As Arthas falls...

| Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A whisper: "No... the Legion... is coming..."

When we kill Arthas, will we be saving Azeroth or shattering its only united army?

WoW is Soccer

It's popular all over the world. As far as video games go, it's pretty cheap; just as soccer is a very cheap sport to play. It's popular with all types of people for all sorts of reasons.

Some play it to hang out with friends. Some play it professionally and will play with only the best. Some play it purely out of love of the game. Some play it for exercise or to pass the time. Some play it to be better than others. Some play it to be better than they were.

Sounds great, right? Well sure, if it's soccer. Soccer has leagues and teams and all sorts of segmentation. We don't have the World Cup played in an alley in Brazil.

WoW doesn't have that. We're all in the same world. We're not all sure who we are, how good we are, why we play. This creates two problems.

First, we're in the same place. We've not put the professionals here and the kids there and the social players somewhere else. We're all thrown in together. There are plenty of courts, but with no rules for them, we fight. The kids play here but the professionals think it looks nicer so they try to take it and then there's conflict. The social players have been sitting around chatting for the last ten minutes, and sometimes they use their hands, so the guys who are trying to practice get pissed at them for wasting the field.

Second, we learn behaviors from each other. So kids who want to play with friends are next to professionals and they keep getting made fun of. After all, the kids aren't especially good (though as an American, they'd run circles around any team I was ever on) and look dumb compared to the professionals. It hurts to be constantly called a little kid and told to play somewhere else. So they try to fight back the only way they can: they try to become like the professionals. They want to play as well as them so they can keep their field. But not all the kids want to do that, so they don't play for so long and aren't as good and then they are pushed out of the team. No one ends up very happy.

The professional players lose a game and scream at the kid who ran onto their field. But the kid was just trying to get his ball, it went loose. And besides, he was just trying to practice that curve ball that the professional used for that one goal.

We'd all be much better off if we drew up some lines. You play here and we play here and they play there. WoW has plenty of fields. It has plenty of balls. If you want shin-guards and special shoes and those things so you don't break your teeth, that have those. There's enough for everyone. But we don't see that well enough, so we fight over the rules and space and all get very angry and unhappy.

Or to put it another way

| Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Why teach? I've said why. Gevlon has his reasons.

The point: We're not all that different. Both of us want to make the virtual world just a little bit better. We want to teach the noobs. Why? Because it makes a better world for us. Maybe I have a touch of altruism, but ultimately, I am like most people: I am self-serving.

Fewer noobs mean more good players, so go out and teach. Use whatever method you find works. Though you might want to avoid being a horrible douchebag; that tends to make people defensive.

Only idiots rewrite Blizzard's lore

| Monday, September 28, 2009
They don't like the story so they rewrite it and pretend it's 'true.' They say to themselves "I don't like that" so they change it, in their minds, and accomplish nothing more than delaying the process of accepting the world for what it is.

As you might have picked up from previous posts, I'm not too happy with the revamp of Onyxia. It is a loss of historical evidence. But that is survivable, just as Naxx was. I could even accept that it is just a little area that isn't of the world. It's not lorelol or whatever, it's just not lore. It's the equivalent of the LFG channel (how are we throwing our voices around the world, especially those of us who possess no magical ability?), strange if you stare at it too long, but hardly game-breaking, and beneficial overall.

But we turn in her head. I don't care that we already did. That's the old time travel thing. No problem. But Varian chopper her head off already. If there was no quest, then Onyxia would be almost entirely separate from the rest of the world. But she isn't.

So I wrote my own lore. Onyxia was reborn by Deathwing, twice. Once when we first removed her head. Then again after Varian did the same. So this is the third Onyxia. Everything is perfectly consistent and logical and all great except that it isn't at all true, it's just BS I made up in my head.

This leaves me with a question: Do you rewrite the lore in your mind so it makes sense or are you able to accept it and go on with your WoWday?

Ways for Arthas to beat us back

| Sunday, September 27, 2009
Arthas needs a victory.

How shall he get it?

Kill off someone important? This works, but, I can't think of someone important enough but who I also don't want to die. Perhaps that actually means there are some perfect candidates such as Thrall, Jaina, or any of the Bronzebeards. Killing Varian or Garrosh would be a victory for everyone but Arthas.

Destroy something? Sure. But what? I think Orgrimmar is a good candidate. Send in the abominations and frostwyrms and a few liches to wreck havoc. Burn down half the place. Fill it with corpses, rising up again. Basically turn Orgrimmar into Stratholme. Force us into some sort of exile city nearby, perhaps the Ashenvale logging camp, it has a decent fortress. We can retake Orgrimmar at the end of WotLK after Arthas has fallen, but even then, it won't be easy.

Another good target: Dalaran. Blast off a huge piece of it and make sure plenty die from the fall. Make them not stay properly dead. Combine that with an invasion from Icecrown to extend a blighted area into Crystalsong. Make the mage bubble under Dalaran a three way battle between the magi, Scourge, and blue dragonflight. Or perhaps by then the story will have advanced far enough that Malygos is defeated and the blues are without a plan, so they are again fighting for survival. The rest of the city will be more crowded and disorganized. For the perfect touch, some of the Scourge on the ground should have the names of missing vendors.

Admittedly these are both mere setbacks, but they are at least something. When was the last time Arthas really messed up anything? Let's see... Oh, he captured Drak'tharon Keep, and then we promptly killed his servant. Then he um... broke the floor of the coliseum and Tirion had to pay a ton of money to get it rebuilt.

Never attribute to stupidity

| Saturday, September 26, 2009
That which is adequately explained by malice. Of course it's not backwards!

PUGs are stupid, right? The hunters roll on expertise rings, the DK needed a +block item, and the ret paladin needed on the SP gear. Maybe they are just incredibly ignorant. But at least as often, the problem isn't that they don't know, it's that they don't care. They don't care about you or anyone else.

So next time you think "wow that person is stupid" consider for a moment that maybe they are perfectly intelligent and they use that intelligence to be an asshole.

Maybe they are also ignorant. You try to explain, "you don't need X stat." They ignore you. It's not because they are stupid, it's because they don't give a shit about you. Why should they care what you say or if you are right? They want something and they will take it.

What brought this on? Too many times hearing that this or that famous person is stupid. They probably are not. Name a famous person and the odds are in favor of them being intelligent. Instead they have different priorities, and those priorities do not include you as an important factor.

How Discipline Priests are Awesome

| Friday, September 25, 2009
What do most healers do? They heal. Someone takes damage and they heal it. This is not just boring, it's also cruel, putting the tank through endless torment while never allowing them any reprieve. Those healers which mercifully allow them the sweet embrace of death are insulted, called noobs.

What does disc do? Well it does still heal, but it does it in a better way. If you think that disc shields, you wrong. There's no such thing as shielding. There's a reason it's thought of as proactive healing: that's what it is.

Here's how it works: A disc priest casts power word shield, let's say it absorbs 3k damage (it's a lowbie). The tank then gets hit. Damage is absorbed, right? WRONG! Instead the priest goes back in time and uses future knowledge to perfectly time a flash heal. The result is that the tank appears to take no damage because the heal is perfectly timed. Think of it as giving a blood transfusion the instant someone gets shot.

TL;DR: Disc priests are cool because they can travel though time.

From their corpses, Rise!

| Thursday, September 24, 2009
The last thing I did before flying back to the death knights was to kill a Scarlet Crusader and raise her again as a ghoul. That was the last person I killed before I was ready. This last murder, this last desecration and corruption, these were my last acts before the quest was complete. And with this quest, I shall ascend. No longer shall I run through normal dungeons, killing the trivial enemies within for poor rewards. Soon, with just the click of a quest, I am ascendant to the level of 80 and with that, I shall begin to be heroic.

That draenei death knight is pretty, pretty cruel.

Click. Click. Click. Ding.

Now I am faced with a hard question: should I set my hearthstone to Dalaran?

It has been a good day for my rogue. She's gotten two zone drops in Storm Peaks and the meta from HoL in addition to a new ring. The regular daily for there gave her first badge of conquest.

Once I am geared for raiding I plan to respec, since I currently don't use a proper mutilate build. It skips some raid talents for some soloing gains, such as faster stealth movement and a shorter cooldown.

What makes this fun?

| Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I had stopped raiding. It was not fun. It was the opposite of fun. It took too much time, took too many repairs, took too much patience for wipes and failing over and over.

Not fun.

Maybe the problem was my paladin. I was a bit burnt out on tanking. I was sick of ret's lack of interactivity. Sure, we have lots of buttons to press, but I don't really react to anything, I don't care about maintaining debuffs or buffs or anything other than "is the cooldown ready? Is it better than the one coming a half second later?" That's not much fun.

So I played my rogue and had fun. I planned to level her to 80, gear up, and try again at raiding. Maybe a better class would fix it. She's currently 79 and working on JC and Ebon Blade dailies.

Interruption: If you want to skip the boring "what happened" stuff, skip to where it says Saved by the Rogue.

Monday night I had a fit of insanity. I decided to send a tell to see if I could get into the raid. I did. Then I stood around for a while, bored out of my mind and wondering why I'd agreed to come. We did twins, I was confused because I'd joined vent but forgotten to join the right channel. Not much fun. But they died.

