Why so serious?

| Friday, August 29, 2008
This has nothing to do with the Dark Knight. I've not even seen it. This post is Fio-[letters]'s fault.

JotW was radically changed recently. From the looks of it the overall regen will be higher and smarter, from a certain point of view. It gives mana to the lowest people and to a lot more people, but it's less per person, especially the paladin. Going from unlimited mana, or close enough, to what looks to be around 150 mana/5 is a pretty big blow. The details are really not the point of this post though.

Why are we so serious about this? I suppose I'll start with why we shouldn't be serious.

It's a game. Game. GAME! We don't get paid for winning or losing. We don't even pay a whole lot to play. We play for fun. Can you imagine a child screaming at Mother Nature because the flowers she wanted to run through were the wrong color? I actually can, which is sort of the point. Whining that what is fun anyway isn't the exact right bit of fun is rather childish. Why can't we relax and get lost in a world, unconcerned with all the details?

But games have rules and those rules affect how people enjoy the game. Imagine a game of soccer. You can't touch the ball with your hands, unless you're doing a throw-in or you're the goalie, but only in the box. Imagine if goalies couldn't use their hands anymore, since it's clearly overpowered that only they can do it. People would score a lot more, but overall I can't predict an effect on win-lose ratios for teams, that is if they adapted at similar speeds. The team shouldn't care much, right? Well the goalies would care and might start quitting, especially the ones that are exceptional at the current game. Teams would lose their best goalies, sot hey should care. Point, where did you go?

We should be serious precisely because this is a game. It is our fun. We should fight for our fun, kicking and screaming at any attempt to reduce it. After all, if we play for fun and the fun is taken away, the game is ruined. We might as well just keep working and at least get paid for being in a state of unfun.

The seriousness may also be a sign of exactly how well Blizzard has done at getting people into the game. The rules of the game are the equivalent of the laws of a nation. People live and die by them; they dominate life. Depending on how much a person depends on the game for fun or a social life, it can be one of the dominant aspects of life, on par with more 'real' issues like the price of gasoline or tax rates. These are the politics of the World of Warcraft. While I wish the manner of communication and discourse was more civilized and less stupid (have you seen some of the posts people make?), it is entirely understandable that people would take a strong interest in the rules of this world... of warcraft. The stupidity which is ever present on the forums isn't even all that outlandish compared to real life political arguments. The ignorance wouldn't out of place either.

It is amazing that a virtual world can so accurately imitate real life. I think this means that everything is as real as we make it, as much as we care about it. I still see how reality is a bit more real, due to the one-way interaction of death.

Oh right, seriousness.

While WoW is just a game, it is also a world and a significant part of the lives of many people. It is understandable that they would be as passionate about the rules and laws of the virtual world which they inhabit as the real one. The importance of fun should not be underestimated, especially when paying money for it, and it should be fought for. After all, if we're not having fun, what's the point? I might expand on this in my other blog. Might.

I guess that's it

| Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I finally bit the bullet and canceled. I just didn't care anymore. There's not much more that I can experience. My schedule doesn't fit raiding very well. I'm not willing to twist my life around to fit it. My closest friends rerolled on another server, but I'm tired of rerolling. Of course these are just the immediate reasons why I quit. The more general and important reason is the not caring.

Why did I stop caring? I suppose you could read all my posts to see, but that would take far too much time for the payoff (nothing).

The game is too focused on gear and it drags players with it, so if you're not chasing gear, there's no one to play with. I don't want to spend my time in arenas, but that's where the gear is these days.

The raiding system is not fun. The focus is on gear, but the random system is terrible, including doing bad things for the mind. Each boss kill is little more than another pull of the level on a slot machine. The costs are high. I once met an engineer (with every single schematic in the game, including the old-world raids) who was switching to LW in a few days just for drums. How fucking stupid is that? Did Blizzard never realize that something was wrong when shit like that is happening? Yea, I'm swearing, I try to avoid it here, but being nice and polite never seemed to help anything. Oh right, raids... They're supposedly balanced, which really means designed for a certain minimum gear combined with chain-potting, specific professions, and all sorts of flasks. Don't bother to try without these, or just wait a few months before it all gets nerfed, or another expansion hits and no one cares about the old content anyway.

Solo content is almost exclusively grinds. Reputation grinds are not content. They are not fun. They are massive time sinks, a distraction to keep people from noticing that there's not much to do if not with at least 5 other people, or preferably 25. What happened to the long quest chains?

