and persistently tracking my elusive prey over a course of days, perhaps weeks. And the most tantalisingly elusive prize of all, the Time-Lost Proto Drake, is out there somewhere.

In related news, I'm back to questing as Survival, since BM is boring as all hell.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A post for Wednesday 23 March

It occurs to me that I write far too much that doesn't end up actually getting posted. I think my way of thinking is just too tangential and roundabout and I end up getting sidetracked exploring related concepts and I just don't have the time to spend three hours untangling a web of ideas into something readable for every post. Being concise is good too.

My Hunter is L80 now and I find myself really looking forward to playing him again. I stumbled across Gondria the other day, and unable to resist the allure of running around with such an epic pet I've been soloing as Beast Mastery [between dungeons-- as Survival, obviously]. The spec is interesting enough-- a bit too facerolley for my tastes, but then I'm the guy who would play a Hunter completely pet-less if that was a viable option.

As I approached L80, I was put in a random dungeon with three Paladins. I told them I thought Paladins were hilarious, being the most popular class in the game because no matter how much the devs try to "balance" them they end up overpowered. One of the Paladins left early on, only to be replaced by another Paladin. I suppose that's just how the game goes these days.


As a postscript I would like to also make mention of how overpowered Survival feels for AoE trash pulls at the moment. Not only is it overtuned at the moment and completely front-loaded, but with misdirect I have free reign to open up the second [or even a second before] the tank pulls. Can any other class compete with that?

Monday, March 21, 2011

In which Coreus fails to stay positive

One quick note to begin. I find it interesting that the idea of epics only coming from raids lasted for only one major patch. Is there any reason why the future ilevel 353 gear couldn't still be blue? I guess it's more important to let people feel special than to try to preserve the idea of "epic" gear.

Outside of raiding I'm not finding a lot of motivation to play my endgame toons . I love playing my Warrior, but I've just run out of things I can do solo to improve her tanking gear, and Warrior DPS barely interests me. I find it hard to motivate myself to put any extra effort into my Paladin when the people I raid with on that toon clearly lack similar motivation. And I got my Druid all the way to 85 before losing interest in what feels like a half-baked imitation of other classes with increasingly fewer unique gimmicks.

[Speaking of, I have another prediction for future patches: one or two other classes will gain an innervate-style "give the healers some mana back" ability. Because no class should ever get a unique support ability.]

Last night, I took my Hunter from 75 to 79. And it was boring. The same quests I've done five times before were reduced to a checklist of chores I needed to complete. I blanched at the idea of having to kill the same mobs yet again and I did it anyway.

I'm not sure whether to be disappointed in myself for spending hours of my life doing something I didnt' enjoy or disappointed in the game for rewarding this, and it's made me reflect on the merits of "forced" levelling as I find myself putting up with it in order to gain the ability to play a brand new class at endgame.

Another disappointment: I ran into Sköll while I was in Storm Peaks on my Hunter. I was L78 and he 80, so all I could do was kill him for the achievement and vendor the shitty dagger he drops. Oh well, it's not like I would actually play that horrible spec just to have a unique pet anyway.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An unoriginal opinion

One of the most disappointing things for me is to find out that my carefully considered opinion is suddenly shared by many other people. I guess I prefer to think of myself as unique.

I bought into the hype a little bit and started playing Rift during the "head-start" release, the second of three house-mates to begin playing. Congratulations Trion, on the 100% market-penetration of your title in my house, only the second MMO to do so.

It's been a long time since WoW was a big, scary, incomprehensible world to me, with 12 million players now exploring every crevasse and theorycrafting as much of the fun out as possible, and class designs which have had six years of "balance" patches sucking all the flavour out of them. This is what I was hoping to recapture with Rift; the flavour of a brand new world, with new and unique class mechanics and [hopefully] players which are not either jaded elitists or idiot socials.

But of course Rift lacks the six years of polish that WoW has, not to mention six years of my own polish in terms of a carefully crafted custom UI presenting me with information in the way that best suits me.

There is also the lack of any significant challenge. This can be easy to forgive given I'm at an early stage of the game, and few modern MMOs are challenging in solo play. But then when I reach anything which is challenging, I'm suddenly in a situation where I feel like I'm struggling with managing my UI as much as the mob my character is fighting. It doesn't help that the ability buttons themselves feel incredibly muddy and unresponsive. The ability queue is nice, but let me feel like I'm pressing the buttons when I press the buttons, please.

