What's the big deal with alts?

| Thursday, June 30, 2011
Syl has gone on an anti-alt rampage. You might think I agree, since I've unofficially added alts to my list of Things That Are Destroying WoW. But if there's one thing I love more than criticizing Blizzard with the power of hindsight and nostalgia, it's disagreeing with anyone.

So Syl, you're wrong.

And it's all your fault.

Within your personal complaints section you offered a few opinions, which I have interpreted as these:
  • They cause problems with immersion and identification with a character
  • Alts tend to be second-rate (poorly geared)
  • They take too much time
  • Excessive self-sufficiency through alts harms the player economy and the fun of it
  • They're meaningless.

The immersion problem is due to a mental flaw: you're unable to properly create and segment personalities. Anyone with merely one personality is bound to have problems.

Second-rate alts are an insignificant problem which Blizzard has fixed by showering everyone and everything with gear. So thanks a lot, Syl, your endless (or one-time-only) whining about your terribly geared alts is responsible for the many loot pinatas.

The self-sufficiency bit has no obvious problems that I can blame you for.

Meaninglessness? Well thanks, because that got extended to everything. It's like when I'd complain that my brothers got more cake than me so my parents would throw away all the cake and makes us eat stale crackers instead. I was 15 before I learned that saltines are not cookies.

But you weren't done with it, were you? Then you go on to claim that playing alts doesn't make players better and in fact players tend to be good or bad (or somewhere in the middle) at the game as a whole rather than at individual aspects.

Playing alts can make players better. Can. Maybe. Possibly potentially it can happen in some circumstances. Alts can raise personal expectations. For example, when I played a paladin I learned to AoE tank (not that it was hard...) and when I made my warrior alt I decided that I would hold him to a similar standard, causing me to tank better than I would if I just said "oh well, I'm just a warrior and everyone knows warriors are stupid jerks." I suppose that example was reversed. And outdated, since it's been years since vanilla, during which every single warrior was a stupid jerk, much like in BC and LK when all moonkin were stupid jerks. But I digress.

Playing alts can help to see the game from other perspectives. While we can intellectually understand the mechanics, we don't fully understand how they affect people until we are in their shoes, literally virtually.

As for the "Good players are good players, no matter what toon they play and vice versa" claim, well that's utterly untrue. At least I hope it's untrue. I'm a terrible healer, or maybe not terrible, but not great, and easily stressed out and overwhelmed. If skill is consistent, that means I'm also bad at tanking and DPS, which would make me sad. So I think what this really comes down to is that Syl is a jerk.

But that doesn't mean alts are the greatest thing ever
What's so great about alts? It's nice to have something to tinker with and to learn a bit about how other classes see the game, but when and why did we get the idea that we must have max-level, max-profession, max-gear alts? That's not an alt, that's a second main! Is one main not good enough? Maybe we need more fun and more to do on our mains, rather than spamming alts and then getting sick of repeating quests.
In vanilla, the game of supposedly raid or die, if you aren't in a raid you might as well quit, a game where we might expect to have a ton of alts, I actually didn't have anywhere near as many as now. I had fewer and I had much different expectations for them. I expected to raid on my main (and I did) but my alts were not there to be part of some economic gaming powerhouse of achievements. They were to try out different ways to play. Some were short distractions: I'd wonder what a druid was like, play it briefly, and then know that I was much happier not playing a druid (early druids at early levels were a miserable experience).

I suppose they weren't alts at all, if we assume that "alt" is short for "alternative". They weren't alternatives. In fact, the closest thing was a warlock who, long story short, was not mine, and who briefly took the raiding spot from my shaman, since we needed a good warlock more than we need a bad healer. But the rogue, he was only around to play around a bit before I went back to playing a real class. None of the others ever got very high, since they were there for distraction rather than characters in which I would expect to invest any time or expect any achievement.

Somehow that changed. Why or when, I do not know. When I left WoW I had a plethora of alts. More than a handful of 80s, in various states of gear. None really got far since I'd quickly get sick of doing the same heroics as before, over and over, except with a longer queue time and more gear bashing. They all had maxed-out professions and functioned as a small economy unto themselves, which for the most part meant my rogue did all the money-making (JC is a bullshit profession), which the druid then stole for darkmoon decks, and then my paladin main turned them into reputation and eventually a title to reflect my insanity. In this my alts were not sources of great fun, but merely cogs in a machine. But cogs which I felt I must have.

The economic aspect makes sense to me. We gained to many more money sinks, resource sinks, that it is sensible to try to avoid them. And avoid the inconvenience. We once needed very little to get armor up and running, an enchant, maybe an armor patch at most, and it was ready to wear. Now we need gems, enchants, armor patches, glyphs (not part of gear, but part of the general theme of "you must take a dozen extra steps for no actual gain"), and now reforging. Maybe these were meant to spur the player economy. But as anyone can tell you, taxing too heavily only gives benefit until it starts to feed the black market, and alts are the black market. The analogy isn't perfect. How about how pushing someone on a swing makes them go higher, but if you push too hard they just fall off it on the ground and get mad?

In closing, I offer these insightful words:
What's so great about alts? It's nice to have something to tinker with and to learn a bit about how other classes see the game, but when and why did we get the idea that we must have max-level, max-profession, max-gear alts? That's not an alt, that's a second main! Is one main not good enough? Maybe we need more fun and more to do on our mains, rather than spamming alts and then getting sick of repeating quests.

The problem with the Starcraft MMO

| Wednesday, June 29, 2011
As we all know, or at least are very convinced of because we desperately want to hear it and hate dissenting opinions, Blizzard is creating a MMO based on Starcraft. We know this because they have claimed that it is with a new IP, and Starcraft is new relative to Warcraft which is almost as old as me if I was younger than I am.

I want to get the jump on it and just call dibs on a few topics. Yes, you can do that. Maybe some socialist bloggers believe in sharing, but I believe in hoarding ideas. That's why my draft folder is filled with unpublished posts, such as this one that I started five months ago, hence why it is filled with obsolete Brood Wars references.

First off, I am calling dibs on any and all Ghost whining.
Energy pool: too low. All it takes is one in and out of cloak and you're practically empty. No lockdown means helpless against vehicles, as if that weren't bad enough.
Nuclear strike: Cast time is way too long. And no, this isn't the new "aimed shot from shadowmeld".

Siege tanks will end up with some major problems. Sure they have heavy armor and a lot of firepower, but not since Onyxia has stance-dancing been such a huge issue. Beside that, Thors are stealing their jobs with more damage, more health, and greater mobility.

Goliaths also will hate the lag time between ground and air attacks. Meanwhile Vikings will complain about their hybrid tax.

As of three years after release, Blizzard still has not balanced the ability of Zerg Queens to one-shot most ground biologicals. Meanwhile the queens won't stop whining that "their parasites are too easy to remove." And when patch 2.0 removes flying they will never ever shut up about it.

Starcraft is trying to convince me to meet a girl and get married

| Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I'd done a bit of 1v1 with a couple of my friends, mostly for fun and games, with us sometimes trying out ideas with varying success. But 2v2, that would require us to go... online. Into that sinister and frightening world with with other people. People who might very well decide to brutally crush me with devastating crushingness. I was afraid. I didn't want to ruin their rankings.

For context, in the 1v1s we'd done before that day (Sunday) I'd spent about 50% of my time swearing at the keyboard. M doesn't build marines in SC2, but it does in Brood Wars. Guess which game I've played more. So yea, I had some serious problems with failure to produce marines. MMMMMMMMMMMM. Nothing? Uh... oh. A. I made it worse when I declared that A would make more sense for marauders, at which point I then started trying to use A to produce marauders, resulting in a whole lot of very very slowly produced marines coming out of barracks with tech labs. The other 50% of my time was spent weeping in despair. The rounded out .1% was spent being accidentally brilliant.

1v1 is very hard. But 2v2, that's easy! As Terran-Terran we went up against a Protoss-Zerg team. My friend focused on ground armies: infantry and tanks, while I went for the more expensive, and micro-intensive, air units, mostly banshees, or all banshees plus one raven. So she did all the charging in to her death while I got to be an obnoxious ass with banshee harassment. Pew pew pew pew, cloak and leave, pew pew pew pew, cloak and leave, repeat until victory. And a few of my helions took out an expansion (undefended).

I can do micro. I can tell units precisely where to go. I know a million little tricks. Or I figure them out quickly. I can become hyper-detail-oriented and at that time, it's pretty useful to tell units precisely which pixel to attack from. So give me the banshees and reapers and siege tanks at just the right range. Speaking of siege tanks, when we did a 1v1 and my macro fell apart completely (remember the M spam?), I found myself trapped on some island in the corner, surrounded by turrets and marines. So I did the only sensible thing: built siege tanks and blew up everything that got too close. Then I used vikings to trick the AI into chasing me back to my anti-air. I still lost, but I was very smart about my inevitable defeat!

My friend managed all the constant production and giant armies to keep track of, while I did the little movements that wrecked the enemy economy. It worked pretty damn well. Both enemies ended up bottled up and losing battles of attrition (and battles of distraction). Eventually a giant ground force rolled in and with heavy air support, smashed their lines and got to work on their main bases. It was over, and would have been even if they hadn't recognized it and surrendered.

Another game as Terran-Zerg against Protoss-Zerg went somewhat similarly. I made a lot more marines, in hopes of using some sort of medivac drop strat with gradually more and more air support, but that got too complex and suffered a setback when my first drop attempt flew right over the main enemy attacking force. So much for my good micro. But it made for a hell of a distraction, allowing my ally to get in place and wreck them. I went back to banshee harassment and ruined the protoss economy. Soon after a few vikings took out a zerg expansion and were in the process of destroying another while my zerg ally smashed through the protoss and zerg armies and was in position to destroy the zerg base. He left the game, followed soon after by the protoss. Another glorious victory.

