Why do instances give XP?

| Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Run an instance and odds are you'll see someone level up. Or multiple people. Multiple times. Instances are giving huge amounts of XP and it's throwing off the leveling curve.

Once upon a time this made sense. It took time to get to instances, to get the quests for them, and groups could possibly wipe, meaning even more lost time. Without XP, instances would have likely been ignored until 60, especially back before they all gave well-itemized blues.

Now we have teleports and the looking for group tool, meaning that instances cost no more time than the run itself. The loot has gotten to be so good that that itself could be enough to bring in players. On my new dwarf shaman I'm finding that instance blues are giving over double the DPS of same-level quest greens. Throw on top of that the change to put quests inside the instances, with their own blue loot and XP, and I think it's worth asking: Do instances need to give XP?

I forgot, thanks to the new city tabards, they give reputation too!

Would you do an instance that gave no XP? Sure you would! You do them all the time at the level cap. Oh but that's when you don't need XP, but leveling is about leveling. Or is it? Players already quest, often running inefficient quests with low xp/hour, rather than the faster and more efficient mob grinding. Not that I'm saying quests are always inferior, after all, if you can get a quest to kill what you're grinding, it makes sense. My point is that we're already leveling in a slower manner in return for quest rewards, story, and variety, so it is that hard to believe that maybe instances could go without XP?

Enchanters: The vendor sells vellum

| Monday, November 29, 2010
Oh man, I got these great deals on enchanting vellum! The market price looked like 1g! Some guy had them up there fore 20s! I made off like a bandit. Oh, they're about 9s on the vendor? Oops.

In related news, I went from 130 to 175 with 3 stam to bracers. Only two soul dust each and for some reason it was extremely cheap, only about 10s each. From orange to green that gave only 5 failed skillups. 45 levels for only about 10g, pretty good in my book.

Being Too Helpful

For Peat's Sake and The Threat of Flame are a pair of quests in Wetlands, and a perfect example of Being Too Helpful.

For Peat's Sake you put out fires using a magical enchanted blessed lily blossom which sprays water. And the quest giver gives some helpful advice.
"The blossom may also prove useful against the elementals themselves."
And in fact using it near them will cause them to become doused. I don't actually know if this makes them hit softer or have less health, but they do look smaller, so that must mean something good.

Except Doused Fire Elementals are not part of the quest objective. That's right, if you follow the NPC's advice, you will not be able to complete the other quest, because his advice changes them into a mob that doesn't give credit.

And that, is Being Too Helpful.

Excellent work, . Are you certain you haven't done this before?

| Sunday, November 28, 2010
I'm pretty damn certain I HAVE.

Remember that time that we killed Onyxia and then Blizzard said "lol no, our king has to have accomplished something", so then we hadn't killed Onyxia. Apparently that whole thing was uh... nothing? I'm not quite sure. I'm the sort who considers quests to be a source of canon. I mean, they are Blizzard's own writing. It's not as if I'm suggesting that Onyxia was slain my Sneakstab the gnome rogue. But what we do, happens.

I was even willing to set side all the strange repeated villains, with my own twist of illogic.
The NPCs with the same name are just that: the same name. To avoid the perception of a breakdown in leadership, someone else takes up the name.

But I'll be damned if little Pamela somehow forgot all about us and her doll broke again and her father was recorrupted. Was there some massive temporal time distortion of the timeline? I'd believe it! But apparently no. Just someone decided that anything we'd done in the Plaguelands didn't actually happen.

I'm not saying that new players shouldn't get to do the quests for Darrowshire. I'd rather they had the opportunity. It's a nice chain, even the trimmed down new version. But is it asking too much for Chromie to just casually mention that the Infinites did some tinkering, so maybe we can fix some stuff while we're here? A bit of offhand dialogue can go a long way.

When I get to Light's Hope Chapel I'll have to see if they're still offering to attune me for Naxxramas.

And Joseph Danced On...

The Scarlet Monastery instances have been tweaked to reflect the apparent civil war within the Scarlet Crusade. Now there is a Joseph the Crazed handing out kill quests. In the case of Cathedral he is in the middle of the lower level of the pool, battles raging around him, as he dances. Remember that.

Our tank was a feisty, hasty gnome who pulled fast and killed fast, like a dragonfly darting here and there. Woosh woosh woosh. WOOSH! She pulled a path right up the middle of the cathedral. You see? Oh yes, you know where this is going.

Right up the middle, right up to the boss. Yep, those side wings: untouched. So we had friends. Lots of friends.

I ran for it. Being a ghost wolf and much better at sensing imminent death, I survived.

Teleporting back in, I found that the boss and friends had followed me, obviously. And then somehow gotten into a fight with the renegade crusaders. Those NPCs are practically invincible, but also don't hit very hard, so the boss and his friends were all clustered near the entrance.

We whittled down the adds and by the time we got to Mograine he was at about 60%. This may be something for Blizzard to look into fixing, if at some point the fight becomes hard enough that anyone bothers to exploit this for an easy kill. But the result was a strange fight. See, Whitemane still spawned way back at the cathedral, so we all had some running to do to get to her. And then more to get back. So in the end we were fighting the two of them right near the entrance, an epic battle with the leadership of the Scarlet Crusade in entirely the wrong place.

And Joseph danced on.

Creating a Scene

Spoiler alert: I talk about Jintha'Alor in the Hinterlands.

I'm running around the corner to the altar area at the top and three thoughts go into my head in this order:

First: Damn, I bet those were the mobs I needed for the kill quest.
Second: Uh oh, are there Horde around who just killed them?
Third: Holy shit, that is a lot of sacrificed trolls.

I'm talking everywhere, dead trolls. The stairs are covered. The grass. The stones. Everywhere. All sacrificed.

You can read all the quests you want that talk of the savagery of the trolls, but when I went around the corner and see it, that's when it hit me.

So I starting thinking back about my troll lore, both distant and what my characters have actually seen, and I realized that trolls are absolutely frightening. The Scourge and Twilight cults have their suicidal tendencies and doomsday prophecies and horrors, but can they really compare? Those are all recent. New kids on the block. Fads. The cult of today and gone tomorrow. But the trolls, for them worshipping murderous gods, sacrifice, and torture, those are not isolated events. Those are tradition. There's cult and then there's thousand-thousand year old culture.

Thanks, Shifting Perspectives

| Saturday, November 27, 2010
Odds are you read WoW Insider, since apparently everyone does. It's true, I used numbers. Specifically I used numbers like "they linked one of my posts and I got a lot of views. Then everyone went away because not everyone rads my blog. Ergo: everyone reads WoW Insider". So recently Shifting Perspectives had a bit about trolls. It's a good read. To add my own two cents: trolls are awesome.

But here's the best bit.
Regeneration This has been the subject of many a hyena laugh from players. However, it did give the wonderful blog Troll Racials Are Overpowered ("I'm regenerating five HP per second and there's nothing you can do about it") its motto, so it can't all bad.

I'm a sucker for random plugs and praise.

Thanks, fellas!

One Free Kill

| Thursday, November 25, 2010
Blessing of Kings had an interesting topic yesterday: progression raiding vs. raid the current tier.

