Players should see content, all of it

| Wednesday, February 29, 2012
And that means seeing more than just the most recent raid. This was, in my opinion, one of the top ten gigantic screw-ups of the Lich King expansion. This model of "players seeing content" was poorly implemented, resulting in the opposite, with any new players being catapulted over older content and right into the latest raid. Maybe players missing Naxxramas 2.0 wasn't much of a loss, but missing Ulduar and a couple one-off dragon fights, particularly the one where we kill the Aspect of Magic, seems like a bigger problem. That wasn't entirely new. Ever since BC came out, older raid content has been leapfrogged entirely. Maybe there wasn't a good solution to that, so let's say it's not actually a problem. In fact, let's say that the new rolling raid model is shiny and leave it alone.

How would you like to gain 10% experience? No no, this isn't a new piece of heirloom gear. Instead, it's the complete opposite. Stick around in Azeroth at 60 or Outland at 70, maybe Northrend at 80, though I've not tried that yet. Watch your experience. Notice how you can go from 1200 per kill to... 120. 120? Huh? I know mob xp drops a little when you level, but a 90% drop seems a little bit extreme. That's just Blizzard telling you to get the fuck out. It doesn't matter if you're trying to finish a quest chain, get out, now. Go to the next expansion. And don't you dare hang around there either!

Maybe I'm reading it wrong. Maybe they're actually trying to be nice. Maybe they're saying "please, go ahead and finish up, we'll give you some experience for it, but we don't want to push you up so high that you can't enjoy the next zone." The mess of a leveling curve suggests that they do not have "let players finish content" as their goal.

This makes no sense to me. Why would you try to push players out of content, particularly content which the player has not finished?

LFD needs more options for group formation

| Tuesday, February 28, 2012
What are you trying to do when you use the LFD tool?

"Find a group" is the simple, useless answer. It only leads to the question, "What is the group for?" So let's ask that, what is the group for?

I'm not the first person to suggest that LFD have style options, such as "quick badges" or "reputation". But I'm suggesting those again. I don't think they go far enough. For players running BC content, they may want a group with only level 70s, in order to get justice points from bosses. Add a "level 70 only" option. A similar option may be useful for players who want to stay at 80.

Another option could be "incomplete groups", meaning that if there is a shortage of DPS, which I've seen at some levels, a group may be formed with only two DPS rather than the usual three. The group would be able to start the instance but would stay in the queue, exactly like if you had formed a group and a player left. This would allow groups to form much more quickly in low-population levels and content, such as in the level 70 and 80 heroics. Usually it is a healer which is missing, but I have seen groups with a healer, tank, and two DPS, but unable to start because of a third, despite being fully capable of completing the instance.

Since this could result in many DPS being dropped into partial instances which they might not want, add an option for "no bosses dead", so that players are not dropped into incomplete instances and then possibly saved to a failing group. Or dropped into an instance where they boss they needed is already dead. However, add a slight bonus if players join an instance in progress, so that partially-cleared instances do not become impossible to complete due to lack of players.

Unfortunately, this may end up adding so many new features and options that the tool becomes unwieldy or fails to form groups. If I pick "speed run" and "no bosses dead" am I going to be stuck waiting forever? What if I pick "only level 70" but not "partial groups"? Is that an option? The way Blizzard displays this options and features would matter, whether we can see all our options and have some sense of how they will affect the speed of forming a group, as well as how they might interact. Having a long checklist of options may result in too many players segmented off, which may mean that Blizzard has to make some mutually exclusive or inclusive, so that "level 70 only" mandates "partial groups" while "speed run" is not an option.

In the ideal situation, there would be such a perfect ratio of tanks, healers, and DPS, and in a sufficient total population, that no options would be needed beyond picking a role and picking a location. If we don't like the group we get, we can drop and try again, with little time lost for anyone. Sadly, we play in a world of shortages, which reduce our flexibility, so we need tools to compensate. We're left picking between a lot of imperfect fixes.

If international commerce is too important to leave to generals

| Monday, February 27, 2012
I came across this while researching TRIPS (Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), essentially the WTO telling members that they have to follow a common set of IP rules or be removed.

If war is much too important a subject to leave up to generals, as Bismarck said, the rules of international commerce are far too important to leave up to government bureaucrats.

-James Enyart, Director, International Affairs,
Monsanto Argriculture Company

Now that's a fun one to pick apart. The generals are the ones who get instructions and carry them out, hopefully in an effective and efficient manner, but who cannot be trusted to actually decide which wars to fight. The generals are subordinate, servants, to the leader, in this case, Bismark of Germany (or Otto from Bismark, which is in Germany).

Would that make the government bureaucrats the servants? Yes. And good! They should be servants. But in service to whom? Clearly Mr. Enyart thinks they should be in service, not to the people of their respective countries, but to those who wage international commerce: corporations.

It's no coincidence that I found this while researching that subject. TRIPS created and mandated many IP rules, with exceptions such as, "to protect human, animal or plant life or health or to avoid serious prejudice to the environment..." How nice of them! But the exception has an exception, "Members shall provide for the protection of plant varieties." This is what allows seed varieties to be patented, a development which has led to many protests in the developing world, with Monsanto specifically as a frequent target.

I'll end this here, with more to say later on this subject.

At Least I'm not a Marxist

This post was first written in my first few days back. It was not particularly positive, including this predictable, and wrong, opening line: "My WoW time has run out and I don't plan to renew it. I had some bits of fun here and there, but it's not the game it was and even the parts that still were are being changed even further."

Actually I stand by that, half of it. "I had some bits of fun here and there, but it's not the game it was and even the parts that still were are being changed even further." WoW has a lower ratio of fun parts (for me) than it used to. But 50% of 100 is 100% of 50. At this point, WoW has Cataclysm Azeroth, with Outland and Northrend layered on top, with varying levels of playability at various ranges, from the 70 heroics to the low level twink brackets to the many tiers of play at level 85. It's a bit of a spaghetti on the wall approach, but when they've thrown a few pots, you're bound to find a plateful.

Cataclysm remade Azeroth. But even Outland has been changed, with instances reworked slightly to remove any keys as well as changing the quests, usually to make them picked up inside rather than outside, a sad recognition of that fact that players don't play out in the world anymore. It was a small thing, but I found that Flesh Beast's Metal Greaves, once a much-desired item for prot paladins, being about the best tanking boots we could get until Karazhan, are no longer available. The quest for them is gone, a victim of the changes to instances, asking too much of players by requiring them to... bear with me on this one... go in the other direction.

You might be wondering what the title is. Maybe some strange tangential oddity about socialists? Well yes, in fact. Well, a communist. Karl Marx himself. I read some more about him recently and learned more of why his history never happened (even if some signs point in that direction again). One major problem was that he had some really nifty ideas and analysis, but he wasn't out actually looking at the world, so he didn't see that a middle class was forming and that social mobility, while low, was increasing, thanks to industrialization and capitalism. His analysis may have been correct, but he wasn't using new data. Regardless of the quality of calculation, garbage data will produce garbage results. By hopping back into WoW and looking around a bit, perhaps not getting deep into all the nuances, but seeing some of what is going on, actually experiencing it for myself, maybe I can avoid his mistake.

For example, I am not predicting a revolution of the proletariat in WoW. Or did it already happen? Analogies between gaming and reality are tricky. Maybe LFD is the revolution? Or is it just empty consumerism? Are dailies the transition from the starving farming peasants to the factory worker? But dailies just give gold which is of limited use if we consider NPC->player, player->NPC interaction, though it is a useful player->player currency, Ron Paul would not approve of our inflation rate. Maybe dailies are the oversized world of finance.

Well anyway, I got another time card. With my paladin sorta raid-ready, I might try to get into real raiding and see how that turns out. Failing that, my other paladin is having fun in the BC heroics. I'm still curious about why players over level 70 are in there so often. It's not even uncommon, it's common, possibly even majority. I think I've had one heroic run without a player over level 70 and most runs have at least two, often three or four. This means that my paladin gets very few justice points. Predictably, I will have complaints and suggestions about this.