A second person provides synergy, even if theoretically they are the same (as in the terran-terran game). The mental capabilities can fit together, stronger than alone. Obviously I should apply this same logic to my life, which means getting married. Hopefully to someone who understands my need to harass people.

Since my friends got tired of listening to my many excuses for my crushing defeat, I offer them to you.
The monitors at my friends' house are too low.
The keyboards are a different shape and height.
Chairs are different.
Build order isn't the same as SC1.
Factories cost 50 minerals less, delaying my construction of them.
SC1 doesn't have addons for barracks.
Corinthians specifically, metaphorically says that zergling rushes, and also base walling, are both abominations in the eyes of the Lord.
Fast game speed makes me cry.

In unrelated news, I should get a screenshot of it, from the replay that we hopefully still have, of an ultralisk group trying to get up my ramp, but with the front one blocking the rest. Meanwhile the front one wasn't able to AoE because a lone marine was standing a little bit down the ramp, and so this one total badass tanked the first ultralisk to at least 50% of its health (medivacs are pretty handy when only one units takes and damage at all). Earlier an SCV had bravely been mixed up with a reaper and sent to distract a baneling group. Failing to leap off the ramp in time, he instead drew half the banelings to a premature detonation. As a result, only one marine died, rather than most of the defenders. That brave, brave SCV. I could have sworn he was a reaper... But that would explain his failure to jump off the ramp when ordered.

P.S.I've ordered my own copy of SC2 and within a week or two I expect to have a newerish computer that can run it, thanks to the previously mentioned friends giving me one of their old computers. Let's all clap for them, since a newerish computer means more content, meaning putting off the day when I finally shut up.

P.P.S. Technically Starcraft isn't making any suggestions on male or female, and my state does allow civil unions, but I'm just a bit too sexist against men to marry one.

What's so bad about underwater combat?

| Monday, June 27, 2011
For me it's the disorientation. I lose my sense of distance when I don't have the ground nearby. The feeling I get is a lot like when I play a different game, or different class, and I no longer know what the ranges look like, whether for spells or aggro. But it gets worse. Up-Down is hard to tell unless I'm very close and I level my camera. Until then, no clue.

I have no elegant ideas for the distance issue. A distance indicator on portraits could help, but it would seem a bit odd that my paladin can, just by looking, tell the distance of an enemy down to the tenth of a yard, especially when I as the player am completely lost.

But the height, that I can fix. Around, or possibly inside, the target circle (the green or red thing on the ground that indicates your target), add another circle which indicates relative position on the z-axis. If they are above you, white; below you, black; even, grey; with gradual lighter or darker for positions in-between. Being a color-based system it isn't going to be especially accurate, but it could help quite a bit to at least know in advance that an enemy is much higher than you.

Oh my god people are horrible

| Saturday, June 25, 2011
I'm a bad person who likes making bad jokes. Last night New York passed legislation to allow gay marriage. Obviously this is an excellent paring. Just think of the possibilities for making crude, insensitive, and bigoted jokes!

Let's see, I could pretend it's some sort of really awful event. Like, apocalyptic in effect if not quite in scale. And it's New York. Maybe I could make some horrible joke about how this is a second 9/11. Wait, no. No that's just too horrible. That's the sort of thing you say if you either already think you're going to burn in hell or already think you're Jesus right-hand man. So I'm not going to even bother with that. It just would not be the right thing to say.

But you know who is more horrible than me?

Other people.

So I did some googling: "gay marriage 9/11" Here's the top result, at least according to how Google chooses to show me the internets.

Skipped the second result because I misinterpreted the title.

Third result:
By about 25 seconds in, including the intro clip: "I think a helpful way to think about this is to compare it to 9/11." In his defense, it was more of an analogy than a comparison (I should write about that one of these days), but sadly, that was the high point. Yes, he went downhill from 9/11.

But, let's all look at the bright side: These horrible people are losing. Slowly, but losing.

I was a nail in the coffin, but WoW was the hammer

A long while back I tried out SWG. I never got around to posting, or finishing, my thoughts on it. I played after NGE or whatever that was called, so I wasn't getting the supposedly better earlier version. But it was still pretty damn fun. Cities had player populations rather than loads of NPCs who give one quest and nothing ever again. And players had cities. The economy was massive, far beyond what I could easily perceive or comprehend. That's a double-edged sword, since once you're in, it's full of wonder and possibility, but a new player looks at it and wonders, "so, wtf do I do?"

I had a lot of fun when I played it for those two weeks. I even considered ever so slightly leaving WoW for it. But how can one leave WoW? You really cannot. It is always there, waiting, dominating. Well, until now (or a few months ago), for whatever reasons.

If I hadn't played WoW before, I think I'd have stuck with SWG. But I didn't. Instead I made a trial and was gone in two weeks. Another non-player. Another nail in the coffin. But WoW was the hammer.

It makes me a little sad to hear that SWG is closing, but I can't say what I actually lose from it. Maybe the evidence that that sort of game can work.

Paying for time: Part two

| Friday, June 24, 2011
I didn't know there would be a part two. Blame Syl.

Maybe "timesinks" are where life really happens.

If we remove all the "unnecessary detours" in games that people consider a nuisance, what exactly are we "saving and optimizing " that time for? When you arrive faster at treasure and glory, where do you go from there? And just how much have you missed on that shorter journey?

This brings up the other side of paying for time: Paying for time. Paying for a time. This time, that time, some time.

It has been my experience that WoW suffers, not from padding, but from watering-down. Does a reputation barrier ruin the game for me? No. Why not? Because I can enjoy the reputation process. It's the process that matters, not the efficiency.

I'm just going to say this now: this post is going to get rambling and incoherent and I do not plan to fix that. I'm trying out the process of writing rather than going for the product of good writing. Like usual. :)

When I roll up to a vendor and I see that the item I want is in red, now what? Well at first I'm a bit unhappy. Shiny! Want! But let's try the roads. I could use my leet skills to hack the game and remove the rep requirement (did you know ICC was supposed to have a Sunwell event? I removed it, big regret). Now I have the shiny. So, now what? I have just been rewarded for nothing (beside my leet hacking skills, which I'm pretty sure are not the goal here). I like rewards, so I work very hard to get them, by doing nothing, since that's what gets rewards. Sure is fun, doing nothing.

I decide to hack again to remove my hack and now there is, once again, a red item with those evil words: "reputation required:" Now what? Well obviously I make a choice. Yes, a goodness to God choice (I'm not sure that's a real phrase, but let's pretend it is). Maybe it's honest to God. Don't lie to an omniscient being. Anyway, I now have a choice. Is that item and the virtual gain from it better or worse, for me personally, in all my subjective subjectivity, more or less valuable to me than the time to get it? There are often a lot of noes. But a few yeses. Yes! Now I have a goal! And a process! Let's go process that process.

And so I set off and kill a billion foozles and by now I am really, really good at killing foozles. Then I get the item and go "huh, now what?" Well duh, I go and tell everyone the story of how I killed ten billion foozles (I always lie by a factor of ten). Pixels are nice and all, but stories about those pixels go farther. Further. More distance, figuratively speaking. This blog is clear proof of that. My pixels are all totally out of reach, but stories, thoughts, ideas, and endless whining, why those are endless!

Charging for Time

| Thursday, June 23, 2011
I'm calling you out on this, Tesh. You're everywhere raising the scary specter of "charging for time" and how it encourages grinds and wastes of said time, in order to force more buying of time. A fair point, but how much does it actually matter?

At one extreme, if we were paying by the second, obviously there would be some major problems with grinds. Or even by the minute or hour. If a one hour grind is directly coming out of our pockets, then we will be reluctant to undertake that task. Conversely, the developers have an incentive to add many of them. It puts the players and developers in conflict.

But imagine if we paid by the decade. While I do stand by my claim that within certain limits the rate of power progression is all relative, clearly it would be unacceptable to most players if it was too slow. That means devs could not string us along on grinds and other time sinks to make leveling take years. In other words, if we paid by the decade, the devs don't have much incentive to add grinds. Unfortunately it also means they have little incentive to add content between subscription cycles, which would be a very long time. I think we can all imagine a dozen other simple reasons that a decade sub length wouldn't work well.

Now let's try a month. Is the hour delay significant? Day? Certainly week, and probably day. But it doesn't make much sense to line up month-long blocks up time with a few minutes here and there. So I propose a simple idea: complaining about "paying for time" when the time block is much larger than the grind, is bullshit.


I've just been informed by one of the voices that there may be additional factors here.

There are 720 hours in a 30 day month. That puts a one-hour grind at a mere .138% of the time. Which supports my "you're just being whiny about nothing" argument. However there are approximately 6-8 hours during which players are unconsciously and while vividly hallucinating, possibly about the game, are not making any progress. So let's remove a quarter of the available time, leaving us with only 540 hours, and you're still a whiner. Factoring in the unemployment rate of around 9% in the US, a one-hour commute round trip, and an 8 hour day plus half an hour for lunch, we arrive an average of another 8.645 hours unavailable for playing. At this point we have less than 10 hours per day, or 240 per month. Now that one-hour grind is edging toward significant, and by significant I mean the sort of significance you hear about when a study says that friend jelly beans in avocado was found to triple the rate of eyelash cancer, which sounds scary until you realize that the baseline rate is one in ten billion, so we're not going see a case for a few more years anyway, later if we consider the high number of people who rarely consume fried jelly beans in avocado.

The voice is telling me to skip ahead and pretend someone plays an hour a day. I think this is a good idea, because it allows me to complain about dailies.