In Vanilla and TBC, the raiding endgame was based around the idea of progression. A guild did Molten Core first, and after they moved on to Blackwing Lair, then AQ40, and finally Naxxramas. This was the pattern guilds and players followed regardless of when they started. A new guild or raider was expected to start in Molten Core and move their way upwards.

In contrast, Wrath raiding was based around a different idea: focus on the current tier. In general, at any given time the community--including newer raiders and guilds--focused on the most recent tier. When TotC was released, that was what everyone did. When ICC came out, everyone went for ICC. You could essentially solo your way, gear-wise, to the entry point for the most recent tier.

Personally, I liked progression more. In a progression system we didn't beat bosses by drastically overgearing them. We didn't do much farming of outdated content. We did what suited our gear and personal experience levels.

But progression has a couple huge downsides. One is rerolling. If you want to change class, you start at the bottom and there's no quick way up to where you should be, based on experience. LK's solution was heroic automatically putting players at the second to highest tier (I'm counting raids, not sets, so 245 is second to highest since ToC is second to highest raid). I'd have preferred a system of retirement and hastened gearing and progression. Obviously this doesn't work quite right outside of a badge system, but the general concept is the same: trade one character for another.

Then there are the guild-killer bosses. These are the bosses that you get stuck on and do not get past. If you can't kill Vael, you're not going any further in Blackwing Lair and you're done on the 40 man track. Go back to MC, ZG, and AQ20, because you're not getting any further. Oh hey, three substantial raids even if you get stuck. Funny, that doesn't sound so bad after all. But no one likes to be stuck. The strange thing is that bosses in a raid don't follow perfect progression of difficulty, so Vael is harder than the bosses after him. If somehow Vael wasn't there, a guild could get a bit further along and possibly even kill all the rest and move on to the next raid. Or gear up some more (but not a ton more) and that would help. And then they can go on to the next raid.

So I propose a One Free Kill mechanic for raids. Each week you get one free boss dead. It gives no loot, no achievement, no quest progress, cannot be skinned, mined, or engineered. It's just not in your way anymore. Go on and die to something else. Note that this isn't one boss per raid, but per week, and it will be preserved by raid saves. By that I mean if you carry over a raid ID, you also carry over your kill limit. So you can't kill, save, kill next boss, save to next week, and so on. Also raid achievements would be tied to every boss, so skipping a boss will mean no raid achievement.

Obviously this hurts the model of progression. Even worse, it hurts some of that thrill of finally downing a boss. The raid itself will lose some meaning when the toughest fights can be skipped (or at least one). But I think it would be worth it for many players. Content isn't trivialized, just that the one particular fight that ruined everything cannot ruin everything.

My guild in vanilla actually was stuck on Razorgore, not Vael. So maybe we'd have not gotten anywhere anyway. But maybe having a different boss to wipe on would have helped. It's frustrating to do the same failure week after week. Diversifying the failure could help.

I think Cataclysm will add another mechanic to make progression raiding more playable: smaller raids. When a 40 man was banging its head against a wall, it was often hard to see exactly what was going wrong. Just recruiting was hard enough with so many people, getting the exact right players even harder. Dropping to a 25 man maximum helped. Making 10 man raiding a more significant progression path will do even more. It's a lot easier to troubleshoot a smaller group. It's easier to recruit and replace. Maybe 10-man Vael would have still help up guilds, but I think it would have killed a lot fewer.

But progression is dead.

Funny how cooperation can make us richer

| Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Someone misread some quest text in Darkshore and got lost. He asked for help, so I gave up a few seconds of my time to point him the right way. What a waste, am I right?

Later I offered free disenchanting in general channel. How generous of me. How generous of me to get enchanting skillups without using my own mats. Ha, generously greedy!

The person I'd helped gave me a few greens, told me to keep them.

Sometimes karma isn't so mean.

My god, I enjoyed playing a night elf?

Let me make this clear: I have nothing against night elves. Well okay, I do, but that's not the point. The true problem is that they have the lamest, most boring, most emo, most awful starting zone ever. Teldrassil is a worthless pile of crap.


The new quests aren't majorly different in theme, but the way they are given is a lot more fun. Where to start?

I like the 'mini-elite' named quest mobs. It's cool to see the portrait of them with the quest. It fixes that weird problem of "How did I know who to kill when you never told me and let's face it, I'm pretty sure most enemies don't have their names floating over their heads?" The little bit of added background on them is a nice touch. The quest 'bosses' themselves feel a bit tougher. Not hard, but just they take a few more hits. It's not adding challenge, but it is helping to differentiate them from all the trash around them.

The mist in the cave. Players who have done it will understand. Players who have not done it, I don't want to spoil it, so just imagine a mechanic that doesn't ruin immersion but can help prevent getting lost in caves.

Earlier, the teleport out of Fel Rock, a nice touch. It shows some recognition that some people get lost in caves and do not much enjoy having to battle in, battle to the right path, then fight the same trash all the way back out, hopefully without getting lost this time. Respawns are easily deadly in caves.

It helped that I somehow found two rare spawns. They dropped greens. I was floored.

Dolanaar is slightly too spread out, such that I ended up not seeing a quest indicator and lost the last quest path. However in Blizzard's defense, they had established a trend of "talk to the moonwell guy, then go to a moonwell", so I should have known to check for quests at him again.

The profession trainer in the newbie area is a great idea. Finally, we get start professions on time, without going way out of our way. That means they fit better into leveling. The descriptions of gathering and crafting professions was well-done. Going even further to describe the individual professions and the pairings, just great. Something is possibly lost in new players not figuring this out themselves, but something is gained in them not ending up poor and ignorant, stuck tabbing out for professions guides to fix their major mistakes.

What confused me was that there didn't seem to be much chatter about night elf mages. I'd have expected the starting NPCs to talk more of the Highborn and Shendrelar.

So far I'm very please with the Sundering.

Oh wait, no, I forgot: It gave me the achievement for surveying the damage when my paladin hadn't even left Dalaran yet. That irritated me. I'm assuming it's tied to some sort of zone discovery and since I had them all, there you go. On a related note, my hearthstone had been Light's Hope Chapel. They reset it to Stormwind. The shiny new AH looks weird.

You're just trying to shut down dissent!


This is just like the obvious Nazis over at NPR who hate dissent.
Rohan is a liberal Nazi.

Okay, I'm done.

Goodbye: Zul. Goodbye, Gurub.

| Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Yesterday I did ZG, perhaps for my last time ever. I got there many hours later than I expected.

Somehow I'd ended up selling some bijous for the guild. Then I offered other rep materials for other grinds. Somehow we ended up going to Molten Core. It seemed like a good way to gradually draw people into the madness of our guild. They needed AQ20 too, so we went there. Then we did AQ40. Why? Why not? They left and a few guildies and I went to Blackwing Lair. There I was disappointed to learn that Styleen's Impeding Scarab had been reduced from its glory to a mere boring +parry trinket. Once upon a time it was glorious:
Equip: Increases your block rating by 24.
Equip: Increases the block value of your shield by 24.
Equip: Increases defense rating by 20.
I don't remember the original values, before ratings. But I'm pretty sure that was 2% block chance, no idea on the defense. These were the BWl trinkets; items so well designed that they were often used even at 70. Or maybe it just showed that people didn't like the level 70 trinkets much. Too many procs or on-use to keep track of.