So contrary to at least one prediction, I have not been conducting an elaborate song and dance routine to lead into a dramatic rage quit. Or am I?

Dun dun dun.

Yea, I definitely bought one, and now two, time cards just so I could rage about how WoW is the worst game ever and how everything has been ruined. I could do that anyway! If I was that big of an asshole I could just lie! I won't pretend to be a person of strong moral values and integrity, though I sometimes try, to pretend. But I am incredibly cheap and nothing will ever change that. So there.

Given that I have a month and no definite plans on what to do with it beyond "do stuff", does anyone have any suggestions or ideas they'd like me to try? Just no PvP. I've given up on that. It was better back when it was "raid or die" because beside a very few raiders who steamrolled everyone else, everyone had crap gear, so the barriers to entry were very low.

Level 70 gear is not intended for level 70 players

| Friday, February 24, 2012
Anyone remember when you could run heroics in Burning Crusade, and given some time, get some cool pieces of badge gear? I loved the axe I got, even if it did appear to be a hunter weapon.

Apparently, not working as intended! You might think that at level 70 killing a boss in a BC heroic would give justice points, the replacement for badges. You'd be wrong! Instead, they don't. Thankfully, you can run random dungeons, which wowhead says do give justice points. At level 70 you cannot queue for the normals and are instead limited to the heroics, which supposedly are seven times weekly. There are also the daily dungeon quests for 10 each, bringing the total to 20 points per day. Bosses should give 5 each, but if anyone in the group is above 70, which thanks to the dungeon finder they often are, no points. That means either a very, very slow process of manually forming groups for rarely-run content or a lot of voting to kick people who have done nothing wrong.

The net result is that any gear is absurdly expensive and slow to acquire. At level 70. But hit 85 and run all the randoms you want with bosses dropping the proper points and the tool giving even more, and then go back and buy it all. Because that makes sense. Would it have been so difficult to leave badges of justice alone? Had Blizzard done exactly nothing, there would be no problem. New content would use the justice/valor system and BC would use its old badge system. No overlap, no potential for exploitation, no bugs to worry about. If level 85 players suddenly decide they want level 70 gear for transmogrification, then add a one-way justice->badge vendor, similar to honor. As for the LK heroics, screwing up LK content is entirely consistent with Blizzard's past actions, so there's nothing to worry about.

I'm afraid of healing

| Thursday, February 23, 2012
I don't see how anyone could possibly be a new tank. It sounds terrible. It looks terrible. You try to do a small pull to make sure you can handle everything and you get yelled at. You try a bigger pull and if anything slips away you get yelled at. Meanwhile some jackass DPS is running all over the place pulling more shit and you get blamed if you don't attract it like a gas stream from a dying star inside the event horizon. To be clear, I mean that there is a dying star and the gas is heading toward the black hole, I'm not suggesting that the star itself has passed the event horizon. That would be very hard to picture.

Meanwhile your gear needs work, because if you're a decent human being, you've not been stealing all the gear from tanks while you've been not tanking, so you're running around in some mix of garbage and trash with maybe a few DPS items that were, sadly enough, better than your actual tanking gear. If you pull more mobs, you're going to die. But fortunately, the idiot DPS can probably tank better than you, because they're at double the item level due to ridiculous amounts of stat inflation, and yet, for some reason are still in your random group.

I am, with all due modesty, an incredibly arrogant person within WoW, not because I think I'm an amazing player, but because when I put on a shield I take that as a cue to be a total dick if I'm in a bad mood. It's sort of like the Zimbardo prison experiment, in that it's a bunch of students role-playing being complete assholes and forgetting that they are dealing with actual human beings deserving of some basic dignity, like goblinism.

What this all means is that when I get treated like dirt, I brush it off, because it's all coming from non-tanks. You know, inferior beings. So I can roll through it and not care.

However the concept of healing nearly reduces me to tears. As hard as things sound for a new tank, at least they have the ability to, slightly, influence what gets pulled. They're up front and know what is going on, and wrong. But the healer, they're like a Seinfeld in that one episode where they tie him to a car and use it to make him exercise. If you've seen the episode you know exactly how badly that turns out. If not, let's just say there is a blood and then blood. But thankfully, no death knights.

I suppose I can see how a veteran healer can keep going. And a totally new player, I can see how they'd pick that role once. But then it all goes to hell. And while Churchill said "if you're going through hell, keep going", he never had to heal a heroic random, so what the fuck does he know? And don't you dare Godwin this with some comparison to Nazis.

It can't help that at low levels, as well as high levels, the healing specs are terrible for soloing. So then the healer is either soloing like crap or until level 30 is trying to healing with a different spec and probably has no regen so they're drinking every other pull and probably getting voted out for waiting around so much. Maybe heals should be free until level 30.

Bring Back Block

| Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Once upon a time a ret paladin could, with varying levels of use, justify wearing the following stats: intellect, spell power, agility, strength, attack power, armor penetration, haste, crit, hit, expertise, and of course stamina because that is on everything. That is ten stats that could increase their DPS. Intellect was needed because they used to have terrible regen, spell power affected much of their damage, agility gives crit, armor penetration increased physical damage by allow their attacks to ignore some enemy armor, and all the rest are understandable melee DPS stats.

This caused some problems. It meant that gear was a strange thing to itemize, warriors and paladins sharing most stats, except that paladins needed intellect and gained little from armor penetration while warriors used ArP a lot but had no benefit at all from intellect. For sets this wasn't an issue, but non-set items were tricky because of it. The simple solution was to just never put any intellect or ArP on non-set plate gear. What about non-armor gear? If you expand to rings, trinkets, and necklaces, now you're bringing in rogues, hunters, and feral druids. Those classes like agility and AP, while warriors and paladins prefered strength to AP due talent multipliers and blessing of kings. To make matters worse, a ring with strength could be worse than a ring with agility and attack power, because of how the cost of stats changes, so that the plate classes could prefer the items intended for other classes, while the reverse was not true, just like with non-set plate with intellect or spell power, which paladins would use but other classes could not. It could get even worse, with non-plate gear being best in slot for plate classes, meaning that leather could go to warriors if DPS was the only consideration, and since the old model of hybridism was dead, it was.

I hope this has been a confusing mess of a post so far, because that should help you to understand the problem.

Blizzard saw that stats were getting too complex, so they eliminated many of them. Gear was rearranged to narrow down what classes had to focus on. Armor mastery pushed everyone to their correct armor type. Everything was good again.

Except for the poor tanks.

Offensive stats were based on the player, while defensive stats were based on the enemy. By that I mean that a DPS will pick a certain stat based on their class and other stats, but the actual enemy they face is irrelevant. It's not as if certain enemies favored ArP over haste, and in cases where they could have, the varying stats weren't available in sufficient quantity to be able to change around much.

Contrast this with tanks, specifically, with block. It used to be that a block blocked a certain amount of damage, based on your block value. Against a boss, you might block a significant percentage of the incoming hit, but dodge and parry would negate it entirely. However, block rating, which changes your chance to block, was much cheaper to get, so a player could get a very high chance to block and a high block value, though against a boss it was still not going to be close to a fully avoided hit. However this changed in some cases. Bosses with faster attack speeds, for a set DPS output, would have smaller individual attacks, making blocked attacks closer to avoidance. Against many mobs, as in the case of trash or add tanking, block can almost, or sometimes entirely, block the attack, making it as effective as avoidance, but at a much lower cost. The overall effect is that tanks could significantly improve their damage mitigation by gearing for the encounter.

Did block cause excessive complexity? No. We knew what it was for and when. It didn't cause terrible itemization problems between paladins and warriors, and in the case of off-set items that a druid might want, that was simply a matter of not putting block stats on those items; since beside that we could share a large number of stats. Of course DKs ruin the plate itemization, but there is an easy solution to that: eliminate DKs in order to bring back the stats of block value and block rating.

Level 70 is the new level 85

| Tuesday, February 21, 2012
My paladin finally reached level 70. It wasn't with as quite a great ding as 60, which had followed the completion of a quality quest chain. But I was at least in the middle of an AoE pull in Shadow Labyrinth, so that's something.

