More explosions, I gotta have more explosions!

| Sunday, October 31, 2010
If you've not yet played minecraft or not yet gotten into deep spelunking, let me warn you: you will get lost. Not "oh no I ran too far and night is coming" lost. I mean something more like "I've gone through this same cave ten times already and I keep picking a different path but I keep ending up back here" lost.

I'd been doing some cave running, searching for more diamond (I was too shallow anyway) and more iron, since despite creating 16 ties per craft, rail lines are still pretty expensive. Sometimes I'd hear something in the wall, so I'd dig over and find a new cave system. So I'd explore that one too. And then I'd see some dirt or gravel and since it's so quick to remove, it seems sensible to clear it out. I've found iron and coal this way. Or sometimes new caves. Notice a trend?

By the time I was entirely lost, I think I'd somehow linked all but one tunnel. Before this I had a good system. Torches marked paths I'd cleared and explored, safe areas. Cobblestone barriers indicated that I'd fully cleared a branch and had blocked it off so that I could reclaim the torches and avoid spawns ambushing me. This meant that I would always run to a new, unexplored area the next time I went searching. But once everything was linked, suddenly I had a half-dozen entrances, some of which turned out to lead almost directly to each other, resulting in the endless cycle of running down one tunnel, searching for a new area, and running right out another.

Then I figured out how to simplify things a bit more: Place TNT in areas where I think two tunnels are close together and just blast until there's one giant room. It's the American way: reduce complexity by blowing up everything that confuses you.

But I still need to figure out why three different paths lead to the same underground river from slightly different directions. I'll need more gunpowder.

And my rail system needs some switches so I can pick between my home and my furthest fort. That fort needs repairs after a creeper blew out the wall one morning and then a skeleton shot me up. Speaking of rail, I'm working on moving it to an underwater/underground tunnel, so hopefully creepers won't keep blowing up sections of the tracks when fighting at my bunkers. Creepers are assholes.

Reasonable Post Day appears to have been a complete failure

It appears that Reasonable Post Day was a total failure. Maybe I failed to reach out to other bloggers and the idea was simply lost. But the one post I did find gave me a worrying thought: maybe we bloggers have no ability to comprehend how irrational, biased, and unreasonable we are so much of the time. Maybe it's not even a blogger thing, that everyone is just lost in a world of opinion replacing fact.

I'm not saying I'm an example of reasonable blogging. I know that the vast majority of my posts are based on opinion and my own experience, without necessarily being at all representative of what a majority of players think, or even any players. But I hope that I managed to present my opinions as opinions, my suspicions as suspicious, and when I wander into the realm of theory, I hope I'm honest with myself and everyone who reads that it's all theory, meaning it should be subject to critical opinion and is quite possibly wrong.

Ironically, this post might not even be reasonable. Whiny perhaps, but I can't claim it's entirely reasonable. Or at all.

I think it comes from an illogical assumption that opinions cannot be wrong. It's a funny world where facts are disputed, but call it an opinion and now it's untouchable because opinions can't be wrong. Or can they? Opinions come from somewhere: some mix of fact, logic, and flawed wiring in the human brain. The flawed wiring, well we can't do much about that: humans are simply not rational, not a single one. We can put on a good talking show, but in action, doesn't happen. But we can at least start with facts and attempt to mix in some logic.

For example...

I had an example. I think it was a good one. But I expect it would have merely become a distraction. I've tried more examples, and none seemed safe. So I'll just go with this: if an opinion is based on incorrect information, it's wrong. Okay, example: John McDonald is a total douchebag. Who, you ask? Well duh, he's the guy who invented Fascism and taught Hitler (quick, who was fascist first?) Actually I just made that up, so if you were calling John McDonald a douchebag for spreading Fascism, well sorry, but you're wrong. Also, I made him up.

Maybe we all thought whiny posts were a change of pace while reasonable posts would be business as usual. Or Saturdays just aren't a popular posting day, regardless of the topic or failed originator. Yea, that second one is way better for my ego.

Happy Halloween.

P.S. If you wrote a reasonable post and it isn't the one I found already, please post a link here or send an email.

The Post to Keep Fear Alive

| Saturday, October 30, 2010
Today is Reasonable Post Day, so I say, keep fear alive!

That's right, with the rumored return of crowd control in Cataclysm, fear may again become a useful spell in instances. I want to talk about fear.

Way back when back when I played a warlock, and then a warlock. I learned to use fear safely and productively. It's not as simple as other CCs which tend to involve clicking the mob and then it stays more or less in the same place. Not fear, that makes mobs run all over the place. So it needs some care.

For the warlock: Try to keep the mob back away from future pulls. This minimizes the chance that it will run into and aggro more packs. Try to even move to a different room, as the doorway can help to restrict movement toward the uncleared portions of the instance. Having some sort of timer for fear can also be helpful, as well as a focus macro, in order to quickly notice early breaks.

For the group: A properly feared mob can be kept busy indefinitely, so there's no rush to kill it. Focus instead on mobs which cannot be re-CCed, such as sap, or which are easy to break by accident and hard to re-CC, such as repentance. Sheep are a rather safe CC since it can be reapplied and doesn't cause much wander. In other words: Keep Fear Alive.

But it would not be reasonable to single out fear as the only CC that we as players need to adjust to. All long-duration CCs are vulnerable to damage. Even fear can break early if attacked too soon, but most will break instantly and automatically, and as I said before, repentance is particularly risky to break early due to the cooldown being the same as the duration. This means that attacks which deal area of affect or multi-target damage should be used carefully. A total prohibition isn't called for, but know where your damage is going and be careful when placing a blizzard or explosive trap.

With a bit of adaptation I think we can have an enjoyable time in the coming World of Warcraft expansion. We won't all love every aspect of it, but I expect a lot of people to enjoy many aspects of it.

Thank you, and have a reasonable day.

The fourth panel is frighteningly familiar

| Friday, October 29, 2010
[edit] You'll have to go to the site yourself, my attempt to link resulted in a clipped edge. Sorry.

Warning, this one of the the least offensive comics I've seen there.

P.S. On a very very unrelated note, tomorrow is Reasonable Post Day.
Or is it?

Do other players ruin all the fun?

25 man hardmode Lich King and he's at 11%, you've got this! Boom. Boom? Yes, boom. There's been a boom. Also something of a squawk.

You brought an engineer and let's just say you can spell engineering without r-e-l-i-a-b-i-l-i-t-y. So yes, your raid is all dead and/or chickens. No wait, that one's a duck.

What I'm trying to say is that your raid just wiped on an incredibly hard fight which you were about to win, in a hilarious manner, but perhaps not to the people who were really expecting that 1% to not be there in a few seconds. They're not happy about this.

What if there weren't 24 other people? I know I have few objections to killing myself in uncountable and unimaginable ways. I've had parachute cloak failures, rocket boot failures, backfiring lightning generators, and a mechanohog which suddenly ceased to make me immune to fall damage. I don't mind dying to strange new ways to die.

But I'm not a fan of wiping raids. I've done it more than a few times and I can't say I enjoy it. Sure, it was a bit funny when I got overeager with my rocket boots and repositioning and sprinted right into an exploding orb, knocking me, the second tank, far far away from the fight, and relatively speaking, the ground. But I'd have enjoyed that more if I hadn't wiped the raid.

A lot of potential fun ends up victim to not ruining the game for other players, or alternatively, is ruined by other players. Engineering could be so much more powerful, and less reliable. Blacksmiths could be crafting amazing weapons of unimaginable power, but then everyone would have one and that's just gear inflation. When it can kill the raid, it's not so fun anymore, so no more divine intervention.

On the other hand, what's a glorious wipe without other people? Where's the fun in being the only chicken bomb?

The Butchers of Maraudon

| Thursday, October 28, 2010
Maraudon used to be one of the longest instances around, a twisty place of corruption and centaurs, filled with quests and strange stories. Now it's possibly the worst instance. [since writing this I've done RFC and have to say, it takes the prize. But it may merely be that post-patch lowbie instances are a miserable boring experience.]

The butchering split it into three parts in the dungeon finder. These parts are less than the whole, literally. Between the end of purple/orange and the start of pristine waters is another boss and a quest. To complete these a player either needs to convince an inner group to loop back or a purple/orange group to not leave the second the completion pops up. The first seems the easiest, since it just means a slight diversion rather than changing the habit of dropping the second the boss is dead and looted.

