Choice, time, and rewards

| Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I used to have a lot more time to play.  I had all the time in the world for grinds, long quest chains, and travel time.  I saw little problem with it all.

Now I have less time.  Yet I still have the same sense of entitlement that I had when I had more.  That is to say, I think we earn what we can from playing and if we want more, we play more.  If we don't play more, then we shouldn't complain, because we're merely making our own tradeoffs between different aspects of life.

Here I am with less time and the voices in my head scream about irony and being on the other side of the coin.  Yet, I don't care.  What is so ironic?  If I thought I should get as many rewards as I once did, then perhaps I'd be suffering from irony or hypocrisy or some other word that has had its meaning diluted over time.

Instead, I don't care.  I play less because playing and the rewards from it are less valuable to me than what I do with my time elsewhere.  I'm not on the losing side of some cosmic equation; I'm just on a different point on my old equilibrium line.

This isn't to suggest that I'd not want some more rewards.  Maybe a couple bindings of the windseeker could drop the next time I'm in Molten Core.  Maybe the bonus loot option could reward me with something more rewarding than gold.  It would be nice.  However, there is another idea that I have retained: trivialized rewards are trivial.  It is the rarity of the reward or the effort that goes into it that makes it a reward.  Otherwise it's junk food: additive and yet ultimately unsatisfying.  A little more reward would be nice, but I don't expect it, nor do I suffer for lack of it.  Well, maybe the valor points...

Since writing that post about the valor cap being too low I've only capped once.  Since then I've lacked some combination of time and interest.  It's been the one thing that annoyed me, that there was this goal that I could not get to.  There are other goals that I am not reaching, but they are mine and they are long-term.  They do not taunt me every week.  Yet, I must admit that my post was imperfect, but even this annoyance is slowly fading.  Why?  For the same reason any other perception of a reward has changed: I've not cared.  I could hit the cap; I could identify times when I could have gotten many more valor points, yet I did not want the valor points as much as I wanted other rewards in life.  This choice has made all the difference.

I wonder if that is the key to why some people insist that they must have more, see more, be rewarded more: they do not feel that they have chosen a different path, but that they have instead been stuck on one.  Maybe this is a privilege that I've had.  I used to play a lot and now I play less; I can see the choice in how I spend my time.  If I'd never had a lot of time, might I not perceive it as a choice?

Gokuu's no noob

| Monday, February 25, 2013
Picture yourself in Stormstout Brewery.  You're at the last boss.  First are the pair of big alementals.  Next are the dozen or so little ones with the ranged attacks.

Is your healer getting hit?  Is a DPS or three getting hit?  Does the tank have aggro on only a few mobs with the rest in a large ring around him, just out of range of his AoEs?

This is when line of sight pulling is a wonderful thing.  Aggro the mobs and run to the doorway that you entered through.  Hug the left wall and they'll run up close, all packed in for easy AoE and easy aggro.

My hunter finally got the gear for Pandaria instances, thanks to a vendor.  And so, off he went.  The first tank was a miserable failure of a fail.  The group collapsed.  Next came Gokuu the death knight.

In my drunken stupor I slurred, "Gokuu, if you shtand in the doorway during the boss, you can get all the little alementalsh to run in close."

Strangely, he replied that he'd do that that phase.

"here, if everyone hugsh the left wall, they come close"

He then proceeded to stand too far out.

"iun back more"
"back up"

And lo, did he back up, and drop death and decay right at the corner, so that all the little alementals ran in close and were easily killed with nary a drop of stray ale.

Afterward, perhaps noticing the contrast with the first time we'd done that boss, he typed, "ty for that"

I was happy.  In a random, not only had someone taken advice, he'd recognized that the advice worked.  And then thanked the advice giver.  There is hope!

Selling for less than vendor

| Wednesday, February 20, 2013
I sometimes run across these auctions.  They don't make much sense to me.  Are these just generous souls who trade their profits and risk lost deposits to help others get the items?  I doubt this, even if kindness was the answer to last Monday's mystery.

I don't use the mobile armory/AH often.  The UI is not as good as my in-game addons.  It does have the benefit of allowing me to post and buy when I can't play WoW.  It allows me to sell directly from my bank and mail.

I think this may be the cause.  One thing that bugs me is that it doesn't show vendor prices.  This may be the answer to the less-than-vendor selling.  If you can't see the vendor price, you probably won't know you're going under it.  The app will undercut other sellers by default, and the bid is lower than the buyout.  This allows for prices to creep down, below what is theoretically a price floor.

