How does a warrior solo Stratholme?

| Friday, July 31, 2009
The problem: Cadaver Worms: Disease
150 Shadow damage inflicted every 10 sec.
Health regeneration rate reduced by 100%.
10 minutes remaining

With the limit on bandaging, you may find yourself dying constantly. What can you do? Eat? Nope.

Ah, stoneform! But that has a cooldown.

There is another racial though, a very overpowered one, which allows you to eat even when all regen is supposed to be stopped. I am of course referring to Regeneration.
Health regeneration rate increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue during combat.

Troll racials are overpowered.

Should we be LESS helpful?

| Wednesday, July 29, 2009
By 'we' I am not at all referring to myself and probably not you either. In fact 'we' was probably a terrible choice. 'They' might have worked better. Helpful refers to giving useful information: DPS rotations, boss kill strats, gear suggestions. Obviously this doesn't refer to anything I do since I am absolutely useless and the blogs I link tend to be useless as well, especially those times I linked Gevlon (though it should be noted that he is useless in a much different way than Larisa or her bartender, they are a delightful sort of useless). Now that I have this useless explanation of my title, which if it needs this much explaining must be useless, let's get on to the useless part of the post: the rest of it.

Tankspot makes some nice videos. They've been a lot of help for me the few times I watch them, showing what a fight looks like before actually doing it. Less useful are the written guides which tend to make no sense to me. I recall having some very strange visions of fights which I'd heard about but not actually seen; it was quite a shock to actually see them (usually an underwhelming sort of shock, if that is possible).

Maybe they should stop. How much fun is lost when you walk into a fight generally knowing what to do? When that happens you're not learning, you're just reducing failure rates. That strikes me as incredibly discouraging, to know from the start that anything that goes wrong is due to your failure rather than your opportunity to learn or develop a strategy. I can't remember the last time I thought out a strategy or even better, walked into a fight totally ignorant to learn as we went along.

Perhaps this is some of what appeals to me in the old world content, or at least used to. There are known strats for it, but they're made for 40 people and certain class mixes. There were no strats for Razonrgore with 10 people; it would be impossible to kite and can you imagine a tank trying to get aggro on that many mobs? At 70 they still could hurt enough that we couldn't just let them run freely. I figured out that the way to convince a mob 60 yards away to run to me is to stand next to a healer who was spamming Razorgore or the DPS fighting casters. That would send them running in our direction and then consecrate would pick them up. Tanking 40 or so mobs was fun. Fear not, this is not useful information as it is for 70; at 80 the fight is entirely trivial.

Would anyone want this though? Would you want to walk into a fight with no clue what to do and with no one else knowing any more? Sadly, I don't think most guilds would want to spend the time it takes to figure out some of the complex fights. They'd find the strats somehow. Or fights would have to be greatly simplified, but that carries the risk of there being nothing to learn or discover.

Maybe I should blame my mom. I was trying to explain in BoomBlox on the Wii how there are sometimes extra objects with no relevance to completing the puzzle, mostly for appearances, partly to trick you. Her response "well I don't like that." I guess it's a deep split with approaches to gaming: Is figuring out the game part of a fun challenge or just an obstacle to your fun? Obviously there are extremes; but in general I think I'm middle slightly towards the figuring out side while my mother, and I suspect many of the raid-strat-looker-uppers are on the obstacle side.

Are female characters nicer?

| Monday, July 27, 2009
There is importance to my addition of character. I'm not looking for stereotypes and generalizations about women. Instead I'm looking for stereotypes and generalizations about virtual women.

After a few weeks of a combination of high boredom and low care, I decided to try my warlock again. She is level 71 and I have almost no idea how to play her. That's due to almost total neglect, leveled pre-BC, played only a very small amount in BC, and even less in WotLK. The result is that I just don't know how they work these days. Apparently spirit doesn't such anymore. Or maybe it still does but it's not supposed to. See what I mean? Anyway...

I am very polite on my warlock. This isn't to say that my normal state is rude, but that I don't usually go out of my way to apologize for my mistakes (though I will if I really screw up) and I'm not always the most patient with PUGs (they're morons, I'm a slacker). But on my warlock I was being nice and patient and apologizing for my noobishness. I wasn't just acting nicer, I felt nicer, like I was someone slightly different.

Is it some little piece of getting into the character? I figured I was somewhat more consistent, being of a general tanking/protective mindset with some mix of disdain for mean people and impatience with noobs.

Or perhaps it is mere perception. People often attribute more positive characteristics to attractive individuals. Not to sound odd, but my warlock is significantly prettier than most of my Horde characters. Is this the bias carried into the virtual world?

To further complicate matters, I distinctly remember being slightly rude back at 60. I was the sort who was quick to remove people who annoyed me and frequently started and led groups. Perhaps that was leftover warlock RP of sorts from when I was a notably evil undead warlock on my first account. Ah, I miss fearing people into adds... But damn you Crimefighter (meanest FHP ever) and your warrior friend, always ganking me when I was soloing the templar in Silithus, wasted so many sets.