Anub'arak: We died. We died again. We also died. The first few times were annoying to me. A certain healer kept getting tons of debuffs and wasn't happy about it; her constant complaints, and the failure of anyone to fix them, annoyed me. Not fun. But something weird happened. We gradually got better. We tinkered with the strat and decided that trusting DPS to interrupt was getting us all killed, so dropped ice on his butt and tanked the adds there (I apologize if this is useful). That worked better. We died again, but he was at 24k.

Suddenly the fight was trivial. We were nowhere near the enrage. No one died. Cakewalk. Without cake. But there was frosting, without the ing. Frost. I had that thing that I had been missing in raids: fun.

Tuesday night we went back to the fresh instance. Actually I was first waitlisted and was a bit happy, because I was wary of burning myself out (I know, gosh TWO raids, wow, gotta slow down). One of the tanks was having connection problems, so there was my spot, which made me nervous that my night would be ruined. I was tanking on everything but twins. Beasts: One shot. Demon guy: One shot. Faction champions: One shot. Twins: I heard the fight finally and understood what was going on; also a one shot. Anub'arak: Supposedly we was buffed; but also: one shot.

For some reason I was given loot. I guess I won the coin toss against the DPS warrior. Icehowl refused to give me my badges.

Then we very slowly went to Onyxia, wiped on trash when the server went down, wiped on her when the fight bugged, and then did some more standard fail-type wiping. Learning I think, we did get better after the server stopped killing us. Still, it was fun. I'd done the 10 man earlier and didn't like it much; it's hard to get whelps from two sides at once with an AoE that doesn't move while trying to stay behind her. Three tanks makes it much more manageable.

Saved by the Rogue?
I decided to get my rogue's JC going. I also decided I wanted to make a profit from it. Level and profit, tall order. This meant farming and watching the AH and seeing what was profitable. I did manage to level her skill a lot. And the mining spree by my paladin brought in a good bit of gold. I didn't truly make a profit though, since the rings that I thought were a great way to level; while they did sell pretty well, were made too expensive by the titanium (I underestimated the cost of a bar). Still, the process of figuring out what gems might sell, testing them, mining (does anyone else get a sort of dull high from mining?), prospecting, etc; that got me into the game again. I was engaged and interested.

I will still level my rogue and farm heroics for cuts and all that, but she's not going to replace my paladin. I remembered again that I enjoy tanking. I remembered that ret can be fun, despite the terrible mechanics.

Is this broadly applicable? I see real life parallels. Someone is a bit down and what do they get told? "Be active" or "get involved." Before I was purely questing and I like quests, but I had no real goals or engagement. I was thinking, sure; but it was mostly for this blog, trying to imagine what to write next. Sometimes I ran out of ideas because there's not much to say when there's nothing happening. I was WoW-depressed. My rogue got me active again and suddenly things were fun. Instead of complaining that we're bored, we should find some goal and work towards it.

Suddenly it's fun again.

Distilled Fun

| Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Call it mindless. Call it silly. Point out that it gives no 'real' rewards. Go right ahead. What do I care?

Defending against the dark iron dwarves is fun. They yell funny sayings. We fight them off by drinking and throwing mugs. There's a rhythm to it; throw, catch, throw, catch. The barkers tossing beer to us makes it almost like a massive one-way juggling contest: they throw to us, we throw to the dwarves. It is a beautiful sight to see the air filled with flying mugs and hear the barkers still yelling "You've tried the best, now try the rest! Ogre Brew!"

Today I got the physical DPS trinket off Coren. It was a major upgrade: it had way more flavor text than mirror of truth.

Understanding the Vrykul

They might seem cruel and savage, perhaps even evil given their alliance with the Lich King. But if you look deeper you will finda rich culture.

Let us look at some of their own words.
"I will eat your heart."
While this might sound like a threat, it is in fact, an expression of love. They wish to consume your heart, the center of love, and so by that, consume your love. They want to have your love. And as we are what we eat, they wish to be your love.

"Your entrails will make a fine necklace."
CLearly they have a much different sense of fashion. In this case, they are practical. In a state of war, it is handy to have a ready source of food, 'rope', or backup organs.

"I will feed you to the dogs."
Keeping dogs well-fed is a sign of both understanding of a companion species' needs and also an expression of affection for the species. After all, if they were being selfish they would be threatening to eat you themselves, like the trolls do.

"No, I can do better, I can..."
They do not give up, they are not quitters. This determination is admirable.

I hope we can all learn to better understand this race and its culture. Maybe someday we will no longer judge them for their decision to join with the current leading nominee for Most Evil Being in Azeroth.

So Anub'arak died

| Monday, September 21, 2009
We also killed the twins. They killed me. I was confused.

Anub'arak was actually kinda fun. I might actually raid again.

Ret is still not much fun.

Is it possible to not punish?

| Sunday, September 20, 2009
Lately I've been thinking a lot about exploration and how to encourage it. Vanilla sort of did, with quests starting all over the place, so unless you were the type that went all over and talked to all he NPCs, you weren't going to have all the quests for an instance. I tried to call that rewarding exploration, but in reality it was more like punishing lack of exploration.

The problem is one of lost opportunity. Back when epics were hard to come by and even blues weren't exactly thrown out like candy, a decent quest reward could be serious business. Some chains were needed to get access to certain patterns. For example, there are a few BS plans from a vendor outside Scholomance. I suppose you don't actually have to do any quests, it's not as if he requires you to do anything. The problem is that you can't see him. You have to get a trinket that lets you see ghosts and that trinket is from a quest chain in Scholomance.

WoW is all about alternative advancement now. Many paths. I like the idea. We can PvP or raid or run heroics or any of that and we will progress in gear. If you're not raiding you're going to run out of content very fast, even if you are raiding you still will, but Blizzard doesn't make many more BGs/arenas or 5-mans between expansions. The goal is that you do what you want to do and you aren't denied opportunity because of it. PvP has its gear, raiding has its gear, heroics have their gear, quests... those have blues at best and very very few challenges. But they do have the lore and no loot drama.

Where was I going? Oh yes; we're at a point when alternate progression makes exploration rewardable. Don't want to explore? Fine, don't. Skip the quest chain that starts off the coast of Azshara and takes you through the Molten Core. Don't bother to talk with the Tauren in Orgrimmar who will send you all over the world from Stratholme to Dire Maul and everywhere in between.

Of course people still miss rewards. But they have equivalent rewards. PvP won't give T9, but it gives its own season gear. The time has come to do the same for exploration. Put the NPC somewhere obscure. Make the quest start from a Tharussian artifact laying on the ground. BTW, it doesn't start a quest, but if you find one, pick it up, you might be surprised. Will people lose out for not doing quests? Of course. Too bad. They have their own rewards from what they want to do.

Now when I ask for questing gear, I'm not asking for epics. Those might be nice, but we don't need them. Currently most quests aren't very hard and if they are, they are for groups, not for overgeared soloists. Instead I'd rather see gear that looks cool. Not flashy. I don't need or want gigantic glowing shoulders. But something that looks good. Think something like the DK starting gear; a 'set' that looks cool and comes from questing. Let us find artifacts that do strange things like teleport us to ancient ruins. Or even better, another trinket of Caer Darrow that lets us see the world which others ignore.

Let them kill the giants. Let them kill each other. We Loremasters will be finding out what came before and what is to come. We will know the world that they ignore.

I found a sad post, but then I remembered happy

| Saturday, September 19, 2009
To start off, I have a story to tell.
There I was reading Spinks Saturday links post and I happened to see a link about someone thinking we have too much theorycraft. Sign me up! So I clicked the link. Hello, Oakstout.
Reading reading, and I stumble upon Cuppy and this: "explained how she disdained from reading any blogs that divulged a truck load of theroy crafting." Sounds like my kind of person, except the context then ruined it, but then made it better again.
So I went to Cuppy's post and did some reading and saw one of those things where people say something while replacing words with links. I guess that's pretty standard. Clicking revealed: Tobold, Tobold, and Dragonchasers. Never heard of that one, but apparently it ended last month because of blogging negativity.

I don't tell very good stories in the morning, but I wanted people to know where this post came from.

So, quitting because of all the negativity. Well that's not fun. I have to be honest, I might live in a bubble of niceness. I don't read many 'controversial' blogs. They tend to be written by terrible people who should shut up. The closest is maybe Tobold's and he's not a terrible person, nor should he shut up. Besides, he's started moderating comments. Also when I notice that a post had gotten to 50 comments and it was posted two hours ago I don't even bother to read them. Sometimes I skim to look for stupid comments to get angry at their existence, but I don't bother to reply since it would just get lost. Then I go back to my regularly scheduled blog reading.

So yes, my bubble. How did I make it? It's semi-randomly constructed. I see a link on the PPI and I click it. I read a handful of posts and if it looks interesting, I follow it. Or other blogs. I find blogs that are followed by bloggers I follow. They seem to form a sort of semi-permeable bubble which unless I go after what I know to be terrible links (sometimes my fellow bloggers confuse me with their choices) I tend to end up back where I started. Or I find blogs that don't suit me. Either way, I end up with a slowly expanding sphere of blogs to read.