It gets worse though. Past the last boss of inner, the Princess, are two more bosses: a crocolisk and a goblin. There's a decent chance that people will still fight the crocolisk. It's literally a jump away from the last boss. But the goblin, well people often didn't do him back when we actually stuck around in groups, so now, there's not a chance.

I can understand the drive for shorter instances. But I have to wonder, and this is going to have to be a post of its own someday, is butchering content so everyone can see it a good idea? In this particular case, people aren't even seeing the content. Two bosses are pushed out, a quest along with it, and thanks to the teleport people cannot do the quests that require actions outside the instance portals. Though this is partially fixed by the discovery requirement.

On the plus side, I have heard rumors that they're putting it together better, though I don't know if that's an upcoming patch or cataclysm. Maybe Blizzard will learn something from the LK instance experience. I'm afraid though, that signs point toward it being the wrong lesson. After all, random groups for random places for badges and shards sure was popular, so it must be good.

[first written September 5th, but other posts pushed it aside]

Insane Scarab Lords

| Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Over at the Pink Pigtail Inn I expressed some sympathy for players who are going for Insane in the Membrane but who are suddenly informed that it's going to be gone very very soon. Perhaps too soon. But after my post I'm having some second thoughts.

For the most part WoW isn't a particularly exclusive game. By that I mean, what you have doesn't deny me the same. We all get the badges and reputation. Gold, shards, and all manner of trade materials are plentiful enough that the nodes that I get before you don't deny you all ore, because there are a hundred more nodes that we've not gotten to yet. Even quest mobs will respawn soon enough. Bosses are mostly in instances where each raid gets its own, so there's not really such thing as a "kill steal".

There are a few exceptions to this lack of exclusivity, such as certain extremely rare materials and raid-based quests. For example, not everyone can get Shdaowmourne because there just aren't enough shards and for many guilds, possibly not even enough raid resets. Or not everyone can get the old legendaries since eyes of sulfuron and bindings of the windseeker and extremely rare and they cannot be farmed endlessly; so luck will deny some. Sulfuron ingots and elementium ore may claim more victims. But this isn't about those feats of strength. Instead there are the pristine black diamonds; an exceptionally rare drop in the late vanilla range; something of which you may only see a few in your entire time playing, far less if you're skipping late vanilla content like most players. These place a very clear limit on the number of players who can complete Insane in the Membrane. Gold cannot make more appear, at least not in any reasonable quantity, since farming them would mean literally just grinding instances for hours with possibly no results. The result is that in the remaining month, very few players will get the diamonds they need.

Should we feel sorry for them? I certainly think so. It's a horrible feeling. I can say I share it, as I was more than a little bit concerned that Kingslayer might vanish in 4.0, though thankfully it was not. But that sense of extreme rush is not a pleasant one.

But should it be any different? Not everyone can be insane and I don't think everyone should. Not everyone would even if they could, merely due to lack of interest. But on top of that there is the rarity, the RNG which dictates how many there will be. Is that good? I didn't think so with the Hallowed or Love Fool; the RNG shouldn't arbitrarily deny people that which they for which would otherwise be fully capable and willing. And yet...

I have a Scepter of the Shifting Sands. It will never work, because every gate is open. I will never be able to ring the gong. I performed the task of grinding reputation and gathering materials and dealing with various insane dragons and one extremely dangerous minnow. Why should I not be able to be a Scarab Lord?

Because I was too late. It's a sad, unfair, frustrating reason, but that's that: I was too late. And soon, the partially insane may also be too late. That's just how it is.

And yet, I still cannot understand why there is not simply a new hostile pirate group? Maybe another expansion of insanity would be too long. Maybe that spreads it out too far, makes it less of a grind, would flood the cities with Insanes. I could be a cold-hearted asshole and ask why they needed more than two years to do it. But I wasn't the first insane on my server, so clearly I'm the slow one too. I wasn't the first Bloodsail Admiral all those years back either. So I guess how slow is too slow? Six months ago was not too slow. One month from now is too slow. I guess that's where the dart landed on the timeline.

But insanity isn't a title anyway. It's a lifestyle. I was a Bloodsail before I could be a Bloodsail Admiral. I wear silly hats. I tanked Arthas with Thunderfury last night, and it worked. I'm the official story-teller in my guild, responsible for the three voices needed for Uther to inform Arthas that he was glad to make it. I've received compliments on my Jaina voice.

To my fellow insane, to my future insane brethren, let us ask, let us ask the questions that no one else is asking. How does mental disease magically stop spreading? How? Mind control. Don't you see? Hitler, Stalin, Blizzard. They all wanted to tell you what and how to think. First they're going to come for the people who didn't even start the Bloodsail grind and we'll say nothing because we're farming Dire Maul. Then they'll come for the people who are working on goblin rep and we'll say nothing because we're searching for blood of heroes. They'll come for the people turning in their last few librams as the servers go down. And finally they'll come for us and there will be no one to speak for us because everyone will be a damn Kingslayer.

Am I the only one saying that putting a time limit on achievements means that Blizzard is going to mind-control players? Am I just crazy or... yes.

Tomorrow: The Butchers of Maraudon: How Blizzard is destroying Azeroth.

For further reading, here's an insightful take on the gathering of titles or other 'cosmetic' additions to a player's WoW persona.

I have nothing interesting to say today

| Tuesday, October 26, 2010
What shall I write about tomorrow?

But I don't want to be beaten by an AI!

| Monday, October 25, 2010
No, this isn't about my dislike of losing games and the total humiliation of when it's just a semi-scripted AI.

Lol spell power

With the recent changes to stats, I've been thinking a lot about gear. Again. And vanilla. Of course. For me the most noticeable change has been spell power going away. Suddenly all the caster gear looks like pre-BC blues. Heavy on stats but not a secondary in sight. Intellect reigns supreme.

Klepsacovic and Troll Racials are Overpowered make no claims about the usefulness, either relative or absolute, of intellect. The phrase "intellect reigns supreme" is not to be taken as advice. Please consult with your personal Elitist Jerk before taking intellect supplements or altering your stat weights. The opinions contained in this blog are purely the personal opinions of the blogger Klepsacovic and should be taken as an indication of the overall stance of the blog Troll Racials are Overpowered.

I'm waiting for "of the eagle" gear to start popping up.

The writer Klepsacovic is speaking in a metaphorical sense and is not implying that he is suspending all activities until the "popping up" of "of the eagle" gear.


As usually happens, my train of thought hit one of those splitter things and cars detached and went all over the place. Some crashed. Another ran through a crossing with no gates, killing several other thoughts which were out for a leisurely drive.

I forgot what I was saying.

Panda? Puppy? Pierogi? Pumice! Oh right, gear. See, I had it all along.

Sets are fascinating to me, and a huge challenge. If the set bonus is too strong then off-set pieces are undesired, causing problems in most loot systems. But if they're too weak, then set pieces also cause problems. But if a set was just as strong altogether as a non-set 'set', then why bother with the set and coordinating? Perhaps non-set loot is just there as filler for slots with no set or to fill in while building the set. But that's obviously not true. Some sets are good, some aren't.

Thinking about vanilla also made me think of not just what gear or stats we went for, but that very idea of going for gear. I can't remember the last drop I used. Okay tanking weapon from ICC10. But before that? I'm covered in badge loot. It's not that the RNG hasn't made offerings, but I have my badge loot already, my sets and bonuses and 264 when the RNG in ICC10 offers me 251 and who wants that? A couple weeks ago my mage was thrilled to get a couple greens off mobs in Borean Tundra.

Speaking of which, would blues be more 'legitimate' if they dropped in raids? ZG and AQ20 both had blue drops in them. They weren't trivial places, so a person could have some pride in their blues. My shaman was glad to get Zulian Scepter of Rites and Gloves of the Tormented. Blues! Can you imagine raiding and being glad to have a blue? Oh sure, he had some epics. He liked his 'welfare epics' of The Unstoppable Force and Don Julio's Band. They were expensive! At least I enjoyed Alterac Valley, since getting exalted was a long process (I've done it on at least a half-dozen characters, I loved that place). Oh but the blues, I used those two! Cloaks and necklaces and even a belt. Who cares if frost resist wasn't a particularly useful stat?