Howling Fjord from the other side

| Sunday, July 26, 2009
My highest characters are all Horde. The closest Alliance is now a 73 warlock and was unplayed for months at a time. This meant that I'd mostly done only Horde content in WotLK.

Borean Tundra looks okay, but it's not beautiful or thematically catching. There's nothing wrong with it, just nothing special. However the quests on Horde side were a lot of fun.

On the other side is Howling Fjord. It looks absolutely amazing. Unfortunately the Horde quests were uninspiring. The only parts I really liked were in that Vrykul fort to the northwest. Somehow most of the quests just didn't catch me.

The Alliance seems reversed. The Tundra quests aren't especially great, though I did like the fight with the Scourge in that town near the starting point. I'm not a fan of needing crafted items for quests (I'll put more on this at the end, a muse has struck me). However the Fjord quests were awesome. Riding a harpoon? Venturing into the crypts? That part was especially fun since I'd somehow never even found them before. Training the falcon was fun and the final quest was neat. And then there's the quest to use that awful imitation of an iron dwarf construct: it had flying, it had humor, it had lore.

I'm only about half done with the zone, maybe a little more, but so far I really like it. Oh, and throwing bombs on pirates from a stolen zeppelin, that is awesome. I did feel a bit of a traitor though: as Horde I felt bad for being part of the crime while as Alliance I had too much sympathy for that goblin. Poor guy was just trying to make a mostly honest bit of gold and maybe save the world in the process.

And now to go totally off topic.

Quests and Crafting
I don't like the way WoW mixes crafting and quests. It's too halfway. Some crafted items end up very valuable, if there are enough people leveling at the time. Others stay as useless as usual. For the quester they mean a trip from the Badlands back to a main city (not so bad for Alliance, but nevertheless) or the immersion-killing act of switching to an alt to buy and send it. Sometimes the quest item is expensive for the level.

The act of getting the crafted item is annoying as well. If you're lucky you can find it on the AH for a reasonable price. If not, you will have to find a crafter willing to make it for you. This could mean trying to get an 80 to leave the sanctuary of Dalaran to port to UC and hearth back, so you'd better have a decent tip lined up. Oh and he's not likely to have mithril bars laying around, so you'll have to get those too. My point is that the item just ends up being impersonal (AH) or inconvenient (face to face interaction).

Expanding crafting and quests might help. Imagine if instead of a couple dozen quests in the entire game, imagine if every zone had a handful of such quests; spread across professions and covering a wide variety of items and crafting skill. The quests would be part of an economy rather than just a random annoyance. Crafting would be buffed without needing to add more stats to their BoPs, more BoEs to be crafted in a rush and then dumped with the first raid drop, or BoEs which are comparable (or better) than raid drops but which are so expensive and rare that crafting ends up with a few really, really rich crafters and a thousand hoping be the first to catch the next 79->80 ret paladin and maybe, maybe get a few gold tip for a titansteel destroyer.

When I logged in for my first time in a few months I figured I'd jump into LFG and burn off some rested XP. Hm, no spec, that could be a problem. I threw together a demo spec, probably messing up horribly. Then I proceeded to be a noob: falling off the edge and trying to finish a cast with a spike under me. I've not done Nexus in a while. Oh, and I had little clue what I was doing.

Eventually I sort of figured things out, maybe. I'd get immolate up and then spam incinerate. Sometimes I'd remember a curse. Eventually while soloing I learned to get in a late incinerate so I could then kill the next mob with soulfire->incinerate (I seemed to crit often enough that this made for a dead mob and a new shardless soulfire).

Well what fun is it knowing what I'm doing? I don't play alts to know what I'm doing. If I wanted to have to know what I'm doing I'd still be raiding. So I went destruction, tried it out, and then regretted it. But aha, was the spec bad or was it just that I had no clue what I was doing?

Again, learning process, possibly learning incorrectly. Now I use shadowbolt just for the crit debuff (seems like a long fall from when all three specs used it as their primary (only) nuke). I wasn't using chaos bolt for a while because I didn't get it. It's a fire nuke with a cooldown, why not just keep using incinerate? Then I tried it and realized that it's ridiculously cheap and might be my highest damage ability (cheapest too?). Now I have that as a priority. Conflag was also bumped up to a part of my 'cycle', I use it every 10 seconds unless it overlaps with chaos bolt, which probably wouldn't happen if I used a rotation instead of a sort of priority/debuff maintenance system.

My spec is likely still not quite right. I can't decide on some talents. Empowered imp and demonic power seem good for mobs that won't die in 5 seconds anyway. Pryoclasm seems like it could be up about every other cast with some gear. Do I want Demonic Aegis once I'm higher? Or maybe it's worth it now? The mystery of it all can be fun, or frustrating.