They are a strange set of blogs in that they seem to be written and read by decent people. By decent people I mean the ones who you can imagine working an honest job, grumbling about taxes but still paying them, going on a trip now and then, and if your bag breaks in the middle of the sidewalk they might help you pick up some of the mess. They don't gossip or sling mud. It's like a little pocket of sane, intelligent, kindness in the sea of filth we call the internet.

I like knowing these people. They write interesting posts. Sometimes I comment. Sometimes I cannot comment because I'd hate to taint their beautiful post with crude responses. Sometimes I cannot comment because I'm too busy writing my own post that they inspired. It forms a sort of conversation. A strange one where people can give little speeches and the other person politely listens before responding with their own speeches.

To everyone in my bubble, thank you. You're part of what makes me enjoy blogging so much. You give me ideas and you respond to my ideas and make me feel as if I'm doing something other than shouting on a street corner.

Oh, and Spinks, you spelled my name wrong. But thanks for the link love!

The day the CC died

| Friday, September 18, 2009
As we unanimously established in my previous post: DPS are universally selfish bastards who don't give a damn about anyone else and everyone knows this to be a fact. Okay actually we more had a general idea that DPS aren't as well integrated into groups. Their role is DPS and that pushes them towards the enemy, focuses them on that, and so it's inevitable that they'd be a bit disconnected from the group.

Tamarind suggests that giving DPS more ability to protect the group might not help much, "stopping to protect the healer gimps your DPS so I wonder if even if DPS classes *had* more functionality for doing so, if they'd want to?" I agree, just adding abilities won't help much. But as Shy and Hana's stories show, the abilities exist and are even used, but clearly they are exceptional cases, not the norm.

Jeffo goes ahead and ruins it all, saying what I wanted to say with "The lack of CC needed nowadays certainly speeds things up, but I think it's taken away a certain amount of the 'group experience'."

There we go: DPS retained their utility, but it isn't called for as much these days. Ret can throw out some healing, but how often do you see ret paladins throwing out heals in their few spare GCDs? How often are rogues blinding adds? When was the last time you asked for a sheep or any other CC outside of a handful of Ulduar pulls? DPS are just DPS, not DPS plus utility.

Can we bring them back into the fold? Sure, just add more encounters that require CC. Nerf tanks and healers, add more terrible debuffs, and we'll be sure to start CCing trash in heroics. But is that fun? To me, not really. It's just a slowdown. We'd get the same effect by just telling everyone to stand around for ten seconds before each pull.

CC and other utility need to be integrated into fights rather than part of preparation. Currently they are as fun and engaging as dropping a fish feast before a pull. Woo hoo. Down the line we need to see encounters that encourage use of non-DPS abilities during the fight. Imagine if KT's MC was a bit longer or if his adds could be feared/shackled. Or kited. Wouldn't it be more interesting to see a group of hunters using distracting shot and snares to drag the adds around while also keeping up DPS on KT?

CC is dangerous, I admit it. It weakens the notion of "bring the player, not the class." It can be tedious and annoying if not implemented well. But, if done properly, it would bring DPS back into the fold and make them part of the group again, rather than just a couple extra people who speed up the encounter, but for most fights are redundant.

HP sharing is caring

| Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tamarind over at Righteous Orbs got me thinking about caring. She focuses more on gender issues, which I don't mean to discount, but I'll try to focus on the overall relationships of tanking, healing, and DPS. Her overall theme is one of caring, we all feel safer with a tank who cares, especially if we're the vulnerable healer.

My main is a prot paladin. She's female, I'm male. I feel different tanking on her than on my male warrior or male druid. She's more arrogant and sometimes bossy. Is that just more stereotyping, that a female cannot be protective and leading a group, that she must be aggressive and offensive?

My paladin has a mildly annoyed face at all times. It was intentional. After playing a FHP for a few levels I was disturbed by the way her face did not change whether she was standing around chatting or smashing kobold face. In reaction to this, my belf has a perfect face: it looks appropriate for combat without being too ugly for standing around. But it also doesn't make her look very friendly, a little bit hostile, in fact. I hope that my paladin's offensive personality is due to her appearance, not to stereotyping about her sex-role combination.

I remember being DPS for a female druid once. I felt very safe, as if I was the cub of a momma bear and everyone knows, you do not f- with the momma bear's cubs. At times I've wanted to make a protective female feral, but I have a very strict rule about female tauren: they are only allowed to be played by female humans. I get very annoyed when people break that rule. Yes, it's silly, but too bad.

Why don't we care about DPS?
I don't mean we don't care about how well they play. We do. If we didn't we'd not see "lf DPS naxx 10, 4k+ will be gear checking." What I instead mean is that, at least to me, we care less about the intrinsic value of DPS players. They're just DPS. They're not like tanks or healers. We value them. Why?

I think it's about the sharing of HP. Tanks give their health to the healer, saying to them "I will shield you with my very life." In return the healers say "I will keep you alive, but you must protect me in turn." It is a reciprocal exchange of trust and life. They each owe their existence to the other.

DPS are left out of this. They do not save the lives of the healers. They do not save the lives of the tanks. Oh you might see a sheep on a loose mob, but how often do you see a mage throw himself on top of a healer?

In kind healers are often reluctant to save DPS. After all, DPS frequently create their own problems; they DPS too soon and get aggro, they stand in the wrong place, they don't use bandages or healthstones or potions. The relationship is more one-sided, a bit leeching, with the DPS expecting heals but offering no protection in return.

Can we fix this?
Could DPS be brought into the fold? They could gain some protective capabilities for others. Imagine if a mage could cast mana shield on someone else. Or if a warlock could put soul link on a fellow caster. Make it use the SP of the recipient as a scaling factor with DRs like armor so it would approach 20%. This would make it effective to put it on healers or at least other DPS without making it a huge EH gain for tanks. Even if it only was put on other DPS, it would make DPS more protective and that would make them a little bit more like the tanks and healers.

Level and Lore: Time Travel part 2

Today's post was scheduled to be about how time travel between zones justifies me being annoyed with remaking Onyxia for level 80. Unfortunately the logic gets a little bit twisted. It ends up looking like cause->effect is going the wrong way. By that I mean ideally time travel would be what makes me dislike the revamp, but it's far more likely that I disliked it and time travel is a convenient justification to dislike it.

I'm also left with another problem: level. How much can we use level as a lore mechanic? Blizzard has said that level is not a reflection of power in lore, so Arugal is actually quite powerful, even if he does not seem to being only level 21 or 75. I generally interpreted that as meaning that his power would be expressed within the relevant context; so for level 21 he's powerful and for requiring 5 people to kill he's powerful. If he were a raid boss that wouldn't actually change his power since power is in the given context, so of course he'll be stronger in-game if he's a raid boss, but in relative terms he is unchanged.

The other meaning I added was that I felt that level didn't exist in lore. So we're not level 1 or 50 or 80, we just are, and we grow more powerful over time. But with the revamp of Onyxia, it got me thinking, does level have lore relevance? Here's the idea: Onyxia was killed before the expedition to Northrend. But we players did not become level 80 until after the expedition. If Onyxia is a level 80 raid, wouldn't that imply that it came into existence after the expedition?

Maybe that is just stretching it. She could have been level 80 back at 60 and we'd not really know, since bosses adjust to raid level. Besides, levels aren't lore. But there has been a pattern: lower level places are earlier in the timeline. So level 60 Naxxramas took place at a time before level 80 Naxxramas. We fight to weaken the ramparts (level 60) before we launch a direct attack on Kargath (level 70). Levels might not exist in lore, but in-game they appear to be an approximate calender, at least being able to say "this came after that" and so far that calender seems to be accurate.

I think I've figured out the solution: Go back and remove Varian Wrynn. He's ruining everything. If he'd not killed Onyxia, we'd not have a problem with the timeline because then there wouldn't be a definite date of her death.

I suppose after all that I pretty much rewrote the original post, but in a less convoluted manner. And I've been able to give up my dislike for the revamp. Now I don't mind, instead I blame Varian. Damn him.

Time travel

| Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Did you know that different zones are at different points of time?

For the most straight-forward example, loot at Tempest Keep and Magister's Terrace. kael'thas is in both, but it is not at the same time. Magister's Terrace, in fact all of the Isle of Quel'danas, exist after the events in Netherstorm.

Other examples include any quest chains which move across zones. The earlier quests are at an earlier time, and so their zones are as well.

Escort the Taunka from Taunka'le village and you've moved them to a slightly later time in which they are refugees and are moving both to the Horde base in Dragonblight and even further east to Grizzly Hills.

This is a side effect of a combination of static universe but advancing story. Yes, the story does advance. We are not mere observers learning more as we go along, we are changing the world.

Why does this matter? It can cause some weird problems when Blizzard updates content.

For example, the Plaguelands used to exist at a time before or during the first assault on Naxxramas. As far as the NPCs in Light's Hope Chapel are concerned, they still are. However Naxxramas is gone, which means that the areas of the zone where it was once visible are not in a later time, a time after it moved. That means that within the zone there is a time difference of years: the time of when the citadel arrived and when it left. Except Light's Hope must be in a later time, since there was the DK starting event; that should have pushed it ahead. Yet we appear to simultaneously see both the eastern coast destroyed and the Scarlet Crusade in the chapel preparing for a suicidal assault on a necropolis which is no longer there. What time is it?