Now I had a few tasks ahead of me. Most important was to turn off experience. I'd hate to accidentally hit level 71 from a stray mining node. Unlikely, but if I were to procrastinate and then forget... After that I figured I'd set a new hearthstone. Ammen Vale is pretty, but let's face it, the draenei starting zone isn't in a particularly convenient place. In fact, given that it is in a no-fly zone on the continent opposite Stormwind, it is possibly the least convenient place. I'd done this before, never changing my hearthstone on my rogue, all the way to 85. So this was easy. But the stranger thing, I this I don't understand, is that I also seem to have none of the quests done in the starting area. All of them are available for pickup and the achievement shows no quests completed in Bloodmyst Isle, the draenei second area. I'm sure I remember doing those, and I can't imagine I skipped the entire starting zone. Though I didn't enjoy it very much... So maybe; I've done crazier things. I think it must be some sort of bug, because my overall quests completed are 482, and yet I have no zone quests until Duskwood, excluding a single one here and there.

Anyway, once all that hearthstone stuff is sorted out, I have gear to pull out of my bank, level 70 gear that I can finally wear, giving me a very important 15% cheaper consecration. That that used to be a pretty nice set bonus. Now the set looks a little silly, having tanking stats with intellect. Some ret gear had that happen too, with old stats of strength, intellect, and spellpower getting bundled up into intellect. When I saw these legs drop I couldn't quite remember what they were for, since these days they look like healing legs. They used to be for DPS, with the spirit being mana/5, a useful stat back when our regen was heavily based on judgement of wisdom (hit mob for mana).

You might be wondering why I'd turn off experience at level 70. That's not really a BG twinking bracket, nor is it "The Level Cap." But what it is, is the level cap at the era of WoW that I enjoyed the most. I don't think I'm going to magically be back in the days of BC. But I do think I'm going to be able to run a different sort of content, with a different sort of crowd. I'll see how it turns out.

A relaxing day of fighting demons before I went to Outland to fight more demons

| Monday, February 20, 2012
Desolace started out great and then went rapidly downhill. Felwood, well it also started out great. It went uphill from there.

The two ends of the zone are unchanged: enter, kill insane furbolgs, and then wander off wondering what was the point of that reputation you kept gaining. They took the old Timbermaw quests and tweaked them a little, made them funner and funnier.

The zone then sent me on a gradual crawl north, during which I would kill demons, and then get sent somewhere else to kill more demons. It had a real demon-killing theme to it. I liked that. It made it seems like there was an actual mission to the zone, rather than just randomly being sent on pointless, tangential tasks. "Kill a rat! Now kill a warlock! Kill a warlock rat! Now go gather some rat feathers!"

This isn't due to a radical remaking of the zone. It originally dealt a lot with the legacy of demonic corruption. But it did it better, with small improvements such as not putting the only FP in the far north, or if you were Horde you had it easy and it was only halfway up the very long, narrow zone. I particularly enjoyed the quests where I was sent to kill a demon hunter, which took an expected turn, which as you probably guessed, was to not kill him, but instead listen to him explain how the druids were being idiots. He had a point. Illidan was also featured, typically arrogant, impulsive, power-hungry, and not all that much of a betrayer.

There were a variety of small, heart-warming quest chains. I got to help a new protector tree grow, worked with a sickeningly sugary dryad, got tricked by some mischievous furbolg youngungs, and in the most heart-warming quest of all, a worgen sent me to kill various goblins.

Along the way I ran Ful'Farrak a bunch of times, not because I like the place all that much, but because I'd gotten one of the swords, and if I got the other I'd have an epic. ZOMG EPIC! Eventually I got it, after convincing the hunter who rolled need on it that he had indeed rolled need on it.

I wasn't quite at level 54 for Silithus, so I helped a dwarf kill more forbolgs and then realized that seeing the new Blasted Lands would probably be more fun than another tour around Silithus. And off I went. It started off strangely, with a few quests to remind me that the Horde is being led by a warmongering jackass, then I killed some worgen ghosts whose ships had crashed. But finally I got to something good: Fighting demons.

At first I was slightly annoyed. It looked as if the quest chain for Rakh'likh (epic quest back in vanilla, perhaps too epic) was just another "let's slightly redo a quest that players did in vanilla, ignoring the fact that players have already dealt with this major threat." But it was a little fuzzy about exactly what was going on and what had happened before. However it made it clear that three of the bad guys I'd killed as part of the chain were still dead. Okay, that was a good start. Reading the wiki, he survived my attack back in vanilla, which given that demons tend to come back anyway, is plausible. The quest chain takes place in the aftermath, with the demon hunter having gone to to the job himself, and getting wrecked in the process. I won't spoil it, but let's just say it made me wonder about the means used to achieve the ends, and the ending was pretty interesting. I'm guessing in another decade when The Bulldozers Move Around the Zones expansion comes, we'll see another followup to it.

Perhaps the best part was that finishing this quest is was put me at level 60. So now I can go fight more demons.

There is other content in the zone, but I didn't feel like sticking around. As a tangent I'd helped the murlocs and that was fun.

I don't think the leveling curve is as screwed up now. I was thrown off it by many runs of Scholomance and Zul'Farrak, as well as multiple full clears of BRD. That last one is probably what threw me off, because I think I got a couple levels in the process. That place is huge...

Cataclysm heroics should have dropped legendaries

| Friday, February 17, 2012
In vanilla we ran around in greens and some blues. Purples were a strange thing to see.

In Burning Crusade we were certain to get our blues and as the expansion moved along, we got our purples from heroics and Karazhan.

Wrath of the Lich King purples were standard attire. A blue was a filthy, awful thing. A purple was really just barely getting by anymore.

Cataclysm came and did it give us a new color to yearn for? Alas, no. It gave us blues! Blues! Filthy rotten poisonous blues, rather than yummy delicious purples, yes, we wants we do. Our... precious. Purples. But did we gets them? No! They takeses them.


As expectations progress, it is important to either keep up with the expectations or to change the change in expectations (derive the derivative's derivative!). Cataclysm failed to do this. Wrath of the Lich King was an effective teacher and it taught us that purples were something to have, not something to get. Perhaps Cataclysm could have successfully transitioned back to blues, but it did not. I blame some of this on the lack of sets; none except for PvP and a few crafted; neither of which are instance loot. I've said it before, that sets are special, telling players that they are allowed to stay in this gear for a while while they gather the rest of the set, that they aren't expected to get this item and drop it an hour later.

In conclusion: The title:
Cataclysm heroics should have dropped legendaries.

The weekend drop, why is it gone?

| Thursday, February 16, 2012
I used to notice a clear pattern on my blog: more readers during the week, and barely any on the weekend. There are two obvious reasons for this trend: first, that I don't usually post on weekends, and second, that fewer people are at work on weekends and if they are, they are working to get something done very fast.

The drop seems to have vanished. Readership hit a low in December, but had been on the downturn for a while. Then the new year came and as best as I can tell, people made it their New Year's Resolution to read my blog. Well good for you! That's a much better resolution than "lose weight" or "stop being a huge jerk to everyone I meet", neither of which were my own resolutions. Obviously there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why readership increased, that, and the constant stream of people looking for Skyrim porn. Serious, people, what the hell? Go back to Mass Effect, I think that's coming out soon, and so far there are no associations between this blog and Mass Effect porn. Oh. Shit.

But along with this trend is a large increase on weekends. Almost so much that the once-distinctive 'bouncing ball' pattern is gone. If that made no sense, think of those time-lapse pictures of a ball bounding along a floor. It looked like that. Do you people have nothing better to do on weekends? Is this a sign of a terrible economic downturn, that you are forced to substitute sarcastic gaming blogs for three-day coke parties? I imagine that's what you all do for fun, or at least used to.

Is it even worse? Could it be that my readers have increased in number to the point that there would be many times more readers reading outside of work, so that the weekend was pushed way up, but that you all got fired, so now you aren't wasting time at work? I'm very sorry for your job losses, but maybe it was your own faults. Idiots.