The significant other brought home the new Pokémon games last week and between that, WoW raiding four days a week and the sudden burst of enthusiasm I've found for my Outland-level Hunter alt I suddenly don't feel a lot of compulsion to play Rift.

What I see in Rift is potential. I have high expectations for the future of that game and and sincerely hope that it does well over the next few months as the developers refine it into something which can be a serious competitor with WoW, maybe not in terms of playerbase, but just in terms of competing with it for my own spare time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Statictics, pontification

For my information and to satisfy my curiosity, I went and made a list of the spread of Cata gearing categories by the number of individual specs [and total classes in brackets] that use it.

For the sake of a certain type of balance, I'm counting individual specs of pure DPS classes separately, and Feral Druid tank/DPS count as two.

LCD counts the total number of specs subgroups, to account for gear with "universal" stats which can be used by either sub-group. ie: for Int classes, gear with only crit, haste or mastery; for Str classes, gear with only hit, expertise or mastery.

Primary eight armour-class slots:

Cloth Int+Hit = 7 [3] \LCD 9 [3]
Cloth Int+Spirit = 3 [1] /
Leather Agi = 5 [2]
Leather Int = 2 [1]
Mail Agi = 4 [2]
Mail Int = 2 [1]
Plate Str+DPS = 5 [3] \LCD 8 [3]
Plate Str+Avoid = 3 [3] /
Plate Int = 1 [1]

Misc slots, neck, cloak, rings, trinkets*:

Misc Int+Hit = 9 [5] \LCD 14 [6]
Misc Int+Spirit = 7 [4] /
Misc Agi = 9 [4]
Misc Str+DPS = 5 [3] \LCD 8 [3]
Misc Str+Avoid = 3 [3] /

*trinkets tend to subdivide again due to either having no specific primary stat [or similar stat such as attack or spell power] or specifically benefiting and/or proccing from melee/damage/healing abilities.

Weapons and relics completely redraw the lines and divide classes so many times to the extent that some categories ended up being grossly underrepresented [-cough- Warrior ranged slot] in current content.

Let me have a go and see where I get. I might actually skip the division for spirit/hit and avoidance/DPS this instance to avoid the list becoming too [moreso] long and convoluted. I should be noted that this extra subdivision exists for every type of Intellect weapon, and every type of Str weapon except for shield.

I'm also going to skip "non-optimal" weapon setups such as caster Shaman using staves, Rogues using ranged and Hunters using every weapon in the game.
Int Staff =11 [4] Mage, Warlock, Priest, Druid
Int Dagger =13 [5] Mage, Warlock, Priest, Druid, Shaman
Int Mace = 6 [4] Priest, Druid, Shaman, Paladin
Int Sword = 6 [2] Mage, Warlock, Paladin
Int Offhand =11 [4] Mage, Warlock, Priest, Druid
Int Shield = 3 [2] Shaman, Paladin
Int Wand = 9 [3] Mage, Warlock, Priest
Int Relic = 5 [3] Druid, Shaman, Paladin
Agi Staff/Polearm = 5 [2] Hunter, Druid
Agi Axe/Mace/Fist = 4 [2] Rogue, Shaman
Agi Dagger/Sword = 3 [1] Rogue
Agi Ranged = 3 [1] Hunter
Agi Thrown = 3 [1] Rogue
Agi Relic = 3 [2] Druid, Shaman
Str 2H = 5 [3] Warrior, Death Knight, Paladin
Str 1H = 5 [3] Warrior, Death Knight, Paladin
Str Shield = 2 [2] Warrior, Paladin
Str Ranged/Thrown = 3 [1] Warrior
Str Relic = 5 [2] Death Knight, Paladin

So looking back, I tend to think the data kind of speaks for itself.

But, what more ridiculous conclusions can we draw from the above? Firstly, there is too much Agi gear in the game. It's mostly the nub classes the use it anyway, pretty much all raiding Hunters and Rogues [and most other pure DPS classes] have long since switched to the vastly more useful hybrid plate classes.