But I wanted to talk about ZG.

It dropped blues and epics and used a strange loot system, one which I don't think we could imagine these days. There were of course the usual random drops off bosses, with some loot shared across them. And then there were these strange things: bijous, coins, and paragons. The first two were sources of reputation while the last was a gear token, much like we saw in Burning Crusade. They could be used to create a set. Strange sets with strange bonuses, which make little sense now and possibly not much more back then. Oh but no mere armor. No no, trinkets! Ah the trinkets.

Can you imagine a place called the Edge of Madness? Surrounded by imps and demons and with a strange darkness in the air. Madness indeed. And on a rotating basis the troll ancestors could be called. Gurubashi Mojo Madness brought the boss, but was hard to make. This week it might be Hazza'rah. They weren't especially hard and they weren't especially generous with loot. But this one drops dream thread. And the other drops his tooth. Collect all four! And find a voodoo doll. Find the one for your class. But beware the hoodoo pile, for it is jinxed! Even says so: "Jinxed Hoodoo Pile". Touch it, take the reward, and ask yourself "Will Hakkar rule the world?" Many would say yes, and we would kill them. Put it all together and what do you have? Trinkets yes, pretty trinkets! Power, great power! Power in trinkets!

Ah, but now you have your paragon of power. But do you have the reputation you need for it? No? Then no armor for you! BEGONE! Come back with more.

It's all our faults anyway. We're the ones who brought back Hakkar. We were fools. Easily tricked. You and I did it. We brought him back. Why did we not listen to the green flight? They knew. But we found the screechers and we stole the egg and we went to the Sunken Temple and we drew him BACK. Blood. Nothing good is summoned by blood. We used the egg and put him in the egg and then we gave away the egg. For what? Not worth it. No no.

And he enslaved the Gurubashi. Or did he? Perhaps many desired the power of his presence. But the priests, they were caught. Ensnared. Oh they would bless us to free them. And so we went with the support of the Zandalar. They sent us in, brave heroes and adventurers, to invade the city and stop Hakkar before he drained the world. Five priests and priestesses under his thrall and forced to empower him. Oh you'd not want to fight him without them. Oh no. He would do terrible things to you. Worse than usual! We kill them and they thank us. What a welcome change!

Hakkar the Soulflayer. Not a nice name. He controls minds and corrupts blood. And steals your life. So we did the unthinkable and we dipped ourselves in poison and we never removed it, so that when he tried to steal our life, he stole poison instead.

We fished up another boss with the help of Nat Pagle. Or was it Pat Nagle? We were rather drunk at our last meeting.

And Broodlord Mandokir did kill many of us and the ghosts brought us back and he did level up (indeed he did!) and he did yell, "Ding!" and Jin'do the Hexxer did respond with a friendly "Grats!" And we all laughed for it was silly and we had nothing else to do while running back from the wipe. And all the while he was watching us. He was angry when we killed his raptor.

Jindo has the most frightening assembly of concubines since the brothel in Karazhan, and the flesh beasts in Medivh's bedroom. Gnomes and mummies. GNOMES AND MUMMIES.


Goodbye, Zul'Gurub. I shall miss thee.

But thanks for the three Razzashi Hatchlings.

What is Accessibility?

| Monday, November 22, 2010
I will now describe the most accessible raid in the world.

Get 40 people, tanks, healers, and DPS, and go to Accessible Raid, a place in which the bosses do not hit hard and follow normal aggro rules with no phases, adds, or strange debuffs to worry about. The gear requirements are: the starting zone gear, so if you are wearing a single green, you are completely overgeared. There is no need for consumables. No key. No attunement. No strats to learn. Also there is a teleporter from every major city to the raid portal, which is next to a summoning stone in a sanctuary zone.

Now everyone can do this raid.

Oh. 40 people is too many? How about 10? You can't get that many healers? Fine, it's easy enough, just go solo it. But then it takes too long and you don't have time?

Okay, new Most Accessible Raid in the World: It is balanced for one player to faceroll it and takes five minutes, along with having all the previous features. And it can be accesses by a Solo Looking for Raid panel which will teleport you, just in case your computer cannot handle the lag in Darnassus.

Are you having fun yet?

Was that raid accessible or merely trivially easy? Where's the line, anyway?

Molten Core was fairly easy, but FR fights and occasional forced raid makeups meant that it wasn't accessible.
The original Naxxramas was hard and inaccessible with strange tank requirements and consumables so out of control that eventually Blizzard nerfed alchemy, seemingly just in response to Naxx.
Icecrown Citadel is harder than Molten Core and certainly more accessible. Well, that is unless you count the dozens of heroics to run to gear up for it. Suddenly it looks just as grindy as any MC FR gear run.

But what is accessibility? I'm still using this word that I haven't defined. To me, accessibility is the ability to walk into a raid and kill a boss. It's not a number and even ordinal ranking may be impossible, since what makes a raid inaccessible may vary between players. So maybe it's better to ask what makes a raid inaccessible. What makes it harder for players to walk into a raid and kill a boss?

Time, duh.
Number of players: as this goes up, so the time gets harder to manage as more and more schedules must overlap just right.
Specific player requirements such as a class, spec, or even just role, as anyone who called a raid due to lack of healers can testify to.
Gear, whether it's FR or EH.
Strategies which must be known ahead of time. By this I mean needing encounter-specific responses which must be done faster than a raid could be expected to figure them out on the fly or reasonably anticipate, such as needing a tank being something we should expect.

Reduce these and the raid is more accessible. But it will lose some fun. A very short raid will let people in, but may end up feeling insubstantial. Needing fewer players will do the same, but also constricts raid design and may hurt the enjoyment players get from working in large groups. Avoiding the need for specific classes also restricts raid design as well as risking homogenization of classes to fit raids. Reducing gear requirements may cause overgearing to happen too easily, trivializing fights and reducing the fun, while also causing players to burn through content even faster and quit that much sooner. Having strategies which can be figured out on the fly, meaning with sufficient buffers of time and health, may force encounters to be too easy, especially if players pull a second time knowing exactly what will happen.

Accessibility reduces fun, but it's also what allows us to get to that fun. Clearly this calls for quantification of both terms and the graphing of graphs with pretty lines to show optimum fun-accessibility points for criteria such as highest average fun over the population, highest fun over raiding population, and whatever will make the game designers richer, faster.

Finally, some support for my pro-slavery agenda

| Saturday, November 20, 2010
As you all know, I am a Pazi (that is the Patriotic Capitalist Party for those of you who don't know) who yearns for the days of freedom. And by freedom I mean slavery. Yes, slavery is indeed freedom. Economic freedom with rising tides lifting all boats. You see, as any market fundamentalist can tell you, absent intrusive government regulation, the market will always do the mot efficient thing possible. So logically if for a century, give or take a few decades, slavery was legal in America (not to mention all the time before the revolution) and practiced by people seeking a profit, then slavery must be an economically rational system and therefore just fine. Unless of course you hate freedom, and by freedom I mean slavery, and by slavery I mean capitalism.

Or as my favorite social, Gevlon, says:
People have an inherent FEELING (as opposed to rationally proven/challengable opinion) about what is right or wrong.