I wasn't a slacker
Someone was in general chat trying to find where to do Saragosa's End. That struck me as stupid since it's all the way in Dragonblight. I told him it's there and it's too far for me to directly show him. Then I read the quest he linked. Oh. I asked if he'd talked to Keristrasza. Hadn't talked to... him? He clearly didn't realize the quest giver was in the little prison in his bags or the norms of dragon names. I eventually conveyed that he needed to use the prison (which I'd forgotten what it was) and problem solved. Lacking a non-insulting way to say it, I refrained from saying that he should pay more attention when talking with red-robed women from prison. I suppose that wasn't insulting, but it also makes no sense.

Final thoughts
I wish Decimation was on cast rather than on hit. It's annoying to cast the incinerate which should trigger it and automatically switching to soulfire for the next cast, only to realize that you started too soon and have to cancel and recast (you'll still save the shard, but it's faster to start over again).
I feel very expendable as a DPS (so used to tanking or sometimes healing). Yea, yea "good DPS are hard to find" but when you're in LFG there's no box to mark Good. We're all just DPS.
In a little more defense of Alliance quests in Borean Tundra: I found the gnome captive near Fizzcrank a little funny and sad, especially after the rescue.

Panzerkin are stupid

| Saturday, July 25, 2009
Or as I found it best phrased: "I guess if you enjoy doing a job ass backwards with twice the effort and in the end still won't hold a candle to a real tank spec then hey knock yourself out."

Oh wait a minute...

I forgot. This is a game and anything which is fun for you is a good use of your $15 a month. This isn't to say that I am likely to group with a panzerkin ever (99% due to never seeing), but that's just me and my $15 a month, not any dictation of what to do.

I remember a month or so ago seeing a mage trying to figure out the gear for uncrittable. Total waste of time. He won't be able to tank anything that he doesn't overgear (in the ilevel sense, obviously it's hard to truly overgear when wearing cloth for tanking) and certainly nothing even remotely resembling progression. And yet, so what? It's his fun to have or not have.

I wonder if WoW would be better off with more people wasting time and being stupid.

My problem with on next swing attacks

| Friday, July 24, 2009
Just to confuse you, I'll start off with what I like: they're buttons to press that don't interfere with the GCD and normal rotation.

Okay problem time:
Nothing happens.

I like to press buttons and have something happen. Maybe someone gets a buff or something mean gets hurt. Whatever it is, the button press does something. At worst I get a one minute timer and wait for a big burst of damage (curse of doom can be fun, and had some big uses for soloing things that are not meant to be soloed back in the day).

On next swing is more like Press button, nothing happens, something happens. Huh? I didn't do anything, why did I suddenly get a yellow attack? Oh... a second ago I did something. That's like having a cast time without a cast bar or mobility restrictions or... well now it sounds pretty good. But that cast bar means I'm doing something. On next swing means I'm trying to do something but only waiting will make it happen.

This is one of the things that didn't appeal to me when I tried CoH on my friend's computer. As far as I could tell, things queue and cast as they come up. This makes it less button-mashy and less timing-dependent, which seems nice, but it also feels less interactive. I felt like I didn't make anything happen; I wasn't a superhero, I was watching someone else be a superhero as I tweeted suggestions and he'd respond as he got them.

Ah, there's the big one, on next swing feels exactly like horrible lag. I'm sure you've seen the condition when you cast, nothing happens except you see the GCD spin around, and then you go and press another spell and again nothing happens but the GCD spins and then the spell button lights up as if to say "I'll cast this and that once I can do something."

On next swing attacks are blatant pandering to the Lag lobby.

Raiding Stormwind

| Thursday, July 23, 2009
J: Let’s just do this the easy way.
K: We did the easy way. We did the hard way. Neither way worked.
J: Giving up?
K: No. I’m going to make a Stormwind raid.
J: You have never successfully made a PUG raid. Ever.
K: That’s not true.
J: Can you remember one?
K: Well, that one time we killed… Lucifron. And Mag.
J: And then?
K: We didn’t have enough mages or healers and the DPS was stupid, so we left.
J: Let’s do it the easy way. Step one: take off our gear.
K: No. I am not interested. No.
J: Step two: run into Stormwind and die near the water.
K: I don’t get it.
J: What?
K: One… two… fourth to last word.
J: Die?
K: Yea.
J: It’s like a hearthing, but instead of going to Dalaran you go to a graveyard. Also you’re invisible and can run faster than normal.
K: Sounds fun!
J: Oh yea, sometimes we get dozens of people together and all die together. We call it raiding.

New (old) Blog

| Wednesday, July 22, 2009
A while back I started a second blog as a place to put ideas which were totally unrelated to WoW. It was a sort of place to put those random thoughts I'd get while bored at work or when my mind is just starting to go before sleep. Unfortunately it ended up degrading into just random crap and stopped being at all interesting.