Concordantly, there are too few plate drops. Everyone is a plate class now, so there need to be more plate drops to gear them all.

Anything that's not a plate drop needs to be intellect gear. All healers use intellect gear, so right there that's 30% of your raid at bare minimum that needs this stuff. The only pure dps classes left these days are Warlocks and Demonology Warlocks [and the occasional Mage who for some reason never let go of his main since vanilla -- it's a statistical truth that nobody has rolled a mage since BC was released] so by my calculations that's about 60% of your raid that needs intellect gear, and they can't get it by DEing that horrible rogue trinket that drops three times a week.

Also, why are there no Enhancement Shaman any more? Back in Icecrown I raided as Enhancement and got the best gear in the game without trying because I had no competition whatsoever [going back to what I've been saying all along] and was regularly ranked as World #1 on WoL whenever the other Enhancement shaman didn't raid that week, not to mention the fact that it's the only melee DPS class in the game that's actually interesting to play. Also, it got buffed up the wazoo in early Cata, and I thought everyone loved playing overpowered classes.

In conclusion, either everyone needs to roll Enhancement Shaman, or alternatively we can just turn all the Agi classes into Str Plate classes for the next expansion and solve the problem that way.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Setting a precedent

We have some new anti-exploitation rules coming for the dungeon finder. Some good stuff in there, but the thing that especially caught my eye was:

If queuing as a group with a tank or healer, and the tank or healer drops group (or is kicked) soon after joining, those that queued with them will also be removed from the dungeon.

Now this is interesting. Is this the first time that tanks and healers have officially received special treatment by the game?

I completely understand the rationale behind this rule; I've exploited both sides of this "queue with a tank class" trick at various times, and it is very clearly an exploit in my opinion.

But this new by-law creates a situation where a DPS player's place in the group can be, albeit temporarily, completely dependent on a tank or healer. The game assumes that if you queue as DPS and there is a tank in your group, you are the leech, being carried by the tank. I have a lot of trouble agreeing with a system that blatantly profiles players like this.

Now that we have this official "admission" that tanks and healers are more important, I'm very interested to see whether it goes any further. I for one would love to see a weighted system, where the rewards scale with the demand for that role at that time. I don't care what the incentive is-- gold, points, rep, critter pets [hah, now that's a good idea]-- more is needed to offset the vast imbalance in supply/demand. Clearly queue length alone isn't doing it, and the imbalance isn't going to go away on its own.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Easily amused

Irrelevent "everything can be expressed in WoW terms" thing that amused me.

For want of the rating, the dodge was lost. For want of a dodge, the tank was lost. For want of a tank, the attempt was lost. For want of an attempt, the lockout was lost. For want of a lockout, progression was lost. For want of progression, the raid group was lost. And all for want of the rating.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Roll Need [you idiot]

Here's an anecdote. At the weekend I did a lot of pugging on my Holy Pally to gear him up. Chime! Stonecore. Groan... I never have high expectations of Stonecore pugs, but then I noticed the other four in the group had matching guild tags, and that those matching players had several epics each. For the win.

When halfway through the run I am presented with a roll window containing a BoE Epic world drop worth approximately fifteen thousand gold on my realm, of course I wait to see how the others in the group roll, as I've learned too many times that rolling Greed early in a pug is the best way to get your loot Ninjad. So I wait. Twenty seconds pass without a word or a roll. Two people roll Greed, so far so good. The rest of us wait... the timer ticks down -- like a game of chicken. With seconds to go, the Warrior rolls Need. NOT ON MY WATCH. Needed! And it's mine.

"Ninja!" the party cried, knowing full well I had only followed the precedent set the by the Warrior before me -- the warrior who was their guild-mate. In fact I'm the one who should be outraged when he tried to ninja it. I quietly celebrated and prepared for the boss pull.

So what lesson can we learn from these shenanigans? [yes I like that word] The answer is: roll Need. You idiot. Ninjas exist, and playing by some made-up moral honor code in the wild anonymity of a pug is going to get you exploited. When everybody Needs, everybody is treated fairly. It's like the Prisoner's Dilemma but without any penalty for mutual defection. So please, save yourself some impotent outrage and just Need.

Now the only thing I have to figure out is if I was the last to roll and they did all Greed whether I would have then done the same. I suppose it's an interesting point in itself that in all the pugs I've done I've not yet had to make that decision...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Enjoyment, burning out.

