Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Message of the Day

Today's message of the day as I logged into WoW was "Being polite in groups will get you invited back."

They need to update it to "Being polite in groups doesn't matter any more because you can just re-queue straight away."

I had a total blast leveling through Draenor. Some of the most interesting questing I've seen in the game so far. I did a few leveling dungeons are they were all fun and challenging. Whether the challenge came from the dungeon or the poor gameplay of my teammates wasn't really relevant-- I had fun.

Then I reached endgame.


Now there is something you need to understand about World of Warcraft. It's the healer's job to keep everyone alive. So if someone dies, it's only because the healer failed to stop them from dying. This is so obvious to everyone that it's not even worth saying. Yeah, that's right, you just wasted seconds of your life reading something you already knew.

Maybe I just need to face up to being not a good enough player to heal heroic 5-man dungeons. Self-delusion can be pretty insidious.

**SATIRE OVER ** I was trying to demonstrate how ridiculous it is to blame the healer even though everyone seems to do it anyway by coming to a ridiculous conclusion based on this assumed truth. The relative merit of my healing accomplishments as compared to other players has already convinced me I'm not a bad healer-- but this context had clearly not been established to a degree that the satire would be obvious. My blind conviction to what most would consider a highly-debatable idea (and the concurrent shift in style toward awkward tautological sentences) was also meant to be a tonal cue, this one relying only on an established context of me not being that stupid.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Angry ranting

I really wish Blizzard would stop selling more than they're capable of delivering.

I paid for this expansion six months ago. I paid for my current subscription time in July. This is not the way I expect to be treated after handing over that much money, that far in advance.

Did we not know what was going to happen on launch day? The same thing that happens on EVERY FUCKING LAUNCH DAY?

Okay great, you convinced a million ex-WoW players to resubscribe. Pat on the fucking back. I'm sorry I didn't threaten to unsubscribe enough for you to care enough about my experience.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dances with raiders

If you've ever used the term "dancing" pejoratively when you talk about raid gameplay, you absolutely need to read this blog post from Alexander Brazie on how he fucked up the Netherspite encounter, specifically naming how and why it ended up becoming a "dance". I'm so convinced by his definition that I have to concede that this term can be useful for describing a specific type of raid gameplay.

But I maintain that the word has been used unfairly way more often than it has been used fairly. I've seen a clear pattern of mid-range guilds whose raiders lack the situational awareness to "play" encounters as intended, so the leader must resort to dictating specific instructions just to keep people from doing the wrong thing. This type of raiding group makes encounters into a dance, and to be fair it clearly works, for the simple fact that most people are better at following instructions than thinking for themselves. It's just another example of players taking the efficient route to success rather than enjoying the game as intended.

The root issue has always been that the raiding game was too difficult for a majority of players, a criticism that Blizzard has more than owned up to, and today's range of difficulty levels are a incredible improvement. It's so vitally important for any game to match itself to the skill level of the players.

I'm reminded of this pervasive idea of the "Patchwerk fight". Pervasive despite the first rule of Patchwerk fights being that you don't talk about Patchwerk fights because they are boring and raiding is so much more than that. I don't disagree.

But players love these fights. Players love the pure throughput environment, simply because this kind of sustained DPS/healing check gives them the (rare?) opportunity to kick into top gear, to use every cooldown, every proc, and for once not worry about distractions like target switching or ramping or delaying abilities to run away. It's like a drag race for your WoW toon; less about finesse and more about who has the fastest engine and knows how to drive it.

Perhaps this drag race metaphor better illustrates some players' overwhelming tendency to play chicken with deadly mechanics.

The problem with Patchwerk fights is they are only relevant at gear level; once the raid's throughput passes a point the switch flips to trivial. I wonder if it's at all possible to save this type of fight from sudden obsolescence by implementing mechanics that scale with your raid's throughput. Not so far as to negate gear, but just enough to stop the encounter from becoming trivial overnight.

I suspect that there is a very large group of players who genuinely enjoy standing still and DPSing and are more than happy to ignore raid mechanics as much as possible because their combat mechanics alone are intrinsically fun and/or because competing with others in the same role is the main goal for them.

Social competition is a stronger motivator than we realise. In the end it's the same old human story; we covet our neighbour's ass, so we feel compelled to spend three years grinding to get the same mount to drop for us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The dream of melee healing is alive in Mistweavers.

UBRS is fun. I've been running it over and over, spending as much time in Crane (melee) stance as possible. I can melee heal the whole dungeon now (as long as the group isn't terrible), it just takes balls to play so close to the edge the whole time. This usually puts me at the top of the damage meter too, but I feel like this might have more to do with my gear level and the relative power of the caster Legendary proc. I have a suspicion that 100% melee healing may not be a viable playstyle for doing content "at level", but dammit if I'm not going to try.

I take everything back about my class being less "active" now. Crane stance is intense and frantic. I'm starting to appreciate that as long as there is an enemy in melee range I'm a 100% mobile healer-- free forever from that terrible choice between finishing a cast and avoiding an effect. I feel like I have a response to any pattern of damage now, so the panic attacks are becoming less frequent. Protip: Detonate Chi is absolutely essential-- it a major AoE heal. Don't let your party let themselves die while your balls are right in front of them. Remember Thunder Focus Tea can be used for a double-strength Surging. Also, Revival and Grape Bubble early and often. There is no need to change stance until both of these spells are on CD.

I swapped out my Surging Mist auto-target glyph and changed a few of my mouseover binds for better access to the Crane stance spells, which has kind of messed up my muscle memory for direct healing, but I'll get used to it because clearly I'm the kind of player who will change playstyle completely if I think it will be more efficient in the long run.

Crane stance feels like a damage spec with healing utility. I keep flashing back to healing dungeons as Enhancement Shaman towards the end of Wrath-- I mean Enhancement is where that "buff that stacks to five with each stack reducing the mana cost and cast time of a healing spell by 20%" paradigm first came from. We had Chain Heal back then too... but I guess Blizzard always was pretty hot and cold with what they "allowed" melee healing to get away with.

Speaking of flashbacks, Jade Crackling Lightning mixed in with melee abilities feels like playing a Sith Assassin again, which is pretty cool. I'm not sure whether this phenomenon exists in other classes, but since the level one hundred patch I have never run out of mana while healing. Jade Lightning however drains it fast. In today's near-infinite mana environment it's still expensive, so does that mean the mana cost will be even more severe when the class reaches equilibrium again?

Now I want to tell you the most ridiculous thing about Crane Stance. Changing stance back to Serpent, starting a channel hot, and firing a big direct heal: total time 1.9 seconds.