Class Zones

The nice thing about Desolace was the initially high numbers of demons. And then more demons. As a paladin, that was great. Exorcism was very powerful and it just generally made sense for a paladin to fight demons. I've since moved on to Feralas, with the level gap there being filled by a lot of Scholomance runs. The Scholomance runs reminded me of the joy of holy wrath stunning a big crowd of enemies. Again in Felwood, though I've only just started in there, I'm having the privilege of being a paladin fighting demons.

I also learned that Felwood has been cruelly designed to prevent miners from completing quests, as approximately every 15 yards there is a mithril vein, causing miners to wander far, far away from their quest areas until finally the bears get angry, and more importantly, level up.

I don't think it would be a very good idea to design a zone exclusively for a particular class, but designing zones with certain classes in mind could be a great deal of fun. Blizzard rejected class-specific quests, excluding rogue legendary weapons, because they were only useful 'once'. So that's out. But tuning zones for particular classes, to make their abilities more tactically useful and to fit with the general lore and motivations of a class, that would allow players a sense of the unique nature of their classes.

For paladins it's pretty obvious: demons and undead. Other classes are trickier. Hunters could have a beast-intensive zone, perhaps with some special use for traps. Priests could have a zone filled entirely with companion quests, all the companions using the standard AI of moving slowly except when pulling unneccessarily large groups of unnecessary mobs, while crying for help. Warlocks could have demons everywhere, particularly elite demons, turning it into a giant playground for them, much like Dire Maul East was, once upon a time. The rogue area would be filled with enemies in constant combat, too powerful at full health, but always beating each other down to the point that a quick cheap shot-eviscerate would kill them, and tuned to give xp balanced for the three minute cooldown on vanish.

This might mean the zone ends up easier for that particular class. So be it. As long as the rest of the game is of normal difficulty, which hopefully would not mean trivial, then having an easier zone creates a contrast, making it stand out for that class. Once again, I want to reiterate the notion that these zones are not class-exclusive, merely tuned and written with those classes in mind. They should still be fun and interesting to other classes, just more so for their particular class.

Creating entire zones would be excessive, and risks becoming far too repetitive. Limit it to particular areas, such as introductions and endings of zones. These would also make ideal locations for any class-based quests, should Blizzard decide that they were actually a lot of fun. Just yesterday I found myself arguing with someone about whether warlocks or paladins had the better mount quest. I, of course, said warlocks, because everything warlocks did was awesome, whereas paladins were just a bunch of dress-wearing sissies, with the exception of da bootiful FHPs who know what I be sayin', mon. Don't ask if ya don't know.

Musing a bit more on this, perhaps starting zones could be class zones. Death knights, regardless of faction and race, share a starting area. The story makes this work out, in addition to clever use of phasing. Expanding that concept, other classes could have a common starting area. Warriors could use a gladiatorial theme for their beginning, a story which could work for either faction and any race. Others are trickier, since, for example, priests couldn't simply have a generic priestly trial, because they don't all follow the same gods, so some amount of customization would be required. That's something I'd try to avoid.

Speaking of avoiding, the reason this could work is that it avoids the old class quest problem, which was partially that each faction, and sometimes even each race, could find itself with a particular class quest, meaning a lot of work which will rarely be seen. In contrast, if all races share a class zone, then one zone covers one-tenth of all possible characters, much like the race-specific zones. So players overall would use these zones a lot more, increasing the value of them. But at the same time, individual players may find themselves repeating starting content less, since while you might have many characters of the same race, you're less likely to have many characters of the same class. My account has a lot of trolls and humans, and on the Alliance I have almost entirely humans, but in contrast, I have a variety of classes.

Making starting areas based on class rather than race isn't likely to have any negative impacts on character perception. Ever since everyone got fear ward, have we really thought much about what race we are from day to day? Oh sure, at the starting screen we're debating the various blue shades possible to pick between a nelf and draenei, but once made, the class is what matters more. So play to that strength, developers, and design starting zones that emphasize what really matters: class.

Outland should last as long as Vanilla leveling

| Wednesday, February 15, 2012
So should 70-80 in Northrend, and 80-85 in Azeroth 2.0, and whatever MoP does too.

But wait, wouldn't that mean that going from level 1 to level MoP would take months? years? That's a very long grind!

That's why there is the second part of this idea, the part that I intentionally hold by in order to cause confused outrage, much like when you tell someone, "you're pretty... UGLY!" And then they punch you because that's stupid.

Rather than explain all the details, which I worked out and are excessively long and dull, let's go with this: You can level from 80-82 in Vash'jir or Mount Hyjal. You can level from 70-80 following a path starting in Howling Fjord or Borean Tundra and ending in Icecrown or Storm Peaks. There are multiple paths, of similar difficulty, time, and at least theoretically, fun (Vash'jir was a terrible, terrible place). My suggestion is to do the same, using Azeroth, Outland, and Northrend as the equal-but-different leveling paths. Behind th3e scenes there would be a few mechanical tweaks which would allow players to, if they wished, stop leveling at 60, 70, or 80. In effect, the level 'cap' is 60 and than all of those zones are tuned to give a proper amount of experience along the journey from 1-60.

Here's a diagram which might help. Or I wasted a lot of time.

Notice how if you don't want to do Desolace you can instead do Grizzly Hills. Or if Icecrown isn't really you favorite place, you can run BRD a thousand times.

I don't know how raids would fit into this. Or gear. Maybe the level one noob gear could become green-quality heirlooms that update every ten levels, so they are always pretty awful, but you won't be running around naked if you go from Grizzly Hills to Nagrand and find yourself unable to wear your gear, or alternatively, going from Nagrand to Grizzly Hills won't leave you ten levels behind on gear. In the world this might not be too big of a problem, but I think instance groups might complain.

The real point is that I think it would be a good idea to add a mechanic or some set of changes which allow players to jump to the expansion they want and level at a reasonable pace, completing quest chains and instances, without jumping off or falling under the leveling curve. And I made a chart!

Desolace 2.0: At least the old one didn't have quests

| Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Yea yea, exaggeration, the original Desolace had quests, but not many, and it was pretty easy to tell that it wasn't a great zone. Then came the Cataclysm and Blizzard was faced with the challenge of making what may have been the most disliked zone into something that would not cause a sudden drop in subscriber numbers when people reached level 30.

They failed.

Desolace appears to have been carefully designed to be terrible. A bad quest can happen now and then, and some zones are more fun than others, but I Desolace appears to have been planned. There are just far too many absurdly stupid and bad elements.

Step one: Go to Desolace.

Well alright! Now we're talking. Hero's Board says go, so off I fly to the northern-most place: Nigel's Point. Maybe I should have ridden, because of course the starting quest isn't there, silly! So I ride over a little bit to get the first quest: a breadcrumb to Nigel's Point.

Step two: Butter him up.

You know what time it is? That's right, demon-fighting time. Now, paladin, you're going to get a quest to go down there and tear a path of destruction through a whole lot of demons. It was pretty awesome. So no complaints there.

Step three: Kill naga so you can make a naga suit so you can talk to a naga to learn why you should talk to an elemental who you were going to end up talking to anyway because he was already fighting the naga and then without actually assisting in the fight, tell him how to kill the naga leader.

Get rewarded for contributing absolutely nothing. I guess it's practice for LFR.

Step four: Hey look, green stuff!

Some trees and flowers grew here, so obviously, we need you to start wiping out the local wildlife, to restore the balance that was never there in the first place. Note that this came from druids, not Hemingway. Somehow I missed the quest to go help a Tauren who isn't slaughtering wildlife, but more on him later.

Step five: You're really good at not doing anything, so we're going to give you another chance to show off your skills, by riding a centaur.