The past month or so I decided I wanted to start it up again since I was finding that I had ideas again, but not all were related to WoW. I didn't want to shift this blog away from WoW/gaming/online topics since I'm pretty sure people don't read this for my thoughts on morality or philosophy or whatever. Along with relinking my other blog, I also went through and shifted almost all the posts to drafts, leaving only a handful which I felt were worth reading. So that's why it appears I only wrote a few posts over a year or so.

As a disclaimer, the posts are only intended to provoke thought. They aren't necessarily what I believe. I may even reach conclusions which I find to be wrong. The logic may well be imperfect and finding those flaws is a good thing (at least for you to be able to find them, not good that I didn't spot them first). My goal isn't to convert people or to advocate a particular perspective, so you may notice inconsistencies. This isn't to say that I will be neutral, I am human after all. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and as time goes on I hope to add some more posts and add back in some which I removed.

So here we are Delusions of Truth: I wonder what would happen if I sat down for coffee with a crazy man off the street.

How much does WoW reflect real life society?

| Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Is it possible to make broad generalizations from WoW? On the surface this seems possible, maybe useful. After all, WoW does cover a decently broad cross-section of the industrialized world. While it began with bored college students and perhaps the unemployed, it has grown to cover at least a little bit of every demographic (see imaginary citations for more details). There is of course the modifier of WoW being almost entirely anonymous; almost in that our characters may be remembered but there is no connection to our RL identities. But is this all that different than being in a crowd during a commute or at a concert? You're pretty much anonymous. However just as in real life, people online can increase their exposure to others, reducing the anonymity.

From this we could try to identify trends. Are we polite or rude? What triggers politeness or rudeness? How willing are we to help strangers?

Or take it further: how much do we seek to understand out world? I hold the theorycraft and testing of WoW to be the science of that world. The lore would not qualify as history since the past actions of NPCs have no use for deciding our own actions (for more explanation of this, go to the So What? part). However the history of guilds or dev decisions would be useful for predicting and adapting beforehand to changes.

How do we handle scarcity of resources such as mob spawns, resources, or random loot drops? Do we measure contribution by sheer time or do we include other factors such as consumables and previous effort to gear up in preparation? Or do we go by who would benefit most? Or do we use totally random systems such as rolls? Let's not forget the possibility of gold bidding systems (used in some high-end PUGs and from what I've heard: China) or oligarchies which hand out gear based on their whims (also known as loot councils).

Going back to knowledge: how ignorant are people? Do they know how to do their jobs (play their class/role)? Can the average person be trusted with your virtual life, both by intent to keep you alive and personal ability?

I said in a previous post that we may not give the player base enough credit. It's not as stupid and incompetent as we might perceive. However there is no denying that some players just have no clue and may take absolutely no actions to fix that. The melee hunters and one-dagger rogues and druids who go balance/feral for DPS. Would these be the idiots fired from McDonalds for incompetence and laziness? Are they the idiot coworker who ruins everything he touches? Or is there something else that I'm missing (or just not saying)?

What is fun?

| Monday, July 20, 2009
This is a hard question to answer, possibly impossible to answer accurately. The problem is that it is incomplete. Let's finish it:

What is fun for you?
Mindless grinds may be your thing. Or you hate them. Maybe you dislike them little enough that you will do them, for achievements, those are what are fun for you.
Challenges perhaps? I'd guess most people like challenges, but usually not so much to create them for themselves. That leads to the next fun.
Gear might be your motivator and excitement. That next drop is what keeps you in the raid.
Ganking? Duels? Arenas? BGs? Mass PvP? Vehicle fights? These may all be your fun.
Questing? Perhaps you like the stories. Maybe you like leveling through quests to build up character lore. Role-playing may be your thing.

I am almost certain that winning and success are part of your fun. But those depend on the goal. Someone may 'waste' an hour camping you, but he is having his fun for he is winning not only at killing you, but he also believes he is frustrating you and that is his goal. On the other hand, you might really enjoy playing cat and mouse, not being frustrated, but instead challenged to see how long you can delay his victories and every second is a point for you. With this you can both win, at least in your minds. But what's wrong with only in your minds? Most of the world is in there anyway, it seems like the logical place to put victory.

It is in our minds that these rectangles in front of us glow not just with images, but with worlds. It is in our minds that we decide what is and is not fun. No outside force can dictate that to us, instead it can only offer possibilities and we may refuse or accept any we wish. This is why WoW is so successful, it allows so many types of fun. Do we wish it had more raids or quests or PvP? Probably. In a way WoW is 75% of a dozen games rather than any one complete game. That means you might rarely find yourself at 100% fun, but for any mood you're likely to find at least 75% and that's far better than you'll find trying to RP in Halo.

