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.