[I wrote this about a week ago, but for some reason didn't get around to posting it.]

The beginning of January saw me pretty burned out on WoW, having spent the previous month spamming levelling, professions, Heroics, archaeology as well as a healthy dedication to AH shenaningans. It was all terribly efficient, because that's just how I play, but of course that kind of play lead to the stage where I didn't even want to look at another Heroic, Archaeology hit some major DR for the hours spent doing it, and as more people maxed their profession skill the AH markets became increasingly crowded with competition and I suddenly found no motivation to spend any extra time re-undercutting after the third of fourth time I got 90% of my listings back in the mail.

So I stopped playing. Sometimes WoW seems like a very all-or-nothing game, you feel like you play WoW or other games. If you have any min-maxing tendancies you end up acutely conscious of the inefficiency in missing any daily activities, and it can be a hard thing for some people to let go of. I know this feeling well, which is why I promised myself never to "play" the game purely in the name of efficient progression whenever I realise I'm not enjoying it any more.

As a [suspiciously relevant] aside, I would like to highly recommend the downloadable title Super Meat Boy. I didn't much care for it at first, finding the character control too fiddly. But silly me for thinking keyboard controls would suffice -- I plugged in a quality digital gamepad and suddenly that game was like refined platforming gold. It's really hard to accurately describe the fun of that game without making a drug simile. I just makes my brain happy.

Another aside: fucking sigh at nobody else ever tanking. I love tanking, don't get me wrong, but it's frustrating that any time I want to heal, or heaven forbid DPS, I have to wait between ten and thirty minutes just to get into the game. I think we need some kind of weighted system to shorten the DPS queue for the people who have done well more than their share of carrying nubs. The prospect of 30 minute queues for Randoms was a major factor in my decision not to level my Warlock to 85 at this time, and it makes me very sad that my fellow players have created this situation.

But back on topic, almost immediately I can feel WoW sinking its hooks into me again, and suddenly there is no shortage of things I want to do in-game and so little time to do them all... my completionist Engineer finally has a chance to get those once-a-year Lunar Festival rocket schematics; I'm starting to enjoy Heroics on my Warrior again and have my sights set on a second piece of T11; and I got a taste of raiding on my Moonkin last night, which has motivated me to actually get some decent gear on him... which of course means I'll end up tanking a bunch of Heroics because I don't want to wait for the DPS queue.

If there's anything I regret, it's not investigating the Tol Barad craze back at the beginning, or better yet, when win trading was providing ridiculous levels of honour. And those welfare 359 trinkets are very tempting, assuming I don't get bored with the grind before I get them. =)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


It's nice to be raiding again. The challenge is back, and the fun is back.

Well, until you get to the Ascendant Council and suddenly it's your sole responsibility to interrupt 1.5 second casts while tanking. Which is a somewhat harsh to begin with, but you're doing it while dancing around to dodge all the other fight gimmicks. Which again, is challenging, but still manageable... assuming you live within ten-thousand kilometres of the server.

And Blizzard tells me their game is perfectly playable without a tunneling service...

I think 1.5 second interrupts are the best argument I have seen so far for Australian servers, or at the very least an official alternative to 3rd party tunneling. Typically, a 1.5 second cast will appear on my screen between 0.2 and 0.4 seconds into the cast, and my interrupt, once cast, will take another 0.2-0.4 seconds to register with the server. Again, this is with a tunneling service, and assumes nothing in between my box and the server suffers an unexpected hiccup.

The most aggravating thing I've ever experienced in WoW is nailing that button the moment the cast starts, watching the button press on my screen, and sitting there in slow-motion horror as the boss finishes and unleashes his insta-gib spell cast because my connection latency was too high at this moment to transmit this action to the server in time.

I'll be the first person to argue against removing challenging elements from video games, but the challenge needs to derive from the gameplay, not in peripheral things such as overcoming a poor control scheme or a terrible interface or arbitrary trial-and-error elements. And especially not from anything external to the game such as network latency. When latency can account for over 50% of my time-to-react gameplay element, the gameplay itself is degraded.

I might check to see whether anyone has brought this up on the official forums. It seems like an issue worthy of a response.