If I have one hour each day that gives me only 30 hours for that month. In this sense, I am not buying a month, but merely 30 hours. Now the sub interval is small enough that the grind is relevant. So in that case, Tesh is right after all.


But I want to add this: some people have more time and enjoying 'wasting' that time. For these people, subs have a sort of double-benefit. They get a lot of time per month and the potentially resulting grinds are suitable for them.

To wrap it up into something with a point: People with a lot of time should play sub games and they should be designed for them, while people with less time should play games based on selling content packages. This somewhat corresponds with sub and f2p models, but not quite. Developers should recognize this and design their games accordingly. Players should as well and stop playing the wrong game and then whining about it, or at least recognize and accept that if they have less time they won't get as far as quickly and that's just how it is and perhaps must be for that game model.

Of course no one will ever listen to this. Players will want to pursue games that they enjoy, whether from gameplay, lore, or friends, with little regard for how the pay model affects the game. Developers will avoid 'purity' because if they can grab some of the other side without losing too much of their own, why wouldn't they? So I predict a terrible future in which sub and package games get mixed up for everyone involved, where we have grinds that half the people want and half the people don't and each half is annoyed at the other for ruining their game, while other grinds are arbitrarily removed, causing more problems between the halves.

Of course I've entirely left out any discussion of what content is, what a grind is, whether grinds can be content, whether grinds add to or detract from content, and whether my experience as a time-wasting no-life gamer is distorting my perspective.

Memes: This will blow your mind

| Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Memes. Why do they spread? People want to be part of them. They unite us, or sometimes divide us when people hate them, but even that is a sort of unification. In other words, memes are all about the "me too!"

Me too
Me two
Two mes
Me me

Just like my theory on how SOE is working with the CIA to take over Ethiopia and control the undiscovered transuranic stable elements in the soil there, it's all connected.

Today's xkcd was written for hardcore raiders


Except it wasn't and didn't need to be. In a way it makes me optimistic. It means there's endless possibility. Wine, raiding, tea. Of course it also means that people can become very passionate about stuff that does not matter beyond being part of our passion.

Excessive Travel Times in Lord of the Rings

Klepsacovic: Nice to have you with us, Frodo.
Frodo: Us? Please don't tell me you have an imaginary friend too. Please. If you say My Precious I will kill you right now.
K: It was just a figure of speech.
F: Go on.

K: You were a pretty prominent figure in Lord of the Rings Onscreen. You took on some pretty harsh challenges and, as much as one can in a MMO, won. What was it that pulled you through.
F: My Sam.
K: Uh... okay.

K: You've sometimes said that after your adventure everything seemed drab and boring by comparison. What was it about LoTRO that stood out for you?
F: The travel times.
K: Long? Short?
F: Is that a joke question? Are you kidding me? I spent months, literally months, walking. I had no maps. There was no compass. All I could do was wander in the general direction of Mount Doom and hope there was a path. Which there wasn't.

K: How did you get there then?
F: Some NPC with obnoxious AI had to be 'tamed' and used as a guide. The thing was awful, constantly pestering us and running slightly too far ahead and then we couldn't just see a marker of where it was; we had to run ahead and find him.

K: Were there any other notable aspects to the travel, beside being too long and getting lost?
F: Oh yea: serious lack of content. Let's count the number of instances: Prancing Pony (scripted event), Rivendell (scripted event), and Mordor, which was suppose to be the epic end of the journey and it's really just "lose control of your character and get attacked by a crazy freak NPC."

K: You felt that there was too much scripting?
F: Yes! Hell, there was barely any combat for me. Let's see, I swung at some orcs and get pwned by a troll. That's about the extent of the actual fighting. The rest of the time I was just walking while everyone acted like I was some freak.

K: Would you play it again?
F: Would I play a game based on too much travel, too much scripting, no content, no combat, and at the end the only worthwhile loot I'd gotten were a mithril chest and a ring THAT I DESTROY! No. Never. Worst game ever.

K: But the sense of adventure and satisfaction, I mean, you accomplished something great.
F: Did I mention I also lost all my friends to that game? It ruined my life.

K: I'm sorry to hear that.
F: Oh here's the kicker: I sail off to the Undying Lands so I can live forever, with my uncle who is already so old he's gone senile, and he'll be like that forever.

K: I have to go cry now.
F: Yea, go do that, noob.

My favorite social might be stupid

Gevlon, if you're reading this, I hope your brain can comprehend this shocking fact: You're way more social, and way more stupid, than you think. You're also lazy, deceptive, and really should give up on writing in English. But maybe your abysmal writing and comprehension helps boost other ESL bloggers by making them look better. My writing is certainly not perfect, but I also don't write a blog dedicated to self-glorification and calling everyone else an idiot. I only do the first of those two (but you're special, so I make an exception). Want to sing about being special?

Let's look at your recent attempt at logic.

"Tobold mentioned several times that his wife found leveling in WoW too easy/fast. He also writes that 'if somebody applies the typical hardcore effort on a task not requiring that sort of effort, the task becomes trivial'. It doesn't take a genius to combine the two: if leveling is too easy for his wife, she must apply hardcore effort to leveling, so she is a no-lifer."

This assumes that the task required a hardcore level of effort to become trivial, as opposed to being trivial in the first place.

"When you see someone with no gems at all in his several sockets, you see a moron and slacker, someone who was too lazy to ask anyone "what is this socket thing" and too unintelligent to figure it out alone. Alternatively he can lack basic human skills like literacy so unable to read the above clues."

You can only prove moron or slacker (within game context), not both. A slacker could know exactly what to do but be too lazy. A moron could be too stupid to figure it out or get help. Both conditions are not required and so the conditions cannot be simultaneously proven by this one attempt at proof.

"The sad fact is (what Tobold refuses to accept) is that many fellow human beings are too stupid (or illiterate) for a video game. However the fact is that as IQ has the mean of 100 and normally distributed, the amount of 90 IQ people is equal to the 110 ones. The amount of 80 IQ is equal to the amount of 120 ones. The amount of 130 IQ people is equal to IQ 70 ones. And IQ 70 people are officially retards."

The point of a game is fun. If they are having fun, then they have the required intelligence. But if such people cause you a great deal of anguish, perhaps you're the one with the problem.

"On the top of that, we have functional illiterates, kids who strongly believe that studying and thinking is lame while brute force is cool, people who can't understand the servers language and others who lack such basic skills. While they are not medically retards, they are just as hopeless."

Kids are dumb; it's part of being a kid. What's next, mocking babies for being illiterate morons who cannot even shit outside their clothes?

One last note: Not caring is not the same as being lazy or stupid. Why am I not currently curing cancer? Because I don't care. I could make contributions toward the cause with a bit of education and effort in the field, but I don't care enough. I care about other things, such as the rotten state of politics and the tax code. Big surprise, I'm starting a master's program in public affairs.

Similarly, someone can enjoy a game, such as World of Warcraft, without caring a whole lot about it. In fact, for them it might be stupid to care more or to put in more effort. If they are having fun and would not gain much fun through more effort, why should they? It would be self-defeating to do so. Perhaps they care about something else and apply effort toward that instead. We don't know and it would be stupid to assume one way or another, though perhaps it would be human to give the benefit of the doubt.

Okay one more last note, maybe the problem is that they are all being just as anti-social as you wish you were. They are having fun and don't give a damn about the effect they have on others. Sounds rather anti-social to me. Maybe it's been backward all this time: they aren't social so they do whatever they want, while you are social and get very angry over what other people do, then you lash out with baseless attacks in hopes of gathering followers to reinforce your views, all of them equally ignorant of facts or logic.

P.S. Azuriel is a pretty cool person on the internet, he says "For as much as you talk about science, you seem to leap to illogical, unproven conclusions at the drop of a hat" and doesn't afraid of anything.

Dumbing down isn't dumb

| Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Yesterday was not trolling! It was though-provoking. Totally different.

I want to introduce a concept: identical repetitive actions. Hopefully it will allow us to separate "good" and "bad" forms of "dumbing down" as well as giving me an opportunity to put words in "quotations" for no clear purpose.

What is different between SCVs that say "SCV good to go sir!" followed by sitting around and SCVs that say "SCV ready!" followed by them floating over to the pre-selected gathering point?

To start, what do we actually do differently when playing? Well obviously in the former we rush back to tell them where to go whereas in the latter we keep doing what we were doing. For either we will probably also check that we are or are not producing another SCV.

How about mentally, strategically, tactically? What intelligence is coming into play here? At first glance, none at all. You're going to tell the SCV to go zap a node and go back to telling your marines to stop rushing after single zerglings into hydralisk swarms. Did you catch it? It's right there. It's a distraction. It's a simple test of who can best bounce from a simple task to whatever you were trying to do away from your base.

Skill! That wonderful word. What is the skill? It's in the reflexes. Twitch click click click. Hot key here and there and bam right back and forth and no more than a hundreth of a second wasted.

It's a distraction and click-speed test. Sounds a bit like an FPS.

It's an identical repetitive action.

How often are you going to tell that new SCV to go somewhere new? A few times a game, when you need to build or expand, but most SCVs will be produced and promptly (or not) sent to the same mineral field as the one before. This isn't much fun. It's a significant dose of not-fun which gives a benefit to those with good reflexes.

Identical repetitive actions are a bad game mechanic, or a symptom of one. Note that identical really must mean identical. Shooting in a FPS doesn't qualify, since there are slight variations: recoil, new targets, looking around, reloading. These factors mean that you aren't going to win many FPS games by aiming straight ahead and mashing the fire button. But that's exactly how SCVs work 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time, the rally-gathering system still leaves intact the strategic requirement of where to gather.