Your graphics card cannot handle hot men

| Sunday, October 24, 2010
I'm going to say it right off the bat: While I'm not always supremely confident in my theories or ideas, this one is pretty low down.

What's sexy or beautiful? I see two generic physical sources, so no cultural influences like wealth, power, that sort of thing, meaning that I am after what makes a person beautiful given no other knowledge about them. One is overall shape, the other is the face.

I'm theorizing that given equal coverage with clothes, a woman's shape is more noticeable. In other words, even if they are both covered in head to toe armor, a woman will still curve while men do not have something to match unless the armor is tights. In other words, given a ban on nudity, men cannot display a comparable proportion of their uh, shape.

In contrast a face can be rendered with no issues about nudity or indecency, at least as long as the Taliban isn't designing the models. So a male and female face can be equally beautiful. But artists and technicians are still working out the technology to make a sufficiently realistic face which doesn't get stuck in the uncanny valley of being creepy as hell.

Or to express it mathematically, given current technology and obscenity laws:
BodyMale < BodyFemale
FaceMale = FaceFemale
BodyMale + FaceMale < BodyFemale + FaceFemale

In other words, game developers cannot make hot men.

Don't cut the trim

| Friday, October 22, 2010
This isn't about wow, but feel free to figure out the hidden meaning that I missed.

Let's say you're installing trim and there's an outlet nearby. The outlet is too close, so the cover actually overlaps, meaning that something has to be cut. Do yourself a favor; cut the outlet cover. When cutting the trim to fit the cover it is harder to create a good fit and looks awful. Cutting the cover is quick, easy, and often not even noticable. Even better, if you decide to change things, it's cheap to get a new cover and trivial to install it.

In related news, I'm computer-sick after less than 12 hours. I miss my computer and all the fun it provides. All there is here is TV and I can only stand so much of it.

The inevitability of end game

Is it inevitable that an 'end game' will emerge or is it a conscious decision by the developers?

To start it is necessary to have a definition of end game.  In mmos this is easily seen as the content after the level cap. At this point the manner of progression changes. I will use that: dramatic and 'permanent' change in progression. Permanent is not permanently permanent due to expansions adding to level caps, but the idea stands that within this version of the game the manner of progression changes and does not revert unless you move on to a new version.  

Most games have some type of builfup of challenge and complexity. In a fps this can mean more weapons to use, new stronger enemies, and possibly tighter ammo or time limits. Together these will push a player to develop better tactics, faster reactions, and better aim*.  However, merely pushing a player to play better does not create an end game.  The progression model of "shoot enemy, use environmental trigger, move to somewhere is retained. Even dramatic shifts such as vehicle combat or even 'spy' levels do not create an end game since most of the progression is the same even if visually different and these are usually only single missions rather than full campaign arcs. More subjectively, when Vehicle fights do end up as final missions I tend to hate them for ending the game with the wrong feel.

On the subject of RPGs, pardon my limited scope, as I've only played a handful, the majority of which were Knights of the Old Republic (and Torchlight, which you should definitely try). But again, there's not a strong concept of end game. While leveling happens and there is a theoretical cap, that cap is based on possible enemies, quests, and specialization choices. There isn't a time when kills stop advancing your character (I'm assuming you're not looping back to low level dungeons). RPGs and FPSs do have boss battles, but these are mostly isolated incidents rather than entirely new phase of the game.

Past RPGs there are the MMORPGs, which historically are related to RPGs but at times may seem to have little relation. These have strong end-game concepts. There are level caps and past them the game changes dramatically. Experience ceases, often replaced by reputation grinds. The scale of content changes with the rise of raiding. Expansions may raise the level cap, but again, the cap is reached and a new end game is set.

I've been playing Civilization IV due to lack of computer power for the latest fifth. In it I notice that an end-game also emerges, though it can be very quick (as far as civ games go). Early power is gained by expansion. Barbarians are the greatest threat and land is waiting to be settled and turned to use. Workers and settlers are the drivers of growth, building new cities and improving the landscape. Military power matters, but it is not what grows the civilization. Until one day a settler wanders out and hits a strange colored land: the territory of another civilization. It is now that the settlers are workers are done. The land is civilized and improved. Now to get any further it must be taken. Peaceful expansion ceases to be possible. This is the end-game. It can be a very long one and seems to defy the label of end, but the same concept is there of a dramatic and permanent change in how one progresses.

I can see how a game like civilization could have no, or only, end-game. Scenarios could create fully grown and developed civilizations to battle it out. But is this truly different or just auto-play of the expansion phase, comparable to how a new WoW character is created with stats in place rather than players needing to assign them manually; it doesn't alter the fact that a new character is created.

Perhaps it's only a genre thing. MMOs will have an end-game and RPGs will not. FPS will not have one, but instead will have boss fights. But maybe I'm missing a critical factor: how we pay for games. MMOs have end-games to keep us playing and paying our subscriptions, while a single-player game would front-load content to get us to buy the initial box. But that's changing with the rise of downloadable content which isn't quite an expansion but still adds to the game.

Maybe I'm looking at it entirely backward and there is no end-game at all, instead some games have pre-game content that merely delays the coming of end-game, either to gain subscription time, to introduce a story, or to teach the player.

I'm not the tank, you're the tank!

| Thursday, October 21, 2010
What's the point of a tank? A tank is a method of achieving a goal, that goal being to reduce damage taken by the party. The standard method is to redirect as much damage as possible to a player or players with the highest mitigation against that damage. There's also the side issue of incoming damage possibly being so high that other players would lack the health to survive it, regardless of their mitigation.

Are tanks necessary? At first it would seem that yes, they are necessary. Perhaps even inevitable, since a party which seeks to maximize its survivability will eventually figure out the best way to reduce incoming damage and inevitably that will way will seem to be the use of a tank.

But what if the tank wasn't the one causing the mitigation and aggro control?

This new model of tanking won't be happening in WoW, but all the tools are there, albeit in weaker forms. Misdirect, tricks of the trade, and hand of salvation all regulate aggro beyond oneself. Auras and totems can extend armor and resistances to an entire raid. Fortitude and blessing of kings grant health buffs. Divine guardian acts as a raid-wide mitigation cooldown. Intervene helps regulate aggro as well as redirecting damage. An entire priest tree is devoted to preventive bubbles. Mages can slow enemy attacks and casting. The tools are there to make other players into the mitigation distraction.

This sort of indirect tanking seems best suited to either a 'trickster' or a 'commander'. The trickster would deal with reducing enemy damage and causing them to attack in ineffective ways. For example, convincing them to attack players with high health or who are far away (though not too far, the goal isn't to replace tanking with trivial kiting). Or causing them to lose all control entirely and even attack the players' enemies. In contrast the commander would focus on strengthening allies to survive the attacks, but could also help to direct enemy attacks through manipulation of the aggro generated by players. Used in coordination these two could create disoriented, weakened enemies who are less of a threat and strengthened allies able to tackle the still-dangerous dangers.

Would you want to play an indirect tank? I think I'd enjoy it. But maybe more importantly, would DPS mind suddenly being the one getting hit in the face and could they trust the person keeping them alive? That's certainly not a new relationship, after all, a tank must trust the healers, but DPS may not be used to having that sort of interaction, often preferring the more aggressive "heal ffs" management style.

Being a hypocrite in my own special way: Octonde of Azeroth

| Wednesday, October 20, 2010
In the past I've complained about people skipping content with the obsolescence of every raid that isn't ICC and heirlooms to speed through leveling. I decided to go a step further and do that to an entire expansion of content.

My mage is now level 68. He has never been to Outland. I first wrote this with the expectation that he'd get to 70 and eventually 80. But he's only 68 and now I'm bored with him. I can't think of any new or interesting way to play him and I'm not going to level him just to have him higher level. So he's 68 and I don't see him moving from there any time soon.

It began innocently enough: I don't like Hellfire much anymore and hadn't done the late vanilla content in a long time. This is my own fault, for having too often sent alts out there at 58. This time I decided to change that and not be in any rush at all. I decided to stick around in Azeroth for a bit longer, just so I could skip Hellfire and comfortably go into Zangarmarsh; meaning 60 or 61 (not that I needed to be that high, but I figured that's what I'd end up at after the zones were done). Eventually that idea stopped appealing to me, so I though I'd try for Terrokar. Then it hit me: why not skip BC entirely?

