I hate the valor point cap

| Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Back in the summer of 2011 I tried to explain the concept of the "sanity deadzone".  In this area possibilities are not entirely unreasonable, but are enough of a stretch as to be unsustainable for the typical player.  This area is bracketed on two sides.  One one side is a really trivial set of expectations, such as "log in" and on the other a blatantly absurd set of expectations "complete every heroic instance in a day. (back when they took well over half an hour)"

In the middle is the area in which we might expect players to complete it, but many will not be able to.  For example, daily quests sound quite reasonable; surely players can log in for a half hour each day to do a bit of crop planting and kill some mogu.  Each day?  But it's still not all that much time, so let's allow each day to stand.  But there are more than just Tillers and Golden Lotus.  There are nice bugs, wind serpents, other pandas, more pandas, fishing, rare fishing, PvP, and of course your daily bonus random heroic loot.  And LFR.  And that's a good thing!  These dailies have become so overused, so common, so numerous and time-consuming, that we'd never expect people to complete them all every day.

But valor...  It is a mere 1000 points per week.  I despise this limit.

On one hand, it is, at 5 valor per daily, a whopping 200 dailies per week, or 28 per day (and 4 extra to finish it off).  Granted, many of those dailies can be as easy as a bit of cooking, but even still, we're looking at 20 or so each day.  That's not reasonable.  And yet, if you're not capping valor, you're slowing yourself down by a lot and that cap is taunting you.  NOOOOOOOOB!

We can hasten this process by doing some randoms.  First of the day is 80 points.  That's 8 dailies worth, and we can wait in the queue while we do dailies.  It's a bonus bonus!  With bonus on top, unless you're a tank or healer in which case your queue is very short and you develop games such as Jump Out the Dalaran Sewer, in which you jump out the sewer in Dalaran while queuing and see if you get in before splattering.  This is why we hate DPS who don't hit ready.  Overall, a single daily random will get you over half the cap.

Throw in a couple LFR.  Those are only once a week, so they can be bunched up in time-rich times of the week, such as weekends and 2am Tuesday morning.  That's another 180 and now we're at 740.  Suddenly we're down to 52 dailies per week or about 7 per day.  And that's where the problem begins.  That's a single faction's hub.  So run your dailies for the rep you need to buy valor gear, but you're going to already be capped on valor.  Wee.  It would be nice if the valor at least showed up as justice points or gold, rather than just vanishing into the nether (and without even the nice letter from the mages who collect such things).  If you do any raiding, then you're going to cap even sooner.

Relative to the gear cost, it gets worse.  Nothing costs less than 1000.  So hop on out and grind for a  week, you have nothing to show for it.  There is the count, the progress, but that's far less satisfying than actually having an item.  Next week you jump on and grind and buy an item, before capping again.  Next week you can cap again and get another piece.  So far we're at two pieces in three weeks.  Next week you can start the cycle over again and in six weeks you'll have two rings, a belt, and some boots.  If you want a chest, head, or legs, you're looking at over two weeks per item.  Good luck in LFR!

So what would I do?

I'd raise the weekly cap to 3000.  Doing all 48 dailies (according to wowhead) would yield a bit over half the weekly cap.  No sane person is going to be doing every single daily.  That means that there is no expectation of capping for a soloist.  Even throwing in a daily heroic won't get you to the cap.  Adding in LFR won't get you there.  The overall effect is to make the cap so high that no reasonable, or even slightly unreasonable, person expects to get to it.  This is liberating.  It removes the point of reference, so that players can choose to get as many points as they want, and no more, without any sense that they are falling short.  On the other hand, for those players who really want an item, they can go for it and get it.  A higher cap allows players to play as they wish, not as an arbitrary round number tells them to.

The triple dot should be censored

| Monday, January 28, 2013
*something happens*

Wow, that was informative!  I'm glad someone took the time to deliver that important information and clarification.  Without the triple dot who knows what I'd have done.  After it, I know exactly what is going on.

More seriously, the triple dot is worthless.  Worse than worthless.  It's condescension masquerading as communication.  It's saying "something went wrong, but the thing that went wrong is so blatantly obvious that I won't even say what it was.  Which of course also means that you are a total idiot for not getting it.  And I still won't explain it because you're not worth it."

To be clear, since I've spent much of this post bashing a lack of clarity, I'm not referring to the trailing triple dot, in which a word is followed by three dots.  That's different.  This post is only about the isolated triple dot.

In conclusion, we should put "..." at the same tier of offensiveness as "fuck all ya'lls".

Slopes are bad walls

| Friday, January 25, 2013
Few things annoy me in games as much as those slopes that are just barely too steep to climb.  Are they there because of bad terrain design?  Is it a wall disguised as terrain?

I greatly dislike it when my character is forced around in a game.  Crowd control is one form.  Stupidity-based trap quests are another (can't I just shoot him now?).  And then there are the slopes.  You can walk for a little while down, and then it gets steep and pulls you.  You backpedal, jump, turn around and run up, crouch, stand, nothing works as the gravity inevitably pulls you downward.  This isn't a part of progress through a map; you can just run back around another way.  It's instead just an irritant.