The stories are dying and poorly told. Outland was a failure at story-telling. Except for SMV and the Dark Portal, none of the zones carry a ton of weight. I'll excuse Nagrand since it's just plain beautiful and we can't always be in the Apocalypse. Netherstorm could have been better, except it just doesn't look right. The mana forges look like giant pretty machines which never fail (the pipes are supposedly leaking, but the effects are barely noticeable). It doesn't look like a land torn apart by magic, it looks like purple, lots of purple. The zones are too small, except for Nagrand there is just not enough space between enemy factions to make it believable.

PvP gives gear now, really good gear. It's attracted all the loot whores, all the people that don't care about winning or losing, just gear. AV was nerfed from an epic battle to a 15 minute zerg race. Why must PvP give gear? Just prevent the use of PvE gear. Now killing can be its own reward and the raiders can go back to raiding for gear rather than doing arenas. But hey, can we criticize them for going to a system that isn't random?

I suppose I'll say later. My account doesn't end until September 20, so I'll try to sort out my mailboxes and whatnot before then. I'm sure I'll be back to try WotLK.

A few prot talent buffs

| Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Like a few other posts, this is just a boring copy from a post on the paladin forums. Maybe my title just wasn't catchy, though I even tried an exclamation point; neon signs were not an option.

Blessing of Sacrifice: redirect 5% of each attack. It will be less amazing again DW, but it will be an extremely powerful (overpowered?) boss fight ability. Maybe put a damage absorb limit on it, for example the max health of the caster. This would limit the power in raids without excessive gimping in PvP and also force a rotation, giving paladins more to do, which hopefully wouldn't just be more tedium.

Blessing of Sanctuary: renamed Hand of Sanctuary: increases block value (sorry, DKs) by 10% of the next damaging (so it isn't wasted on avoidance)physical attack, lasts X seconds. It's a triggered mitigation and aggro boost tied together.

Devotion aura: Increases armor by 5% plus an additional x/level. At a bit over 16k armor this will give more armor, scaling up from there. Below this it's a nerf, but in that case it's either a tank who isn't at the point to care about effective health yet or someone who shouldn't be getting hit anyway.

Wow is Dead!

| Monday, August 25, 2008
Or should I say, Undead? From my experiences, WoW is best when it involves the Undead.

The Plaguelands are underrated. Even Blizzard doesn't seem to fully realize what they started there. The cauldrons, countering the Plague, that's huge. That would have been a good setup for a backstabbing by the Royal Apothecary Society, who while they are fanatical about fighting the Scourge, they might be afraid of the side-effects of the reversal of the Plague, such as their destruction/death.
The Eastern Area has a lot of wasted space, which is good. It forces the player to see the scale of the devastation. It gives plenty of room for all sorts of quests. Plagued trolls, the remnants of the high elves, there's a lot there, and it's all mixed in with the Undead.

The Ghostlands are creepy. Very creepy. The entire quest area is amazing, with a perfectly timed rep scheme, and a build up to a final attack on the traitor.

Scholomance is a great instance. It's semi-linear, you can't really get lost, so it would fit well with the BC design. Still, it's complex enough to not seem like a glorified hallway. The pulls are varied, the bosses have some interesting mechanics. Even after the nerfs/adjustments, it's still a place that can kill a bad player. The quest chain from the ghosts outside sets a perfectly awful tone.

Stratholme: I admit it, I'm amazed that it has managed to burn, unchanged, for 3 years. I know WoW is significantly after TFT, but maybe it changed since then, as players we can only comment on three last three years that we've seen. The quests are a little strange and seemed concentrated on the Scarlet side, but still, they were more interesting than "kill X number of Y." Oh right, looting the head of the Grand Crusader is a... surprise.

Naxxramas I'm talked about before. I actually did it Saturday night, had a blast again. Sapphiron has a really cool animation, neat mechanic with the ice blocks too. Though the pre-KT trash is really annoying.

Northrend, it's filled with the dead. It's the throne of their King. How can it not be amazing? Yea, you might have noticed that I'm really excited.

What's the purpose of ret in PvP?

| Friday, August 22, 2008
PvP in arenas has a straightforward goal: make the other time die before your team. In fact this is pretty much the entire game. This can be broken down into three aspects in two general categories.

In the killing category is damage, DPS, attacking, whatever you want to call it.
In the not dying category are damage reductions and healing. Healing is straightforward, it's essentially the reverse of damage.

Damage reduction is more complex and can be broken into two areas. One is mitigating or avoiding damage after it has been dealt. This covers things like armor, resilience, resistance, grounding totem, spell reflect. The other side is preventing the damage completely by in some way controlling the player who is doing the damage. Crowd control and interrupts cover this side. Kiting falls somewhere in between and line of sight can be seen as affectively kiting for ranged and spell attacks.