This leads me to a word of advice: don't use the mobile AH to sell if you don't understand the market.  Maybe that's a good rule in general.

Can I interest you in a payment plan?

| Friday, February 15, 2013
Why can't players go into debt?    Obviously we can picture some reasons.

The biggest reason might be the ability to create debt, then delete the character, mailing off whatever item was bought.  This can be fixed by making the item soulbound.  In the case of trade materials, that would have to apply to the crafting results.  Or exclude trade materials since I foresee many problems, both on the technical side and on the player side.

Paying back is tricky too.  What can the game do?  One like EVE could be heartless and tear out your implants and break a clone's kneecaps.  But WoW can't do that.  It can't actively punish failure to repay, which leaves it open to abuse.

Behold: income withholding.  Make the player's gold go negative and future quest rewards, coin, and vendor sales go to the debt.  Despite having less than no gold, players could still make some purchases, such as repairs, though that would add to their debt.  Again, in a game like WoW we can't have a situation where a player cannot repair their armor.

Excessive debt is also a potential issue.  For example, if I bought a 250,000g mount, we all know I'm not paying that off with my main's coin looting and daily quest rewards.  Not for a very long time.  To deal with this, the account's income on that server would be calculated and purchases could not exceed a certain time period's income, perhaps no more than a month.

This creates some potential problems.  Can the income be faked?  The obvious way would be through direct trades of gold.  A trusting guild might trade a lot of gold to someone so they could borrow for a mount, then take it back, so that the players with an income of 100g a day is in debt for the next 2/3 of a year.  Excluding direct gold trades would fix that, but then it blocks players who do a lot of selling through direct trades.  The AH couldn't be excluded, but then the trillion gold gold coin becomes a potential issue, though the resulting gold destruction might discourage that course of action.  Looking at a longer time frame, such as several months, could give an idea of what a player typically takes in, before they thought to cheat the system.  That creates the problem that income isn't stable: in my case I know my income has gone up dramatically in the past few weeks thanks to my enchanter, so I'd appear much poorer than I am.

Ultimately the problem may be that any amount of gold that can be safely loaned is going to be too little to be worth much.  Loaning me a few thousand is a safe bet: I can pay it back in a few days, but in that case, I'd rather just wait a few days and not deal with goblins.  Loaning me the $250,000g for one of those fancy mounts, that could take a long time.  Then what if I quit?  Returning is less interesting if I know I'm going to have a couple hundred thousand debt waiting for me.

All this leads me to this suggestion: make it an RP mechanic.

Allow for small loans, only a few hundred gold.  Stick a one-week timer on them.  After that week, goblins come for you.  Pay up then or you have a difficult boss fight on your hands.  Better hope you're in a raid when it happens, or maybe not!  If you beat them, then the debt is forgiven, though the goblins will refuse to loan you money for a few weeks, since goons aren't free.  If you pay up, then they'll leave you alone and gladly lend you more gold right away, even on the spot.  If you run away, then they get the bank to withhold income until it is paid off, with periodic letters notifying you that you are being watched.

You might have noticed that the first scenario, borrow money, kill goons, is essentially free gold.  That's why it is meant to be a difficult fight, and can appear anywhere, though the timer will be pretty exact.  By that I mean, if you borrow on Monday at 7pm, the goons will show up the next Monday between 7pm and 8pm, so you could plan ahead.  This could be a guild event, or just a way to get people working together, in a capitalistic manner of course: "/2 paying 50g per person for a group to protect me from goons in 15 minutes!  PLEASE!" Borrow 500g, pay 200g to other players, pocket the 300g, and then repeat it a few weeks once the goblins have burned down their banking records.  Or maybe that should be a quest as well, to break in and destroy the evidence.  The criminal implications are endless!

If I can kill the rare myself, why would I invite you?

| Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Maybe other people have run into this.  You're fighting a rare spawn, such as the honor-dropping ones in Krasarang Wilds.  You're doing just fine.  Maybe you even have it very low, 5% or less.  Someone flies back and does an invite.

I'm not sure whether to laugh at this or be insulted.

Do they think that I somehow need help?  If I did, I'd get a group.
Do they think I'm stupid enough to let them roll against me when I don't need them?
Do they hope I'll just absent-mindedly click accept?

Whatever it is, they should fuck off.  At the least they shouldn't sigh at me when I refuse the invite.  What's next, demanding half the ore when I get to a node first?