Not as bad, but still bad, are the map edges.  With plenty of disk space and a desire to create a sense of place, developers like to put things beyond the edges of the map, usually more terrain and maybe some buildings.  The explorer wants to check them out.  If there is a wall, then they can see the wall, think it is lame, but recognize that not every game is Minecraft and so the map must end somewhere.  But the slope... maybe it can be climbed.  At places it can, though not all the way.  So you go up and up and one missed step and you're sliding back down.  Can I go there or not!?

I should be clear, a sufficiently steep slope becomes okay.  A cliff is clearly impassable and does not create this problem.

Convert unbalanced PvP servers to PvE

| Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Are any of you from Alliance side Cho'gall?  Well you're lying, because no one is (Warcraft Census estimates 1:19.7).  That's the problem: when a PvP server becomes seriously unbalanced, it becomes unihabitable for the lower side.  With attrition and transfers it only gets worse.

Thankfully, the PvE problems are reduced thanks to the variety of cross-realm options, though a server-based raiding guild would have problems.  On the other hand, that just makes it easier to get server firsts, so places like that should be attractive to raiding guilds that are competitive but not quite good enough.  However even in an era of dungeon teleports and portals to everywhere, people still need to leave the sanctuaries.  They need to farm materials (though I suppose a cross-realm auction house could do that, but they'd still need gold to buy with).  They'd need to do dailies, both for gold and for reputation.  With the loss of tabards players must do the dailies.

On a highly unbalanced PvP server, going outside is dangerous.  I started on a moderately unbalanced server, Magtheridon (1:3 or 2:3 iirc).  It wasn't so far off that Horde couldn't survive and it did wonders for the battleground queues (they were server-based back then).  Still, it was a problem at times, though I think it made me more aware of my surroundings, or paranoid.  On the other hand, Crimefighter is an asshole who seemingly did nothing but kill my warlock when I was trying to farm abyssals in Silithus.

Closing the server is not an option.  Blizzard won't allow the bad press, even if players would benefit from the merging of the many low population servers.

So why not fix the world problem?  Convert the server to PvE.  Give all Horde characters free transfers to any PvP server and free race changes to Alliance on Cho'gall.

Alliance could safely level up and play out in the world.  Horde could go to another server if they need the PvP so much, though they might miss the lack of balance.  I can't promise it would save the server, but it is a better option than leaving it to stagnate on one side.

It's time to stop warning us about BoP

| Friday, January 18, 2013
This warning does not protect us from anything.  Once upon a time it helped loot get to the right people, preventing accidental pickups.  Because of the two hour trading timer that protection is no longer needed.  When soloing this warning is without purpose.

In the meantime, the BoP warning only harms us.  It takes time.  It distracts.  It can cause you to lose items.

"This item will bind when picked up" was once a useful piece of information.  No longer.

How not to lead a raid

| Wednesday, January 16, 2013
To start, clearly state that there are no reserves in your trade ad.  On the first boss, turn on master looter during the fight.  Don't ninja anything, since that might at least offer some reason for the action, but instead very slowly link items and demand rolls.  Tell people to chill or get lives if they request group loot.  Ignore any claims that people can't ninja thanks to the "able to use" need system.

Be sure use raid warning for normal communication, rather than limiting it to when you need full, immediate attention.

Above all, make sure you treat a 90-filled transmog run of a level 70 raid as if it were extremely serious.

There may still be items that you really want, but for some reason did not reserve.  If these drop and you do not win them, do the following.  First, ask somewhat nicely, but with little punctuation.  When the person opens trade, feel a sense of urgency.  Know this: they are trying to scam you.  For example, if they put the wrong item in, cancel trade and begin to yell at them.  Ignore their absurd claims of "full bags" or "mistakes", because that's just what a bitch would say.  Speaking of which, be sure to call the person a bitch.  Maybe add in other profanity, such as stating that you can't stand this shit or how it is all bullshit.  For the sake of clarity, call them a ninja.

Of course you can't be all talk.  At some point the player with the item you want may finally find it in their bags.  Before that happens you should swear some more and drop the raid.

Finally, be sure to tell them that you're opening a ticket to report them for ninjaing.  Be sure to have screenshots of your earlier conversations, so that the GMs know that you're serious.

Ragefire Chasm 3.0 in 5.1

A little lowbie looked for group.  RFC!  Ugh.  Or wait, what's this?  Since when are there dogs?  Thus did I realize that patches actually change things.

The Nostalgia Effect
Or lack thereof.  RFC was never the sort of place that I looked back on with fond memories and misty eyes.  It wasn't a particularly great instance in the first place and the Cataclysm tweaking didn't do much for it.  This was an instance with nothing to lose.

Meh + Eh = Meheh?
I don't think it magically turned into a wonderful instance.  It's still not particularly great,  I'd say that's inevitable for very low level instances, but Deadmines somehow managed and still does.  Still, I do think it is better.