Outdoor non-elites stop at around 58 unless you go into the Silithus hives. But instances get a bit higher and if I didn't mind elites, I could keep getting XP up to the 8 level maximum range, meaning 68, so I could get all the way to level 69. If sanity abandoned me entirely, instances and raids could be found with mobs of 61, 62, and even bosses at 63. That would be level 72! I wussed out.

He went to Northrend at 66, since he could no longer queue for old world instances and there were very few mobs which gave XP anymore. Conveniently, the rhinos were nicely packed for AoE grinding and were only 1-2 levels higher as long as I avoided the bulls. From my extended stay in Azeroth I'd gotten my skinning up high enough to skin them, so that was fully taken care of. And no, I didn't go to Outland to learn skinning. Instead a level 62 mage was dodging mobs on his way to Taunka'le Village. Fishing was obviously a non-issue.

He did have two major problems which would require waiting a year and farming a year, respectively: cooking and tailoring. There's a 15 point gap between the very last vanilla cooking and Northrend. The only way to fill this outside of Outland is the harvest festival, which he missed, since at the time he wasn't yet going to entirely skip Outland. Tailoring can be done, but it requires a very rare pattern drop from MC.

Based on this tailoring search we can see a few bits of useful information. Runecloth headbands last all the way until 340. That means only 10 levels to go with potentially difficulty materials or patterns. Alas, everything else seems to end at 345. Except there's an exception: Flarecore Wraps end at 350. Given a whole lot of patient farming, AH scanning, and gold, I could reach 350 without ever needing Outland or netherweave cloth. I planned to work on this, finding bits of felcloth on the AH, farming it now and then, and trying to form MC raids. Alas, I then found that cooking was impossible unless I wanted to wait nearly a year. I decided that wasn't worth it. I'd compromise and just buy netherweave and the needed meats and recipes. I wasn't personally killing anything, so it's okay (not really).

Gear was surprisingly not much of an issue. Sure, we all know leveling is easy, but he was going to Northrend with vanilla blues. At the time his gearscore was 759, with the lowest and highest ilevel being 58 and 65, the higher being thanks to the dungeon 2 chain giving bracers. Then he got a couple crazy awesome green drops and doubled his spell power; once he hit 67 and could use them. Upon hitting 68 he was able to start the quests and replaced everything pretty quickly.

So when can I expect my title: Octonde of Azeroth?

It's the spam, stupid

| Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I've noticed a trend in discussions of crafting in relation to WoW: Any time a new system is suggested that is more interactive than auto-craft, someone argues that it is a terrible idea because we do so much crafting. That's all backward! If we can't have a fun crafting system because there's too much spam crafting, the problem is the spam crafting, not the fun.

That's all.

Reforging: Greatest Idea Ever?

| Monday, October 18, 2010
I'm going to just say it: Jewelcrafting is a failure. At first the idea seemed sound: use sockets to make up for low stats that benefit from hitting a cap, such as hit or expertise. Somehow we ended up with plenty on gear, to the point that at many times I found myself well over the hit cap but with no options for other gear pieces. But even when not, only a few gems were sufficient to hit the caps. This left plenty of sockets empty, waiting for me to gem one stat and only one stat. Bonuses were usually too weak to be worth using hybrid gems.

In the end jewelcrafting did help a bit with gearing issues, but the greatest effect was to drive ore prices through the roof and shift loads of gold to jewelcrafters. No longer was new gear better, since without the sockets it was usually weaker than the previous piece with sockets, so upgrades were left sitting in bags until the player could go to a city and drop hundreds of gold on new gems. This wasn't fun for me and I doubt anyone actually enjoyed it. I'm also sure I'm not the only person who was mildly annoyed after loot handouts to immediately hear "anyone here a JC?"

With ore prices so high, farming was better than ever. For gold sellers. Add on top of this a ridiculous glyph system to drive herb prices and it's no wonder botting was completely out of control. Of course in the case of glyphs it didn't help that the markets seemed to be dominated by those with the least scruples and therefore greatest willingness to deal with illicit herbs.

Enter reforging.

First off, it's not as simple as jewelcrafting. You won't always get the same stats for every piece. You have to think about it a bit. Or get an addon to add up everything and tell you the perfect combination. But at least it's something more than just stacking the one best stat. You can't even do that with reforging since the best stat might already be on the gear, so you want to go for the second best.

This isn't all of why I like it.

I like that it's flexible. And by flexible I mean cheap. Can you imagine if regemming an item only cost one or two dozen gold? Wouldn't you be more inclined to get every stat perfected? Wouldn't you be more eager to get upgrades if fine-tuning them didn't cost you a day of dailies?

I think we're going to see a new divide. Previously I was the sort of person who would get new gear and see I was over or under this or that cap and think "fuck that" to a 200g gem just to tweak one stat slightly. I still am that person, but now I can tweak stats without spending 200g on a gem. Or perhaps multiple gems for thousands of gold. The gold excuse for poor stat structure is going to be a lot weaker. While I'm certain that gear costs will go up and reforging costs with them, that's the usual expansion inflation, so it will be chased by coin drops, daily rewards, and vendor trash.

I think we're also going to see more players just playing better. You see, people are irrational. All of us. But all in different ways. Some people are irrational in this way: if the consequences of information are too expensive, they avoid the information. In other words, if the problem is too expensive to solve, they'll pretend there is no problem (sound familiar in politics?) Someone who cannot afford to implement general knowledge of their class mechanics and stat preferences can avoid cognitive dissonance (I'm a good player : my gems are all wrong) by not knowing that their stats are wrong. Make it cheap to fix the problem and people will be more willing to accept the existence of it.

With people less inclined to buy expensive gems to fix a few stats here and there, we'll see demand go down, and prices along with. Of course there will still be new gems for new gear and that will keep up prices, but they'll still be lower, especially when considering that those most inclined to regem for small DPS gains are also going to be more likely to pay anything, meaning they're holding up the high end of the market. Gems will be similar to glyphs, which of course are high now, since we're all rushing to buy our ten dozen glyphs per class. But after that, vanishing powder. A new spec no longer means hundreds on new glyphs; a buff from Blizzard, a nerf from Blizzard, a new piece of gear that shifts the rotation; no longer will we need to run out and buy new glyphs. A simple powder will do the trick. I doubt it will be dirt cheap, but less than current glyphs? Definitely, especially since making one market out of hundreds means greater competition and lower prices.

I got a new tanking weapon, so I'll have to go reforge some of my gear to fix up my expertise. I'm looking forward to it.

GC hates DPS: True Story

| Saturday, October 16, 2010
While searching for the meaning of life I stumbled across this.

Dungeon Finder is a great part of the game. But its existence isn't going to cause us to design everything for the lowest common denominator. If you get a bad player in your group, give them some pointers. If they refuse to listen, kick them. If you can't kick them, then bail. You're a tank -- your queue is short. They have a lot more to lose.

Actually it doesn't say at all what my title implies, but I found it interesting anyway.

And yes, I know it's not new. I don't do news. I do recent olds.

Whiny Friday: Paladins are horrible

| Friday, October 15, 2010
First off, I've heard bad things about holy. But since healing frightens me, I've not tried it. Moving on.

Holy Power.

Holy. Power.

Extra. Periods. Which. I. Use. To. Emphasize. A. Point. Which. I. May. Or. May. Not. Have.

I want sacred shield back. I liked sacred shield. It was an excellent button to press if I had no other buttons to press. And it turns out it was giving a significant bit of mitigation.

I'm actually enjoying ret. The holy power system adds some variation, some interest to it. It's mechanically fun. But it lost a lot of damage and even more self-healing. With divine storm no longer being spammed constantly thanks to t10 and no more instant flashes of light, my healing has pretty much vanished. Seal of insight helps, but it scales pretty slowly. I can use HP for HP, but that means no HP for DS to give HP and damage, so I'm having all sorts of HP problems with the HP system. Also, acronyms. Still, I like ret so far and I'm confident that some DPS tweaks can put it in a solid raid position. Also sprint judgement is pretty nice, though it could stand to be a little bit faster.

