Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Player versus player

Dealing with poor teammates in PvP is something I still have trouble with. A few weeks ago I had a particularly nasty experience in a BG that made me reflect on what causes people to act poorly and how to deal with it.

My team had a decent lead in our Eye of the Storm game, and I was holding the flag at Mage Tower waiting for a third node to cap when I was ambushed. I eventually survived the attack but afterwards noticed that in the chat box my teammates were calling me names and accusing me of being afk. Apparently while I was fighting for my life I missed a completely obvious opportunity to cap while my teammates held the centre. And the only conclusion my teammates could think of for why I would do this is that I am a fagot and/or afk.

In fact a short time later I was informed by a debuff that I was in fact AFK and if I did not engage in combat within 60 seconds I would be removed from the battleground. The insults didn't faze me but my team-mates had turned on me, invoking the sacred rite of battleground afk to try and rid themselves of me.

I snapped. I told them that because they reported me afk I needed to get into combat RIGHT NOW to not be removed and ran off with the flag into the nearest battle, which hadn't even resolved before I found myself on a loading screen back to town.

I didn't even know it was possible to directly boot people from random BGs. I felt like the game had lied to me. I thought I was following the extremely stern and specific instructions that the game itself had given me. Get into combat or get out! Not "cap the flag or get out!", not "help your team or get out!", it gave me a specific fucking instruction. GET INTO COMBAT.

Not "convince your team not to boot you because oh didn't we tell you that debuff is just for show and they can still boot you just because they don't like you. And get out!"

Were I thinking logically I would have capped the flag before going into combat, despite it being a dumb move, but I just couldn't capitulate to the people who were actively attacking me with every weapon they had.

It took me a while to come to terms with what had happened. All I felt afterwards was anger. Twice I wrote a support ticket to complain about the occurrence, cancelling each a short time later. I wanted to blame someone, but frustratingly there was nobody to blame. It was a misunderstanding that turned into an angry mob. People love righteous indignation. My team had turned on me because they didn't question the logic of the first idiot who called out my error as being deliberate and malicious and afk. He misunderstood a situation and acted poorly, then others acted poorly, then I acted poorly. Humans being humans-- in retrospect how could anyone expect anything else.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Blizzard apologist

I noticed I've been doing way more writing than posting, so I might see if I can finish what I can of the random things I've felt compelled to write about and put it in this post.

I also noticed that the last post I (accidentally) made brought my total "Published" posts to 200. Yay. Over four years or so that's about one post per week on average.

The WoW dev team seems increasingly enamoured with the idea of self-directed gameplay recently, with the upcoming patch continuing the trend of the past two patches of offering even more choice and less structure in how players approach the new single-player content. I've been saying for a while now that WoW needs more free-form gameplay and exploration.

Self-direction is the difference between yard work and a yard work simulator. Players of this game and many many others have demonstrated time and again that they are willing to put up with insane amounts of repetition to achieve in-game success, as long as it's something they choose to do, that it's done as an expression of individuality. This is why it matters so much whether an in-game task "feels mandatory"-- it robs the player of the sense of following their individual path, and even a video game becomes work when you have to do it.

I find it slightly unnerving that as ridiculously successful as Blizzard already is as a company, with every release they are getting even better at making games. They so regularly make the stuff they produced last time look like crap that it's easy to forget that that crap was considered one of the greatest things ever made when it first appeared.

In my continued adventures with the titular spec of the current expansion, Kiddow's diligence with daily heroic scenarios has earned her nearly a full set of i516 "Ale-Boiled" random enchant gear, which is looking more and more like a gear plateau point-- Kiddow's overall item level is exactly 516 as I write this.

I've been raiding with a fairly casual guild, which is fun without being too stressful. I walked into that raid on my most recent 90 and was immediately at the head of the healing meters, so at worst I'm a useful contribution to the group-- no chance of feeling like I can't affect the outcome here. On my second week with them, we downed Ji-Kun and managed a couple of attempts on Durumu where it became apparent that I need to review my technique for divining where in the mass of swirling purple the safe spot is.

I'm sorry, I really need to rant about this for a moment.

I know video games are still a new medium compared to things like statues and coliseums, but are we still at this point? For god's sake do we need to make the deadly effect as deliberately hard to see as possible? That's not gameplay, it's a fucking eye test. I can only assume the devs who designed it are the kind of people who take eye tests recreationally and so they thought not being able to see the vitally important thing you need to be able to see was an awesome gameplay challenge.

Okay, QQ over. I'll put some time into learning how to "see" the safe spots in Raid Finder before next week, and hopefully we wont have too much trouble.

Being the min-maxer that I am, I compulsively collect any offspec gear which is available to me (passing to anyone who needs it of course), and having this unspent resource of agility gear on my Monk was weighing on me. I had previously tried the DPS spec, Windwalker, but found that the combined difference in both skill and gear meant that I was actually putting out less damage, while at the same time being acutely squishy because that damage was no longer automatically healing me. So Kiddow now moonlights as a drunken master.

The good news is Brewmaster is a spectacular tanking spec. This class was clearly designed in a post-damage-smoothing world because the extent to which a Brewmaster can mitigate physical damage spikes blows my god damn mind.

Coming from a Warrior, the Stagger mechanic seems like a shield block that you can keep up 100% of the time. It absorbs 45% (plus mastery) of the physical damage you take into a damage-over-time debuff lasting ten seconds, ticking once per second, which you have the option to spend a single Chi to completely remove at any time.

Or the way I think about it: you get to choose whether to take the full hit of damage, after you have taken the hit. I've yet to play this class in a progression setting so I'm not sure if the mechanic is less effective at higher levels of damage intake, but my impression of it so far is that it's ridiculously overpowered.

Elusive Brew is a bit of a wild card... I always thought that having an active ability (or trinket) that only increased the chance of taking less damage was a bit weak-- whenever I had these I would usually just macro them to a similar ability to semi-automate them. After some playing around I eventually decided to macro Elusive Brew to the same button as clearing my Stagger, so it will go up as soon as I feel like I'm taking significant damage. I'm not terribly concerned with wasting stacks because dodge doesn't do much in a low damage phase (when all the hots are overhealing anyway), but in a dangerous phase it's a fine bonus to have, especially considering it has no resource cost.

Monks also have a 100%-uptime, self-focused, instant-cast AoEand no-cooldown, floor-targeted AoE bonus-threat move. As a Warrior tank I find that insulting. It's like baby-mode tanking. Point and shoot.

I've made the comment before that I like Warrior tanking because it feels very active, aggressive, instant feedback, careful eye on rage bar and ready to react to what happens next. The Monk's ability to stack Shuffle feels just a bit too comfortable, too much like resting on your laurels. Not that that's necessarily bad. Being able to focus less on keeping my resource generation stable allows for more headspace to be devoted to fight mechanics. Easier is not necessarily less fun. Not to mention having an easy-to-learn offspec is far from something to complain about.

Several bloggers have been talking about a game which might come out in the next couple of years, Everquest Next, which if I understand correctly is a MMORPG like World of Warcraft. It looks pretty awesome but I'm not sure it will be as good as WoW. Speaking of WoW did you hear it now has over a million subscribers... I guess that's what happens when you have no serious competition.