Mechanics which reduce identical repetitive actions are good. Queues for buildings mean you no longer have to bounce back to your base for every single new units. In WoW, auto-crafting means you don't have to individually craft every single item when spam-leveling, but that may be a mechanic covering for a deeper problem than a bit of repetition. Auto-attack means you aren't sitting, waiting for the auto-attack timer to come up so you can attack again. Sounds a bit familiar, come to think of it.

So there I was, looking for my name in a desperate search for recognition

| Monday, June 20, 2011
Or I was reading a very sad post about how the MMO blogosphere is doomed and if there's one thing that really works for me, it's sadness. If I'm sad, I can take comfort in knowing it will eventually end; which is the opposite for happiness, which always ends, which makes me sad, which is great. If other people are sad, I can awkwardly attempt to comfort them and sort of feel good about that. Or I can laugh at them and sort of feel bad about that, but laugh cures that, so it works out for me either way.

Anyway, to get to my point,
"Look at Kleps: who knows what he’s playing now, but he has another crazy thing to say every day, and thank god for that!" -Rem

I'd first like to point out the obvious problem: god. God is meant to be capitalized. Capitalization implies that it is The One and Only True God Who Can Kick Your god's Ass Because He Is a Total Badass. Whereas lowercase makes it sound like you rolled a few dice to pick one of the pantheon and if you don't pick Zeus you're pretty much screwed. Unless you pick Hades* in which case you're just planning ahead for the fate of your morally bankrupt soul, so maybe that works too. But I digress.

What am I playing these days? A lot of games! It's a strange thing, how not logging into WoW has caused me to play a lot of other games. Somehow, despite my old computer. Maybe if I whine about that enough someone will just suddenly mail me a really badass new computer. Or, the box from one for an epic troll. By which I mean that I would get epically trolled; I'm not calling myself an epic troll. But I have digressed again, which is a funny phrase if you ask me, speaking of which...

Okay, games I am currently playing:
Starcraft: Brood Wars: because I don't have Starcraft 2 but I watched too much Day 9.
Dungeon Raid for the iPhone, which seems to have recently been updated and I should totally write about, because I know this blog is a major attraction for the iPhone gamer crowd.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, which is annoying to type, but is a pretty fun game if you like a sandbox shooter with some variety of weapons to choose (and actually chose rather than one being the absolute best, though NATO weapons are often quite a bit better). I play it on and off when I feel like shooting people.
Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword: Conquering the world is fun.
Civilization IV: Colonization: Way better economic game than the normal civ, but the combat is pretty basic and not as much fun.
Splinter Cell: I recently finished a couple of the early ones and really liked the emphasis on stealth rather than brute-force combat. I'm noticing a trend: WoW rogues are the worst rogues ever.
Team Fortress 2: I really like the emphasis on brute-force combat.

So that's what I'm currently playing. I was playing Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, but that faded away a bit. I'm not sure why. Maybe I should start it up again.

I think I play a decent variety of games. This may be good, or bad. It gives me ideas, but often ideas aren't very applicable across genres. Sometimes it's a stretch, like saying dailies and space races in Civ are the same thing. But I do like this aspect: it means I can see other ways to do things, to imagine that how things are now is not how they must be. I remember when I was younger I'd sometimes dream of a game that integrated all levels of play, from the grunt in the FPS to the general in the RTS, all the way up to the galactic level of space-based navies, with everyone pushing all around and fighting their piece. But then I realized that I'd really hate to be the typical marine in a game of Starcraft.

Maybe this is relevant to the malaise. As I play more games beyond WoW, I have more ideas and more to think about and say. But I will also drift away from WoW. While I know that a third of my readers don't play WoW, that doesn't mean it isn't the main topic. So I might write better over time, but less of what people want to read, like some sort of pop band that decided to take some lessons and write some meaningful lyrics and suddenly all the teen girls stopped making them question the concept of age of consent.

Shit, I think I just got myself down. Or I'm just really tired.


I'm going to go cry now.

* Careful readers may notice that Hades is a place, not a person, I don't care, it's all equally Not Right.

Starcraft 2 is horribly dumbed down

If there is one thing I loved in Starcraft it was hearing "SCV good to go, sir!" and I was just BAM right back at my base clicking madly to select it from the crowd and get it to the exact right mineral patch. Maybe you're a noob, but I'd personally manage every single trip on those guys. This is why I had to switch to Actions Per Second rather than Action Per Minute, because when I have 50 SCVs out, it gets intense and I cannot count that high. Why 50 SCVs? Because then I get an insane collection rate, and no, there is no overlap or delay, because I know how to properly manage my units.

Then Blizzard ruined everything by chasing the "casual gamer" demographic, which is just another word for worthless noobs. Sort of like immigrants, except immigrants cannot be farmed for easy early ranking. I call that bootstrapping. Anyway, the specific change is that now a command center can have a rally point set to a resource and the SCV will just gather it, right out of the box. Of course it's still not quite as good as my micromanagement, but it's still a step too far. For the record, any steps are too far. If anything, I think rally points should have been eliminated altogether. It is ridiculous that noobs can just click and click and now units go somewhere. Back in my day they drove out of the factory and they sat there, waiting, doing absolutely nothing, until I manually clicked to move them to the enemy base, at which point they'd be wiped out by rocket infantry.

We called it gaming.

But it gets worse. Back in the day there were medics and they had a short range and were properly vulnerable to zerglings, siege tanks, and broodling spawn. Now there are medivacs which can just fly around like everything is fine and wonderful. FLYING HEALERS! It is my belief that healers should be nearly immobile and highly vulnerable to enemy fire. These days the noobs can just load infantry into a medivac, drop them, and they're getting healed right away. Psh. Unload all? NOOB COMMAND. Good players would individually click to make sure the unload order is just right. Of course just to be sure I also individually load them, to be sure they if I have a seizure and accidentally hit unload all, that they come out in the right order.

It's called a backup plan and it's what smart people do.

Even unit composition has gone down the drain. Count your medics, divvy them up among the groups, keep them moving along with the marines, with stopping when healing was needed. Don't let them get stuck so far behind they they cannot heal the guy in the front who charged a pair of photon cannons. It was all about the tactical skill.

But who am I kidding? Blizzard ruined it all right out of the box. In Command and Conquer a dead grenadier would explode, causing huge friendly damage. You had to spread those guys out, or, use them as suicide bombers. Do firebats explode? Sure, kinda. But do they slaughter the marines around them? No! It's so stupid. Of course Brood Wars just made it worse. Stim packs used to be a careful decision. They'd fight better, but be permanently wounded. Now it's like "oh, I have a medic, I should just spam stim packs" and now these noobs are all spamming stim packs. Even worse, you can use stim packs in bunkers. A real player would unload, stim, jump back in. You know, playing the game.

I've also heard horrible rumors that SCVs can be set to auto-repair. I haven't tested this yet because I refuse to bow to the noobs. But that is outrageous. Auto-repair? Auto? The only thing that should be auto is the gun my marine is using! Back in my day we'd carefully separate out our returning Wraith flights to get all the damaged in one place for easier repair. Of course any good gamer knows I just made that up, because if they aren't all damaged, it's because I gave up too soon.

One last thing: Last Replay. Can you believe SC2 just saves replays? Just like that. Play a game and you have a replay. Back in my day we had to manually save those things. The best we got was the ability to watch the last game, and that's it.

We called it remembering what we were doing.

I could draw out, unit for unit, along with mineral counts (within 5, let's not get crazy), every second of my games, from memory. Why? Because I pay attention during my games. Now the noobs are just pressing buttons and hoping they get pretty explosions rather than performing detailed pre-post-mid-half-re-game analysis.

And that's why I am not subscribed to Starcraft 2.

Etymology Weekly: Cock block

| Sunday, June 19, 2011
Guess who fails at scheduling! Moving on...

Everyone loves a good rhyme, and the ancients were no exception. But of course they didn't invent this phrase, since they didn't speak English yet. Barbaric, but true!

Instead the phrase comes from mid-19th century, originating in New York, where street markets still dominated as the primary form of food. Since then the markets have lost some relevance, but are maintained out of a sense of tradition (tax-payer subsidized, costing over 17% of the annual NYC budget) and as a way to boost the rat-based economy, both by giving a food source to the rats and by deriving a food source from the rats.

Tourists, please note that hunting rats is a dangerous business. While in a normal city they are merely larger than mice, in New York they have been known to be confused with cats, until they eat the cat.

These markets, before they were overrun with rats, were popular places to meet women. This may sound strange, but at this time clubs were still allowed only in France, where they only spoke French anyway, so pick up lines would not work at all. Men would search for women out doing their daily shopping and attempt to seduce them, a process made easier by the abundance of available melon-related crude jokes. However this was not an easy process. Upon sighting an available damsel (note that at the time this was a highly offensive reference, I use it only out for historical accuracy and would never refer to a woman as a damsel), the man would attempt to move closer, so that his words could be heard over the squawk of chickens and hundreds of other men also shouting at women.

But at times the chickens would be migrating, moving from one patch of stones to eat, to another patch of stones to eat. At this point the man could find himself literally blocked by a wall of chickens. This is not the origin of the phrase, which was obvious to a sharp reader, since I specifically call them chickens.

Attempting to cross the line of chickens could alert the nearby roosters, alarming the bird and provoking a defensive reaction. Since the bird was someone's property, fighting back could result in a conviction for attempted robbery and property damage. Failing to fight back would result in the woman hearing the confrontation and seeing that the man can be frightened away by a moderately annoyed rooster.

But if the man was patient with the chickens, another man might beat him to the damsel, possibly seducing her first. Since any woman who wasn't married or a virgin was therefore a whore and legally obligated to contract syphilis, the second man had, with his penis (sometimes refereed to as a cock), blocked the attempt of the first man. Hence the term "cock block".