Stop making useless shards

| Monday, February 11, 2013
Prismatic shards are on the AH for less than 1g.  There are no blues in Lich King that vendor for less than 1g.  This means that players are taking something for which they can get multiple gold and instead getting less than one.

You might be saying, "But I need shards."  Okay, so then why are they on the AH?  If an enchanter is burning gold for shards for his own enchants, then they won't be on the AH.  Alternatively, if you need shards, buy them on the AH rather than making them.

 Similarly, low-level essences aren't particularly valuable anymore.  Incidentally, this makes them a great way to level enchanting.  Weapons tend to make a lot of essences rather than dusts, so they're also often better to vendor rather than disenchant.

Of course your server might be different.  Maybe you're on an RP server that only uses shards as currency.

Morning Mystery: Who needs a dozen ghost iron dragonlings?

| Saturday, February 9, 2013
You've just posted a few auctions and as you're headed to the mail to empty it out, you see that yellow text: a buyer has been found.  And again.  Next thing you're eagerly anticipating the coming hour when you get to be rich.

This morning I checked the ghost iron dragonlings.  They'd been up in price last night but I'd been undercut since yeterday.  I posted a few more.  A few seconds later it came in, a buyer had been found.  They were too close together to be separate buyers.  I'd put up four.  But there were five sales; one was of the previous day's more expensive ones.  The four or five that someone had posted in the middle were gone too.  That only adds up to ten, but a dozen sound better, so I'll stick with that.

Market manipulation is possible, and I'd hoped that was the case.  If someone had tried to push them up to 400g, I could overprice and still undercut with my supply.  Maybe they'd keep buying them to pull up the price.  I have a lot to sell.  But no; the AH was not cleared, nor did they repost them.  They bought them to keep them.

Thus the mystery, who needs a dozen unique-equipped trinkets?

How many players need to have fun for it to be a good fight?

| Friday, February 8, 2013
Earlier I said how I'd liked the Dread Approach bosses in LFR.  Since then I've worked up the courage to go in as a tank.  In its infinite mercy, LFR dropped in in on the last boss.  That platform-switching guy might have been trouble.

It was a fun fight as DPS.  But as a tank?  Boring.  The greatest challenge was figuring out how to tell what is in front of him.  I figured that out.  I spent the rest of the fight wondering if I'd be better off putting the other 'tank' on follow.  It's not as if my prot DPS is anything to write home about, unless you want to send your parents a letter about a joke.

This wasn't even similar to a tank and spank fight.  On those I can at least feel like I could mitigate more damage, maybe deal more to help with an enrage.  There is some optimizing to do.  Here, I had nothing.

Does that make it a bad fight?  Does every single person need to be having fun for it to be a good fight?  What if some are merely slightly bored?  Insufficiently excited?  Despite my dull task, I think it's a good fight.

The Dread Approach

| Monday, February 4, 2013
I finally got into LFR for this.  Well, a second time.  First time I stumbled into an apparent wipe-prone group on the last boss and wasn't in a mood for that.  Surprisingly, not many people drop groups on the last boss to give a random stranger whom they'll never meet a quick one-boss-kill for weekly valor.

I enjoyed all of the fights.  A lot.  Maybe the first a little less.  That was one that gets messed up by LFR, where some mechanics seem neutralized but still happen, and then it's not clear to me what's going on.  Does this shiny circle mean something bad, or should I finish the cast at take a pitiful amount of damage?  Now you might think it is odd for a ret paladin to use the phrase "finish this cast", but that just shows your limited understanding of true skill.

The second boss was plain old fun.  I was never good at mario or other games of quick movement, but I managed and it was a bit of a thrill.  Right!  Left!  Right!  Oops!  Right!  That one cheated and spawned on top of me!  Left!

Then the last boss.  There's a bit to keep track of, but with nice convenient circles for those of us who can only communicate using Venn diagrams.

Overall I thought this section of a raid had a good bit of movement, but it wasn't some sort of absurd, precisely-timed pre-scripted dance,  Rather, it was about keeping track of one's surroundings and responding accordingly.

How to get rid of wack-a-mole healing

| Friday, February 1, 2013
Behold, The greatest idea ever: The server lies to us about how much health we have.

No longer would healers watch health bars because they would be utterly meaningless.  Healers would instead have to watch the environment.  Estimate people's original health pools, see how much they've been standing in fire, and assume the tank is about to die any second.  Exciting!

You're welcome.
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