Whenever the majority votes "wrong", a social person will consider these voters "wrong" or "evil" and feels urged to punish/change them.

Like you CAN'T accept slavery even if great majority of your country would support it, Frostheim can't accept "these kids ignored my earlier statement and did not respected me enough to care to tell me that they will go for optional bosses"

Yes, slavery is just fine as long as only a minority oppose it.

Not having nice things in Minecraft

| Friday, November 19, 2010
The last few days as I've wandered my world in Minecraft, I could only imagine it as some wrecked post-Soviet landscape, scarred by strip-mining, shoddy architecture, bombs, and partially torn-up rail lines. Yes, that's my world in Minecraft.

A few small glorified huts that I call fortresses are the starting points for tunnels deep down, where I've torn apart the earth. Meanwhile ill-fated battles with creepers have done the same up above. If you haven't played Minecraft, creepers are these green things that explode if they get too close. That will dig a small hole in stone walls, but if you're in sand or dirt, it will blast a decent crater.

It is these creepers which have wrecked so much. A farm which I'd built out into the water was blasted by a creeper. The explosion opened up into a cave below, causing a quarter of the dirt to be washed away, disrupting the water flow, and nearly drowning me. A small fort I'd built so I could safely dig a mountain at night was breached, letting in a skeleton who killed me. I lost all my items from that. My most recent building has had a few holes blown in it. Creepers are a blight upon the world.

But the creepers cannot take all the blame. Scarce resources have taken their toll. Rail lines to connect my forts have been cut short by lack of iron. And then torn up to build transportation through mine tunnels. The stone and dirt which help up the rails are left in place, a monument to failure. Along the way, vast stores of gravel have been built up. While not particularly useful by itself, gravel can be placed and re-dug to yield flint, a necessary resource for arrows. But this reprocessing is a slow and boring process, so instead the gravel sits in giant wooden chests, accumulating more and more, like some poorly-rendered parody of nuclear waste.

It was time to end the build-destroy-decay cycle. It was time to build something nice. So I did that. I built something nice. I found a tall hill, hauled a bunch of stone, dirt, and glass to the top, and started leveling an area to use. Lacking a real design program, Excel generously offered to let me pretend that filling cells with grey, black, and brown was a blueprint. Over a few nights of battling skeletons, zombies, and the damned creepers, the walls were built, windows installed, and a front door added so work could continue in peace. It grew up with walls of stone and glass. A ceiling of wood became a floor of wood for the floor above. And that floor would be framed in stone, to limit the spread of fires, a step which turned out to save a great deal of white paint. There is no white paint. But there is wool. After much punching of sheep I had walls of white, a ceiling of white, big, tall, wide windows, and a second floor with wide open, well-lit space. The balcony around the house was eventually demolished after I found that it blocked the sun and encouraged the congregation of skeletons, zombies, creepers, and spiders. A basement was dug out, lit, and watered, to create a fully enclosed farm. The plot isn't huge, but it can keep me alive.

It is a nice house. It is a nice thing. Finally I have a nice thing in Minecraft. Pictures will come eventually, since I must admit that some of the dirt framework still needs replacing.

On a nearby, slightly higher hill, I'm growing a World Tree. Now where are those vials...

How carebears have ruined WoW

| Thursday, November 18, 2010
This post will contain nothing but facts, so if you disagree, it's because you hate facts and American and are therefore a Communist. Europeans, you can just move along right now, along with anyone not from real America.

Rogues thrive on world PvP. By world PvP I mean people who are either afk or at half health while fighting ten mobs. With the addition of guards and sanctuary cities, rogue PvP became harder, but thanks to vanish could still be done. Then came flying mounts. By the time Blizzard added teleports to instances, rogues were all switching to sword specialization in order to get the highest possible DPS. While commuting seppuku.

This lack of world PvP also hurts everyone else. With a safe, carefree, or should I say, carebear, world, no one has to pay any damn attention. Situational awareness has plummeted. When players fall out of the habit of spinning their camera and character in circles to watch for rogues, or on some days, warlocks who will fear you into even more mobs, it's not a surprise that they also lose track of things like adds, fire, and adds on fire.

But how does world PvP come back? Simple: make it.

The fact is that world PvP cannot be based on any sort of encouragement or positive effect. Small rewards didn't make sand, I mean Silithyst, any more fun. Significant rewards will only work for a short time, until we outgear them and no longer care. There is only one way to cause world PvP: give us no other choice. Put summoning stones in vulnerable locations, such as anywhere, and make it impossible to summon from outside to inside an instance. Remove teleporting to dungeons. While you're at it, put a bunch of instances all in the same area so that inevitably players will run into each other. Or at least so rogues will run into them.

Getting chain-ganked by rogues also hardens players, giving them the strength to deal with wiping continuously for hours on end. After all, I've killed some bosses in less time than it takes to run from Thorium Point to Blackrock Depths while a raid is gathering for Blackwing Lair.

Carebears have also ruined gathering. It used to be that a mineral node was a serious deal. People might fight for days over a regular thorium node, until finally someone won Alterac Valley. Gathering used to be hardcore. Dismounting to mine or pick herbs meant you were vulnerable to someone else coming along to kill you. Now everyone is spread out and not flagged. The greatest happiness came when I switched back to PvP and got into the habit of killing anyone who even dared to glance at my ore.

Carebears encourage bots, leaving them free to bot away at bot activities such as botting. If instead they were killed on sight... Let me put it this way: I started this post talking about hating America and Communism and here's where it ties in: bots. The economic growth in China is not due to stealing jobs. It's due to stealing spawns. That's right, bots and gold sellers in WoW account for over 75% of China's increase in GDP over the past five years. Kill the bots and we'll stop those damn Communists right in their tracks as they attempt to sell us gold at market prices.

Redistributing the Wealth

| Wednesday, November 17, 2010
What's the point of jewelcrafting?

It allows us to better use gear, giving more flexibility by not capping caps on gear, but with gems. So upgrades are upgrades rather than "well it's better but I'd lose the hit cap". That's nice. But we have way way more sockets than we'd need for that. Why not instead have more things like belt buckles and maybe have an item or two which always has sockets? Because that would accomplish this first goal with few negative effects.

As you can see, gemming based on blacksmights adding sockets and a handful already on gear would make a decent bit for blacksmithing and a decent bit for jewelcrafting. But jewelcrafting was supposed to be the great new profession, so it must be profitable. A handful of sockets is not enough!

The driving force behind gem and socket design was not to help players use a wider array of gear. It was to move gold. The goal was to move gold from you to jewelcrafters. This resulted in lots and lots of sockets. Those sockets would have to be filled. And not just filled, but filled quickly, since when an item has two or three sockets on it, particularly meta gem sockets, the upgrade isn't an upgrade until that socket is filled. This puts players in a rushed state, accelerating the natural desire for quick results, to the point where players will willingly pay for hugely profitable gems, and lots of them.