"Don't just say they were stupid" and "So what?"

| Friday, July 17, 2009
Those are the two long-lasting lessons I learned from my history teacher in middle school. They're pretty simple, but important.

Don't just say they were stupid
This relates to explaining actions. She used it in the context of history. Looking back, humanity seems to have done a lot of really stupid things. Maybe now we can accurately say they were bad decisions, but at the time they didn't just make sense, they were smart decisions given what they knew and valued.

Look at old models of disease: thinking it was spread by swamp gasses or the idea of phlogiston: think oxygen, but the thought was that it was a property of the object rather than the surrounding air. Very wrong both of them. But before we had isolated oxygen or bacteria and viruses, they made sense. We know better now. Does that make us better? Not really. We only know it because we were told it. I doubt you or I would have been the ones discovering oxygen. Think about that next time you get a sense of historical elitism.

This is relevant now as well. People do not make poor decisions just because they are stupid. They may be ignorant, but that is a common problem: no one knows all the relevant facts except in pre-written word problems in school. We all must make assumptions and fill in gaps. This doesn't mean people are always making the best decision possible given what they know. They may use poor logic or leave out factors. All people do this, even you. Yes you too, you're nowhere near as brilliant as you believe; your inability to accept this reality is only a demonstration of your own mental flaws.

It's easy to just say people are stupid. Why is someone else in a lesser position? They must be stupid. Why are you in a greater position? You must be smart. Right? Wrong. I can't remember the exact phrasing, but in a book called Our America (it's about a couple black kids in Chicago projects) one of them says something like "A lot of those kids think they hit a triple. They're wrong, they were born on third base but they go around telling everyone they hit a triple." It's tempting to attribute everything to innate capabilities or individual choice, to simple dislike, or even hate, others just because of where they are in life. Don't give in to temptation.

Are you better than some people? Possibly. After all, there are smarter and stupider people; more and less creative; stronger and faster and weak and slow. However these things are not easily measured. Remember the social darwinists? I'd call them stupid, but based on my post I'm not allowed to. But let's just say they have a poor concept of evolution or superiority. At the very least the elitist asses like them are greatly outnumbered. Ultimately the only advantage they hold is the willingness of the rest of the world to let them live. Look at the French Revolutions and ask if that's something you want to press your luck on.

So what?
Historical facts don't say much. Think about the phrase and "The numbers speak for themselves." It's false. Numbers say nothing. If you can't speak for them, you are either inarticulate or don't understand them well enough. I've experienced this problem myself, so don't think I'm up on a high horse floating in the clouds above a world carried by an even higher horse. In fact I've never even ridden a horse.

History only means something when given meaning. The War of 1812 means nothing except if we learn something from it: why it happened, what we could have done better (that applies to either side), what it affected. When we give meaning to history we gain not just knowledge of the past, we see the trends which can predict, or allow us to alter, the future.

The US killed hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of natives. So what? That fact only matters if it can teach us something. Perhaps empathy for the victims, perhaps seeing why it happened so it doesn't happen again, or perhaps we learn more efficient ways to settle and dominate a region.

New blog?
I have a blog laying around that I'm thinking of starting up again to put these sort of posts. That way I can keep a more 'pure' WoW/gaming blog. I've been toying with the idea for a few weeks, I'll try to decide over this weekend. As a warning though, it would be intended to provoke thought, not always to advocate ideas which I believe, so there would be some posts which I disagree with but post anyway. Besides, it seems rather pointless to make a blog just to advocate a position. Who is going to read it except people who already agree? I'd much rather get people who disagree and maybe if they think enough they come to my side. After all, just because someone disagrees doesn't mean they're stupid.

Who has Arthas' soul?

| Thursday, July 16, 2009
Is he a soulless abomination? Or does he have a soul, corrupted by years of murder and worse? Maybe he doesn't have his soul and he's trying to find a replacement.

Frostmourne steals souls. He picked it up, got his soul stolen. Where is it at that time?

I see three possible possessors: the sword itself, the Lich King, and someone in the Burning Legion since they created Frostmourne.

If Frostmourne has his soul then he is still a slave. Perhaps it even took Ner'zhul's soul during the merger. It would seem a bit silly for the latest greatest threat to the world to be run by a sword.

If the Lich King has his soul, then things are confusing. Did he get it back when they merged? Was it as he left it or had Ner'zhul damaged it? I don't imagine that former orc plays nicely with others toys. If Ner'zhul had it, then what was the point of their dramatic merger? He could have done that without Arthas needing to climb all the way up. Merge them and then Arthas can pick up their combined souls when it is convenient. I realize Arthas was in the area anyway due to fighting off Illidan's forces. Maybe they were already merged, or the merger was in progress while he was ascending to the Frozen Throne. Was it not Arthas, but actually Ner'zhul who was hearing the voices? Was that him shuffling through Arthas' memories, seeing the mind of a human for the first time?