When I first got the quest I was confused about the "you get to fight alongside us"; what were they going to do, kill me if I attacked a demon too? Then I figured out that I ride one. Okay. Then I told it what to do, with most of the buttons seeming to do nothing, which I think was because they were only for the last fight and they figured they'd give a preview of all the abilities we'd not use by giving us buttons that didn't work. To fully comprehend the utter pointlessness of my presence in these battles, note that not only could I not use any of my abilities, but my auras were disabled. I know that's just how vehicles work, but it really did get the point across that I, as a character or player, was entirely redundant. And why the hell are centaur, which as best as I can tell are the logical evolution of Gengis Khan's Mongolian hordes, incapable of attacking while moving? That was one, among many, of the reasons that the Mongolians were badasses who conquered of everywhere that wasn't separated by an ocean. Imagine if they'd had dolphins to ride! But no, the WoW equivalent are just lame brutes who get their asses kicked by a minor demonic invasion, despite apparently being fully capable of fighting back, if only they had someone else sitting on their backs ordering them around.

Step six: Bird nets are like dinner plates for hyenas, right?

Finally, I meet a tauren who seems to have a way to save the wildlife that doesn't involve killing it. Apparently every other druid learned about ecology from the same people who taught us how to keep villagers from turning Communist. He has a great idea: Take these eggs that he somehow got and give them to birds. He doesn't explain where he got the eggs, but I'm picturing him fighting off an angry mother bird to get them. I have the job of placing them in nests. How nice! Except for a few problems. First off, these aren't their eggs. While altruism does exist in nature, infanticide also exists, and is pretty common, particularly when the parents are nowhere to be found. Even worse, these 'nests' are just piles of sticks on the ground. But I figured, fine, I'll stick the egg there and a mother will come get it, hopefully before one of the many large reptiles wandering around eats it. I hadn't fully read the quest. Yea, turns out the tauren anticipated this, so my job was to fight off basilisks and hyenas until a swoop came to get it. Because we know nothing attracts birds like the loud sounds of violence. Finally there is this mystery: Where are these eggs being taken, if not to nests, which are probably also just piles of sticks on the ground, and if they are not and are actually safe, why am I not putting them there in the first place? And where the hell did he get all these eggs to hand out to violent strangers?

I'm not sure how I automatically (magically?) knew that the stuff laying around was element 116, but as a general rule of thumb, it's a bad idea to pick of pieces of smouldering, highly-radioactive elements. That's what they did at Chernobyl and the biobots didn't turn out well. And of course the best thing to do with this stuff is to give it to a goblin who is out here for no apparent reason, because goblins are known for their environmental records. To prove the point, he asked me to engage in some mass slaughter.

But it gets better!

That's it. Yea, that's all of it. I find a weird rock that may be interfering with the rejuvenation of the area and all I do about it is sell Ununhexium to a goblin, kill a few dozen wildlife so he can sell armor and poison to the Horde (note that this is a draenei paladin), and nothing else. "Please, Draenei. Scour these lands and discover the source of the desert's stubbornness. " "And then be sure to not tell me about it."

Step Seven: If you're not using the map quest tracker to point your mount at the correct place, we think you are a stupid monkey who needs to be punished by being sent after a stealthed quest mob for which the quest text gives absolutely no detail about his location, so have fun riding in circles in frustration before giving up and finally, slowly, every so slowly, creeping toward the quest dot until you reach the range of stealth detection.

Step seven actually came sooner, but it wasn't until later in the stupid quests that I was annoyed enough to write this, and by then the stupidity of that last point had gotten overshadowed slightly by other quests.

Desolace was never a great place, but it appears to me that in their effort to revamp it, they managed to make it even worse.

On a brighter note, the one random group I did that caused me to outlevel the zone was a pretty good experience. No one died or did anything exceptionally stupid. After we killed the ridiculously short two-boss orange-side Maraudon, we continued on a little further, with no one dropping, until we killed the satyr boss on purple side. I'm not sure how they decided on that arbitrary stopping point, but it at least seemed a little better than silently dropping the second the second boss died.

So there we have it, if I'd had to pick one single reason I left WoW last year, it was LFD, and now that seems to be the single best feature. What the hell? Come to think of it, the quest structure still bugs me, guild leveling is simultaneously alienating and restricting, and ever since BC, PvP has become more and more inaccessible to new players, so I guess an improvement in one feature would make it stand out pretty well.

LFR: It's like LFD with 20 trash-talking bots

| Monday, February 13, 2012
Part of why I started up WoW again was for science, and by science I mean so I could evaluate WoW with firsthand information. Actually my original goal was more of the "let's get facts to justify what I'm already saying", but then I went and had a good bit of fun at the start. That just ruined everything.

I actually found myself having decent experiences in the random groups. At this point players seem to be overgeared enough that things feel approximately as trivialized as they did in late LK (post-LFD). But the players aren't acting the same.

Oh sure, there have been those sort of people. You know the sort: the DK who drops group after saying everyone else sucks or the person who is really insistent that we skip the extra boss, which makes no sense at all for a DPS who isn't maxed on justice gear. What are you in a rush to do, wait around for another long queue? Stick around and get more points; it's as if you got a quarter of an instance with no queue. And leveling instances resulted in a few bad apples.

Beside that though, people have been pretty chill. Sometimes quiet, sometimes with a hello, though rarely with any actual conversation. Still, it seems a lot better than what I remember from LK, with very little "go go go", gear-bashing, or whining in general. I've seen some wipes and people tended to just run back and try again, sometimes with a bit of chatter about what to fix, sometimes with whoever made the mistake seeming to recognize and fix it without any more issues. I can't really say it's any better than bots, but it is at least not any worse, which is a huge step up from what I experienced in early Cata and post-LFD LK.

For a casual player I can see that being a good bit of fun. Do a few of these a week and max out valor, get some bits of gear, kill some stuff, get honor points for no apparent reason. Maybe run a few of the less-boring dailies. I can see that being worth $15 a month for a lot of people.

I don't know quite what changed to fix LFD. Maybe all the idiots quit after early Cata heroics killed them a few too many times. But I don't think they quit. Instead, they just found a new place to ruin:

Random raids!

I ran Dragon Soul. It felt like a bunch of people running around aimlessly, with no consequence for their failures, trash-talking everyone else. I ran as DPS, but of course was I watching the tanks and I didn't see them dealing with anything particularly interesting. It was a perfectly awful combination of boring and chaotic. I felt like I was in a casino with no money, so all I could do was wander around and see how the RNG was treating other people, with no actual impact on anything.

At the end I got a cool new trinket. I'm not sure of the point. What is this gear meant to do? Am I supposed to be gearing up for guild raids? In that case, why the hell am I running this gimped mess pretending to be a raid? It's not as if there is anything to learn when the mechanics do nothing and the raid is uncoordinated. It felt like a vertical scroller, except I never lost and never won, I just got pushed past everything regardless of what I did. Then I got a trinket and an achievement. I skipped the last cutscene because I'd seen it before. Maybe that was the problem, that I'd already watched the final cutscene, because in the end, I realized that that was the only worthwhile thing in the entire run.

Three months ago I said "If you want to see content, go to YouTube." I thought I was exaggerating a little, being a elitist a little, but generally being right. Turns out I was 100% correct. I would have been better off watching a YouTube video stringing together the cutscenes with a few clips of actual raiders doing bits of the fights so I could hear Deathwing yell about the end of the world. There was nothing gained by actually 'being there', because in effect, I wasn't there. I was just one of a bunch of pointless jackasses running around pretending to be good at something that was so heavily nerfed that it is hard to be bad.

I don't think LFR was poorly-implemented. Good raiding is incompatible with quickly-formed random groups of people with no connection. Good raiding requires overcoming a challenge with cooperation. These groups aren't very good at that and have little incentive to try. It's not that random groups cannot coordinate, I failed to mention an extremely good Blackrock Caverns group I had, but increasing the scale, in terms of players, complexity, and time, makes it exponentially harder to coordinate and to identify mistakes. If we had wiped, I think that would have been a failure on the part of the devs, because such a setback has no place in that setting. LFR is the best it can be.