It's time to nerf jewelcrafting. Just give a little service to tailors, leatherworkers, and blacksmiths: ripping gems out of gear, destroying it in the process. Yes, that's another idea I ripped from Torchlight. One of the NPCs in the game can destroy a gem to free up a socket (a service that we don't need since new gems can do that) while another can tear apart an item to liberate the gems inside. That second one would be more than a little bit valuable, and would significantly reduce the need for new gems every time an item is upgraded. This would actually destroy the market entirely, meaning that players would only need a few dozen gems ever, which is perhaps excessive. So instead the gem recovery process could scratch them, meaning turning them into uncut gems which would need to be recut. This at least cuts out the perpetual prospecting gold mine. It also hurts mining. But there's an easy fix for that: buff engineering.

In fact, that might be the fix for everything.

Kelpsacovic the Undying

| Tuesday, November 16, 2010
It feels wrong to have this title.

I don't mean that the achievement is borderline trivial these days. I mean that I personally die a lot.

Laying Bare the Bear Threat

| Monday, November 15, 2010
It's time we got some objective, quantitative evidence. It's time our fear-mongering had the selective statistics to back it up. It's time for massive charts to scroll past in search of one single number that we can use to measure how afraid we should be. It's time, for you to scroll down really far so I can tell you what to think after pretending to give you the facts.

Zone Bears Furbolgs Either
Alterac Mountains Yes No Yes
Arathi Highlands No No No
Ashenvale Yes Yes Yes
Azshara No Yes Yes
Azuremyst No Yes Yes
Badlands No No No
Blades Edge Mountains No No No
Blasted Lands No No No
Bloodmyst Isle Yes Yes Yes
Borean Tundra No No No
Burning Steppes No No No
Crystalsong Forest No No No
Darkshore Yes Yes Yes
Deadwind Pass No No No
Desolace No No No
Dragonblight Yes Yes Yes
Dun Morogh Yes No Yes
Duskwood No No No
Dustwallow Marsh No No No
Eastern Plaguelands No No No
Elwynn Forest Yes No Yes
Eversong Woods No No No
Felwood Yes Yes Yes
Feralas Yes Yes Yes
Ghostlands No No No
Grizzly Hills Yes Yes Yes
Hellfire Peninsula No No No
Hillsbrad Foothills Yes No Yes
Howling Fjord Yes Yes Yes
Icecrown No No No
Isle of Quel'danas No No No
Loch Modan Yes No Yes
Moonglade No Yes Yes
Mulgore No No No
Nagrand No No No
Netherstorm No No No
Searing Gorge No No No
Sholazar Basin No No No
Silithus No No No
Silverpine Forest Yes No Yes
Stonetalon Mountains No No No
Stranglethorn Vale No No No
Swamp of Sorrows No No No
Tanaris No No No
Terokkar Forest No No No
The Barrens No No No
The Hinterlands No No No
Storm Peaks No No No
Thousand Needles No No No
Tirisfal Glades No No No
Un'Goro Crater No No No
Western Plaguelands Yes No Yes
Westfall No No No
Wetlands No No No
Winterspring Yes Yes Yes
Zangarmarsh No No No
Zul'Drak Yes No Yes

Yes 17 12 20
No 40 45 37
Ratio 0.425 0.267 0.541
Percentage 0.298 0.211 0.351
without Outland 0.333 0.235 0.392

Over 35% of zones have either bears, furbolgs, or both. That's over a third of the zones. While we may take some comfort in the fact that Outland is free of bears and furbolgs, that also means that in our native Azeroth, the ratio is even higher, reaching nearly 40%. In some areas the bears are even more deadly than normal, carrying the corrupting influence of the Scourge or Burning Legion.

Even if we could simply kill all of them, a difficult feat requiring major coordination, they would all come back, possibly in mere seconds.

What the media won't tell you

| Friday, November 12, 2010

That entire crowd? Photographers. Guy kicking window? Robbing a camera store.

I'm having a ton of fun in ICC

This title might seem to slightly contradict yesterday's title.

Yesterday's post is actually a few weeks old. Since then my guild has started doing hardmodes. They are a lot more challenging and interesting. Having to play more carefully makes it more fun, even when the mechanics are not majorly different. Such as on Marrowgar, which is essentially the same, just with more lag, thanks having so much more fire. Even still, it's more fun not falling asleep and standing in bone storm.

This raises the question: If Blizzard knows how to make these fights fun, why are the most easily accessed fights the less fun versions? It's almost like the old "most people don't see the end-game content" problem, except in this case they might not even realize what they're missing. I've said before that I didn't like the split of easymode and hardmode, with very little in the middle, but since actually seeing that hardmode (or some of it), I think there's an even worse problem of easy and boring vs. hard and interesting.

On the other hand, this might be inevitable. Interesting often means complex (not always, but it's not a terrible rule of thumb), which means that unless a mechanic is trivial, it will be harder. This does depend on the highly subjective and, in this post, undefined, meaning of interesting.

I don't like ICC

| Thursday, November 11, 2010
There, I said it. Hang me up high til my neck stretches too far. I don't like Icecrown Citadel.

I'm not going to waste time trying to define fun or interesting since you'd say it's wrong anyway. But the first wing is not fun, except gunship, which is easy but at least different. Festerface and Rotgut aren't much fun either. Putricide is almost fun, definitely fun as the abomination, though also quite simple and easy.

Heal dragon fight is not fun either. Run here and kill this then runthere and kill that and nothing lasts more than a few seconds. It just feels frantic without being truly difficult. Sindragosa is a bit of fun, but frost breath irritates me as a tank.

Blood council is boring as a tank or melee. But as a nuclei catcher I've had fun. Blood queen is boring. Biting is a fun idea, but in practice is just a source of stress, or in 25 a call for addons and I'm no fan of fights that demand addons or even do more than slightly encourage their use. This is part of why I hate healing.

But at least there's Arthas. Except I don't enjoy that fight either. Phase one is boring. Phase 1.5 is boring. Phase 2 is some combination of irritating RNG and excessively precise positioning. Phase 3 is boring. It's fucking irritating staring at a release button for half the fight duration while Arthas and Tirion have a shouting match. A free last 10% doesn't feel fun, it just feels like I'm doing PvP with a rogue around.

I didn't feel any sense of accomplishment, pride, joy, or even relief when I got my first kill. I just thought "oh, I ran out of health". That's no way to feel after killing the last boss of the expansion. And I'll stick with the Insane, thanks.

I cannot blame all of this on ICC. More than a little bit, I believe, comes from having spent months longer wiping in ICC than I should have. I associate it too much with needless wipes, not from mistakes, which happen, but from players just plain not trying, not listening, not grasping basic concepts of fights or even roles. So when bosses died, it did not feel like my accomplishment or our accomplishment, but simply the eventual outcome of for once someone by accident not uttterly and completely failing.

And tanking in general has been pretty much straight downhill this expansion, with only a brief period of fun and challenge back before we overheated everything. Ret DPS wasn't much better, with T10 being a lovely source of lag-based DPS loss.

While I'm at it...
Naxxramas was a giant pile of crap.
Malygos was too soon and three dimensional vehicle fights do not fit in WoW, not the audience, not the game engine.
Ulduar was fairly fun but felt like it got cut off too much from the Storm Peaks setup due to having a raid and too much tome in between, not that I'm blaming blizzard for the delay, it just didn't work well for the immersion factor.
ToC was too hyped for being basically ICC-lite. Not much fun and somehow too short to be substantial but long enough to feel like I wasted a night.
I forgot Sartharion. 3D is brilliant for nothing else than showing exactly how ridiculous gear inflation has become.