BoF and snares are a mix of these since they can help to either keep an enemy in range for damage or to keep an enemy out of range for damage.

So where does ret fall in this? It must have some use, otherwise it is... useless.

Obviously ret covers the damage part, but that's pretty common. All damage parts also include some amount of either post-attack damage reduction (almost all classes have interrupts or some form of spammable CC) or healing. Ret isn't especially great at healing, but in WotLK that will change, a lot. But is it enough? I don't see the off-healing abilities of ret being enough to compensate for their weaker damage reduction capabilities in PvP. But they do have some abilities, HoJ, repentance, BoP.

Is ret going to be a sort of hybrid, having strong PvP damage but weaker damage reduction and healing, though still both? I suppose we'll see how it all pans out, but it looks like PvP will continue to be heavily based on CC and no amount of off-healing will fix this. If Blizzard doesn't want paladins to get a lot of CC, how about a lot of anti-CC, preferably that isn't easily removed.

Oh right, I forgot, on the killing side there's also prevention of healing: interrupts and CC. Ret is weak in that area too.

On Whining

| Thursday, August 21, 2008
It really is annoying how the slightest change to anything causes whining on the forums. It would be nice if people were more calm and reasonable, or at least didn't feel like their individual whine (which is not a unique or beautiful snowflake) is worthy of a separate thread. Besides, it's beta, things change. It seems silly to spam "time to reroll" or "Kalgan hates us" when nothing is anywhere close to done.

But, it's beta, things change. This is the best time to get changes and also the best time to guide (reverse or encourage) changes. If we get nerfed now it is best to express problems with it now, rather than waiting. While I realize that we don't know how things will play out at 80, it seems safer to be overpowered while leveling (who cares?) and then get nerfed at 80 rather than waiting to then to get much-needed buffs.

I hate the spam, but I don't want a repeat of the 6-10-6 seconds CS. If only there was a middle ground, like a lot of threads with calm discussion and reasonable arguments.

WotLK: perfectly timed?

TBC was, is, great. It improved many aspects of the game, carried on the lore, brought new content, fixed major class flaws. But something just feels lacking. It just doesn't feel right. Maybe it's the admitted (I wish I could find the quote from a Blue about this) overabundance of purple and pink and fancy technology (that doesn't even explode!). Maybe it's that we're off invading Outland to kill Illidan when he seems mostly content to stay there and deal with the Legion, keeping them occupied, while Arthas only gets stronger in our back yard.

But in WotLK we're coming how. The flaw is fixed. The fight that we left in the Plaguelands is back and I imagine that this time we can finish it. We all know the cold, we were in Winterspring after all. We all know the Plague and Undeath, we have two zones dedicated to it and an entire race caused by it.

This is the expansion for paladins and their fallen brethren: death knights. This is our playground. TBC was for warlocks, demons everywhere to enslave, or work with. WotLK will be the place for death to reign, or end.

I hope this is the time for Blizzard to get back to telling great stories, without even needing words, just the environments.

Told you so!

| Wednesday, August 20, 2008
My heroic SH group wasn't eager to do the side pulls with the gladiators. I convinced them and on the third group savagery dropped and I won the roll. They saw no point in doing the last pull, but again, I convinced them. It dropped again and the other enchanter got it. Then the chest had a BoE blue healing shield.

Kargath down, no fist. We missed the timer by maybe 5 minutes but at least I got the quest done. :(

Effective Health and Healing in WotLK

| Monday, August 18, 2008
Tanks are getting buffed, this is great, but I see a huge problem now getting even worse.

Currently a major theory in tanking is Effective Health. The basic concept is that when your avoidance fails, how much damage can you survive? It ensures that no matter what the RNG does, you will survive. It can also be expressed as time to live, or time to heal, showing how quickly healers need to be landing heals. It is pretty much the standard method of gearing when trying to move rapidly through content. The stats it considers are armor and health, though defense has a side role in that your effective health plummets if you are able to be crit, so get that 490 defense! Armor can't really be stacked very much; there are few enchants, no gems (unless you're going to use agility at 2 armor per agility), and the gear with extra armor tends to either be rings or just plain better gear. But stamina (health), that can be stacked. There are several enchants, many trinkets, and most importantly: gems.