Getting a new computer

| Friday, June 17, 2011
I used to be enchanted by technology. I remember the times we've had a new computer at home and the oohing and ahhing and thinking it's all so great. Then we start up Netscape and go back to doing whatever we did anyway. I eventually learned that new computer equipment is quite boring for most people. Oh they might think it's fun, but give them a few days and it's all the same again.

This isn't the case now. If I got a new computer it would be fun for more than a few days. This time there's something different. Specifically, the ability to play newer games. Not being much of a gamer in the past (I was in the closet), the concept that new hardware would allow new software wasn't really relevant. But now I could dust off my unplayed copy of Dragon Age (note the lack of a 2). Or download Portal 2 (there is a 2).

In the past when new equipment was just new equipment, without content to go with it, it was pretty much wasted (I'm discounting the opinions of the people who actually bought and paid for the computers). In my current situation new equipment means new content, so it's more than just a new box with bigger numbers to describe it.

I'm sure there's an MMO analogy in there somewhere.

Vanilla did have heroics

| Thursday, June 16, 2011
In the beginning... there was vanilla WoW, which had no badge system, or heroics for that matter. After you hit the level cap, you could do some gearing up from drops in normal five-man dungeons, but that was pretty much it.
Did you catch it? Right there, at the end: "pretty much it." That pretty much it covers quite a lot!

Technically speaking, vanilla did not have heroics. But let's go pick apart some details, see what we can find between the hairs I'm splitting.

What were the vanilla heroics? Well let's see what a BC+ heroic is. Same instance, with trash and bosses that hit harder (irrelevant given relative loot levels), some slightly higher loot, and maybe another boss.

We called it tier .5

Officially it was Dungeon 2, but that was too easy to say compared to tier .5, and back then we believed in challenging ourselves. I once saw someone get hacked and deleted because he said "deeps". We had standards. "This type of item set is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Tier 0.5" by players." See, I'm right.

In a nutshell, this was a long and expensive quest chain which required players to gather the full dungeon 1 set (sometimes we called it tier 0, for no good reason), and then through the quests, resulting in a half-epic set of overall higher quality, though still inferior to the tier 1 that came from Molten Core. What made this heroic?

"Same instance, with trash and bosses that hit harder (sometimes irrelevant given relative loot levels), some slightly higher loot, and maybe another boss."

The quests were all either outside (not phased) or in the usual instances. Trash was unchanged, except in one case which I'll get to. The quests upgraded the sets and required summoning new, otherwise inaccessible bosses, which dropped some special loot of their own, including pieces of a strange early attempt at a PvP set.

The new fights were not especially hard, but could at times challenge a group, somewhat like heroics not during LK. There is a notable exception, a quest which required the undead side of Stratholme (minus some trash) to be run in 45 minutes. This was not a trivial task. The place was filled with patrols that needed to be handled carefully, due to their tendency to pull adds and fear players. There was not enough time to kill all the trash, so players had to carefully pick pulls, skipping what they could, but knowing that screwing up would be more than a minor inconvenience. If you remember the special bonus at the end of Shattered Halls in BC, it was a bit like that, but harder due to not having an efficient AoE tanking class.

That's pretty much it

Vanilla had more horizontal progression. Or at least angled. Crafters could gain some impressive profits from particular reputations. Mounts weren't in a cash shop, but also in grinds, or luck. World drops mattered forever in a time when we didn't outgear them a month after release. There were ways to progress that did not involve a raid or a random heroic. I liked that. Somehow, some people didn't. I do not understand those people.

Do you play WoW?

| Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I added a poll over on the right. It may only be a vocal minority of whiny quitters, but it feels like there are a like of ex-WoW players reading and commenting here. Or you know, writing.

Yes is yes.
No is no.
Temporarily no is anywhere from "I didn't log in this week" to "finals are approaching and I need more time." In other words, it's to separate "not playing at this moment" from "I quit"

Because it's easier to target an ultralisk than eleven million zerglings

Green Armadillo over at Player vs. Developer has a post up that you should read. Short version: Klepsacovic is wrong because he blames cross-server when the real problem is the lack of focus (by the devs and therefore players) on anything beside loot. Certainly a legitimate point.

Cross-server groups are not the cause of forced integration. Nor are they the cause of people wanting to hurry through instances. But they are the cause of other problems: social problems, or more accurately, the loss of social factors which helped to moderate some of the loot-caused problems.

What did same-server groups ever do for us, anyway? Beside aqueducts.

Let's go through a scenario of a really awful, miserable PUG. Zone in and, oh look, that guy has terrible gear. These days that means he's going to slow you down. But what if instead that meant a potential guild recruit? Invite him, throw him some otherwise disenchanted scraps, and maybe you've gained a member. Not guaranteed, but there is that little mitigating factor, so maybe we're just that much less annoyed by his gear.

Someone has screwed up and now you're all dead. Frustrating, isn't it? But look, some people have stayed. Hm. Perhaps the person who doesn't ditch an instance on the first wipe might do the same in a raid. Worth seeing if they need a guild. Again, not a guaranteed gain, but a slight possible benefit from what would currently be a purely bad situation.

Did that other guy just ninja all the loot? What an ass. Thankfully, since he's on our server, we can at least flame him in trade chat. I've seen people get gkicked for that sort of behavior. Of course now there's zero ability to retaliate. That lack of ability to retaliate, that lack of consequences, encourages future bad behavior.

What is going on here? Are players forgetting about loot? No. Never. But what is happening is that there is some degree to which future loot is dependent on behavior now. Reputations can matter when we're not all perpetual strangers.

Social factors are not a cure-all. They will not perfectly fix related problems and will have no benefit at all for unrelated problems. But they can have a positive effect. A limited effect, perhaps, but it would be folly to simply ignore them because they are not the entire problem.

Of course the big problem remains the loot-obsession, but I don't see that getting fixed ever in WoW. It's the foundation of the game at this point. Maybe it's not even a problem except in the eyes of a vocal and whiny minority.

Let's pretend we get to fix one big thing. What are we going to do? Beside loot, there is the problem of what to do to give raiders something to do if they aren't raiding. Apparently not logging in isn't a solution.

But whatever the solution is, I'm going to be looking at the developers to fix it, not the players, since it's easier to target an ultralisk than eleven million zerglings.

The sanity deadzone

| Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Imagine if capping your badge points of winning required 20-40 hours per week. Would you do that? I'm guessing you'd probably do it once, on some really awful week, and never ever again. You'd also never expect anyone else to do it, ever. In other words, you'd accept that people would be gaining in badges at less than the maximum rate. You would consciously accept that less than optimal is acceptable. Why?

Because optimal would be insane. Remember this idea, we'll need it later.

Now imagine that capping your points of super instead required a mere one hour per week. Would you ever not do that? I'm guessing yes, during some really awful week, or possibly a really great week, but in some way a week that causes you to not devote a mere one hour in an entire week to capping points. But in general you'll get it done, because it's just that easy. If you didn't cap points you'd probably look pretty lazy. I mean, wow. You cannot find one hour? Lazy, stupid, worthless piece of crap. Why?

Because optimal is too easy to not do. Also remember this one.

Now put that time requirement closer to the middle, somewhere between 2 and 8 hours. Over a week these aren't insane amounts of time to play, barely over an hour a day. But are they trivial? Can you guarantee that you will have 8 hours in a week? Remember, that's barely an hour a day. Not much, not trivial. You could very easily not have that 8 hours, particularly if those 8 hours are in addition to other activities.

But it still sounds reasonable. It's a trap.

The 8 hours sounds reasonable, and I think it is, but it is not universally reasonable. And yet, because it is so reasonable, it may be universally accepted and expected. It is the sanity deadzone.

Somewhere between so absurd that we'd never expect it and so trivial we'd never fail it, there is the sanity deadzone. In this area the requirement is not so high that we'd think anyone cannot do it, but high enough that some people cannot do it (or don't care enough to).

Of course this post is about why BC had a much better badge system than now.

BC badges were in the insane range. Would you ever expect someone to cap their badges for the week? BC had 16 instances. Some were short. Some were not. Even if they were a mere 15 minutes each (nowhere close, except some SH runs on my paladin...), that's still 4 hours, every day. Plus a few dailies that gave badges. And Karazhan (decent-length raid, best one ever). And every raid after that. Capping badges for the week was not a reasonable expectation at all. Capping for the day was not either. I did every heroic in a day, once, and never ever again.

LK used something fairly close to the trivial range. One random heroic a day and the weekly random raid to cap the good badges, plus possibly ICC. With heroics down to 15-30 minutes, this wasn't so bad. But I didn't count DPS queue times, did I? So add another 15-45 minutes. Now we're in that (arbitrarily defined) sanity deadzone. To cap isn't insane, but it isn't trivial either.

This carried over, but worse, into Cataclysm. Heroics take longer and fail more, yet the daily expectation remains. Yet it has become less reasonable. Of course you can argue that the failure rate is a temporary condition of gear, but is that any comfort to the person who has now had his 10th wipe, 5th healer, and 20th tank?

This is a rare situation where the extremes are better than a moderate position. An insane cap can be ignored. A trivial cap is trivial. But in the middle you get conflict. This is the sanity deadzone.

Do you ever shut up?

| Monday, June 13, 2011
After Nils made me cry he tried to clarify with an extreme example: Syncaine, who supposedly has not played since vanilla and yet still comments on WoW. Pretty stupid, right? Well...