Fishing as a stat

| Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I want to be able to reforge weapons to make them usable as fishing poles. Or the reverse. Let's say 40% weapon DPS changes to fishing, though still usable for combat. On the reverse, a fishing pole can be reforged, gaining DPS (though not the inverse of 40%, since that would end up overpowered) and will no longer be usable as a fishing pole. But it looks like a fishing pole and is perfectly suitable for beating people to death.

After all, who doesn't want to use non-fishing pole items as fishing poles? Even the goblins get to use dynamite.

The Morality of Cooking

| Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Why do we have recipes? Why don't we all make up entirely new recipes? Why do we blindly accept the recipes of our parents with only a few changes here and there to suit new ingredients? Why do some never change recipes?

Who cares, let's talk about morality.

Our favorite social said this today
"Dangerous", "counterproductive" are measurable. "Moral" is not. It's merely a rephrasing of "my mum/teacher/priest thought it's right and told me when I was a kid and I never had the brains or time to question it".

As you can see, what we have here is someone who cannot see that morality comes in three flavors: shit someone made up, practicality that you can't yet see, and outdated ideas. This is a slight oversimplification, since these can blend and merge; an outdated idea may be resurrected and combined with shit someone made up to create a hybrid idea of unique uselessness.

Shit someone made up can covers things like religious justifications for racism. It's not a useful idea and it never was. Instead it's just shit that someone made up.

Outdated ideas are moral codes which were useful at a time but are no longer needed. For example, food restrictions, such as avoiding pork or certain seafood, can help avoid disease which was not always easily prevented or treated. These days we know how to cook properly, thanks to recipes, fire, and not wandering in a desert for 40 years or 40 generations or 40 generations of 40 years. 40 something.

Then there is practical morality. This I define as prevention for actions which trigger harmful or wasteful results. That made no sense, did it? Let's try theft for an obvious one to demonstrate the principle. Why should I not steal? Well first off, the theft may involve property damage, a harmful or wasteful result. But I can steal without causing damage, so that's insufficient. Instead the problem is that theft encourages wasteful responses: barbed wire fences, bars over windows, and rental cops. These are entirely worthless except for stopping thieves, so the thieves have not merely taken what was not theirs, they have also triggered a wasteful response.

This could be extended further, to cover things like fraud, lying, murder, war. All of these trigger unproductive responses as we try to protect ourselves from these actions. We might even venture into the production world and regulate toasters to ensure that they do not frequently catch fire, since such an object would trigger the otherwise unproductive response of men in rubber suits spraying water on houses.

This leaves out something important: what is productivity? In response I shall wave my hand, say "something about happiness", and claim that's for another day.

Short version: there's more to morality than blind adherence to pointless rules taught by the previous generation.

Now to tie in the cooking. We use recipes because previous generations have figured out practical ways to organize and cook foods. If we looked we could see all manner of practicalities behind the recipes; the way adding an oil to this otherwise fat-free food helps with absorption of vitamins in it, how a mix of beans and corn provides a better protein mix than either by itself, how cooking foods in certain ways will remove poisons and add nutritional value. These are old lessons which are useful. But ingredients change, so sometimes we need to tweak recipes. Maybe we don't have enough wheat flour, but oats in a blender can help substitute. And maybe the recipe for fried lard dipped in lard can be thrown out.

No level cap, no need to level

Imagine with me a world, a world much like the world of the World of Warcraft which we all know and love and/or hate. But imagine that in this world, you have every ability and a full talent set at level 1. And you can raid. Essentially level 1 is level 80. But you can still level. There is no PvP and all NPCs scale to your level.

At level 2 you will gain stats. But raids are designed to scale perfectly with level, so there's a level 1 Naxx and a level 2 Naxx and the difficulty between them, damage, health, adds, are all exactly in proportion to the increase from the level. The gear is stronger as well, but also in proportion, so no matter what you do, level 1 will be just as easy or hard as any other level.

A level one can see exactly the same content. The gear they get is exactly as powerful relative to their enemies. But...

But the higher level you go, the more stats you get. A level 80 might be a hundred times more powerful than a level 1. But they'll never meet in battle and never raid together.

Would people stick with level one to quickly see the content or would they level up for stats which give no benefit?

Right doesn't make Right

| Monday, November 8, 2010
Dear readers,
Reading skills are important. For example, you look like a total ass if you can't even read the name of who wrote what you're quoting in your post. I'm going to leave the error there, so as to not cause any confusion with the comments. Also because I don't believe that just because I can change my posts and comments to hide stupid carelessness, doesn't mean I should.

Tamarind, this was stupid and you know it.
As long as you remain within the terms of service, you have the right do do anything in the game which you are capable of doing within the game.

I'd like to introduce what I call "you get arrested by time-traveling police".

We've all heard the "might makes right" concept and most people can at least accept that this isn't true, even if in practical terms might tends to win. Less explicitly stated is the "legal makes right" concept, or in fitting with my title "right makes right". If you can do it, it must be okay.

With that kind of thinking we'd never have any laws. If X action is not illegal, then X action must be moral. All we have to do is go back to before laws, and X action can be anything. In other words, once upon a time "right makes right" would have justified an entirely law-free world. If you think you like this idea, keep in mind this gives anyone the right to kill you, rob you, rape you, torture you. Get the idea? Then let's try something that seems sensible: if something is moral, it shouldn't be illegal.

See where we're going? Yep, it's the good old circular logic. It's not illegal so it must be moral and because it's moral we shouldn't make it illegal.

But obviously we've not used this standard forever. At some point someone recognized that a legal action is possible immoral or dangerous to others (at the very least murder laws are practical, regardless of morality). So they made it illegal. Deviating from murder, which has always been considered bad except during war or religion, meaning never, but setting aside that contradiction, let's look at slavery. Slavery was once legal, and even considered by some to be moral, since Negros need a master or else they'd never see Jesus. But thankfully, someone, many people actually, saw that legality does not define morality, nor the reverse, and that therefore while slavery was legal, it was likely not moral. So eventually slavery became illegal and we renamed it capitalism. Joking. Maybe.

Along this line we can see that what we call legal now may be illegal in the future. And so come the time-traveling police. Their job is to arrest people for what is immoral but not yet illegal.

And to loop it all back around: just because you can do something doesn't mean you should and it doesn't justify it either. I can throw this teapot (it's next to my monitor) out my window and it will likely break. It is legal. It's also stupid and counterproductive. If someone needs the law to defend their actions, lacking any other defense, they're using quicksand as their foundation.

P.S. I acknowledge that morality is a vague, slippery thing on which people are unlikely to agree absolutely. That's not my main purpose here. Instead I wanted to address the idea that once something is legal, anything goes.

P.S.S. "I would really have thought the title being “Chas’ Take on Frostgate” would have given the game away…" - Tamarind

Goodbye, Scourge

[date fail, lol]
With the coming cataclysm, it has occurred to me that a major story is almost over: the Scourge. It arose in Warcraft 3, when it was held back, barely. I suppose we won in the sense that Archimonde didn't destroy the world, but the aftermath was hardly pretty. Northern Eastern Kingdoms was wrecked and occupied by one or another undead faction. Based on their behavior I can hardly call the Forsaken a victory for Azeroth. We battled across the Plaguelands with many victories, but seemingly little progress. Even our defeat of Naxxramas only sent it northward to lay siege to an Alliance town. For some reason we ran off to Outland and seemed to forget about the Scourge, only to return when it assaulted our capitals. We survived, barely. So we went to Northrend and battled through one evil after another before finally killing Arthas and seeing Bolvar become the new Lich King as the Jailor of the Damned. The Scourge is finally defeated.