EH plays a huge role in the habit of players to gem for stamina, endlessly, almost completely ignoring other stats. There is also the influence of players just looking at health since avoidance is invisible to outsiders, but I'm going to focus on EH. What's wrong with this? Well, I can't honestly give a good reason, it just feels wrong. It seems strange to have one gem be incredibly valuable while the others mostly fall to the side, relegated to a few paladins still going for uncrushable. It seems wrong that socket bonuses are constantly ignored, ironically they are sometimes even stamina. Gems were supposed to provide customization, instead they're just a massive gold sink for more stamina.

From the looks of it, WotLK is only going to make this worse. I wrote before about time to live, or time to heal. Time to heal means that the tank has to get this much healing in this much time, or he's likely to be dead. Avoidance helps, or does it? It can't be relied on, so healers will be healing anyway, avoidance just means they overheal. Downranking used to help, dropping the healing output a bit for lower overhealing and greater efficiency, or at least lower mana usage so that regen could keep up. With downranking gone, but time to heal not going away, healers are going to end up doing massive overhealing unless they are all getting new mid-size heals which can be spammed. The overhealing could be avoided by just requiring more healing, making bosses hit even harder, but that's just going to push EH requirements even higher, making worse the problem of stamina stacking to the exclusion of other stats.

Something has to change. Avoidance should mean something, not just be a source of overhealing and missed opportunities for rage. It's time to put an end to boss damage just getting higher and higher and pushing tanks into ridiculous gearing. Effective health must die.

[edit] An easy way to reduce the need for effective health, while maintaining damage outputs, is to make bosses swing softer but faster. This would also make blocking more significant for mitigation.

Raid or die never got fixed

| Saturday, August 16, 2008
Pre-BC there was little gear benefit from PvP. The best gear was incredibly hard to get (at least until 2.0 when PvP gear went to a simple honor grind with no ranks). But despite the effort, it was not the best PvP gear. Raids gave better gear for PvP.

"Raid or die." It was pretty simple, PvP gear was from raids, so people were forced into PvE to get gear for PvP. This wasn't much fun for people that just wanted to PvP and had to choose between sub-par gear or doing content they didn't enjoy.

It got fixed in TBC, sort of. Now PvPers can get all the gear they need from PvP. Great, right? Not exactly. The problem just got reversed.

PvP gear has few restrictions on who can wear it and doesn't require large raids or lockout timers. It's incredibly accessible. It is also very powerful, with S3 blowing away T4 for many classes. Unless you're in very high end content, PvP is going to give more powerful gear than PvE.

PvE people now have the choice that PvP people used to have: inferior gear or unwanted content. Raid or die didn't go away, it just got turned around.

My name is Klepsacovic, and I'm a switcher

The last couple days I've been playing my shaman again. I forgot how fun he really is. DPS is so much less stressful than tanking and the numbers are bigger, and who doesn't like big numbers? I know my tank doesn't, since the only big numbers I ever see are incoming damage.

Today I did heroic Slave Pens, had a blast. Our tank was a pretty good paladin. Nothing much good dropped, again. But it was fun and didn't burn me out, so I don't mind running it again tomorrow.

Later I did heroic Underbog, respeccing resto. Our tank was a paladin too, but I didn't like him much. He never judged, claiming that JoW didn't give aggro and he only cares about aggro. As expected, he was OOM every pull or two. Oh yea, and he didn't judge crusader either, claiming it doesn't give aggro. That got a triple dot and an offer to give some advice, which he rejected. Still I got through, got a new healing hat and some badges.

It was a little strange switching to healing. I've not done much healing in months, except for last night when I did regular crypts with an overgeared druid tank, so I mostly threw around lightning bolts. I was even still elemental. I added a new bar, loaded it with various ranks of healing wave so I could find just the right rank to spam. That bar got mouse-clicked, I am ashamed to say.

Earlier in the day I'd tried heroic SH, but our tank was terrible. He would taunt while pulling (even though DPS had learned to do NOTHING for a few seconds while he pulled), then had terrible aggro generation. DPS would get aggro and he'd shield slam instead of taunting. More than a single mob made him fall apart completely. Four was a guaranteed wipe, excluding those of us who ran for the door.

I can understand learning, but this was not a time for learning. SH isn't an easy heroic. His gear was pretty good too, he'd at least been to Karazhan up to Curator, and had some rep gear. Maybe he gathered gear as fury or arms and then when prot, but that seems a bit backwards from what I've seen. The thing that really confused me was his lack of gems, totally empty sockets, not even uncommons or strange choices, just nothing at all. I left soon after noticing that he had 13k health, buffed.

Yesterday I got my fishing hat. It looks cool.

Although, my racial ability does kinda suck.

My poor characters

| Sunday, August 3, 2008
They'll be totally neglected while I'm away for a week. Maybe I should hire a Chinese guy to take care of them.
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