Finally there's the chance that someone in the Legion has it (having taken it through Frostmourne). This seems unlikely since Arthas is allied with the Lich King (or was before the merger) and the Lich King is resisting the Legion.

Maybe his soul is lost now and he's only working with the Scourge in order to harvest souls. He needs so many because he thinks he's just that important.

Is the playerbase as stupid and incompetent as we so often claim?

| Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Let's get some ground conditions.
First, remember that this is a game. People play games differently.

My dad tends to play board games ruthlessly, taking ten minutes per turn (this is why we add time limits to Scrabble). My mom is less focused on only winning and cares more about having fun. Also when we were little kids my dad would be the one taking all our money in poker while my mom would scold him.

Getting back to WoW: it's a game. This is not a get out of jail free card though. After all, you'd be expected to know how to dribble or shoot in basketball. Still, no one expects you to be NBA quality for a pick up game in the park. There are expected levels of understanding but low standards of skill, since it is a game after all. Neighborhood leagues are likely to have higher standards, but the focus remains on fun. As you get higher up the focus shifts more towards skill. This creates an elite, but not elitists. Can you imagine the uproar that would develop if a NBA star spent half his free time mocking people playing in driveways? He wouldn't look better for it, he'd just look like a jackass. How is WoW different? Well, for one even fewer people are paid to play, so elitism looks even more silly.

Getting back to other players

The odds are that someone else will screw up. It's simple math, out of 25 people of equal skill, you only have a 4% chance of being the one who screws up at a given time. This ranges from low DPS to bad healing, the possibilities are endless. In a 5 man that goes up to 20%. But the end result is that other people are far more likely to screw up. This is a simple reality of the world: other people are far more likely to do anything just by virtue of there being a lot more of them (you're outnumbered six billion to one).

Let's say you're far better, 10 times as good. Now in a 5 man there's closer to a 24.4% chance that the screwup will be someone else (you're down to 2.4%). Now it's clear that the reason you're screwing up less is skill, but be honest, are you really 10x better than everyone else in that group? Being 10x better in a 10-man will create a smaller difference in the screwup chance and even less in a 25-man. Eventually you stop mattering as much and your skill isn't what gets you by, it's the sheer numbers of other people.

What I'm trying to say is that much of the fail in other people is a matter of perception and your inability to do basic math. Or perhaps refusal to do the math because it would hurt your ego. Or to put it another way: fourth grade math says you're not as e-awesome as you think.

Let's move on to ignorance now: There is a lot that people don't know and don't know how to know. Huh? Imagine you've just been told "learn2play, find a DPS rotation." First off, note that this is much more helpful than usual, since it include the key words "DPS rotation." That's something you can look for much more successfully than trying to Google "learn2play." Now go find one.

"paladin DPS rotation" Let's see: first one is wowwiki. Quotes from elitist jerks and a priority system. Well that was easy. Scrolling down... oh, alternate rotations. Which one is better? I'll go with the fist one I saw, let's see now, wtf does proc mean? Seems to be something about activating, I guess proc is good. Still not totally clear if I want to use SoB or SoC, it said SoB is preferred, but then it goes on about SoC weapons. But why am I taking advice from a wiki with sources by "elitist jerks?" I'm not sure I like the sound of that source.

"Paladin damage" returns a nearly useless search, with mentions of spell damage, apparently 1-2 years old. Here's a fun one: "A Mageadin is a Paladin with +DMG armor on. You might think this is very stupid but you are wrong." That's the first result.

I'm not going to claim that information is hard to find, but we're not exactly at the point when we can psychically search all information known to mankind and distill it to exactly what we need and nothing more or less with the help of a powerful AI and super-intelligent aliens.

If they're a moron, you're a slacker
Every time you call someone a noob and kick them or leave the group, you're creating one more person who isn't quite sure what they're doing, but only jerks seem to say anything, so maybe they're doing just fine and those people are just jerks. In other words: when you are an asshole and don't help people, they don't end up any more skilled, in fact they may only become more sure of themselves in reaction to you being an asshole.

But is it your job to train PUGs? Not exactly, unless you like 'living' in a world that people don't fully understand. Jobs have schools and training, so it's perfectly acceptable to expect someone to know what to do before they get there (excluding company-specific info). Basketball you were probably taught by your dad or older siblings or maybe a local kids team. Again, it's understable that you'd be expected to have some clue what you're doing. There are no schools or siblings in WoW. I came in as a noob and I stayed there for quite a while. I learned slowly, never being taught much of anything by anyway. How many PUGs did I harm because no one pointed out any problems or made any suggestions? I don't know, but I'm sure it's a non-zero number.

You don't have to teach anyone anything and you definitely don't have to hold anyone's hand or put up with true idiots. However in the long run you're better served by the current idiot becoming decent and having a memory of someone helping. That just might start a trend that helps improve the majority.