I'm grateful for LFR. If it cleaned out LFD, then it saved me a whole lot of annoyance and made my couple weeks so far a lot more fun than I expected. It successfully sorted players out, removing the swarms of loot-whores and noobs from LFD, leaving that mainstay of the soloist and newb as a safer place. As a newb, based on my gear and all the stuff that changed, I needed that. If LFD had been the same thing it was in early Cata, I might have stopped a week ago. Now they just need to make an even higher level of trivial, over-rewarded content to filter out LFR for when new players start going in there too...

How to buy iLevel 378 Epics off the AH for only a few thousand gold

| Friday, February 10, 2012
Step one: Buy gear off the AH.
Step two: Enchant the gear.
Step three: Run an instance, watch upgrades rain down upon you.

Unbreakable Guardian -> Gavel of Peroth'arn

Drape of Inimitable Fate -> Cloak of the Royal Protector

Witch-Hunter's Harvester -> Pit Lord's Destroyer

That doesn't count the chest I'd bought off the AH last winter and also upgraded, but maybe it should, since in all technicality, it was an AH item that was replaced after only a few runs. There were also ret shoulders and various healing items, which almost made me consider trying holy, until I remembered that healing is the hardest role in the game.

So sadly, I am no longer wielding a scythe. And my reforging is all wrong now. But I can finally get into LFR! Should I bother to read up on any fights?

Being too low keeps you out of content, so does too high

I wish I'd discovered BC heroics before my mage hit 71. At that point, it just seems like cheating. So now what? She could level up more, but what's the point? I'm not going to hang out waiting on DPS queues at 85. She hit 72 and that's when it fully sunk in that it was all downhill from here. Ooh, I could make a LK twink! lol

I made a DK, considering using that for a new attempt at a BC character. It's nice that it starts so late and is in Outland so quickly. But it's a DK. That means no set for it, though there is a generic blue strength plate set: Doomplate Battlegear. The blue warrior set is usable by other classes; my paladin used a couple pieces, which despite the loss of the weak 4-piece bonus, were still better. But beyond that, it's a DK. That just seems wrong.

So I made a warrior. And then I realized that it's a long, long way to Outland. I'm almost thinking heirlooms might be worth it. On the other hand, the leveling curve is already screwed up and I'd probably run zones I haven't done before, so I don't want to ruin that even more. I'd rather enjoy the journey and have it be a little slower.

I'm not alone in this. Tesh seems to have run into this problem as well, though not quite the way I have.
I'm sometimes saddened that I outlevel the ability to LFD queue for dungeons as I go about doing my Explorer thing. I also want to Explore the dungeons, and the system doesn't want me to go back to them when I'm overleveled.

I am consistent in my values

| Thursday, February 9, 2012
Some people flip flop and waver. Mr. Colbert said about our greatest president, "He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday." Well, today is Wednesday and on the metaphorical Monday I made some statements of value. I don't have them with me because the media likes to suppress anything good, but trust me, they were said and they are exactly what I am saying now.

Appearance matters more than actual functionality.

I've believed this my entire life. I grew up using a Mac. More recently, but not actually recently, once upon a time, warlocks had a choice to make. They could get some robes. They could get a trinket which would, in some situation, prove to be quite useful, possibly saving them from having to utter those words which once would make a raid leader rage and lead to an entire MC raid zoning out to go hunt spiders in the Searing Gorge because someone had not farmed enough souls. Note that the item has been changed. It used to summon a voidwalker without needing a soul shard, so you could use it to summon a voidwalker, then walk far enough away and it would desummon, granting you a soul shard. Note that back then, the range to walk was approximately ten miles, uphill, and if you walked downhill on the way back, you'd lose the shard. That last sentence was a complete lie, which makes it notable for the fact that I actually pointed that out.

Finally there was a weapon. It wasn't a great and powerful weapon. It was okay. You might use it for a little while, but not a very long while. Given that players often went to Sunken Temple fairly late in the game, it could soon be replaced by staves from various other instances, such as Scholomance (not the one I mentioned the other day)and BRD, and wasn't even a huge upgrade from an earlier staff from Zul'Farrak. I suppose these days we'd call it a mediocre upgrade. But it had one very important thing going for it: It's a fucking scythe available to a class that takes souls. How can anyone not see that this is the most appropriate choice?

Sadly, some did not. But me, I took a stand. I didn't just tell people what to do, I did it myself, thereby giving me greater legitimacy when I continued to tell them what to do. History, by which I mean a mix of luck and decisions over which I had absolutely no influence, has backed me up. The trinket was nerfed while the staff, thanks to Cataclysm destroying all that was good in the world, and transmogrification allowing us to pretend it was still around, is now unobtainable precisely when it has the opportunity to shine again.

My values have held, to this very day. Some people might say, "Hey, that's not a paladin weapon! It has agility! It's for hunters!" And I say to you this: "It's a fucking scythe!" I put my money where my values are:
Witch-Hunter's Harvester
Don't I look marvelous?
I like my new dress. But I think the BC recolored Judgement might fit the color of the scythe better.

I like how they need to add the qualifier "raid" to "most prestigious title", because otherwise they'd be all like "the Insane? Bloodsail Admiral? BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!?"

Zul'Gurub is not an abomination

| Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I had low hopes for the remade Zuls. I expected watered-down shadows of the awesome they once were. And certainly they are not the same. But they are similar and a good sort of different.

The plethora of mini-bosses was odd. More like glorified trash mobs. But whatever. These days you gotta have the flare.

Venoxis was nothing like what I remember, but was a fun new fight anyway. At least the theme was somewhat consistent with the venom, though it lacked snakes.

Broodlord was a fun fight, which I think stayed somewhat true to the original, though obviously not exactly the same. I hadn't looked it up before, so when I started seeing people getting one-shot, I was worried. I didn't realize that the fight was designed with the expectation that people would be dying a lot. Thankfully, my habit of attacking the raptor was still correct.

The Edge of Madness was... confusing at first. I didn't know how it started, figuring it would just be a random boss. I didn't want it to just be yet another boss, but I figured that these days, that's how things are. Thankfully, I was wrong. Apparently it requires some moderate level of archaeology to activate, and a lot of rummaging around to find the artifacts to activate. I thought that was cool. The boss we got was a crazy troll rogue, who I found silly in a good way.

Zanzil was sorta neat, but I think the cauldrons are a little too far apart.

Panther boss was strange. Ignore her, kill cats, then kill her? She's already tormented and the first thing we do is kill her cats? Killing a crazy cat caricature's cats is cruel.

Jindo was a pretty awesome fight, once we figured out what we were doing. Well, most of us... A warlock in the group was very skilled at never being anywhere near the chains, so we had four or five failed body slams, dragging on the fight, and then the healer died right before we were able to get the last chain.

I got a big mace. I turned it into Might of Menethil. In the end I walked out with a new healing hat, a new DPS hat, a big mace, a treatise on strategy.

I think I might go again.

Mages need buffs

| Tuesday, February 7, 2012
By buffs I of course mean giving them a tanking and healing tree. Frost seems like a good choice for tanking, particularly after they screwed up and made blood the DK tanking tree. BLOOD IS STUPID! Fact. Fire has a cauterization theme going for it, but I doubt that would get past committee.

While we're suggesting ideas, why not an acupuncture tree for rogues? Maybe a "shadow healing" tree for priests? I'm just saying, priest sounds like a healing class, so maybe it needs more healing options. But if I really had to pick, I'd go with arcane. It just feels right. Frost and ice are hard and slow enemies, fire blows shit up, and arcane manipulates things. For example, Slow could slow down the rate at which you die. Arcane Blast would be an excellent quick heal. Arcane Missiles are really just Penance with a different shininess.

This is obviously a pretty major change to a class that has been around, and been more or less what is currently is, for a long time. And it would create all sorts of problems such as figuring out how to make a cloth tank without needing a whole new brand of itemization. Maybe spirit could give armor, thereby ensuring that the tanks get into fights with the healers for gear, which is something WoW has been lacking ever since paladins stopped using spell power swords.

People who want to be where they are

| Monday, February 6, 2012
Why would a level 70 be in a BC heroic? Or a 74? Yesterday I decided to try something different on my mage and queued for a BC random heroic.