That could be me. It's been a few months since I last played. Of course that was still during Cataclysm, so I'm still in the most recent expansion and havhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gife a general idea of what is going on. But how long does that last? Next raid tier? I know there will be a major shift then, and with the next, and the next. What about if there is a change on par with the LFD tool? That would again alter the community and game, to the point that any not playing at the time would be, in my opinion, unqualified to talk about it.

But let's be realistic, if tomorrow Blizzard announced some game-changing change to the game, would I hang up my hat and announce that I am no longer able to talk about WoW? I doubt it. I'd shift to other aspects. And then gradually move back to where I was, talking about community and grouping, but with no direct experience. If I truly cared, I'd resub when that happened, to witness the change. But I don't feel like handing over money for a game I stopped enjoying just to be able to write more authoritatively about why I continue to not enjoy it (or maybe it would suddenly be great again!)

Will I stop blogging about WoW when the next expansion comes? Somehow I doubt it. New expansions mean no one knows anything anyway, so that's a free pass to be ignorant and stupid. Maybe when it releases I'd stop. Or I could get the expansion and try it out. I was certain I would when I'd stopped playing. "Next expansion" is a steadily increasingly recurring theme. I would stop PvPing after the gear gap became too obnoxious to overcome and figured, next expansion I'd give it another shot. Of course I'd then be out of the habit and not get into it quickly, and find myself right back at the bottom again, so there's always next expansion. For the game overall, I figured next expansion (the one after Cataclysm) I'd jump in again, see if things were better. Now I'm not so sure. From my perspective things have been, overall, on a steady downhill trend (individual aspects were improved). I don't expect that to change, not when there are millions of untapped customers and far fewer disgruntled veterans. This wasn't supposed to be a complaining post, I just wanted to explain why I'd probably remain ignorant of WoW after the next expansion.

I don't think it makes much sense to keep bashing WoW for years after, despite change after change making old knowledge increasingly obsolete. Yet, I can understand somewhat and sympathize. It's easy to talk about WoW. Everyone knows it. The power of a universal point of reference is hard to avoid.
So my answer is, probably no.

Hey, don't start to sub to WoW now, just so that you can blog about it. Even bad press is better than none.
I already feel guilty of supporting WoW this way.
Strange as it sounds, this is true. After hearing about how Darkfall was so terrible, I decided to wander over to try their trial. They wanted a dollar for it. Not much, but too much. So instead I wrote a post suggesting that this was actually a great deal.

What the world really needs is more etymology

| Sunday, June 12, 2011
Etymology: derived from entomology (the study of insects), a rare example of an intentionally-originated word. In the 17th century scholars who wished to describe their strange obsession with words and their origins and meaning had no options. Recognizing the problem, they created etymology, which sounds like Latin, but is in fact complete gibberish (though most Latin is anyway, a little-known cause of the fall of Rome). It intentionally sounds like entomology, thereby causing confusion and presumably the opportunity to inform the confused person. In practice no one cares enough.

Well it's time to fix that! I'm going to be starting a weekly segment (which may last multiple weeks even) which will deconstruct the origins of words and phrases that we all know, but don't know why they mean what they do.

For example, next week I will cover the phrase "cock block" and the next week "shit-faced". You may be surprised to learn the longer-than-expected history of these phrases!

Categorizing Choices

| Friday, June 10, 2011
The other day Tesh caused all sorts of problems by asking questions. When I am dictator I will not allow people like him. But forget I said that.

Or else.

"meaningful risks and decisions"

Two different things... and how are we defining "meaningful" anyway? Is it in the deciding, the challenge, the potential loss or the potential reward? Maybe some calculus involving all of the above? How squishy is that calculus? Could we drop risk entirely and still have meaning for decisions?

So anyway, the questions were about choice. That's one of those fun words, and by fun I mean overused and often meaningless, not because it has no meaning, but because it has so much potential meaning that we don't know which one, and then thing we're arguing past each other because we're using the same word to say different things and don't even realize it.


What do players mean when they say they want choices? Who knows? I mean, maybe they do, but I don't, and you don't, and I'm convinced that no dev has the slightest clue. Problem is, choice means a lot of things and thus far no one has done a player-by-player survey of what exactly they mean when they say they want choices.

I want to fix that. I will likely fail due to a lack of publicity, which I may rectify by tweeting photos of my Anthony. But I will try!

Slicing and Dicing Choices

How long do you have to make this choice? If you have all the time in the world, then the choice may seem trivial, even pointless, since you can take the time to look it up. For example: gemming. But slow choices need not be trivially over-optimized by the netosphere. Think of a turn-based game, where yes, there may be best options, optimal options, most efficient, but you don't quite know what they are and it's not because you're a lazy idiot. Which forest should you chop down first in that game of civilization? Who should you invade first? These are slow choices, but they are not trivial (maybe the forest has very very little impact)

Importance: Personal or Objective?
Is the choice aesthetic or does it impact the game? Do I want a blue or red cloak? Do I want a strength or an agility gem? Note that these can be hazy, such as when people have different objectives, so objective and personal can overlap. Flavor differences may also come into play, such as different specs of a DPS class; you may like how one plays, but maybe it isn't the highest damage.

Magnitude of Consequences
What are the consequences? If you pick wrong do you lose the game? Or are you mildly inconvenienced? Compare "soloing Garrosh" with "stacking spirit as a hunter." The good and bad consequences do not need to be equal in magnitude. In the gem example, switching to agility would be better than spirit, but per-gem it's nearly trivial, and there is no cost beside the opportunity cost of the correct gem in the slot. Not soloing Garrosh won't give you anything, but it will save a death. Or for non-obviously stupid choices, try raiding or questing: each one denies you the other, but neither is stupid (I'm assuming the person soloing Garrosh is not doing it for the fun of silly deaths, in which case not soloing him would be the stupid choice).

Keep this one in mind, since the magnitude is often what turns people away, either due to lack or excess. Death in WoW is trivial. Less so in EVE. Guess which one has more subscribers. Guess which one has more people whining about how everything is too easy.

Is it a choice if there is one right answer with significant negative or positive consequences and we know the answer ahead of time? As an extreme example, imagine if a game was found to be too easy, due to having a Win button, which caused anything between winning the current NPC battle to winning the entire game. The devs decide to make it harder, and add choice, by adding a Lose button. Sure, you now have the choice to press the Lose button, but are you? Maybe once, just to see what happens. But then it's right back to the Win button. Or quitting, because that would be a terrible game.

Let's try some choices
To simplify things, let us assume that our goal is victory. If our goal is instead to have a peaceful empire in a Starcraft melee match, that will require a much different approach.

Where should I attack the enemy base? First off, we have some information. From scouting we have some idea of their buildings. We know what units we have (unless you're like me and someone lose dropships). We can remove some of those obvious bad choices, such as rushing a tank-bunker combo with marines and no medivacs. But what is the good choice? Maybe we don't need to worry about those tanks at all and could instead focus on harassing workers. Or we know they're just turtling forever, so we can ignore them for now and build up units and technology. Or there don't have many detectors and we're pretty sure they don't use sensor sweeps much, so a cloaked banshee attack could wipe them out without them even firing back.

This isn't obvious. We don't know all of what the enemy has, or how he will respond, or whether we can both attack and deal with his secret fleet of battlecruisers, against which our banshees will be useless.

This also isn't fast. But it isn't slow either. We have time, but not enough to go read an essay on counter-terran-turtle tactics. We can think, but not too long.

The magnitude can be significant, or not. We could attack with a few units as a sort of test run, but if we don't bring enough we increase the chance of failure, even while keeping down the magnitude. We could rush with everything, but if that fails, we're in pretty big trouble. What is the gain, anyway? Maybe they're defending nothing at all. Or a gold mineral field. You could even end up doing him a favor, psychologically, by freeing him from feeling he needs to hold that ground. Losing a few tanks and uselessly trapped marines is a small price to pay for freedom to act.

Since we set the goal as victory, and since Starcraft doesn't have many aesthetic choices anyway, we can say this is an objective choice. But what is the actual choice to pick? We don't even know yet if we are even going to attack, let alone how, where, when. These all have some sort of measurable (after the fact) benefit or loss, but how we think still matters. And how they think.

Note that while I used a PvP example, this still applies in PvE. Possibly even the specific scenario, partially thanks to the very vague setting.

Moving on to WoW
Tobold has a strange habit of complaining about raids not having many choices. He has a point, in some ways. Raids often have a correct, intended strategy, and going against that can result in the fight being changed specifically to keep people in that box. This means that the overall choice of the raid is one with significant difference in magnitude of consequence: wiping vs. epics. The choice of strategy itself may not be obvious, but thanks to the ability to reload the fight exactly as it was, and also that internet thing, it can become obvious. Then there is time: we have a lot of time to figure out strats, since they never change.

I want to note that this so far sounds like a really bad game: high magnitude difference, high obviousness, and lots of time. But this isn't what any individual players actually do. Instead they are making much quicker choices, which may still have a high magnitude difference, death/wipe vs. epics, but which will not always be obvious. Of course afterward we can see that that player was obviously retarded, but at the time, they had very little time to make a high magnitude choice, which given the limited information, maybe have had a total lack of obviousness. Low time, high magnitude, low obviousness: that's more or less what salespeople try to push you into, "Buy now! If you don't terrible things might happen! Don't think about it or research it, buy now, before the sale ends!" I think any moral, sane person can agree that sales is an evil thing. Alternatively, this player could be better informed and aware, changing it into a fast, high, obvious choice, which is often takes the form of a twitch test or dance routine.

See how the individual aspects of choices, fast or slow, obvious or not, high or low consequence, are not objectively good or bad. But certain mixes of them can be profoundly unfun, subjectively.