How will the recreation of Azeroth affect this between-zone time travel? I have no idea.

In other Plaguelands business,
One of my guildies recently started a blog. It's here. If you like my posts, then you might like the most recent post about the plaguelands and other WoWness. I suspect because it's influenced by a conversation we had a few days ago. It's a different expression of the balance of world and game.

Imaginary enemies

| Monday, September 14, 2009
The quickest way to get followers is to lie. There are many types of lies. One is to make the listener feel better. Relieve them of responsibility for their situation.

Find someone else to blame, preferably one that they can't quite see and also can't quite deny. Find an imaginary enemy.

In the 20s we blamed Anarchists. In the 30s we blamed Jews. In the 40s we blamed Nazis and Japanese. In the 50s and for a while after we blamed Communists. Sometimes we called them hippies. For their part, they blamed the capitalists and the Man. Black people blamed white people. Conservatives blamed liberals who blamed conservatives. Everyone blamed the guy before. And we all blamed someone else.

Divide up the world into us and them. We are good. We are better. WE ARE THE BEST. But them... They are evil and lazy and deceitful and harmful and they will destroy the world. They are also relentless. Yes, lazy and relentless. They work very hard at destroying our society which values hard work. Is that a contradiction? Well that's not our fault, it's because they're also stupid!

It is seductive. You are good. We are good. Listen to me. They are out to get you and me and us. They are ruining the world for you and me and us. It is not our faults. They caused it.

But oh the irony when we relieve ourselves of responsibility and blame for the state of the world, when we blame it all on morons and slackers. Really? Lazy and stupid people are your scapegoat? They are the next great conspiracy which will destroy society?

It is utterly absurd. But it is founded in the traditions of everything from racism saying some of us are better than others to predestination saying that some of us are saved and some are not and that's how it is. It's another us and them.

The adherents of the lie will turn it right back around on those who dissent. You disagree? You're a moron! Or a slacker! Or... BOTH! They're everywhere and all over the place and could be anywhere; they are the new Communist conspiracy. This is where they lose all hint of subtlety: they keep calling the moron and slacker conspiracy socialism. They can't even keep up the front of a new enemy, they just go right back to the old one.

I'll just be direct now: If you think there is an international movement of stupid and lazy people destroying the world, then you are either too stupid to see that is wrong or you are too lazy to question it. Either way, you're more than likely part of the problem. It's self-fulfilling, for if there aren't enough lazy and stupid people ruining the world, you're providing more.

I admit, it's tempting to blame everything on other people being stupid. It's easier to never see that other people have different priorities and information and may be reaching perfectly sensible conclusions based on what they have. It takes much more work to see a different perspective. It's easier to just throw negative labels at that which you do not understand. But to actively refuse to try understand the world is both stupid and lazy.

Rewarding exploration

| Sunday, September 13, 2009
Or: Why Vanilla quests have totally random starting points.

Want a quest for Utgarde Keep? Run into the instance. Bam, 2/3 quests right there. The last one you get by going along the quest chains at the Horde (Alliance seems to have no equivalent) starting town in the zone.

Nexus? The chains all start about 200 yards from the entrance and take you in a circle around the instance.

Aha, here's a hard one! Halls of Lightning: K3. Weird place, right? Yep. But it's in the same zone and never even leaves it. It's still the same rule of instance quests starting in the zone of the instance. You might have to search a few chains, but it's not going to be far away. There's not much to explore.

Then there's vanilla. Want a quest for WC? Actually, it's in the Barrens. SFK? Silverpine. This isn't proving my point very well.

Want a quest for RFK? It starts in Thunder Bluff. RFD? Undercity.

Sunken Temple? Oh now you just opened a can of worms. Let's see, those start at...
Class trainers
Tanaris. Or is it Ratchet?
Stonard (easy one!)
Hinterlands, in the middle of a troll temple area.
Also Tanaris. And then feralas. Then Tenaris to Zul'Furrak. Back to Hinterlands to a troll temple. Not the same troll temple, a troll city actually. And then back to Tanaris.
Oh, and the extra boss there is from two separate troll temples in Hinterlands, neither of which have been mentioned yet and which you won't be told explicitly to go to by a quest, instead you must read a grey-quality ancient tablet which says how to make the hammer to summon the boss.

Still, it should be admitted that all of the quests in some way related to trolls. Troll artifacts, troll temples, troll quest givers. There's almost a logic to it.

Then there's Scholomance. Did you know that there are two additional bosses that almost no one knows about? That is in addition to the other boss that no one knows about because no one does the dungeon two chains. They're right there, you've probably seen them: Vectus and Marduk Blackpool. They're neutral and don't do much but talk unless you know how to attack them. It's part of a quest.

Where does said quest start? Talk to a goblin. In the Burning Steppes. To explain where that is: nowhere near the Plaguelands. But talk to her and next thing you're on your way to Winterspring to harvest pure cold for some device. Oh, then you inadvertently... I won't spoil it, but let's just say goblins don't care too much who they work for, as long as they get their money.

Quests like these encourage exploration. They make you see that there are links to instances beyond the immediate surroundings. They show you that there is a world here, not just a few disconnected regions. Conspiracies and enemies look so much bigger from the other side of the world. The quests aren't necessary; they're not attunements and the rewards aren't top of the line for any gear level other than bad. Instead they are a reward for the explorer.

Or is it?
Is this vanilla rewarding exploration or is it punishing, very severely, lack of exploration? I'm all for some benefits to explorers, but for the average player WoW should not be a choice between spending days exploring every last corner, a third-party website, or losing out on a lot of lore and potential rewards. Sometimes you'll see a quest like "go talk to X" and it works well for a small reward since these sort of quest aren't actually needed, often you can start the chain at the second person, so the first is just a bonus.

What will happen to the Argent Dawn?

| Friday, September 11, 2009
To start off, note that I will be pretending that the Argent Dawn and Argent Crusade are the same. They aren't, but close enough.

At first glance this organization will soon be dead. Not defeated, but instead victorious, and lost. With Arthas gone there would likely be little left to do in their specialty: fighting the Scourge. They would become like Maiev after killing Illidan, what is she without her hunt?

This will not happen. The Argent Dawn will not be finished.

For starters, we don't know what happens when the Lich King is destroyed. The best case scenario would result in something like the Forsaken, a mass emancipation of the undead, who then turn on their living overlords and destroy them. This isn't likely. The Scourge is not purely directed by the direct mental control from the Lich King. While there is likely to be a mass breakaway, I don't see the majority even having the sentience to fight back. Instead many are mindless and will simply be re-enslaved by the nearest necromancer.

I foresee a civil war within the Scourge. The 'nicest' faction will be the sentient undead who fight for revenge; a sort of second Forsaken. Then there will be the selfish types, those who joined for power. Finally there will be the zealots; these would include many of the early peasant recruits who joined the Cult of the Damned in direct opposition to the Light and life. None of these groups are likely to be kind to the living, or the other way around. The Argent Dawn will have plenty of work left to do in ending the civil war and moping up the remnants of the Scourge.

The Argent Dawn is not limited to fighting the Scourge. I don't know if they know that the Scourge is from demons, but they certainly know of the corruption and dander of demons. They know that the Scarlet Crusade was infiltrated and run by demons. More directly, they were at the opening of the Dark Portal, fighting off the waves of demons. There is still plenty of demonic corruption for them to fight in Azeroth. If they get bored enough, they can follow the Cenarion Expedition to Outland.

There are other threats waiting as well. Do we honestly think that Deathwing's return will not provide another cause for the Dawn? I don't think for a second that they'll see the Eastern Kingdoms split in two, shrug, and say "Well, he'd not undead, so I guess we're done."

Tirion might be coming to an end, but the Argent Dawn is not.

The End of Arthas?

I did not write this. It was not written by me. I only found it.

By: Tygon of Aerie Peak

"Lord Arthas," Kel'thuzad shrilled on his way to the peak of the Frozen Throne. "Naxxramas has fallen! So, too, the bowels of Ulduar!"

The Lich King's mind stirred, but his body did not. He was situated on a slab of ice, clutched tightly by a series of jagged, icy spikes. "Bowels?" asked the Lich King, whose booming telepathic voice could only be heard by his servants.

Kel'thuzad stopped and floated in front of the Lich King. "There must have been thousands of them--" Kel'thuzad's chilly wheeze, visible in these temperatures, got swept away by the Frozen Throne's furious winds. "Alliance and Horde alike--all of them, working together!"

A vile mist of frost emerged from the holes in the Lich King's helmet.

The chains holding Kel'thuzad's robes together rattled nervously. "They stormed in without warning, My Lord--"

The Lich King rose. Pillars of ice shattered around him in his wake.

Kel'thuzad cowered and shielded his head with his skeletal hands. "An army of gryphons, bats, and drakes the color of blood!!"

"ALEXSTRASZA?!" the Lich King roared. The Frozen Throne shuddered.

"There is no question, My Lord! She aided them in conquering Malygos, and defeating Sartharion in the Obsidian Sanctum! --Even the God of Death, Yogg-Saron, was vanquished by their efforts!"