Wrapping it up
Math says you're not as good as you think and by the reverse, that others are not as bad as you think. So poke your balloon head with a pin and let out some of that hot air.

Ignorance is curable and the recovery time is much shorter with some very basic help. Note how useful a simple phrase like "DPS rotation" was for turning an insult into something slightly helpful.

Next time you complain about noobs, remember that you're probably doing nothing to help the situation. If you expect them to learn all on their own, don't expect them to be up to your standards any time soon. Ultimately you only hurt yourself by being a jackass.

Moorabi <High Prophet of Mam'toth>

| Monday, July 13, 2009
"If our gods can die... den so can we..."
Something about this death phrase is heartbreaking.

There is no denying the savagery of the trolls. It is easy to hate them. The story of Zul'Drak is terrifying. A once-powerful race is driven to destroy its own gods in the hopes that grabbing their power now may save them. It is the story of throwing away tomorrow because today seems lost.

The gods fight back and are divided from their worshipers. One even blew himself up. The hole and debris can be seen from far away. I wonder if the gods are weaker without true worshipers. The trolls are only temporarily stronger with no gods.

The resignation, the total defeat in what he says and how he says it, that struck me.

The problem with grinds

| Sunday, July 12, 2009
Is noticing them.

The game I'd mentioned in my previous post, Escape Velocity, has a fair bit of grinding. The safe ways to make credits, and the only until you can afford a combat-ready ship, is to ferry trade goods between systems or to run delivery missions. It's a grind. Back when I first got it I had no concept of grind so it didn't seem all that bad. Since then I've learned of grinding and suddenly I found myself bored.

Alas, if only I didn't know I was supposed to be bored!

For all its negative effects, ignorance is so often bliss.
"Death solves all problems - no man, no problem." - Joseph Stalin
Ignorance solves all problems - no clue, no problem.

Why don't I like endgames?

| Thursday, July 9, 2009
*As much as the beginning

Don't get me wrong, raiding can be fun along with level-capped PvP. But leveling just has something more to it. Maybe it's the way you don't look at an instance and say "eh, no gear there, skip it" instead you go because so often it's more fun to play in a group and the XP can be better (especially since it's more fun, so you don't get bored with grinding). You don't outgear instances, you outlevel them, and then go on to another set. There are 2-4 instances to do at a time, constantly passing one and moving into another. Once you are done with heroics you have a decent set of three raids, though two are pretty small and one of those contains Malygos phase 3. Naxx even has four starting wings, so you have choices of what to do when learning. After that: Ulduar. Just Ulduar. Grind out your reputations and gold for consumables and stuff to stick on new gear.

I've found this too while playing Civilization. I enjoy the early growth and development of my civ. Learning new technologies and tile improvements seems parallel to new spells. That first war is a lot of fun. Then eventually I look at the map and think "Okay, I'm winning, but if I want to win I'm going to need to either wait for the space part technologies or I have a hundred cities to conquer." It turns into a grind. The dynamic feel of the early game is lost.

Another game where I ran into this was called Escape Velocity. It's a fairly old game by now, but still a lot of fun (enough for them to make two 'sequels'). I recommend it if you're looking for some idle fun. You'd start out weak, poor, and totally ignorant of the universe (empty map). Eventually through story lines and trading and missions and combat you'd find yourself having 'won' the game (completed a major line) and there's not much else to do but conquer the universe. This is done planet by planet, taking down hundreds or thousands of enemies.

However there are two ways that I've found fun in end games. First, there's PvP (practically the point of any FPS). Second, there are player mods, EV is very very adaptable and there even exist some total universe changes which are practically entire new games. I suppose this are the same in a way: other players make games remain fresh longer. Why doesn't that work as well with WoW?

This is a common theme in life: The process is more fun than the result.

If raids gave no gear, would people do them?

| Tuesday, July 7, 2009
To be fair and balanced, two months later I must do the logical followup to If arenas gave no gear, would people do them?

As with the arena post, I'd say the answer is "Yes and no, somewhere in between known as 'a lot less.'"

Can we test this?

The upcoming badge changes will make heroics into the new old arenas: unrated places to gradually build up high-quality gear. Will people leave raids for heroics? People left arenas for Naxx when that became the easy source of gear. Or will people use heroics "as intended" and use them to more quickly get ready for raids?

Perhaps the the question can be better phrased as "If there was an alternate system of advancement, would people choose it over raids?" Obviously that depends on the system and the person, but heroics, arenas, grinds, and buying accounts have clearly shown that some people will choose small content, PvP, grinds, or RL money over raids as a way to move ahead.

I do have a small fear that people will gear up from badges, look at early Ulduar loot and choose to wait for later bosses with upgrades; but then the lack of early raiders will make it harder to get to the later, rewarding bosses. This would confirm that some people do raids purely for gear rather than the challenges or some amount of innate fun in the process of raiding.