But prot. Prot prot prot. Prot. Prot. It has painfully slow HP generation, with only hammer of the righteous or crusader strike and they share a CD. It ends up feeling slow and clunky. Ret also has one ability to spam for HP, but it also has quite a few 40% procs for additional HP and they're on the common abilities, including the finisher moves. I like some of the ideas of it, such as picking between a damage finisher for aggro and a heal finisher which will bubble if it overheals. I like the reseting avenger's shield for something to change things up. I don't like being unable to get pursuit of justice at this level. I might have to switch my boot enchant to run speed, a clearly abominable act considering they currently have rockets on them. Replacing fine goblin engineering with... magic? Ugh. Even worse, magic done by someone else. How do I know if its unreliable?

What I think could help is adding a HP chance to AS. That would speed up the HP generation and make it so AS fees like more than just a misused interrupt. Also put the damage back on hand of taunt.

4.0 has all sorts of strange flaws which are bugging me. Sound effects randomly drop, while at times I can hear the sound of spellbooks being searched and bars being reshuffled. The new character display is great, but I don't like that it shifts my name over when I open the stats tab. Random gives no indication of how many justice points it gives, which incidentally isn't very many. The very worst thing: NPC names and health bars. Health bar display seems to be entirely random; just toggling it on and off will bring up new and exciting mixes of not all of the information that a player needs. Sometimes NPCs show their names above their heads even when not targeted, with the display option turned off. This creates a horrible appearance of all this smashed text floating over NPCs 50 yards away that cannot even be read. Actually that's one of the things that I loved about WoW compared to other MMOs: it didn't have stupid ugly immersion-breaking crap like that. It just looks awful. I'm sure it's just a bug as they sort out what seems to be a new feature, but it's not making the near post-patch experience much better.

It's not all bad though. I like reforging. I like the new way of organizing portals and teleports. I uh... wow, that was a short list.

P.S. Arcane is OP and frost is taking forever to kill anything.

Ignorance is Bliss

| Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I'm really enjoying not understanding my paladin anymore. My bars needing retuning to fit with the new way to use attacks. It's taking some mental rewiring to imagine that divine storm isn't the core of my rotation, but instead an AoE finishing move. Now exorcism is a major ability, seeming to take the place of DS as my random damage proc. CS spam reminds me a little too much of a rogue with sinister strike, but the rest of it seems different enough, or at least fun.

P.S. Any comments with theorycraft will be deleted.

Missing your Cataclysm disc for 4.0?

If you're like me, you ran into an error while patching: it wants your cataclysm disc. Blizzard suggests a variety of time-consuming measures ranging from redownloading 4.0 to every patch to the entire game. Save some time and try this first:

Shut down your computer. Completely. Not sleep or hibernate or standby.
Start it up again and madly hit your f8 key until it stops beeping at you and starts giving you a screen of options.
Pick safe mode with networking.
Start WoW again and wait a few hours as it checks the patch, installs the patch, and then does who knows what else and apparently downloading even more.

Also, try to have around 20gb free before you try to install. The 5gb patch wants to use 20gb, temporarily.

Mage exorcism quest to wear warlock gear

Was that title a good enough word salad?

Tesh thinks low level sets are silly. So of course we all promptly started arguing about loot distribution.

It’s a tricky thing, loot. If it’s random, we lose constantly. If it’s guaranteed, we’re done too soon (from the dev perspective). If it’s a slow guarantee (badges), it’s just another grind.

I decided it was time to dig up my previous post: Gear as an Enemy. Loot often has no story to it, strange for being so powerful. I wished to see quests attached to loot. Which leads me to the current situation.

I'd suggested that the piece for the 'wrong' class could be turned in for the desired class. In my example it was yet another warlock set chest that the mage could turn in for a mage set chest. This has a few problems.

First off, it seems weird that NPCs have all this amazing gear on hand. I don't mean bosses, I mean vendors. The official Horde and Alliance armies are off fighting with plain steel while some unknowns with questionable ties are handed powerful enchanted weapons and armor. It just seems weird that they never use the stuff. Sure, I can see the story to the family heirloom locked or found treasure, but the tier sets appear to just be amazing armor that no one bothers to use. Don't get me started on the masses of unmounted soldiers while we're flying around with 100 different flying or ground mounts, some of which are dragons, eleks, or other creatures which would be weapons all on their own.

There's the player problem too: if warlock tier could be exchanged for mage tier, then effectively the warlock tier is just a cloth set token which happens to be slightly more convenient for a warlock than a mage. That turns problem one: randomness, into problem two: geared up and nothing to do. Also I imagine there would be a split between players who think the drop as gear (warlock first) and those who think of it as a token (anyone can roll).

Hence mage exorcism quest.

If no warlocks want it, the mage takes the warlock tier chest. He can't wear it. But fortunately there is a mage who has experience dealing with demon-tainted magical objects: Tabetha. With her assistance, and of course some reagents that are found who knows where, the mage can remove the demonic magic and infuse it with something cleaner-burning. This could even be split up to allow for fire, frost, or arcane specialization (perhaps that's too far). This makes it so that the chest can reasonably be called a warlock drop rather than a mere token, but poor luck isn't as likely to result in extra shards. On the other side, a warlock might find a mage chest far too boring and would seek a demon to capture and infuse into the armor. Priests might do the exorcism and a blessing with a holy object, or pull an Ashbringer and just spam smite until the warlock set says class: priest.

Tiers would be grouped by armor type, which might give a bias to cloth-wearers, while lowering their ratio would mean they get just as much loot but have to quest more for it. Or just maintain the cloth ratio and have that as the shard source, since there would be less sharding overall.

In entirely unrelated news, if you care much about politics I have another rant about anti-American sociopaths destroying America on my other blog.

Major ret DPS loss in 4.0

| Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I have no clue what the theorycrafted numbers are for ret DPS, but I do know one thing: there are going to be a whole lot of paladins with no clue what to do, including me.

$1 for a one week trial?

This might be a new record, third paragraph before I actually say what I'm talking about.

It seems to me that $1 for a shorter than normal trial is a terrible marketing technique. That symbolic dollar, as they call it, is very symbolic. It's me giving them money for what might be a total waste of time. Whether it's a dollar or fifty, I prefer to poke around a bit before I hand over my money. Or at least I want something more than a week for that dollar.

It's not merely that I'm cheap. After all, I've bought games off Steam that I hadn't played or demoed before. And they were a crazy five times the price (I love $5 games on Steam). But they were also more permanent than one week. A day can come when the game that I don't quite enjoy is just what I want. I don't have that time in a one week trial.

Or maybe it's brilliant. Maybe that keeps out people who don't really want to play. Maybe it's best to only 'let in' those who are predisposed to want to play Darkfall. Or maybe they rely on people who are loss-adverse and cannot bear to see that dollar wasted and their long week of progress lost.

Compared to the usual $15 a month, $1 a week is quite cheap, and the constant resetting would discourage anything that isn't fun. Why, could it be? Could the Darkfall trial be the casual-friendly game that people have been searching for? No grinds! No reputation! Nothing except whatever is most fun in a given week. Then start all over again fresh!

Yes this is months, years behind, well too bad. At least I've not yet started my weekly feature "Reviews of games that you stopped playing five years ago". And no mention of vanilla WoW. Oops.

Has society not yet adapted to gaming?

| Monday, October 11, 2010
Gaming isn't new relative to life spans. Even someone 90 years old will have spend a third of their lives, at least, with the existence of computer-based gaming. For younger people, they may have never known a time without gaming. For example, at a mere 23, I grew up with games. So games are old in this sense. But in terms of society, games are young. Very young. They're barely more than a generation old. And being in such an early stage, they are changing rapidly, so it's risky to even put Pong, GTA, and Wii Sports in the same category of "gaming". It would be as if we tried to group Chess, Monopoly, and Risk in the same category of board games, despite having much different rules, social interaction, and play time.

I don't think society has figured out games yet. This is why we see arguments over everything from "gaming is terrible!" to "20 hours a week is excessive" to the guy who thinks 20 hours is nothing at all. We all struggle for comparisons to other hobbies, other social activities, other potentially risky habits. We talk of TV, reading, drinking, smoking, chatting, and we get nowhere at all. There simpy aren't any good analogies.