If you're making a turn-based game, your players probably aren't looking for fast choices, so adding them is likely to be unpopular. But if you're making a fast game, asking them to ponder philosophy may not be popular either. These aren't hard rules either, so a game may benefit from a mix of both. Such as Starcraft, where micromanagement may get a lot of attention (check the APM, it's off the charts, I click so fast, you can't beat the rush) #notintendedtobearhymingstatement but the best tactics won't make up for a bad overall strategy, which is a rather slow decision.

Choice vs. Decision
After writing this post I realized that recent events in life might be relevant, and add another level of confusion. I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, which started as an attempt at whatever one gets in chemical engineering. This fall I am heading north to get a master's degree in public affairs (no guest speakers announced yet). One last bit of information: I am the least educated person in my family. My father has a PhD, mother has a master's, brother has a master's (working on PhD now), other brother is a lawyer. Under these circumstances I was at the absolute very least going to college.

College was the path of progression. It was going to happen. I did have choices: school and major. The choices had high magnitude consequences, low obviousness, and were very slow (and yet somehow, still too fast to get it right).

In contrast, going for my master's degree was a decision. This may be a distinction in my mind only, but many things are and that has never stopped me from sharing them. There was no path that said I should get it. It was not the next step or part of any guide. It was something entirely novel, initiated by me.

Can games include decisions, in addition to choices? I think so. After all, while there was no breadcrumb trail to lead me where I am headed, it is not as if I had to invent everything from nothing. Arguably what is going on here is still just a choice, just not a choice that is obvious or expected. From that perspective a game could replicate this: just give so many choices that we cannot possibly evaluate all of them at once, and without obvious best paths, so that we instead must decide on an entire path, rather than just taking one or another road on the same route.

Nils made me cry

| Thursday, June 9, 2011
Few things are worse than blogging about games you haven't played for a long time. I know several bloggers who did it: it is embarrassing.
- Link

Hey, Euro-jerk, it's called not being a quitter. I know you stuck-up elitist types like to think people have to know what they are talking about to talk about it, but I'm more democratic. Or do you prefer proletarian? You would, Marxists.

Leave Cataclysm Alone!

I briefly mentioned this during the Twisted Nether interview, but I think it deserves another saying: Cataclysm was not a horrible expansion and would have been a pretty awesome game by itself. The problem is Wrath of the Lich King. Or was.

What did LK do? It gave WoW a whole lot of problems. Cataclysm, at worst, built off those, but in terms of truly creating new problems, Cataclysm didn't do a whole lot wrong (beside retaining LK problems).

Problems that LK brought to WoW:

- Taught us that heroics are meant to be trivial zerging lootfests. Cataclysm tried to fix that and make heroics more challenging and presumably more fun. But once people have been trained to expect something, especially if that something is a lot of rewards very fast, they don't like change.

- Brought about extensive use of phasing. Cataclysm extended this. If anything, Cataclysm did it better, using phasing in solo-oriented content such as leveling. LK used this anti-grouping mechanic (fall behind and the other person must wait, cannot help) for lead-ins to group quests and instances. Phasing also encourages, even requires, highly-linear quest designs.

- Random formation of cross-server groups. Your mileage will vary in terms of how much you care about the negative social effects relative to the speed gain. But I do think that BC had higher-quality groups than LK and beyond. We could blame this on a population change, but that would assume data that I don't have, whereas we can see how the devs changed incentives and social mechanics with these features.

- Everything became about raiding. Now certainly vanilla and BC had a lot of raiding going on and a lot of raiding content. But there was not an expectation that everyone would raid or must raid. Both had players who wanted to raid but could not due to this or that problem unrelated to skill, and so changes were almost certainly to their benefit. But I suspect that a lot of players who did not particularly want to raid were driven into it by the structure of the game. Late-game (not end-game) content was thinner, in favor of fast gearing to get people into raids. This causes all sorts of problems, such as players who lack internal motivation to raid and who must instead be driven purely by loot or social pressure, neither of which are long-term formulas for fun.

- Blue sets, what? BC had blue-quality late-game sets. They were not fantastic at all. But some pieces were okay. My paladin used a couple pieces for a while. Other classes had similar experiences. These were not amazing sets, but sets give some sense of legitimacy, they say that this tier is one that is okay to be at. Sets indicate that the devs think you will be here a while and are okay with rewarding that. LK had no instance sets, nor did Cataclysm. It says something: don't stick around and do not, under any circumstances, feel like anything you got here is worth remembering or keeping.

I'm not claiming that sets imply we are meant to stay at a certain level of content, since I doubt we're meant to spend months in VC or WC (both have sets). But the lack of a set does indicate that content is meant to be temporary and fleeting.

- I will do the math so I can properly blame LK for jewelcrafting (since BC is currently the best time ever in WoW, having replaced vanilla despite neither changing), but that's a bit too complex for right now. The number of gems isn't the problem (I checked).

- Time. LK gave WoW a new way of doing thing. Some was good, some was bad. It took time for people to get sick of the bad and quite, which coincidentally put it during Cataclysm. Also, if not for LK, Cataclysm would have been sooner and there would have been fewer horribly burnt-out veteran players leaving.

If WoW had Cataclysm, minus LK, it would be in a much stronger position.

The Mona Lisa needs more dinosaurs

| Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Art is a strange thing. It's not quite a product, even if we often treat it as such. It's not so customizable. Don't like your toaster? Someone is making a similar one, but with that feature you want, and it doesn't spontaneously ignite quite as often. But have you ever tried getting the museums to just do some minor fixing? They keep hanging up on me. For starters, that smile, it's just... creepy. Just get some art students and some fine brushes and fix that up. We'd all like it a lot more.

And of course, dinosaurs.

Games are art-like in this way. I won't go into the artistic merit of them, but they share this quality, of your great change absolutely ruins it for someone else. Maybe the Mona Lisa really could use more dinosaurs and less smile. Maybe it would be a much better painting. Or maybe not. Or maybe!

Just think: Dinosaurs in the background rampaging toward Miss Lisa.

Why does she have that grin? Because just out of the frame she's holding a remote detonator. Those dinosaurs aren't rampaging, they're running-to-deathing.

See how much meaning and nuance, how much drama and action is added with the dinosaurs? She's ten times as awesome, at least. Who knew she was actually a talented engineer, putting all those Renaissance men to shame? And most of the next few centuries as well. Da Vinci thought his tank was so great, but why didn't he make it? It would have been great against the dinosaurs! But she had anti-tank weapons, even before he made it. That's planning ahead. In the arms race she had stolen the starting gun and was using it to threaten everyone else.

Did you know there were dinosaurs in Italy so recently? Well not anymore, and now we know why.

Surprisingly, the dinosaurs are off-topic and now I just don't care. Because dinosaurs would have been awesome.

Twisted Nether has our interview up

| Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Episode 132 – Logging Out
No, TNB is not going away but this week we are interviewing a WoW blogging that isn’t logging in to WoW anymore!? It’s Klepsakovic from Troll Racials are Overpowered!

I guess they didn't want to put up the recording until they had a name for it. I think it's a good name. Anyway, have a listen!

I hate daily quests

It's the waiting. I hate the waiting. I don't mind the actual time required, but the waiting, that gets to me. How does a daily quest work? You do something and make progress toward a goal. Then you wait. I don't like that.

In my ongoing and extremely popular series in which I make weak, tangential comparisons between WoW and games to which it bears no resemblance or any mechanical similarities, I proudly present:

Space Race Victories in Civilization are Really Boring
I have a few habits which demonstrate my stupidity. One of them is when getting those not-quite-bowl but not-a-plate dishes from the cabinet. For years they were on the right side. Now they are on the left, requiring a different door. I've been getting it wrong ever since. Or sometimes I read gold-related blogs thinking I'll find something interesting, only to find yet another guide that can be summed up as "waste everyone's time on the glyph market." Related to blogging, I sometimes go digging through blogrolls for more to read, rarely finding anything more, but wasting a lot of time looking at the same old popular but boring blogs before refreshing my comment page to see if there is anyone to argue with.

And then there are non-warmongering civilizations.

Here's how to win a space race: get to 1950s technology, give or take, until finally you can have your Apollo Program and start building colony ship parts, most of which require much more advanced technology that might not actually exist, like Fusion and Plastics*. This means that space race victories take a long time. Unless you're really crazy with your skill, you're going to be pushing the 1800s at least, possibly even into the 1900s, by which point you're getting close to the turn limit for the entire game.

Contrast this with domination or conquest victories. With these you just need to beat up everyone, and you don't even need to be played by Summer Glau. Map size matters, since it takes time to move armies across the world, but even with the second-largest world I can manage it with cannons. Cannons! I might not even have large numbers of riflemen. Muskets and cannons and the world is mine. Somehow my history always ends up imitating the formation of the British Empire.

Lately I've been playing smaller maps and I've had wins using trebuchets. In fact, last win I barely even had large numbers of those. I conquered the world with catapaults and swordsmen. With that you're barely getting out of the BCs, which strangely do not seem to involve Christ, as he doesn't seem to exist, having instead been replaced by the idea of Christianity and theocratic dominance rather than actually following Christ. Maybe that's more accurate.

Conquest is a very active activity that you cannot do passively. You get some guys with axes and you go kill other guys who hopefully have something less effective than axes. Get some new guys since the losers died and go off again for some more killing. Just keep killing. It's like Finding Nemo, but way less violent.

In contrast science is slow. You set a research goal and it happens. Then you set a new one. Sometimes you build libraries. There aren't many active processes to speed it up. Conquering cities can add more areas to research from, but if you're going around conquering everything, why not just do that? Sure a tech edge helps with conquest, but the end result is conquest, not fiddling with books and hoping no one demands technological tribute.