The Lich King raised his hand in anger at Kel'thuzad. "Kel'thuzad, you allow but insects to invade your necropolis? To befriend the Aspects, to conquer my Lieuten--" The Lich King blinked, suddenly grabbed his own chin, and looked down. "Wait, did you say 'God of Death'"?

Kel'thuzad peeked through his finger bones. "Yes, My Lord. Yogg-Saron, the God of Death."


"My Lord?"

"How, exactly, do you go about killing a God of Death?" the Lich King asked. He turned around, looked up at the blizzard in the sky, and wondered.

".. well, uh, I assume you.. kill it, My Lord. With fire. Or a large sword."

"--And, on that note, how exactly are you still alive, Kel'thuzad?" The Lich King looked over his dented, frostbitten spaulders at Kel'thuzad.

"Well, I'm not, My Lord. I'm dead. I'm a lich."

"Then how is Naxxramas fallen? Why didn't you fight the Alliance and Horde?"

"I did. They killed me."

The Lich King glared at Kel'thuzad.

"I mean, I try to defend the necropolis every week, but they just keep coming back," Kel'thuzad defended.

"So let me get this straight." The Lich King brushed a human tooth off of his ice slab. "You, who are dead, are killed every week."

"By the undead," Kel'thuzad injected.


"Well, you see, they have Death Knights now. --And sometimes a few Forsaken show up."

"So the undead kill you every week, who is dead, so that you die, and then you.. come back to life every week so that they--"

"I come back to death every week."

"Right. You come back to death every week so that the undead can kill you again. And then they go ahead and--why not?--kill the God of Death."

"That's about the gist of it, My Lord."

"Kel," the Lich King said in a softer voice. He appeared to be admiring a snowflake that had gotten impaled on a nearby ice spike.

Kel'thuzad looked left, and then he looked right. He cleared his throat, but his lich voice remained as raspy as ever. "Yes, My Lord?"

"Do you ever wonder if we're actually just data in a computer? --Hell, we could all be characters in someone's MMORPG!"

"You mean like The Matrix, My Lord?"

"I guess."

"I highly doubt we're characters in an MMORPG, My Lord."

The Lich King dragged his gloved fingers across the side of his helmet. "I mean--sometimes it just feels like I'm ineffective, you know? I set up a necropolis in the sky. Suddenly everyone has a flying mount. I show up in that super hard quest in Borean Tundra--you know, the one with--"

"Yeah, I know the one," Kel'thuzad replied with a quick nod. "The one where the damage gets reflected back at you. Very original."

"Epic, too. Did you hear my voice acting?"

"Completely on par."

"Yeah." The Lich King touched the snowflake with his fingertip. The snowflake shivered and fell apart. "Yogg-Saron and I--we set up that fool-proof hole in Ulduar. How were we supposed to know that Kologarn is the only enemy in the game that doesn't despawn?!"

Kel'thuzad stiffened.

"And I was talking to Anub'arak the other day. He had this great idea; we could kill those pesky mages that are holding up Dalaran. Can you imagine? During peak times?!" The Lich King cackled and turned around. His grin was hardly visible beneath his helmet. "The whole place would come crashing down! Do you have any idea how much DEATH and DESTRU--"


Kologarn is the only enemy

enemy in the game

game that doesn't


The Lich King gasped.


Kel'thuzad strafed to the side.


"You--" The Lich King lost his breath. The water in his eyes caused the ice on his eyelashes to sizzle.

That's a terrible idea, Lich King. It would never work.

Crash Dalaran? What good would that do? Let's terrorize the Argent Tournament instead!

Hey, Lich King! Let's go gargoyle tipping! Hahaha!

The Lich King's voice deteriorated into a whisper. He stared at Kel'thuzad. "You knew. All along, you--"

"You were never supposed to know, Arthas," Kel'thuzad said. "But it's too late now." Kel'thuzad, who had been staring off into the distance, finally made eye contact with the Lich King. "You dug too deep." Kel'thuzad ripped the miter off of his head.

The Lich King's heart--which had suddenly returned--skipped a beat.

Kel'thuzad tossed his staff aside. It broke in two when it collided with the icy floor, and the gigantic jewel at its end shattered into a thousand brilliant pieces. Kel'thuzad peeled his mustache off, and then he peeled his body off, revealing--

The Lich King's eyes widened. "Z--!!"

Zarhym. Zarhym stood before the Lich King, in all of his floating skull glory. --And Zarhym cackled. He cackled long, and he cackled hard. The insane laughter literally tore the Lich King's helmet apart. Arthas, free from the helmet's grip, fell to the floor and screamed.

Kalgan emerged from the haze of ice behind Arthas. His eyes were dark, but his smirk was darker. "You did your best, Zarhym--" He looked over at Zarhym. "--but, as usual, your best wasn't good enough. Please return to your necropolis and try to actually accomplish something for once."

"Yes, My Lord!" Zarhym hissed. "My apologies, My Lord! I will inform the playerbase that we currently have a Paid Class Change feature in the works at once!" Zarhym floated away hastily.

"Yes, Arthas, you were a great villain," Kalgan continued as he stared down at the poor soul. "Perhaps too great. You--" Kalgan glared down at something that was sneaking around in the broken pieces of the Lich King's helmet. Was that-- Was that a crab?! "GHOSTCRAWLER?!"

"Err--" Ghostcrawler hesitated. He skittered around, grabbed a chunk of Lich King helmet, and put it over his crab head like a hat. Because it was a hat, technically. I mean, moments ago, it had been a helmet. But just imagine a crab wearing the entire Lich King helmet. I mean, come on. That would be ridiculous.

"Were you hiding in that Lich King helmet, Ghostcrawler?!" Kalgan asked--loudly.

"No, Sir! I was.. working on those Elemental Shaman changes, Sir! You know the ones!!"

Kalgan put his hands on his hips and tapped his foot.

"Yes, Sir! Applying those changes right now, Sir!" Ghostcrawler skittered away.

"Now, where was I?" Kalgan looked around, settled his eyes back on Arthas, and cleared his throat. "Ah, yes. --You were able to realize the truth, weren't you?! That you are nothing more than a character in a video game. What a pity." Kalgan walked around Arthas and chuckled.

"You--" Arthas tried to speak between his own retching and hacking. Black sludge--the will of the Lich King--was pouring out of his mouth. "You won't get away with this!! There's no way-- I'm Arthas Menethil! I am the Lich King! What will the fans say?! You can't replace me! I'm better than Sephiroth, for god's sakes!!"

"Oh, can't we now?" a familiar voice called out from beyond the haze.

A chill ran down Arthas' spine.

Chris Metzen stopped beside Kalgan.

"NO!" Arthas cried.

"One little retcon is all it would take," Chris said with a smile. "In fact, we've got one lined up already..."

Chris and Kalgan turned around to face something. Arthas struggled to roll himself onto his back, so that he could see what they were looking at. His blackened, frozen lips trembled. A shadow--a silhouette; a flare. Something with spikes. Something growing. Tears, hotter than Hell, finally gushed out of Arthas' eyes.

The silhouette flipped its hair.

"Magister's Terrace was merely a setback!"

Is there a space for niche tanks?

| Thursday, September 10, 2009
As bitterflux commented in my earlier post about bumping parties up to 6 people, the problem lies in the widely changing ratio of tanks in a group, going from 20% in 5-mans to around 8% in raids. It's a good point, a problem that I've been annoyed by before. By that I mean I really hate when people make good points. Er, I hate when raids don't scale properly from the rest of the game, which is most of the time.

"Unless bliz commits to requiring 3-4 full time tanks on every boss in a 25 man there really isn't any particular reason for anyone that wants to raid end game to roll a tank"
This would be hard to figure out. Maybe a Four Horsemen-style fight would do it, but how many times can we fight four bosses in different corners before we get bored? We want to bring in more tanks, guarantee them jobs, in order to encourage rolling tanks and therefore having more for smaller content.

How about part-time employment? Make this a DK fight and that a paladin fight and that a warrior fight and that a druid fight. Your tanks all get their fights, so your guild will want 4 tanks minimum. Maybe it would look more like DK-Druid fight or Warrior-DK or whatever. The idea is that if you force diversity of tanking classes, you also force a certain number of tanks. I'm hoping that your tanks aren't just switching to their DK and paladin alts.

With niches tanks could be much more varied. And fights. If a certain tank is expected for a fight, that means it doesn't have to be balanced for any of the others. That means more freedom for the designers.

Unfortunately this goes completely against "bring the player not the class" and "we want tanks to be able to tank any fight." The second isn't really a quote, but the general idea has been said before many times. What guild wants to be forced to recruit a specific class/role just to get past a certain point? Would tanks even enjoy switching specs every other fight as they alternate between useless and irreplaceable?

There are benefits to niche tanking, and downsides. Currently WoW is moving in the direction of generalized tanking, which carries costs. However, the tradeoff of the potential fun of a niche fight might be made up for by not having miserable tanks and recruitment officers.

You are the other

| Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My reasoning for helping the noob was this:
If I can make him even slightly less terrible, isn't it worth it? He'll be in hundreds of PUGs down the line, so in a way, I helped make hundreds, maybe thousands of people slightly less miserable and nerd-raged.