We have new enemies. Or enemies we've faced it before, but now as our primary focus. The Old Gods and their elemental minions. The Black Dragonflight led by Deathwing. Who knows what else will arrive to ruin the day. Meanwhile the Horde is torn apart by internal divisions while the Alliance finds itself under direct and outright attack by the Forsaken.

It's a strange new world. It's going to take getting used to.The cults will have new names and new leaders, but in the end we can rest assured they have only the most vile of intentions. Somethings never change.

Whose revolution is it?

| Saturday, November 6, 2010
If you are handed a coup, a plot, a bomb, a war, a revolution, is it yours? Can anyone else revolt for your freedom? I hear more often than not about soldiers dying overseas for my rights and freedom. Strangely, this never makes me more free. Strangely, it never seems to make me more free. Perhaps I merely need to go there myself. But where? I cannot imagine that just running off anywhere will make me more free. So I line up and wait for orders and someone tells me where to die. Again, I cannot imagine this makes me more free.

What am I to do, attack the nearest intrument of oppression? That would be the next person I meet, beside myself of course. And again, I cannot imagine that attacking someone in the same position as me is going to make either of us more free. It's more likely to get at least one ulof us in jail.

I cast a vote. Several. I've even done it more than once. Strangely, I do not feel more free. Perhaps that's merely asking someone else to stage the revolution for me. "Excuse me, sir, might I be more free in a few months time?" False revolutionaries in revolving doors.

I'm beginning to think that humans are not naturally free and perhaps freedom is never even possible. Not since we lost the ability to kill tigers with little more than rocks. Which is to say, never. Even then we worked together. Cooperation is such a lovely word. So I'm led to only this: choose your tyrant carefully, for if you do not pick one, then it will be chosen for you. And my question is left unanswered.

Belgium, be very afraid.

| Friday, November 5, 2010
If you're not reading this post, be even more afraid, because you don't know what's coming.

Here's the timeline:
Congress attempts to raise the debt cap.

Rand Paul filibusters to stand by his principles.

America collapses seconds later as angry Chinese investors foreclose our government.

With no government to pay or organize them, American troops in Europe cease spending any time at all prepared for battle and instead focus on getting drunk and harassing German barmaids.

In imitation of notable Italian womanizer Silvio Berlusconi, a womanizer rises in France to seize all power.

With nothing to stop them, the new French Pansy Party, known as Panzis, invade Algeria, war which they very slowly win due to a combination of incredibly awful tactics but incredibly awesome weapons. Seeking seeking to unify all French-speaking people, Belgium is invaded.

Britain responds by giving carefully-worded speeches which are so polite that the French interpret them as encouragement.

French forces invade Germany under a historical mandate to "neutralize Prussia", swiftly defeating the Germans whose own army and security forces are tied up dealing with thousands of heavily armed and very intoxicated former American soldiers.

Turning traitor, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano leads the French army through eastern Europe toward Russia, invading and swiftly crushing any resistance. Then the French army freezes to death in the winter (technically summer, based on the tilt of the Earth) and is forced to retreat.

Meanwhile for no clear reason Italy invades nearby Croatia, quickly winning with no casualties. However they soon retreat, declaring it a "waste of a Sunday afternoon".

TL;DR: Libertarians are going to cause World War III. This fits well with my theory that the Tea Party is actually a front organization for Islamic terrorists.

You may think this is crazy, that the French are pacifist wimps who cannot wage war at all. Basic historical knowledge would indicate that the French love nothing more than bombing helpless enemies. They're a ruthless, bloodthirsty people. Be afraid.

I have three posts titled "what's a casual raiding guild?"

| Thursday, November 4, 2010
Those are my most recent failed attempts. They are not the first set either. Casual raiding guilds are damn hard to define. And that's precisely why I think so many fail to progress or even not collapse.

Guilds need common goals and expectations. Without these they're just a glorified chat channel. But so often casual raiding guilds fail to set these goals and expectations. Well, they might get the goal part in a generic or distant way, such as "raid" or "kill Arthas", but what's next week and how are we getting there? Expectations are the real killer. What gear should people have? DPS? How much attention should they pay? How about preparation: gems, enchants, consumables, strats?

The person who does more feels like the rest are dragging him down, while the people who do less may feel pushed too hard. These players can play together, but they need to know what they expect of each other and reach a compromise. More likely, they'll split away to other guilds or form useless cliques within the guild. Either way, the guild fails.

I'd define my current guild as casual. We raid a few nights for a few hours. No one is screaming on vent. No one rage quits. But we all sit down and kill internet dragons. We chat and joke and laugh, until we need vent clear to coordinate the killing of internet dragons. We're not amazing players and we're not terrible players. We're just people who expect each other to learn quickly, pay attention, and enjoy killing internet dragons. It's a friendly, helpful ass-kicking social guild.

Health draining as a stat

| Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Now and then I decide that I really should reforge my weapon, then realize that I've not done that yet because Bryn'troll has nothing to reforge. Stam, strength, and... lifestealing? That's not a stat, it's a proc. Those clearly aren't stats. Or are they? Once again, I'll make possibly useless comparisons to Torchlight. Which you should try.

WoW has more than a few lifestealing weapons, enchants, and spells. Warlocks have drain life and deathcoil. I won't count them since that would be as absurd as claiming polymorph as a potential gear stat. Alright, quick list, may not be complete: Lifestealing enchant, Skullforge Reaver from Stratholme, Demonfork from Lower Blackrock Spire, Syphon of the Nathrezim, and a list of all weapons with "steal" in the name, which does have some mis-hits, stealth, and the effective duplication of Shadowstrike.

So the stat is there and has been giving some sort of value. That means we could see it more often if we wanted it.

More than a few things go against this. It goes against Blizzard's attempt to simplify stats. Though the DPS gain per class/spec should be somewhat straightforward, it's still an added bit of complexity. To make it worse, it's a melee-focused stat, but melee have the agility-strength divide, so the weapon would either have to be gimped for one side or have nothing but lifestealing. Then within the agility community there's the melee-range split, and guess what, this wouldn't be very useful for hunters, unless on a ranged weapon, in which case it's useless for melee.

The usefulness of the healing aspect would depend heavily on the situation. It is likely to save downtime while soloing and could be a slight help against stray damage in PvE, but it's not going to save anyone from what would otherwise kill them, or at least so rarely as to be insignificant.

But maybe it could be a gem. A meta or perhaps one-per-set prismatic. Torchlight uses it as a gem and sometimes on weapons, which are named as Draining, much like WoW has Owl or Bear. My experience has mostly been as a Vanquisher where my constant kiting meant that I rarely took damage, so a bit of healing here and there would make up for it. On the downside, my constant kiting also meant that I wasn't able to autoshot very often, so it wasn't triggered much. For a Destroyer or a melee-oriented Vanquisher it might have been more useful. But I liked the idea of the stat and found it to be fun. After all, there's a strange thrill to not being a healing class but seeing that health bar go up anyway.