This was something I liked in WoW, before dailies. If I wanted rep, I went and got it. If I was lucky there were outdoor mobs. If not, I went somewhere and killed them in a group, supposedly running an instance as well, but frankly I was too busy with the murdering to care. These days it's all "run this daily, run that daily, run that daily" okay, done, got it, "now wait until tomorrow." WHAT!?

It's not that I hate waiting for rewards. It's that I hate waiting for progress. I like being able to just do. Not all this do, wait, do, wait. Do do do do do dodod dodood dododo DO. Supposedly they're more casual-friendly, but frankly pressuring people to play exactly this amount each day each day doesn't seem very casual to me.

Maybe that's something that got me bored with WoW. Activity become more and more structured. Passive. Wait for your turn to take your turn then get back in line. Why form a group? LFD will do it for you, and faster. Why farm? Dailies get you what you need. Why explore? The quests will tell you to go there eventually.

* Did you know we've been using elephant tusks and tree resin this whole time? Yep. Turns out they fabricated plastics (pun indented) to placate environmentalists and ironically ended up killing entirely different biospheres with oil spills. Global warming is also made up to cover their tracks when they switch to a new fake technology. Did you know windmill blades are made of whale bones?

Saturday webcast, post mortem afterward

| Monday, June 6, 2011
Saturday I was interviewed by Twisted Nether Blogcast.

So there I was a few days before and I suddenly wondered if they knew I wasn't playing WoW anymore. I'd specifically not made a quitting post, and even called it such. It wouldn't be that much of a surprise if they thought I still played. I sure never stopped blogging about it. So I sent Hydra an email, just to make sure he knew, since it would be a bit awkward if they started asking questions about how my raiding was going and just got silence followed by a slow, whispered "I don't play anymore", which would sound crazy, so they'd ask if I meant I don't raid anymore, so I'd have to say it again. That would be bad. But of course the little tiny problem remains of it being a WoW-oriented blogcast and me not playing. I was afraid they'd drop me! Turns out they were afraid I'd not want to do it. By their guess I was the first former player they'd had on.

In case the more than two hour recording didn't tip you off, and the "Saturday I was interviewed by Twisted Nether Blogcast", we did the interview. So uh, big surprise but... I like to talk.

Maybe you enjoyed listening. Or you hated it. Either way. I'd encourage you to listen to it, so that you can hear me say in a slightly different way how [latest expansion] has ruined WoW.

Anyway, let's pretend that was today's post and you can use this space to tell me I'm wrong, stupid, and sound dumb. Or how brilliant I am. Or if you had any questions that didn't get asked.

But if you insult story time I will crush you.

Don't reload, retreat

| Friday, June 3, 2011
Supposedly EQ had some sort of corpse problem, in that you'd die and all your gear and everything would be laying there and you'd have to run naked to get it, but after too long wolves would eat it. This sounds like a terribly unfun system, so I doubt it ever existed. This is also why I don't believe in evolution, since I don't think I'd have enjoyed being a monkey back before we killed all the tigers. But it gave me an idea: maybe raiding would be more fun if death was a really miserable, time-wasting experience.

Frankly I think death is too easy in WoW, or most games, really. And no, xp loss isn't the solution. That doesn't even make sense. Do we have any proof at all that death reduces knowledge or muscle memory? We don't. It's simply an unrealistic mechanic.

Or take your average game of any sort: you die and what happens? You go back to a checkpoint, a save spot, you get a rewind button. Psh. I once played a game with an option that if you die it deletes the character file. Yea, permadeath that. It did also have escape pods, but those took up space that could be used for missiles instead.

I say we look at this silly EQ idea again. When you die, you have to go drag your corpse back. Before wolves eat it. Or Scourge. Or demons. Or Forsaken players, who may or may not be on your own side (officially speaking, since in all reasonable terms they are on their own side). To compensate, we should be harder to kill. But not by much.

When we wipe on a boss, what do we die? We all die and in effect we reload the boss. Everything ends up exactly the same as before, just with a bit less armor durability and a few missing potions. And the boss is just as oblivious as ever, outside his aggro range. Wouldn't he be more cautious? Less inclined to let this puny mortals run about if he knows they're trying to kill him, and may have come close?

Rather than reloading, we should instead retreat. Raid going badly? Run. Run like hell. Grab the dead guy next to you and drag him with. You're going to have to get the corpse again anyway. Before the boss does. Because guess what, he's not going to reset and run back to stand around waiting. He's going to start mashing up your corpses to make sure you stay dead and taking armor for his collection. But he's also not going to magically heal up to full. So guess what? Retreat, heal up, drink up (you are out of combat), and get back in there for another shot.

Twisted Nether is really lowering their standards

| Thursday, June 2, 2011
This Saturday, June 4th, Klepsacovic (that's me, btw) will be on the Twisted Nether blogpodwebcast thing. That's right, now you can hear my posts in the correct voice. As opposed to the current voice which I imagine is something between a whiny nerd and "Good news, everyone! You're now reading this with my voice!"



Text ripped from their post!
We are pleased to welcome Klepsacovic from Troll Racials are Overpowered . If you have any questions please make sure to send them in prior to showtime to info@twistednether.net or bring them to the chatroom!
This live show is scheduled for Saturday, June 4th at 8pm PT (11pm ET).
Some general ground rules:

Be nice. If you say very inappropriate things be aware you will be kicked from the room. We are doing this to have a great time, come with a beer, come during a raid, come how you wish, just don’t come to cause trouble.
You may ask questions to the participants during the show, but we reserve the right to use them if and when we can. We will be monitoring the chat room and if we can we will use the comments during the show. We love that you are with us, but we will have to weave them in. Even if it isn’t asked, we all appreciate your questions!

Rules? RULES!? Screw that. Er. I mean, please follow the rules. If for any reason you really must be rude, crude, and offensive, you can do that here. But you know, I'll probably delete those comments, because rude, crude, and offensive comments are what they are.

"Outside of that, we will love to have you join us and partake in an enlightening discussion that is sure to follow! Hope to see you there!"
That's right, enlightening. Enlightenment. From me. Take that, Buddha

So listen! Unless you're some lame-o like my friend who is all "I'm going to my sister's graduation." Right, like that makes sense. I bet she can graduate again. I did it three times already, and back in my day we didn't have those weird kindergarten graduations. Also I'm aiming for a fourth. My point is that you should listen. Hell, even I might.

P.S. No offense, Buddha is the man. I'd fistbump him if he hadn't long ago achieved permanence and left this temporary life.
P.P.S. Please softball questions only. No tough ones like "What is your plan to fix illegal immigration?" And no literal softball questions. And no favorite color! I hate that question.
P.P.P.S. Squee.

Simply Inconvenient or Complexly Convenient

A new item drops and you win the roll or bid. It is now yours. Also, you are a developer with mad skills and right now, at this very second, you can rewrite the item enhancement system.

Would you rather have one enchant that is hard to get or an enchant, a few gems, reforging, and possibly the same to a few other items?

You may have noticed that I am presenting a false choice. That is intentional. I'm trying to look at two extremes, without all that messy middle ground and picking and choosing individual features. I can do that in other posts.

You may also have noticed that this is essentially comparing the vanilla enchanting system with the current one. Before LK there were no vellum, so when enchanters wanted to sell their services, they had to interact face to face with the customer. This was inconvenient for everyone involved, plus the trade spammers had to deal with people spamming trade looking for enchants or customers. Add lockboxes, UBRS keys, and portals to the mix and it's no wonder we needed a global LFG channel for our spam chat.

Contrast this with the current system in which we can easily get our gems and enchants off the AH and the reforging trainers aren't so far away. The needed materials are not so rare as to be impossible to find, in the rare case that you need a crafter. Whereas essence of air required a flight from Orgrimmar all the way to Silithus. And then there were the shoulder and leg enchants, which rather than being crafted or from a simple if slow rep grind, instead required raids of one sort or another, excluding a generic resist enchant which merely required a simple if slow rep grind, plus a simple if slow mob grind (unless you planned ahead and combined them).
If you somehow missed it, Spinks had a recent post on this.
Am I really the only person who would prefer to be able to just grab a cool drop and be ready to go without being asked to do all the legwork for an extra minor bonus? It’s funny, once I used to find these extra complexities so cool. I think that I’m over it now, or at least I’ve done it over again in enough games that I’d rather just cut to the chase.

Note that when the only deficiency on a new item was an enchant, upgrades were upgrades on the spot, so you could use it right away, even if you were going to eventually go get it enchanted. Now the lack of gems and enchant will make fresh off the boss gear usually worse than existing gear. Also thanks to jewelcrafting, and reinforced by reforging, having the proper caps has become more important than it used to be, mostly because back then we didn't have the option to dramatically change our gear.

You might have assumed that I agree that it is annoying to have to regem, reforge, and reenchant before even considering using a new item.
Don’t forget to regem and reforge all your other gear since now you’re above or below a necessary stat cap.

Here’s what is strange to me: back when we only had to get enchants, it was harder to find enchanters. No scrolls on the AH, so we’d end up in major cities looking for them. Half the time we’d have to go farm some special mat like essences of air or crusader orbs. It was an altogether inconvenient system.

Now it is all very conveniently placed on the AH: gems and enchants, or nearby at the reforging elf. And yet it feels more annoying.

Well you'd be right.

Note that I am not using complex to indicate difficulty, just that it adds more steps and stuff to manage.

So given the false choice of liberty or death, I mean no-scroll enchanting-only or easy but complex gems, reforging, and enchants, which would you prefer?

P.S. I noticed that I never quite explicitly stated that one of the assumptions of the no-scroll enchanting is also that gear wouldn't take us near enough to hit/expertise caps for us to worry about being a bit high or low: we'd just always be low.
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