From a design perspective this might be a pointless question. If a game is based on gear, it makes sense that the relevant challenge would give the gear for the next one. In other words, raids must give gear. If they did not and we used purely a badge/heroic system, then you'd have a system where people are forced to spend a great deal of time not raiding in order to prepare for raiding. Whether it is gear or a thousand gold of consumables for old Naxx, grinding to be able to raid is just not fun.

In the end I always come to the same conclusion: A lot of people would, a lot wouldn't, and alternative character advancement is part of what makes WoW popular.

Monday holiday > Friday holiday

| Monday, July 6, 2009
Alas, today is not a Monday holiday for me. But why are Monday holidays better?

Friday holidays are too easy to waste and they don't help much. When a Friday is off, it makes the previous week shorter. Well that's nice, but when I start a week I am prepared to end it in five days, so the Friday just ends it early. This can be disorienting: "Why am I not at work?" Fridays, being at the start, make it easy to think "well I have two more days, I'm in no rush to do anything" and next thing it's time to sleep and you've done nothing.

Come Saturday and the Friday had no lasting impact.

Mondays are much better for holidays. They extend the weekend unexpectedly. When it is Sunday night and you are dreading the coming day, thinking of all you couldn't do yet, there's your extra day. The new week is shorter and you start it more refreshed. Even better, when it is Tuesday, you can know that without that holiday it would still be Monday. This is obvious by principle of time moving faster when not miserable, so we can clearly see that with a Monday holiday the day effectively vanishes, literally removing one day from the week and acting as a type of time travel.

Pretend this post is awesome

| Thursday, July 2, 2009
While at work today I had what I thought was a really great idea for a post. It was pretty deep, but not something that you'd have to spend forever to figure out. It covered a lot of ground without being too broad. It was even pretty simple. I had it figured out. I'd gone over it in my head and even written a bit of an outline, though that isn't to imply that it would have been too long to easily read.

Unfortunately I forgot it.

Can we just pretend that this is a really great post about World of Warcraft with potential application in the wider genre of MMORPGs?

Thank you and have a happy day before Independence Day. Unless you're English, in which case have a happy day before you lost to ramble-rousers in wigs and the French.

Oh right, that reminds me of my other, much worse idea: Do people outside the US care about the fourth of July? My first thought was maybe, since we are pretty big and important. But that seemed incredibly arrogant. Britain is plenty important and I have no clue when they have a comparably important day, such as signing the Magna Carta or something of that sort. Then again, what American other than the CIA knows anything about the rest of the world? Even the CIA is in doubt. Maybe it is arrogant, but it could still be true, after all, odds are we've recently invaded your nation or at least invaded someone nearby and called your nation evil.

In related news, I got early fireworks from using a grinder to cut nails. I'm hoping the coating of metal on my eyes protected me from the blinding sparks.


| Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Apparently Blizzard realized that Divine Shield wasn't long enough for the cooldown, so to correct it they created a new Argent Defender. It effectively fixes a bug that causes paladins to sometimes die.

"There is an unrelated bug with Ardent Defender that makes Prot paladins more and more survivable as their health approaches zero such that it is literally impossible to kill them... though Chaos Bolt might work."

That's right: We are currently invincible, unless you can bypass absorbs.

WoW and Halloween Candy

This isn't about mask achievements.

I have a few friends who play together. They're very casual, playing infrequently and having no plans to raid, ever. And yet they seem to have a ton of fun.

At the end of semester I became a little more like them. I played less. A lot less. I had final papers to write and a few exams to not study for. I simply did not have the time. WoW is my primary source of entertainment, so you'd expect that I would be really down.

Quite the opposite: I had more fun when playing and in general I was happier. This was despite the massive stress.

So what does this have to do with Halloween candy? Think of how a little kid eats it: gone within a couple days (let's pretend he got sick too soon to eat it all that night) and then he's deprived, also very sick and possibly diabetic and down several layers of tooth enamel. He's a hardcore player. He's Ensidia with KT down within a week or two and wondering why there's so little content. I'm the kid who ate it in two weeks: significantly slower, but still not exactly healthy. My friend is eating a piece or two a day and he'll eat the last the day before Halloween.

This got me thinking of diminishing returns on happiness derived from WoW. Early on playing more means proportionately more fun. Eventually though, you run into diminishing returns. The extra time turns into less adventure with friends and more farming for 25-man raids out of whom you may only care much about a handful. The extra time is grinds and farming and all the aspects of the time which we refer to with a very accurate term: time sink.

Imagine what WoW, and our enjoyment of it, would be like if we all played half as much. There would be no need to add time sinks because a couple raids could fill a week. Imagine how much slower content would be cleared. And then imagine that the devs might be able to make content at the rate we clear it.

Bah, wishful thinking. Someone is out there is saying: "Give me that bag of candy, you wuss, let's see if I can get purple vomit."
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