Surprisingly, I not only found a group, but found it pretty quickly. But that wasn't the best part. The people were.

I didn't run into a single rude or "go go go" type person. No one complained about gear except for one brief mention of a tank's gear, who had a grey belt, but no drama come from it.

We had mistakes and bad pulls. People died. But no one whined or raged. Why?

They were all people who wanted to be where they were. They could get more xp and better loot in LK instances. BC randoms don't even give points, just a bit of gold and bonus xp. They would only go there if they actually wanted to run BC heroics. Maybe it was for achievements or to see what they hadn't seen before. Maybe it was nostalgia. Maybe it was for something other than the same three or four LK randoms. Whatever it was, the basic fact remained that they were not in places for some quick external reward, but for something in the instance itself.

I'd never tried this before. I didn't even know it was possible. And that may be the problem. People will run lower-reward, higher-fun (subjective, of course) content, if they know it is possible.

Maybe the most important thing I learned from this experience is that even with the anonymous cross-server grouping, putting like-minded people in the same place is possible and yields a better experience. But I already knew this!

My mage is now level 63* and has never been to Outland... He's found a handful of groups, most of which were populated by players above level 58. That means that players who could be running Outland for bags of useful items, higher xp, and short queues, are instead specifically queuing for older instances. There are players specifically choosing older content with fewer tangible rewards (in a virtual sense)... Players are specifically choosing to run these instances and are exhibiting unusually high levels of patience for pulling speed and tolerance for wiping... I have to give some credit to the cross-server group-making tool. Without it I'm not sure there would be the population needed to form groups at all.

This was the mage who, well here's the start of an earlier post
In the past I've complained about people skipping content with the obsolescence of every raid that isn't ICC and heirlooms to speed through leveling. I decided to go a step further and do that to an entire expansion of content.

My mage is now level 68. He has never been to Outland.

I think I might do this again on my next mage (she's the one I talk about earlier in the post). I don't like Seahorse Land much, so if Hyjal doesn't tick, that could be my plan: run BC randoms until they run out, then run LK heroics until they run out.


| Sunday, February 5, 2012
Imagine a spherical pie in a vacuum.

Obviously we want a bigger pie. So, we call on the powers of the market. And it responds.


*fall of feudalism*

*more fanfare*

Hi, now as you can see, we've brought in some more pie pans. These are the foundation of future pie growth. Without these pans you won't have any more pie. Obviously for that we deserve some pie.

I'm going to just take a few pieces over to this pan here and... okay. Good, now I have some pie.

Hey, check this out! We've got these new pans, with pie! It worked! Well, for that brilliance, I need some pie!


This is some great pie.

What's your problem?

bbad healer

This run started off with me on the tank's side. There had been a warrior who, as I saw it, ran in and aggroed way too many mobs, then died because the tank didn't grab them soon enough. He tried to kick the tank, I voted against, and then he left (or maybe was kicked; I'd have voted for it). So poor tank, the guy has to deal with idiots like that. Well, he then proceeded to be terribly slow at getting any aggro at all on mobs that weren't his primary target. But whatever, new tanks can have that problem, particularly DKs, who are start late.

Then this happened.

Full story: He runs all over the place rounding up the back half of that room. At some point during it I lose internet for a couple minutes. I come back dead, not a surprise given what he'd done and the lack of my DPS (not bragging, just that if you do a big pull, it doesn't help to lose a major source of AoE ten seconds in). So I release and run back. When I said my first two lines, neither the tank nor the healer had released.

I wasn't sure why he'd want to kick the healer. Did he not heal well? Maybe not, but let's face it, expecting to survive that pull was asking a lot (it's not as if these were a bunch of ICC-geared people in a random heroic when we'd not even need the healer, or the DPS).

I explained that it was standard practice and basic politeness to run back if all the rezers were dead, that it is faster. The hunter (his guild member) called me a fag, because well, duh.

We moved along and the tank continued to try to kick with "bbad healer" as the reason. Considering we'd not wiped without he or the warrior acted stupidly, I just wasn't seeing the case for it. Maybe he was bad. I just wasn't seeing any tangible evidence for it. I did die on the second boss pair, but that's what happens when the warrior one is raised and the tank ignores it, regardless of what the healer does. Mages just are not good at tanking dual-wielding bosses.

Well on we went and somehow, the vote to kick passed right before the last boss. I can't figure out why the other DK went along with it. And that's the bullshit we have these days. Anonymous assholes fucking over anonymous nobodies who did nothing wrong, with no means for retribution or feedback. Oh sure, you could go to their server and yell at them, but I'm imagining that ending with a harassment report, and not in the correct direction.

On the upside, fire is really fun in instances!

Free Epics Are The Logical Thing

| Saturday, February 4, 2012
An unwanted trip is always too long while a longed-for journey is always too short.

What is the point of randomly formed cross-server groups? They cannot possibly be to meet people, because well, they're useful for seeing people, but not for actually meeting them. Are they for the fun of running content? Maybe... sorta. But they would be more fun with friends, something which is directly contradictory to the random element. Aha, gear! They are clearly a way for us to get gear, in a quick and regulated manner, so that we gear up at a steady pace without needing to raid. Well they're pretty bad at that too.

I'm not suggesting that these random runs have not gained me any gear. They have. But so far, much of what I've gained has been from the instance quests, not the random tool rewards, meaning that the tool, at best, helped form a group, but did not directly contribute to my gear in that aspect. I did manage to get two pieces of justice point gear, gloves and a chest, with pants coming next, which were nice, but aren't going to get me into any raids on their own. But the thing that strikes me as odd is that the weekly valor point cap is lower than the cost of all but the relics and ranged weapons (no guns). It's a contradiction: We want you to use these randoms to get gear quickly... but not too quickly!

Now what is the point of that? If we're meant to quickly gear up, then why not let people quickly gear up? If we're not meant to quickly gear up, then why not remove the random element, encourage players to pick where they go, and run the instances they are most likely to enjoy?

Similarly for heirlooms, and even worse, the screwed up leveling curve, why speed up the process enough to ruin the journey, but not enough to actually fix the problem? If someone wants to be level 85 and be completely overwhelmed with a hundred class abilities, why not let them? It's not as if the trivialized leveling process is teaching much. It just doles out the abilities more slowly, without ever checking if we know what they do or why we have them.

Maybe getting instant level 85s with raid-ready epics isn't the best way to go about things, but it at least seems more honest, and more consistent, than wrecking any enjoyment from the process of leveling and gearing, without removing the now-undesirable process.

Playing Without Friends is Overrated

| Friday, February 3, 2012
My paladin is all alone. There are no friends on her server, no one to play with. So she does randoms. Ugh. Mostly the people are okay, but a few bad apples can really spoil the mood. Even worse, at this point no one takes anything slow or explains anything at all, except once in Stonecore I got lucky with a surprisingly friendly group and got my first heroic Ormok kill. That was nice.

The worst may have been in the new instances. Or maybe they aren't new anymore. Someplace before the well of eternity. I zone in and immediately the group is gone, hopping around trash and lava. I tried to keep up and hoped for no surprises in the bosses. There were none. How... boring.

It was quite fitting when I got to the last boss and his death yell includes, "You know not what you have done," and all I could think was "Yea, exactly." I grabbed a couple healing items because there were no other paladins and got some new DPS gloves from the quest. I'm not sure if I'm annoyed more by the easy loot or by the way I ended up stumbling through an anonymous and rushed instance.

I wish I was playing with friends. I think that's the thing that could convince me to give Blizzard another $15. Alas, allein. I could find a guild, probably. But that's not a fun process for an introvert, of actively seeking out people, totally unknown people, and engaging them, particularly in a salesman role. That's why I liked the non-random, non-cross-server groups, they brought people together who would see each other again and who might actually communicate for a reason other than convincing someone to give a guild invite.