Blizzard's attitude towards lifestealing would need to change for it to be a real stat. Currently it's a gimmick, barely noticeable except that for some reason a huge lifestealing proc was put on an axe, Bryn'troll, off the first boss of 25-man Icecrown Citadel, making it the easiest 264 weapon, easier in my opinion than most of even the 251 weapons. I doubt this will happen, but what better time for senseless, useless speculation and theorycraft than around an election?

Would you want to see lifestealing given a more common place in WoW?

Crafting in Minecraft is boring and unexpectedly brilliant

| Tuesday, November 2, 2010
On the surface Minecraft appears to have just about the same auto-run crafting as WoW. Stick stuff in a furnace with fuel. Arrange materials on a workbench and click the result as many times as you want and have materials. There are little bits like figuring out the ideal fuel amount to minimize waste, but frankly that's looking for trivial detail, since wood is infinite (just make sure to plant your saplings), so you're saving little more than trivial bits of time. And I don't find all that much amazingness in the material choices. I do like my diamond shovel for massive projects, but generally I just use a lot of stone and sticks: very very cheap to make and replace. Even stone can be unlimited thanks to lava flows and water.

But there's another crafting that WoW cannot even compare to: building.

The tools aren't the crafting. They're the equivalent of arclite spanners: make it and move on to the good stuff. The good stuff being the big stuff we make. Some people g so far as to make basic computers. I prefer more basic, practical designs: 'doors' which automatically close if there's a water or lava leak, bunkers which allow me to hit enemies without retaliation and still get the loot, or even just something as basic as a pile of dirt becoming a scaffold for building something far greater. Once I figure it out I can make basic circuits with this strange ore I found, but that's for another time. Or traps for mobs! That trigger bombs!

Of course many of the designs are already figured out, but the variability of the world makes them still less mindless than crafting in WoW. Terrain varies, so traps must be adapted to suit it. For example, the airlock I mentioned earlier is very simple, but I found that I didn't have the free space to build the normal design: I'd be bonking my head all the time and I like open doorways, so I tweaked it ever so slightly to increase the headroom with no loss of functionality. I'm making it sound like more than it is, which is that I just shifted one of the torches up by a couple blocks. It's a trivially simple change, but I could make that change and it made a difference.

One I figured out on my own was a wall which enemies cannot climb, but will still let water through, perfect for protecting my fields from stray cows. This same design can be adapted to the bunker that lets me hit without being hit back. Again, it's very simple, just a line of blocks spaced one block above the water: too high to climb, but because of how enemies swim, they will not go under it either. Actually chickens might, but they don't seem to like water as much as cows, so they aren't as big of a problem. It's so simple, easy, basic, and trivial, but it's still more complex than crafting in WoW.

I'm almost certain this is just an unreasonable comparison because different games have different mechanics, challenges, and goals (or total lack thereof), so there's no way to add that sort of adaptive yet incredibly basic crafting to WoW. But then again, why not just a bit of inter-genre, inter-game theft of ideas?

Since writing this I've gotten into basic cannon design. Cannons in Minecraft are based on the simple principle of: explosions make things move. Thanks to some of the strange physics, players have figured out how to use water to prevent their cannons from self-destructing. Usually. A misfiring cannon will not only destroy itself* but may also blast gigantic craters into anything nearby, or sometimes far away as well.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Engineering minigame!

* An obsidian cannon cannot self-destruct, but it is an extremely time-consuming material to gather and its near-invincibility makes it very hard to tinker with existing cannons.

Americans, vote!

| Monday, November 1, 2010
It's the only voice you have that will not be ignored.

Maybe I should have thought to remind you all to register. Oops.

Oh and please read up a bit on who you're voting for and why.

Don't leave until the instance is done

But when is it done?

The definition of instance completion has changed over time. Let's see how.

To start off, I'm going to define two initial mindsets for how an individual will decide that an instance is done. The first is selfish and the other is cooperative. The selfish person will define the instance as done for them while the cooperative will define it as done for the group. Keep in mind that these do not necessarily result in different final definitions; the separate paths may converge again, or diverge ever further.

What makes an instance done?

At the furthest extreme, every single mob is dead, every gear has been clicked, and until there are respawns there is nothing to do beside run around. I've only seen this happen intentionally a few times, but some instances will have it happen naturally due to narrow, single paths which force players to fight every pack.

Then there are the middle grounds of every boss dead or every quest completed. Depending on the instance one may require more time than the other, so I cannot place them relative to each other.

Toward the doing less end is the instance completion message from the dungeon finder. Done, here's your other loot and bonus xp.

And finally at the lowest end is the instance achievement. This will be different from the instance completion in winged instances such as BRD or Maraudon.

Coming after finally (because I can't figure out where to fit it in) is the specific item goal. A player or group runs for a specific drop and once that's done, they're done. Or if it fails to drop, possibly the same, followed by a requeue. This is the guy who keeps leaving halfway into HoR.

Note that we didn't always have all of these criteria. Dungeon finder rewards are more recent than achievements which are more recent than quest completion or boss kills. And this is where the change has come from.

Whether the actual mindset has shifted from cooperative to selfish, the behavior has given the appearance of such a shift. A cooperative player on a quest goal can understand that others on quest goals may have other quests, so his quest completion does not mean the instance is done. In contrast a selfish player will define the instance as done when their own quests are done. However with the addition of various single-event announcements, such as an achievement for killing the one last boss or loot bag for the same, players have tended towards a thought of "I'm done, so they must be done too." This creates the same behavior, leaving, as if they were operating with a selfish mindset.

The selfish mindset isn't new. Long before HoR I saw players drop in the middle of instances after getting, or failing to get, the loot they wanted. But there was less of a tendency to assume that "I'm done, so they must be done too" Why? Because we knew from the beginning that our goals didn't always fit the perfectly linear path of a modern instance. Maybe it was BRD and we needed to kill 10 of a trash mob, but a path straight to the bosses would only yield 7 or 8. Or we're running into Maraudon and someone needs the crystals from the Khans, but they're not right at the instance entrances, so we'll deviate from the course slightly. Sometimes the quest mob isn't even normally present, but is part of a triggered event. From the start there's the idea if "I'm doing something different, so maybe they are as well".

But there was a more important factor still: nothing told us when we were done. Players had to define for themselves and their group when an instance was done. So if a group wanted to skip half the instance and only kill the third to last boss, they're done.

Now we have something to tell us when we are done. This doesn't necessarily align with how we've defined it. But it's the official "Blizzard says we're done" message, so it must be true and universal. This message is why Maraudon is missing two bosses. They're still there, but the "you're done" message comes before them, so players assume the individual and the group are done.

As the stimuli have rewarded different behaviors, so have the behaviors changed. Maybe we're not more selfish than we once were, but we're less thoughtful, assuming that what we want is what others want. And then to end on a tangent: humans are less kind to anonymous nobodies, so regardless of the change in stimuli, running with cross-realm people who we'll never see again will cause more selfish behavior. Add to that the simulated selfishness and you have the new way to run instances: alone.
Powered by Blogger.