This may sound a bit like collectivism; that I am placing the happiness of the hundreds of people down the line ahead of my own now. Maybe I am. But here's my own justification: I and you are the others. By that I mean that I am the noob or elitist or jerk or hopefully, decent person, on the screen of someone else. And they are on my screen and the screen of someone else who is on my screen and it goes all around until eventually, I am on my own screen, looking at myself and thinking "who is this jerk?"

Or to put it another way, we all add up. We are part of the society that we want. If I want a WoW society which is not ignorant, then I should reduce the ignorance of others. And when I set a small example of helpfulness, that may come around to me again. Or it might not, but it won't just dissipate and vanish into nothing. Instead it might be someone helping someone who helps someone who joins my PUG. And that someone might have been a complete noob if not for the societal standard of helping.

I'm not so arrogant as to believe that I am going to going to single-handedly change the WoW community. Even if I changed the minds of every half the people who read this blog and they changed the minds of half the people they knew and half and half and half... it wouldn't make much of a difference. Ultimately I'm a very small bit of a small subset of the community which is itself a small subset of the overall community. In the grand scheme of things, I don't make much difference.

But, that is a terrible justification to do nothing. Here's why: we are the other to someone else. If I am a jerk and someone else is a jerk and someone else, well before long we add it up and we're all jerks. If I try to be a decent person and someone else and someone else, add it up and we might be trying to be decent people. We all add up. I do an insignificant amount. You do too. Get enough insignificant amounts and they become significant. Inaction because of mass inaction accomplishes nothing. That's nothing better than social loafing.

As so often happens, this might be out of context to make it sounds better. It might refer to something specific about which I know nothing. But I like the sound of it.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Oh but where have I wandered off? This isn't about society, it's about me. I am self-serving; I want something from this. I want a world that I want to live in. So that is what I try to create.

How do we learn?

Yesterday I helped a noob, trying to teach him a little bit. In the comments Stabs talking more about teaching, ending with "And lastly we all learned to play because at some point some better player was kind enough to take time to improve us." I honestly can't agree with this as a blanket statement. I don't remember anyone teaching me.

I'm not going to pretend to be some self-made man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and did his own theorycraft out on a farm in Durotar, digging up numbers by hard work and a lazy Sunday meant a sermon at Elitist Jerks to see what they had to say. I'd be lying if I said that. I didn't do theorycraft. I didn't know it existed. I didn't know Elitist Jerks existed. Maybe it didn't. I also won't pretend to be old school old school. I never saw warlocks in leather or rogues with bucklers, but I was a grown up level 60 troll shaman (or close enough that my memory blurs it) when the AQ Farm Festival started. I've played since about this time in 2005.

All aboard the nostalgia train...

We were different back then. For starters, I was a complete noob. Worse. I rolled need on a SP trinket as enhancement. This was that one off the rare spawn in UBRS that you NEVER SEE because he NEVER SPAWNS. Fortunately for all involved, it went to someone useful. I still remember running around with WF and no concept of aggro control, thinking it was funny that I could burst so much that right after being rezed I'd attack in the next pull, get aggro, die, and have a res timer. These days I'd be kicked from the group for ninjaing and sucking. I don't recall anyone saying much about it. We just went along.

Oh it wasn't happy bunny land. There was still some flaming, but it wasn't like now. We didn't care so much about gear levels. We knew blues were RARE and purples were epic; which back then meant 1% drop rates off end bosses or drops for the one class that isn't there from a raid that your guild is too small to do. You'd wipe on the core hounds anyway because you're all in greens and the tanks don't know to turn them around and Horde doesn't have fear wards and tremor totem was fail back then and... Sorry.

Not happy bunny land: We didn't help each other much. We weren't hostile, but we weren't much help either. We learned on our own. Slowly. As in, what we'd expect someone to know after a couple weeks took me months, maybe a couple years to really get the concept of theorycraft. Still, when no one flames, it's easier to learn on one's own. There's no defensive reaction, so we remained open to the bits of knowledge that we found. It's not like know where it's all "l2p" and when someone tries to offer advice you can't tell if they're just the next asshole, so you block it all out.

It was a different sort of learning. Now we learn actively, searching for or being given information. Back then it was more like classical conditioning: green puddles make me feel pain, strength makes bad things die faster; simple stuff.

I also learned a decent bit from the forums. They were terrible back then. I won't let nostalgia say they were better. It was a different type of terrible, one I am more used to, but terrible nonetheless. This was how I learned to control feared mobs, learned to go against the almost universal "don't use fear." Still, it took some fail, some epic fail, some corpse runs, but I learned.

So how do you learn? How did you learn?

Have you helped your noob today?

Today (okay technically yesterday) I taught a paladin to use seals. He was level 60. The moonkin thought it was a waste of time.

I tried to explain stats in basic terms. No, I didn't say strength strength strength. That might have just confused him, that he might have then thought strength was all that mattered. He was 9 after all. I don't mean I assume he had to be 9 to be that bad, I mean he said he was 9.

Instead I said things which are good: strength and crit. Also that agility is okay and AP is about half as good as strength. I didn't mention hit because it's not too common early on; haste and ArP might have made his brain start frying.

Later when a SP trinket dropped, he asked if it was good. I said it as good for casting, but he's melee. In truth, it would have been an upgrade since he had a PvP trinket in one slot, but I thought it would just make him think SP is good. I wasn't sure that he'd get the concept of "better than nothing." I didn't steal it, so don't get all judgemental; he even won the greed roll.

At the final boss of Blood Furnace he successfully did not come closer when the boss told him to, nor did he burn. Maybe that was due to many trials of classical conditioning: "Come closer" comes before pain and eventually "Come closer" triggers a fear response and running away. Or he actually listened when I sent a tell "When he says come closer, RUN AWAY."

Maybe the druid was right, he's just a noob and I wasted my time. But if I can make him even slightly less terrible, isn't it worth it? He'll be in hundreds of PUGs down the line, so in a way, I helped make hundreds, maybe thousands of people slightly less miserable and nerd-raged. Just getting him to use seals might make him learn judgements (I somehow forgot about them) and even if it doesn't, he's at least going to be significantly better (maybe less worse is more accurate). And maybe he'll associate being less terrible at soloing with taking the advice of others.

After that we ran ramparts. Shortly before the first boss he was complaining that his mother wanted him to go to bed. After we killed the boss and he greeded the chest that he really wanted (I once again explained that he should need when he needs something), I kicked him and told him to listen to his mother. I think he got mad and sent some capslock whispers about needing the quest. I promised there would be other runs and that he'd be better off with more sleep. With luck I'll run into him tomorrow; I plan to run him through on my paladin, to make sure he sees that indeed WoW can wait until the next day and so he can see my spec. Fortunately my ret spec isn't weird anymore, so I won't be accidentally corrupting him.

It's all backwards now: Skill > Gear

| Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Remember when skill mattered more than gear? I do, at least for PvE. Oh these weren't some sort of mythical glorious times when we were all incredibly skilled and needed no crutches. We weren't amazing back then, contrary to the myths some people like to spread. Most raid fights were pretty simple up until AQ.

But we raided in blues. We did instances in blues. Or no, that was when we were overgeared. We did Scholomance in greens. This was like running H UP in greens because back then Scholo was badass. 'Heroic' mode was going in with only 5 people since the quests couldn't all be done in raids. That was half-strength.

Again, I'm not saying we were awesome. You could do H UP in greens now. But why would you? You don't have to. We did. Back then gear was harder to get. No badges, no easily overgeared entry raid to farm, no heroics dropping epics at the end, crafted items were incredibly expensive and often not very good. So we wore a lot of greens, blues if we were awesome.

After a while MC was being farmed regularly, but if you had MC gear you weren't going back to the 5-mans. With no badges there was very little incentive. Rep? You got that when you were running the places a million times for your dungeon set.

To further increase the weakness of gear, it sucked. The gear was horribly designed. Spirit all over the place, no mana/5, no int->regen talents. We stacked int (as much as one could before gems and a wide selection of gear) as casters because we sure as hell weren't going to be regenerating mana, so we'd better have a lot. Hybrids were in a particularly bad spot. Shamans struggled to find strength mail (back then it was our main stat, because we could effectively share hunter gear) and when finally hunter agility was nerfed and they added AP to gear, it was a glorious day. Spell power didn't exist and shaman mail meant healing mail, not elemental. Druids weren't any better off, though at least they could get rogue gear. Paladins could get warrior gear, except then they had no mana and had no regen back then either.

So we wore our greens and proudly proclaimed that skill > gear, not because we were amazing, but because our gear was just that bad.

RL posts are boring

| Monday, September 7, 2009
You know they type; they talk about the RL situation of the poster. It's not that what happened was boring, but that often the reader, or at least I, don't feel much connection to their RL selves. A very few people I might care, but in general my thoughts are "I wanted WoW and you give me this?" It's disappointing.

Sometimes I care, like when our favorite gnome was in distress. No our other favorite gnome. You can't have that many favorite gnomes! Anyway.

I'm going to be an uncle in the spring.

Okay now that you all hate me for being off topic, my druid hit 60 and instant cast flying is awesome.