This isn't restricted to just gaming. Look at the issue of illegal music sharing. Just that phrase is absurd. Sharing? It's not sharing. Sharing is when I give up something I have so you can have it, temporarily. Theft? It's not theft either. Theft implies someone lost something. Piracy? That's a type of theft, so it doesn't work either. We need a new word, a new phrase, something with a better ring to it than copywrite infringment. Does copywrite infringment sound like a crime that an ordinary person commits? Not at all. It sounds like something argued in back rooms at big corporations with ten dozen lawyers and possibly an animal sacrifice.

But getting back to gaming: what is a reasonable amount of time to spend on it? We don't know. No one knows. Literally no one knows becacuse it hasn't yet been defined. There isn't a social norm yet. Instead there are hysterics, prohibitionists, casuals, hardcores, addicts, and a whole lot of people with no previous experience on whicht on structure their views. Whenever someone tries to create a definition of reasonable, they end up going off what they previously think of gaming and create an extreme from that. Someone who thinks it is evil will say zero hours per lifetime while a person who grew up gaming will see any and all free time as reasonable.

I suppose I'm being idealistic to think there would ever be any standard. We don't even have those for old activities. How much should a person drink? Read? Watch TV? Socialize? Commute? Personally I think that last one is the worst. It's a huge time and energy drain, and for what? It's compensation for a lack of planning on all levels, from personal to business to government from city to federal.

I do expect that within 100 years we'll see some vague consensus on normal, in the sense that we won't have many people saying that zero is normal or 60 hours is normal. And maybe, just maybe, people will stop making comparisons to pot. Or they will and it will make sense, since by then they'll both be legal activities.

The posts which triggered this: Righteous Orbs: Fear and (Self)-Loathing and Raging Monkeys: So when's the last time you /played the game?

Dear Syl, I think your blog is broken

| Friday, October 8, 2010
I'll respost this two more times just to be sure.

The role of accessibility in increasing elitism

As the title suggests, elitism has been on the rise and I think the current implementation of accessibility has played a significant part in it.

People are prone to us or them thinking. If you think you're not, then you're an idiot. In the absence of a clear us or them, we will create one, somehow. For evidence, read any history book.

WoW used to have some clear us or them divides. Raiders and non-raiders were distinct. Either you could raid and did or you couldn't and didn't, or you didn't want to and didn't. But there were clear portions of the population which were able to be defined as non-raiders. Then there were raiders, who again could be divided up. If you were in Naxx or AQ40, you were high up there. Guilds in the BWL range were of some significance, though that category could be broken down quite a bit based on which bosses were killed, since some were very clear barriers to progression and could keep a guild busy for literally months. Then there were the swarms of MC guilds in various stages. And non-raiding guilds. PvP guilds too. Lots of those.

This is a much different 'society' than the current WoW in which a much larger portion of the population raids. But more importantly: they all raid the same content. There used to be tiered progression; now we have the latest tier and all the other stuff. Unless it's the weekly, Naxxramas is about as relevant as Molten Core and Ulduar is a place to get mounts, not much better than Tempest Keep or Karazhan.

The us and them is much less clear, but humans will be damned if they cannot find one! So, we find ways to divide ourselves. We didn't always have to search for differences. The structure of WoW provided them for us.

The tiered progression system meant that different players did different content. This has two results. First, it means players are 'physically' separated. The highest tier raider isn't running the same content as the new warlock in greens who hasn't quite figured out that fear is dangerous to use in instances. They might meet in a BG or farming, but there will rarely be situations in which the warlock and, let's say mage, are in the same group. Ubermage does Naxxramas and a few lower raids for his gear, all guild runs. Nublock runs Scholomance and Blackrock Depths; maybe with PUGs, maybe with a low-tier guild. His DPS sucks and he might not quite know what he's doing, but he'll learn eventually, because he has to. Ubermage isn't there to carry him. Ubermage also isn't there to flame him.

It was in this environment that I learned. I didn't get a lot of help. I didn't get a lot of grief either. I was either with other noobs or with alts of higher up players who knew exactly how awesome they were and had no need to put others down. Sure there were the bragging types, but they pulled themselves up rather than pushed those around them down. Their rising tide didn't sink our boats.

Players did content which suited both their gear and their interests. No one was facerolling Stratholme, since by the time they could faceroll Stratholme, they had absolutely no need for loot from there. Besides, screwing up a gargoyle pull was still trouble, so even at high gear levels faceroll wasn't the solution to all problems as it is now. This meant that players learned. It also meant that they developed some level of respect for people in that content, since they tended to experience it when it was hard, as opposed to now where the majority of our experience with an instance is in a trivial form, so anyone who has difficulty with that instance looks terrible.

Raids in general have gotten easier. Much easier. Oh but what about hardmodes huh? I've not killed Arthas hardmode have I? Nope. But that's part of my annoyance with the current raiding system. Raids used to be of moderate difficulty in the gear they were tuned for and due to progression one couldn't easily outgear a raid that they hadn't already cleared. Full blues were somewhat impressive, and oh man, if you were so lucky as to have someone in your raid in epics, awe-inspiring. I'm exaggerating. Slightly. What I'm trying to get at is that raids used to be somewhere in the middle for difficulty. Some fights were harder than others, such as a basic tank and spank like Golemagg compared to the CC-intensive fights like Garr or Majordomo Executus or positioning fights like Baron or Shazzrah. Or was it Gehennas? They look the same. The guy with arcane explosion, teleport, and oh my god quit using fucking dots! Now there's easymode and hardmode. Trivial success or insurmountable failure. It doesn't help that they take place in the same instance, with the same boss, and many of the same mechanics. Great progression there.

So here's what it all adds up to: players are not different anymore. We all wear the same gear, run the same raid, faceroll the same mindless randoms. Even our alts all look the same with 80 levels of the same heirloom shoulders, chest, and weapons. There's no clear us or them. So we make one. We obsess over DPS meters. We go after every gem, every talent point, every glyph. We ask why, why are you not doing your research? And when they say they don't care we call them lazy. Because dammit, we are going to be different from them and if we can't find them we'll just make them up.

Fun! Boring. Fun!

| Thursday, October 7, 2010
Acceptable Losses (the guild I made with some awesome friends from an old guild) formed up again for another crack at ICC, since the previous run was cut short by sleep requirements. A few PUGs filled up the 10 man (though they were with us earlier, so they're really only half-PUG people at this point), since we don't have 10 people yet. We're small. So off we went to finish up what we could.

We found ourselves on Blood Council. Somehow dying. The juggler kept running out of health. So I figured, why not try some stupid things? This was the same logic used by FDR and it got us out of the Depression, so who am I to be too good for stupid ideas? And so we dropped our second tank (me) and just had the warrior hold Valanar and Taldaram. Then we stuck me on juggling duty. I tended to have 4, but sometimes got up to 6. I can't say it's especially hard, but it was fun to move around in something other than a Mario dance. Paladins are definitely not ideal for this, but it worked well enough. The elves died. Again. Deaded.

So a fun fight for me.

Then we went to Blood Queen. The good news was that we one-shotted her. The bad news was that I have never tanked something so incredibly boring since... well never. That is a really boring fight to tank.

Onward to Sindragosa. 5% on our first attempt. Things went downhill from there. We did somehow pull out a kill on our fifth attempt with the raid nearly dead. A few achievements popped up for the few people who had never been there at all.

The PUG druid got loads of loot, same as last time. I got shoulders that are a bit better for tanking. We didn't do anything much brag-worthy, considering it's 10 man with a few people overgeared and a 30% buff.

But it was fun.


Talking about gaming:
I would speculate they make one less productive person ( for example you clearly intelligent guy, going as far as maintaining blog, imagine all that was directed to something like day trading !)

Or maybe it was intentionally ironic.

More on this next week!

But in the meantime, how many hobbies do you have with something to show for them? Now think again, is it the hobby itself or the way you interact with it? I believe WoW could be useful for mental development if a person engaged it in a useful manner. Similarly, chess can develop the mind, unless you never consider strategy or tactics and just sort of shove pawns around the board. That would be utterly useless, but it's not the fault of chess that you play stupidly.

Lowbies don't do Molten Core enough

I've decided to accept Blizzard's offer as Lead Leveling Experience Designer and as my last act as an independent blogger, I'm giving you a sneak preview. Okay yes, there is such a job; they made it in response to my endless whining about the marginalization of the leveling experience and progressive trivialization of content.