The Well of Eternity was a lot more fun. Maybe it helped that I'd read War of the Ancients, so I had something to connect to. But the group wasn't quite so rushed either. Maybe it was the design of the place, maybe it was the people. Though I got a bit mixed up about what I was supposed to be doing, because still, people don't explain much. Maybe I should have read up beforehand, but that seems excessive for a random.

Finally, the Hour of Twilight. I said I was new. The healer said she was trying a new addon. Nothing much got explained, so I ended up riding ride past the ambush. Then an overpull near the second boss wiped us. I was then kicked without any reason given or anything said. That's a pretty shitty way to do things. And I'm saved for the day, so no queueing for it to try again.

Something Cataclysm Didn't Destroy

| Thursday, February 2, 2012
Did you know that when I run Scholomance, LBRS, UBRS, and Dire Maul East I get to fight an extra boss if I want? That's right, I do. You might wonder why. Or you're just wondering what I'm babbling on about this time. Well here are the bosses.

Mor Grayhoof
Lord Valthalak

To summon them you need this item, Brazier of Invocation, no longer available, thanks to a really great quest chain being removed.
And there used to be two additional mobs, Jarien and Sothos, but they were removed for being too high of a level, despite being in an instance a little higher than the ones with Kormok and Isalien.

I don't think they did much with LBRS/UBRS, so it's not surprising that those are still active. Dire Maul and Scholomance were reworked somewhat, which would give a chance to remove those bosses. Maybe removing them takes effort, since my guess is that the instances truly were retuned rather than remade, meaning that all the old triggers and whatnot are still in place. Though the anti-fun team always has time...

None of these really matter. I mean, the loot isn't anything great, particularly if you need a friend who would be level 60 to have the quest, meaning that even if they'd done nothing since vanilla, they'd still be heading off to Outland, not farming strangely-itemized gear from obscure bosses. But in a way, that's what makes them actually matter. It's easy to justify putting time into the middle of the road loot grinds and reputations. But to have something off the path, in a corner, where not everyone will see it or even know it is there (their fault for not reading this blog), that shows some dedication to having a world rather than just a themepark.

It gets better! Not, not in that way. Sorry, you're still going to be deined marriage, visitation rights, and a seat at Thanksgiving.

But in WoW, there is a trinket, Spectral Essence, which allows the player to see the ghosts outside Scholomance. One sells bread and water. Another is a blacksmith, which I may have to investigate further as a source of profit off obscure plans, and who I used to use when I farmed Scholomance, as a trash dump, not sure where he got the gold or put the stuff. Well, I'd deleted it, because when I needed it, I could ask for it, and with all my old stuff, I was low on space. And then Cataclysm hit.

Thankfully, it seems that Blizzard also left that ability in place, to ask for a new trinket. I just need to zone in now. Why was I, at level 85, in Scholomance? To test the bosses of course. Science!

But wait, there's more!

Blizzard stole all my keys and gave me a few measly gold for them. At this point it has crosses the Incompetence-Malice line into them clearly just being asses about it all. But I beat the system. A little. In a very minor way. I talked to Khadgar about losing my key to karazhan and would you believe it but... absolutely nothing happened. But I wasn't going to give up. I was going to fill my bags with unnecessary keys, dammit! I was not going to be set back, nor would I compromise my principles, at least not these ones. So I talked to the windchime and BAM, key to the arcatraz, sitting in my bag, taking up a bag slot for absolutely not use whatsover! TAKE THAT, BLIZZARD! I HAVE BEATEN YOU AT YOUR OWN GAME. Not even figuratively, I mean, it literally is your game. So booya.

One of these days you're going to get all mixed up and accidentally close the gates to Ahn'Qiraj and I will BE THERE with my The Scepter of the Shifting Sands and you're going to have no idea what hit you. And neither will I, because first I'd need to gather ten skrillion linen bandages for the war effort.

And then you'll try to have a Scourge invasion to stop me, but I'll have my Blessed Battlegear of Undead Slaying as well as 233 Necrotic Runes, which I'm sure by then will be used to purchase tier 57 and I will have beaten your system, exactly as intended. According to a bear.

It's not all good news. Barov Peasant Caller shares a cooldown with the Barov Peasant Caller, and for some reason, the new, lower-level version has an every so slightly higher vendor value than the level 60 version. SLAP IN THE FACE.

And as of writing, a sunflower just went chasing after a bird through the bank.

Were Baron's Bombs a Wipe?

It's been a while, so I can't remember. This came up over at WoW Insider, about the newness of the dance, perceived or actual, and the penalties of bad dancing. So to you I ask, Do you remember if a screw up on living bomb on Baron Geddon was a wipe? I know it was a big deal and definitely a major setback, but I don't recall it being an instant wipe. For some perspective on my perspective, I was doing this with people in mostly blues, with one guy loaded out in purples because he'd done MC before. So it's not as is we were significantly over or under-geared. Looking at the ability on wowhead, it says 3200 damage. Trivial these days, but if I recall, that would have been a pretty big hit back then. Maybe not quite an instant kill, but close enough that it could trigger a wipe if it lined up with his melee AoE or if someone important had a mana burn tick.

Beside the power of the failure, I'm wondering about the difficulty of the mechanic. I don't think it was very difficult, and certainly easier than more modern dances. We'd set a spot to run to, or multiple, since not everyone would have time to get there, or just generally tell people to get the hell away from the raid. If they moved away, even to the wrong spot (high ceiling ftl), they would only hurt themselves, and even then a quick priest with levitate and feathers could save them.

It helped that the fight didn't have too many things going on. Some classes were, of course, on dispel duty, because that mana burn would quickly ruin a caster, so a slight distraction there. Melee had to run out when he'd do his flame AoE. But overall that is two distractions, which would be almost exclusive, as there was only one melee class with a magic-remover, aka: lolret. When players only have to focus on that one part, it can be a lot easier to handle. It also helped that DPS was much simpler, leaving even more spare mental capacity.

So there's another aspect to consider, not just how difficulty a mechanic is in isolation along with the cost of failure, but add to those what is happening around the mechanic. If we're already worrying about X effect, when Y happens we may not be as ready for it, and will react more slowly and with greater confusion.

Memories evoked by music

| Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Lately I've been listening to music from WoW. Some of it is beautiful. This might explain why I've also been writing a bunch of WoW posts. I'm spacing them out a bit, because otherwise there would be ten in a day.

I have a habit of linking music with what I'm doing at the time. Consequently, the Coldplay album Rush of Blood to the Head is linked to a few of the Ender novels. The soundtracks for the Lord of the Rings are a slow wake up before I go to high school. Muse takes me all over the worlds within Warcraft. And of course, the music from WoW itself reminds me of what I would do as I heard it.

The Dalaran music, as impressive as it is, merely reminds me of being quite bored while I fished for coins in the fountain.

Zangarmarsh also makes me think of fishing, as I fly around looking for certain pools, as well as the occasional bit of mining. It is leveling music and I've found that leveling music is often my favorite. Elwynn and Barrens music are both very calming to me. But Zangarmarsh is not merely fishing and mining. It's also nervousness, wondering what is just over my shoulder. The habits of a PvP server, rather than a neutral city.

Grizzly Hills makes me think of trees and beautiful scenery, sometimes flying, sometimes riding. It was a place worth riding through, not like that ugly Borean Tundra or the initially pretty Howling Fjord, which rapidly lost its charm.

Nagrand may be my favorite of all. My brain adds to it the clatter of a Turbo-Charged Flying Machine and all the swooshing swinging of me beating up people fleeing the burning wreckage of Halaa. I see myself flying over scenic vistas, swooping down for a mote cloud or adamantite node. Or, inching closer and closer to the edge, trying to get the range for one of the misplaced clouds that players couldn't actually gather from. I wonder if they ever fixed those.

I didn't listen to the game music as much back then, so I don't have any memories of vanilla music beside the Barrens, Elwynn, and Molten Core. The last one evokes a sense of epicness and a total inability to fully comprehend how damn tall the boss is, as well as epic failure, as I did not know that I was not supposed to talk to Domo, so now Ragnaros is slaughtering the raid, to a grand soundtrack.

Do you have any particular memories or feelings linked to game music?
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