It's all backwards now: DPS leveling

Remember when it was a pain to level the non-pure classes? Oh sure, warriors and shamans could hurt things a good bit, but we were no hunters or warlocks. Don't even get me started on priests. Shadow? Psh, still a miserable experience. Smite smite smite for so long; an up-to-date wand wasn't a convenience, it was the only thing between painful leveling and deleting the character.

Want an alt that can solo well? Get a DPS.
Want an alt that you can level in less than a year? Get a DPS.

It's all backwards now.

Hybrids have a lot more damage than before. Quests and instances give gear that helps them kill. Their specs aren't split into Healing and Bad. They can solo like pure DPS classes, maybe better if you consider the self-healing for less down time.

Here's where it gets really crazy: instances. How often have you seen "lf2m instance healer and tank?" That's a few DPS who got together to run an instance and now they're stuck. What do they do? If they were hybrids, they might just rewrite their message to "lfm instance." They can tank and heal. If you're willing to do it, it's easy to get into instances as a tank or healer. As DPS, much harder.

Without instances soloing can end up as a endless lonely grind. And that is the fate of the pure DPS. They are like the elemental shaman laughed out of a group and the fury warrior without a shield; they are the useless exiles.

My three 80s are all tanking classes. My next highest character is a shaman. Somewhere in the mid 70s is a warlock, exiled and alone on the Alliance. Next is a priest. After that a rogue (exception) and then a druid (he tanks whenever he can). Below these are the hunter and mage. The druid is moving up fast, boosted by excellent soloing and easy groups as a tank.

Remember when the easy classes to level were DPS, not hybrids?

Am I able to not tank?

| Sunday, September 6, 2009
My three 80s are all tanks. Next highest is my shaman, who I level mostly because I feel obligated to not leave him behind, being my namesake and all. Somewhere down the line is a feral druid who is moving up fast.

Apparently my guild needs rogues and mages. I have a currently 72 rogue. Assassination is a lot of fun, managing debuffs and my buffs and all that. What does this add up to? Level the rogue, gear it up, and start raiding with it. What could possibly be the problem?

I'm used to tanking. Or more accurately, I'm used to being possibly the most important person in a group. Second if it's a raid. I am leader most of the time, I do all the pulling, I get to yell at people and act important. DPS can't do that so well. They're expendable. When they mouth off, they get booted, at least if I'm leading. What tank is going to be talked back to by something as low as a DPS?

Oh sure, I managed as a warlock. The first time was when I was badass CC and often was more important than the tank. That was in addition to my impressive damage. In BC my warlock was incredible at AoE, besides, I really loved the seed of corruption animation. I remember tanking for three warlocks once in SL, it was beautiful.

But good DPS are important, right? Sure, go ahead and think that. When I'm in LFG I can't select the "good DPS" box, there's just "DPS". I could add in my stats, but I look down on people who list their stats, they look insecure, and a bit naive since other classes might have no clue what are good stats. Listing DPS numbers makes me laugh. The only time I ever thought it made sense was when someone listed a range; and then someone else flamed him for buffs accounting for 25%+ of his DPS. I thought that other person was an idiot to not realize what 3% damage, 3% haste, 10% AP, 10% agi, etc. will do. That stuff adds up fast.

But let's say good DPS are important, I don't know if I'm good. I do okay on my paladin, maybe, I don't run meters, but bosses die, so at least I'm not doing negative DPS and making the raid worse. Which reminds me, paladin DPS is incredibly boring. What if I'm bad at DPS? I don't have to worry about being good or not as a tank, tanking is easy. Wear decent gear, press buttons, mod gets angry, somehow it dies, and I get loot. Easy.

A rogue might get me back into raiding and heroics and all that, but will it destroy my e-peen?

P.S. Please heal me when I'm fighting spell flingers in Ahn'Kahet. Yes, I know, I should assist the tank, but you do not want it getting off shadow blast.

Things you regret in the morning

Quitting WoW is one of them.

Last night I felt terrible. I still do. I have a cold which is screwing with my throat, so it's hard to swallow and breathing isn't much fun. My nose isn't a waterfall, more of a glacier, now imagine how much it would hurt to have a slow-moving sheet of ice in your nose, except without the numbing cold.

I was also tired. I'd tried to get to sleep early at 11:30 (compared to my usual 12-1). Great idea when sick, right? Well I'd not remembered that people are loud in dorms. For a little while I clung to the hope that people would quiet down when quiet hours started, indicating that I am a hopelessly hopeful. After a while I asked someone to turn down his very loud soccer game (played with the door open, it was actually at a reasonable volume except for that). Woo, quiet. Until someone started a normal volume conversation in the room next to me. The walls do nothing at all to block sound.

I also was considering playing EVE again. A pretty stupid idea considering I've played it twice before and it never lasted more than a couple weeks before I got frustrated with the slow progression. It's all fine to be in the same ship for months if you can entertain yourself with the massive PvP and politics and all that, but if you are still figuring out how to fight well and you're not swimming in currency or ore to buy new ships and fittings every time you fail, well fighting NPC pirates gets boring.

There are two days left. I probably should just resubscribe before then. When I wake up and my first thought is taking my druid to Outland, that probably means I want to keep playing. Or that means I should quit. Maybe it's both.

And when did my bank alt get a wedding ring?

Would WoW be more fun with 6-person parties?

| Saturday, September 5, 2009
I don't mean more fun as in more fun at a given time, but more fun on average. One more group slot would mean one more space for a DPS. That would help with the tank/healer shortage not by adding tanks and healers, but by reducing the needed ratio. For DPS this would mean more time in groups rather than soloing with ever-increasing despair as LFG fills up with "lf2m tank and healer." For tanks and healers it would mean one more tell and invite to send out.

Loot tables would need to be adjusted slightly to accommodate the greater proportion of DPS. It would be worth it though. Not the loot table changes, but the increased DPS presence. When a tank can get a run any time and a DPS cannot, who gears up faster?

For all we say of how a geared tank makes more of a difference than a geared DPS, how much of that is adaptation, that we're used to overgeared tanks and undergeared DPS? If DPS were on par with tanks, we might start seeing how the group overall matters more. Currently we don't see this because by the time the DPS are geared up, the tanks are so overgeared that you might not even need a healer (maybe the elemental shaman tosses a couple on bosses).

With DPS gaining a larger share of loot and being better geared overall and tanks in worse gear overall, we would see a smaller gap between new and old tanks and could potentially reduce the problem of people expecting tanks to carry them. Move even gear distribution would mean that the tanks couldn't carry them, or at least not as much as they do now. This would mean new tanks would have a better chance of getting into groups and get gear; resulting in not just fewer very overgeared tanks but also many more reasonably geared tanks.

From this we'd find something really great: challenges as instances are no longer trivialized on a wide scale.

It's all backwards now

First, I've not given up on the history thing. It's just tricky. Sen'jin and the Echo Isles are somehow really hard to write about. I suspect it's a pebkac.

I'm going to be writing a mini-series of posts about things which are the opposite of what they once were. They're not intended to be QQs. Instead I hope to find irony or humor in things which would completely surprise us a few years ago. Or I might just point out reversed states, which may be better or worse depending on your perspective.

I'll start them on Monday, I don't know how many I'll write. It depends on how much was reversed over the years.

An online service I'd like to see

| Friday, September 4, 2009
Two advance apologies
1) Sorry if this seems morbid or creepy or whatever.
2) Sorry if someone already thought of this.

A while back I was thinking "What if I died?" We're right on track for something really emo now, right? Let's up the ante "Would anyone even know I was gone?"

Let's shift to the general location of my point: the internet and let's refine the questions. "Would people online know if I died?" No. "Would people online know I was gone?" Yes. That's the difficulty of online relationships, not the death thing, but the limited knowledge. At the start of semester the wiring to my room wasn't working, so I couldn't log in to WoW and I was reluctant to do any blogging not on my computer. I did eventually put up a saved one with my friend's laptop.

Going back to the morbidity: if you died would your RL friends know? Probably. They hear from another friend or they might even know your family. This doesn't mean they like your family, but if your various social spheres know of the existence of each other, they can at least share some information like "Hey, I've not seen Jeff in a while, do you know what's up?" "Yea, he got hit by car." Even if you only hang out with friends in a very specific context, they can still know what happened elsewhere.

Online it isn't like that. When we're on we have various states: sick, tired, happy, sad, etc. When we're offline, we're just not there. Without the individual logging in and saying something, there's no communication. So getting back to the start, if I died, no one would know. It would be indistinguishable from me suddenly quitting blogging and WoW.

I want to change that. My idea would be a sort of online will. If I die, here's my account info or my blogger password or whatever; please tell these people. Some highly monitored company would store your passwords and names and people to contact and would inform them if you died or went into a coma or that sort of thing, you could specify the conditions. For privacy it might be multiple companies each holding a separate set of information; Locations, Passwords, People to Contact and they could only combine a set when they had proof such as from a doctor.

Well that got kinda dark and creepy. Sorry. It's Larisa's fault.

We make traces, but it's hard to trace what happened when we stop making traces.

I hope the non-looters get hacked

| Thursday, September 3, 2009
Cursed? No. They deserve worse. They deserve to lose their fucking characters for a while, maybe permanently lose some gold or gear.