So here we go: All raids will be unlocked by the raid before and all expansions are unlocked by the last raid of the previous box. In other words, progression starts with level 60 MC, goes up to AQ40, then moves on to leveling in Outland, before again going Kara...BT, then Northrend. You get the idea. The general concept is the title: Lowbies don't do Molten Core enough. This is something on which all teams have agreed: Molten Core was the pinnacle of raiding. If players hadn't liked it, why did they spend so much time in there, make songs about it, and even another game recreation?

I wish.

More seriously, lowbies don't do Molten Core, or any raid, enough. There's a whole lot of content that they will likely never see because it doesn't fit neatly into the "race to 80 and then race to get gear for whatever the top raid is" method. Iapetes and I were talking about this recently, batting around ideas from raiding to mini-heirlooms. We settled on the most logical solution: Molten Core.

Expecting 40 sub-80 players to get together for a raid isn't reasonable. Even if it gave 50x the XP of normal questing and grinding, it will be such a hassle and take so long to form that it wouldn't be worth it. So let's cut that down to 10. And then let's add our most favoritist bestest friends ever: Garrosh and Varian.

Picture this: You run BRD and along the way pick up some bits of lore. Or not. Maybe you get some loot, which will last a little bit in Outland since there's no more gear reset from Azeroth to Outland (there still is, I mean in this picture that I am typing; hang in there, I have a few hundred words to go). There's this big bad down there, in the Molten Core, and he is mean to puppies. So while questing in BRD and saving a princess, you discover this and so with your respective best friend and a few dozen random NPC soldiers, you go running down to MC. Varian and company do tons of damage against trash, but won't trivialize bosses, so you still get some challenge. Yes, you can actually wipe. No corpse run though, the NPC priests will cover for you. It is meant to be challenging but not irritating.

The goal is to give some of the good parts of the MC experience, while making fun of the bad ones. As you kill bosses the NPCs will gain the respective piece of tier 1, building up until they are fully geared for the fight with Majordomo Executus. Then they switch to FR-based clown suits for Rag. Meanwhile you get absolutely no gear off any boss. However core hounds drop hundreds of gold each, so loot them!

In the end you defeat Ragnaros and are awarded some awesome prize. Maybe a weapon that will last a few levels, perhaps a piece or two of gear (great time to fill itemization gaps in the early BC blues), and of course more than enough XP to make the raid worth it.

These would be phased events, somewhat like Battle for the Undercity, so completing them won't mean you can't come back and farm it normally (if you want to for some reason). There could be other raids, with similar mechanics. I think AQ40 would be a great candidate as well.

The goal is to make leveling seem more epic, as if it were a true struggle (for the characters, not for us), rather than just a long grind before the real game starts. It would give a small taste of raiding without too much pressure.

Would WoW have a better community if it wasn't a MMO?

| Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I really have to hand it to Blizzard, they know the long haul and they are in for it.

Single-player games are not inhabited by raging sociopaths, loot whores, and idiots. Or if they are I haven't played with them yet. Clearly single-players games have better communities, as seen here in this graph, which you should note is entirely blank.

Could WoW tap into this? Yes, and it's a work in progress. You see, there's actually an inflection point in the graph of the community; there it becomes so degraded that it actually becomes better. We saw this strategy executed in EverQuest in which a whole lot of anti-social nerds managed to work together in huge groups and even manage to think of it as a fun experience, as opposed to their usual reaction to other people: running in screaming terror.

As you can see, the graph shows that losers who play EQ will normally form a really awful community, getting worse as there are more, until eventually there is a critical mass of nerds in which social reactions can begin, resulting in a rapid increase in community.

Blizzard has a long tradition of taking what everyone else does well and doing it better. So they've added tools and ideas to utterly destroy all sense of being a multi-player game, eventually resulting in peace and harmony among the community. Sure, in the short term we might not like the extreme alienation caused by facerolling randoms with random people who we will never see again. But in the long term we'll stop caring and just think of them as NPCs. Some people already do. Those are the previously mentioned sociopaths. They're ahead of the game, literally.

But Blizzard doesn't go halfway. They go all the way, and then halfway further. Never try to go on a trip with them in the direction of water, desert, mountains, or really just about any vertical and/or horizontal object, because they will smash right into it at very high speed. Which is of course their plan. So they've added such incredible gear inflation that simply having good gear isn't good enough, now you need [arbitrary number], plus 500. This combined with easily trivialized mechanics to make instances so easy that all you ever need to ask anyone is is why they are so retarded to spec fury with that hit rating. Or whatever it is that a fury warrior should have.

So as you can see here, the changes are quickly destroying the WoW community. But at the point where it becomes a single-player game, it actually gets better.

So do your part to form a better community: Solo as much as possible and avoid thinking of other players as people but instead as poorly-written AI. If you insist on dynamic interaction or the 'players' try to talk to you, be rude, offensive, degrading, inflammatory. They might think you're a total asshole, but in reality you're just saving the community from itself. It's how we won Vietnam: by destroying the village to save the village, since as we all know "better dead than Red" is best applied to other people without their consent, since they might dissent.

Thank you, America. Europe, uh... bon jor we we?

Why DPS are so incredibly stupid

| Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Note: This post takes place in a magical land before heirlooms, trivialized leveling, and faceroll AoE heroics. Imagine it as sometime in BC, when tank/healer leveling isn't trivial, but it's not the absolutely awful task of vanilla.

If you're smart like me, you rolled a tank. Or maybe a healer. We take the hard roles so the DPS can go off and frolic in fields until they get allergies and sneeze and laugh and go into shock and die. But it's okay, because they're just DPS.


I mean, it's a well-known fact that people generally have equal interest in all classes and roles, but that when DPS roll tanks or healers they are too stupid to handle it so they go back to DPS. If you were to watch the starting zones you'd see all these tanks and healers being created and if you track the names you'll see them get to around level 20 and suddenly blink out, only to reappear as a DPS.


Of course. It's simply a fact that most non-tanks/non-healers are too stupid to be tanks or healers. This is why DPS seem so stupid.


Or I wonder if possibly there's something else at play. Could it be that people are not born, or at least do not subscribe, as idiots? Maybe players are generally of around the same intellect. This doesn't fit my ego-boosting elitism, but let's play with this silly idea for a moment.

Let's take someone of equal motivation and intellect and split their fates into tank, healer, and DPS. Two strands go with the 'hard' roles while the other weaves its way through the 'easy' one.

Let's start with the healer. The first thing we should notice is that everything is the healer's fault. Short of someone jumping off a cliff, the healer could have healed better and saved them, and even with the cliff a priest could have use levitate and a paladin could have given hand of protection. Even if the group says nothing, the healer will know on some level that he could have done better, and it will gnaw at him. The only protection is either cynicism, not caring, or the careful balance of knowing exactly the limits of healing and when to blame others. This is why our normal person quit healing.

But let's say he keeps healing. Why is he so much smarter than DPS? Because he matters in the beginning and the end. He has to be on his game or that's it, game over, done. Being failure-adverse just like anyone else, the healer will learn to heal better, to watch better, to know more. He's not actually any smarter, but he is better educated.

Now for the tank. Given well-behaved DPS, he's going to be the puller. If he cannot pull properly, he will be first in line to die. Or maybe second after the healer. But his life is right on the line. He's up front. A DPS can run or feign, but not the tank. So he must watch and be careful at times. He must know where the patrols are, where to pull to, and possibly what abilities to watch out for. Failure-adverse just like the healer, he will learn and become better educated.

The DPS strand won't live the same way. He doesn't pull and he doesn't heal. His failures are slow and not always obvious. He has someone else to keep him alive. What is there to learn in this sanctuary? Very little. Sure, there is much to learn: kiting and interrupts and all manner of little tricks that one can use, but why? It would be as learning calculus in middle school. Sure, you can do it and it might even help, but all the tests are on long division and basic algebra. The normal person, not for lack of intellect, will not become well-educated as a DPS.

For an extreme example, imagine leveling a warrior vs. a hunter. The warrior takes all the hits and cannot heal. His escape options are limited, with all his mobility being focused on getting to enemies, not away. Short of intercepting a nearby critter, he's going to be dying where he fights. So he must learn to pull somewhat carefully. He fails, he dies. So he learns. Meanwhile the hunter is a melee class until level 10. At that point he gets a pet and with growl, autoshot, and feign death (admittedly not at level 10) he is set for the next 70 levels. Failure costs a piece of meat to feed an unhappy pet, not death. Failure is so trivial that it ceases to be a motivation to learn.