Sorry about the swearing. I usually actively try to not swear much, but I got pretty pissed off. It doesn't help that this was not the first instance of extreme stupidity that I ran into today.

The latest group was the worst I have ever seen. I think only 3 out of the 5 looted. One was my skinning/LW hunter, one was also a skinner. I don't know if there actually was a third.

I asked a few times nicely. I tried raid warning since sometimes people don't notice party chat. I tried asking less nicely. Eventually they started arguing with me after I called them rude. Their arguments?

"It's just leather."
"Go to the AH."
"You're wasting time on professions, level to 80 first."
Oh, and then here's the really stupid part: "farm at 80." Yes, great idea, run right past the leather now while I'm already here and instead come back at 80. That's so fucking stupid I wonder how the person who said it hasn't yet died from confusing poisonous spiders with food.

At this point it has gone beyond not noticing the corpses or not realizing there are skinners. Nope. After this it's plain hostility. Anti-social in fact. And not anti-social like prefers to be alone, anti-social as in anti-society, as in saying "fuck you" to the rest of the world and actively working to harm it. It's not as if it even costs anything but a second to loot a mob. In fact, they have money on them.

This is a whole new type of internet douchebag. It's not the tough guy or the troll or the elitist. Nope, this is the pure, undiluted terrible person. They don't need offensive words to describe them or any fancy adjectives: bad person fits perfectly. Of course one can always be poetic and describe them as lazy, anti-social assholes who exhibit the sort of behavior that you'd expect from someone with some sort of new and amazingly absurd mental disease. This is like someone burning down their house because it looked nice and was raising nearby property values. How dare someone benefit at absolutely no cost to them!

Normally when people are stupid I try to see what they might be thinking. In general I believe that people are not stupid. If they appear stupid, it's usually because they have some sort of misinformation or emotional distress is clouding their judgement; sometimes they just have different priorities (so go fuck yourselves virtual elitists, not everyone cares as much). Rarely are people truly stupid.

When they actively harm each other, it is for some gain or higher cause, rarely just to harm them. People that do harm people for the sake of harming, we call them sociopaths or sadists or murderers or other bad things and we put them in institutions or prison or shoot them. No, I don't mean forum trolls or that sort of thing. Those are just people who think they're witty or like they "get it" and someone else doesn't they need the ego boost; in other words those are beings to be pitied, mercifully put out of their miserable virtual lives (by that I mean ban them, it's virtual death).

Back to the story, I left after the exchange. I couldn't stand to be in such a group, to associate with people like that. Afterward I sent a tell to the druid, apologizing for leaving, but explaining that they'd pissed me off. He seemed understanding. They'd wiped after I left, feared into more mobs because they were too stupid to pull back properly. I got on my paladin and ran the druid through to the prophet (for his quest) and Eranikus (for the leather) and he gave me a few stacks of thick leather. Not really worth it for me, but I think it was for him; there were a ton of dragons to skin.

Anti-social PvE is dead, or alive?

With all the guild changes, it looks like Blizzard really wants us to be in guilds and to stay in them. Contrary to what seems to be floating around, this has little to do with solo PvE. Keep soloing, Blizzard will not stop you, it's what has made WoW so successful.

However you can't do it anti-socially anymore; excluding everyone else. Blizzard wants you to be in a guild and they will make you want to be in a guild. Quest alone, play in a guild, that's the new path. Or maybe this is just me trying to validate my own playstyle, hoping it is "working as intended." I mostly solo these days, but on my alts without a guild channel, I feel lonely, trapped in an empty world like some sort of post-apocalyptic nightmare movie.

On the other hand, Blizzard is indicating with cross-server PUGs that they care more about you getting into groups than grouping with your server community. No longer does your guild tag represent anything and your name will be forgotten even sooner than usual. Your ninjaing antics and trash talk won't stick with you anymore, so be as big a jerk you want.

Is that cynical? Probably. But if you were around way back then, you might remember BGs when they were server-based. You might still remember some rivals, I know at the time I knew who was on the other side of my server. The factional rivalry was a huge part of the incentive to PvP.

Larisa has a nicer perspective, Ixo has worse.

Inconsistency of word use

| Wednesday, September 2, 2009
This isn't exactly related to WoW, but it's something that bugs me: I don't given consistent meanings to words and I suspect it harms my writing.

Recent example: compare two recent posts. Loot is temporary with Temporary vs. Permanent: Fun. The first was trying to go for some sort of Buddhist notion of the temporary nature of all things, so don't get too clingy and greedy about anything, especially loot. The second was only two weeks later and put loot in the permanent category as something that won't go away instantly.

The problem wasn't that I was wrong. Well, I don't think it was. :)
The problem was that I described the same idea: loot, with entirely contradictory terms without clearly explaining why there was actually no contradiction. Okay so I did give some explanation, briefly and indirectly:
In contrast permanent fun is that which creates a persistent change. It could be a rep grind or getting a piece of loot. While these can become obsolete, they still remain as a permanent reward for the activity.

The loot and rep grinds remain, but their importance fades. Since reality is constructed in our minds, if something ceases to be important, then for practical purposes it ceases to exist. The loot is still there, but it's not there anymore, if you know what I mean.

What causes this sort of accidental contradiction anyway? I blame it on the source of ideas: my brain. More specifically, the way some ideas are created. You've probably gotten ideas in different 'formats.' Sometimes it's an image, or words, or actions. If an idea comes in word format, it's easy to copy down. If it comes in image format, that's much harder to translate. If it comes as an action, good luck, that's all I can say. The problem was that my permanent vs. temporary idea had come as images; the temporary fun was a film going by, instant moments which instantly vanish but can be replaced with something almost like it; while the permanent fun was like a pyramid or something like that being built, not fun at any moment, but the result is awesome.

So fine, maybe I was just now able to convert the images, but did they have any meaning? I felt like that was lost. The connection to the original point vanished in the conversion process. My first explanation in the earlier post was a different attempt, but it also lost something, mostly due to poor word choice.

On the subject of writing, I currently have 79 posts in my drafts folder. Why? A few are being saved for when my mind doesn't have any ideas, like a water tower ready for a drought. But the majority are half-posts, an idea I'd get and go with and then get to the end and go "WTF was that?" I am very glad I have those though, because if they weren't in my drafts folder they'd be labeled "published" and then you'd be reading them going "WTF was that?"

I'm sure you know the type of writing you do when you get a little bit angry about something and start writing, or a little bit emo or annoyed or whatever. Supposedly blogging is supposed to be about the here and now and write it up and post it and don't waste all that time, losing ideas, because you're editing. I know I'm not an amazing writer, but I at least hope I have some standards. I don't write u because it's faster than you, so why would I post a half-baked illogical rant about raiding when I know all that will happen is everyone will point out the flaws, one person will agree (someone somewhere will agree with anything), and I'll feel really stupid. I'd rather do that internally, cut out the middle men (the readers who think the post is stupid), and just call myself stupid. It's more efficient and much less harmful to my ego, since if I really am stupid, why would I listen to my own opinion on my intelligence? Idiot.

Crafting bosses

| Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Two complaints I saw a lot in BC were how we seemed to either kill off major lore figures or there was no clear idea who they were or why we were killing them. The first I don't know what to say about it except that knocking down three major WC3 figures was excessive, especially with how they were radically changed to justify it. The second, well that's all about the buildup.

Bosses cannot simply be stuck in the game. That makes them feel like they are bosses just to be bosses; loot bags. 5-man bosses are often like this along with most raid bosses beside sometimes the last few (for specific examples, take a random boss, odds are it has no apparent story to it). The proper method is to craft the boss, build it up, make it so that by the time players see it, they know who it is and exactly why it must be destroyed. A single quest doesn't do it. Even a chain isn't enough. You should see the effects of the boss long before you would possibly face them.

Ragnaros will be my example, mostly because he's perfect. When does an Alliance player first see Ragnaros? Most directly, when they first get anywhere near Blackrock Mountain and notice a massive scorched area and a huge volcano. You know something happened beyond a natural event; the devastation is too complete. If you don't see the mountain, go to the Wetlands and watch the fighting between the dwarves. See the Dark Iron dwarves? They are ruled by Ragnaros. You might not yet know of Ragnaros, but there's clearly some evil force at play.

As you move closer to the mountain you learn more. Scattered books tell the story of the war between the dwarf clans and the summoning of Ragnaros. Quests start to send you against the dwarves. You learn more over time.

For the Horde, it starts out on a smaller scale. Go kill this hostile fire elemental in Blackrock Mountain who seems to be working with the dwarves. From that you learn of Overmaster Pyron and are sent to kill him and recover a tablet. Then you first hear the name: Ragnaros. The Horde NPC gets scared. There never is a direct "go kill Ragnaros" quest. Instead you simply know of the threat and also that he probably has something powerful to take. The Hydraxian Waterlords send you into MC to fight their enemies: the fire elementals. Sadly, the elemental war doesn't get a lot of attention overall, only a handful of quests in the MC chain and some scattered elsewhere.

When you do finally face Ragnaros, despite not appearing in any previous lore, he doesn't feel as if he was added just to fill in a boss spot. He feels like he belongs, or like he really, really doesn't belong and we need to defeat him.
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