The hunter isn't stupid. The warrior isn't unusually smart either. Instead they are both players adapting to their situation. If the hunter had been harder to level, with risk of significant failure, then he would have learned more.

Notice how none of this requires any players to be innately stupid. It doesn't require that players flee from hard classes or roles. All it requires is that some classes or roles challenge the player or not. We know for certain that that condition is met. We have no measurement of player intelligence except biased, selective memory of incidents which may or may not be in any way related to intelligence. Given that we know that the education in WoW varies and that we cannot measure intelligence, wouldn't it be pretty damn stupid to assume that some players are stupid and ignore the teaching aspects of leveling?

Negativity in the Blogosphere

| Monday, October 4, 2010
I'm really sick of the negativity. It's out of control and entirely unjustified. Also useless.

No I don't mean the bashing of this or that MMO or the usual sky is falling negativity. I'm referring instead to those who somehow got the absurd idea that performance in a video game is anything close to a useful measure of worth as a human being. Let's have a sanity check here. Let's all slow down a bit and think this over. There are people who think less of others because of how they play a game. And I don't mean less of others in terms like "what a noob" or "he is so full of fail", I mean people pulling out stupid, idiot, moron, lazy, and so on. Labels which they use with no moderating bits such as "stupid at games" or "lazy at grinding rep". No, just plain, unqualified stupid, lazy, worthless, and so on.

WoW is very important to me. I hate it when people disparage WoW or gaming in general with "it's just a game" or fail to respect it, or at least tolerate it, as would any mainstream hobby such as watching football or going to bars to talk to drunk bimbos and assholes. I suppose I was a bit hypocritical right there. My point is this: I think highly of WoW and gaming, so keep that in mind when I say this: World of Warcraft is a game.

It is not a career, a job, or even a weekend chore. It is not an intelligence test; it's not even one of those quizzes on Facebook. It's a game.

It's also a world or toy or epeen competition, but the central theme of it is play and entertainment. A game. Imagine it as a ball. One person sits on it, another bounces it off a wall, another plays catch with a friend, another uses it for physics experiments. None of them are doing it wrong.

I'm guilty of it too. I've thought, even said, that someone was stupid based on what I saw in the narrow context of a random, trivial location in a game. I try to avoid broadcasting that to the world and pretending that it is somehow useful data. I try to avoid claims such as "60% of all players are stupid" or "95% of all players suck at their class". The second one wouldn't even be so bad, since while entirely made up, it's at least not a blanket generalization of a person.

The other day I ran into an incredibly bad hunter. His gems were bad, he was bad at pulling, he was bad at controlling his pet, he was bad at picking targets. Was he stupid? Maybe, maybe not. The most negative label I could reasonably apply given the information I had was that he didn't care much about his performance as a hunter. That's all.

All the elitism doesn't even help. It just makes terrible players see a bandwagon to jump on. They can grab their cookie cutters and out of context spreadsheets and go to town, certain that they are in the elite group, because they're acting just like the elitists. They are in a cozy bubble of elitism. That bubble prevents introspection, since once you're elitist, you're at the top and don't need to get any better (at least that's how an elitist sees it). To reinforce the bubble they get whatever they can: gearscore, DPS meters, gold, spelling, anything to make it clear that they are in the elite us while the other is in the worthless them. They create their imaginary enemies.

I'd call the elitists stupid for all their negativity, but all I have to go off is their constant stream of elitism.

P.S. This post is so late because I screwed up the scheduling and had it going up tomorrow. Oops.

Someone else also read my mind and conveniently provided an example of saying stupid shit

| Friday, October 1, 2010
It's sad the way they have 'dumbed down' raids to the point where all you have to do to be COMPLETELY AWESOME is show up and stay out of fires and run away from baddies.

I wish they would make it more complicated than it is currently, but sure as (*&& there's going to be an army of spoiled raiders coming in here to rate me down just because I want to make it harder for them.

Getting epics used to mean you were good. Now all it means is that you played enough hours to get there.

That being said, this actually wasn't a bad item to have. I wish I could get the pattern on my Blood elf.

If anyone on any server gets this, Please contact Nomiconn on Turalyon-US Horde. I will see about buying it from you, and then transferring that toon to Turalyon.

This was a comment about the pattern for Flarecore Wraps.
Farming FR gear or mats for crafted FR gear required no skill. Getting epics frequently did not mean you were good, but just that the raid needed some more bodies and the RNG had blessed the raid with more class X gear than it actually needed, meaning you were good enough to be worth more than a shard.

I actually like the concept of resist gear. But let's not trick ourselves into thinking that removing resist fights dumbed down WoW, single quotes or not.

Someone else read my mind and said it better

But there's a larger, more philosophical question here. If we could just depend on everyone to do what was prudent and sensible at all times, why would we need any laws at all? People act against their own and society's interest all the time. You couldn't ask for a better demonstration of this than the frenzy of chicanery that suffused every level of the residential housing market, from subprime loan to synthetic CDO. Ideally, we'd rather avoid scenarios in which the financial system collapses, costing trillions of dollars to resuscitate and resulting in the loss of millions of jobs. If that means protecting consumers from their own "stupid" decisions -- and, much more important, preventing financial institutions from taking advantage of those consumers -- then so be it. That's a good deal!

-Andrew Leonard, staff writer at Salon

Full article

Is it time to retire?

The trend is obvious. I mean, at least to me, as I watch the posts I've been doing. Maybe retirement is the best option.

Oh no, not my blogging or playing. I meant characters!

Why do we make alts?

I see two most common reasons:
1) To play another class.
2) To have another class at 80.

This are different if you think about them some more. The first reason will not cause a person to enjoy leveling, after all, the first few levels are often not much fun due to extremely limited mechanics. But around 30-40 when a class has filled out a bit, at that point a "to play" alt will start to be fun. The second reason, well for that leveling itself is nothing more than an obstacle, a grind, a mindless act with no clear purpose but very obvious irritation.

Let's not worry about the first reason, at least not today. What's wrong with the second reason? Well objectively speaking I see nothing wrong with it. Let's brea it up and look more carefully. Why do they want another class at 80?
1) Profession
2) Variety
3) Reroll

The first reason doesn't have leveling as as big of an obstacle, since maxed professions don't require 80. Also such a reason is independent of class, meaning that a DK alt can be used for a significant head start.

The second may not be adverse to leveling, since the experience itself is much different than level 80, and the class difference gives variety, regardless of power. Still, being level 1 may not be much fun, and therefore leveling is still an obstacle, though the level at which it ceases to be depends on the class. For example, a hunter is pretty much shit until 10 when they get pets, while paladins are amazingly boring until crusader strike which is a level 40 talent.

The third reason is why I wrote this. Yes it did just take that much time to even begin to get to my point.

I play a paladin, but my guild really needs a druid. So what do I do? Slowly level a druid and then slowly gear it up? Even with easy badges, that's still a huge amount of time to invest. Retirement could give a better option than just making a new alt. This idea is more or less taken from Torchlight, which is a great game that you should try.

A retired character would be destroyed, but it could grant an inheritance to a new characters. This would grant a substantial amount of experience, though not quite max level, since I believe there should still be some time spent learning the mechanics. All soulbound token (badges, emblems, stonekeeper's shards, etc) gear or weapons, excluding heirlooms, would be converted to some percentage of the cost, less than 100% but more than 50%, in order to allow for quick, but not instant gearing. Reputations would go to halfway into the current tier, with the tier above exalted rolled into exalted. Gold (minus a flat retirement tax), non-soulbound items, and bags (even if they are soulbound) would carry over 100% since you'd just mail them to an alt anyway. The retirement tax would go to a trust fund to provide healthcare, housing, food, and entertainment (succubi/incubi as desired) for your retired character. You never actually benefit from the retirement tax. Optionally, you can opt for the "death panel" in which there is no tax, but any character above level 65 has a .5% chance per day to be deleted. Being diseased, poisoned, or in any way debuffed, including being sated after bloodlust, at the end of the day increases the chance to 5%.
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