In part it may be the graphics.  The NPCs stand out a bit more (or maybe that's just novelty), so it seems like there are actually enemies in there.  This isn't to suggest that the old troggs were sneaky ambushing enemies; they were only invisible by means of being utterly dull.  At first I thought the lava was just a graphical bug, and then I caught the tail end of it and got slightly warm.  I suppose that's... interesting.  At the least it doesn't have much potential to become annoying (unlike other 'interesting' instance mechanics such as speeches and scripted NPC-NPC fights).

A small feature that stood out for me was the presence of the three cages at the end.  In them were three orc scouts, ready to be released.  In other words, it is far less likely that groups will need to do the usual, "I missed a scout, can we get that group over there?  Or you could all drop group.  Thanks."  I'd only needed two of them, which suggests to me that three is redundant and therefore very few people will have trouble doing this in a single run (and next to guaranteed after two).

I let myself get rushed and didn't quite get the story.  At least not the written part.  But it appeared that evil shamans were doing evil things and a bunch of Horde soldiers got trapped.  One was experimented on and got all big and mean.

It felt like a Cataclysm-themed instance.  That's not to say that it was bad, but it seemed out of place for the current expansion, though fitting well with the Cataclysm leveling (reminded me of Blackrock Caverns).  Being out of place is hardly the worst problem for an instance, and the quests do at least give some indication of being post-Cataclysm (though then we're in the time travel problem, but that's for another day).

That's my assessment: RFC is now a good instance.  Not great, not terrible, but a good instance and much better than what it was.

Expansions are a blessing for nostalgists

| Monday, January 14, 2013
It is my experience that old content is itself a form of new content.  It's diverse content.  Sick of dailies and LFR?  Here's something else to do.  Thanks to transmog, everything is of the latest tier, of appearance.

That's merely the situation for a normal player.  A nostalgist gets a bonus!  With every expansion there is new content.  But who cares about that?  They do, but I'll explain why later.  First, new content means that there is old content.  Old content that "no one does anymore".  Old, unused, ripe for nostalgia.  Get the clock ticking on forgetting the thousandth wipe and on remembering that first kill.  Ah... that's the stuff.

The new content, thanks to the typical vertical progression systems, means new power.  I couldn't solo Forge of Souls at 80.  But I could at 85.  At 90 it became easy.  New content makes the old content more accessible, at least in terms of how easily the content will kill you.

On the other hand, it reduces the pool of players.  All the people who want loot and rewards are gone off to purpler pastures.  And good riddance!  The people left are fellow nostalgists, a little community of oddities.

Taken together, there is a rolling effect.  Each expansion makes more old content and each time the power level of players increases, so to does the ability of players to run old content.

What took the dragons so long to retire?

| Friday, January 11, 2013
Spoiler alert: Deathwing dies in Cataclysm.  Then the dragons quit and declare it the age of mortals.

A bit late to the show, aren't they?

I happened to be in Ulduar the other day.  You know how it goes, one minute you're threatening the Golden Lotus NPCs for giving so little rep for each daily, next thing you're in Ulduar.

While I was in there I remembered a little tiny detail from the expansion: we killed Yogg-Saron.  And the Lich King.  And Malygos the Insane Keeper of Magic.  And some mean black dragons.

Anyway, in Ulduar will kill an Old God, restore a bunch of corrupted guardians left by the Titans, and for good measure we're the ones who convince the Titans not to destroy the planet.  Total contribution of the dragons: nothing.

Speaking of killing Old Gods: Ahn'Qiraj.  Somehow I was in there too.  What did the dragons do for us in there?  Well let's see... They held onto the scepter bits, which is nice of them to do.  Except one was slightly off his rocker and gave it to a minnow.  In his defense, we'd been killing him for a while.  They gave us some neat gear in the raid, except we got the bits for it by killing the Qiraji and finally the Old God C'thun.  In other words, they 'helped' by giving us some gear after we'd already killed the threats.

We followed it up by fighting off the Scourge, eventually sending Naxxramas fleeing to Northrend.

Speaking of the Scourge, we killed the Lich King.  The contribution of the dragons was limited to saving Bolvar, because they happened to have not killed him when they strafed the Scourge.  They didn't save us from those Scourge; they were already beaten by the rogue Apothecaries, who we killed.

Oh, but who helped us kill Malygos?  Red dragons!  Aha!  Except the whole problem was that Malygos wasn't retiring, despite already being useless.  Instead he decided to fix the Burning Legion problem by destroying magic, and killing everyone, equivalent to taking a flamethrower to a server to prevent hackers (which I should acknowledge, might work pretty well).  Besides, we took on the blue dragons at the same time as the twilight, while working on the Scourge and Old Gods.  Meanwhile the dragons were busy with their kidnapping and murder and kidnapping and rape.  Productive!

Speaking of terrible black dragons: dragons.  Also, who killed Nefarian and shut down the chromatic dragonflight?  Us.  Contribution of dragons?  Well let's see: one was enslaved and used against us.  Another hid in Blackrock Spire and helped us make a key so we could go to the upper spire and fight bad orcs.  So I guess they helped a little.  The biggest contributors were the ones who died so we could pretend to be black dragons and sneak into Onyxia's lair and kill her, though she was only there because a certain badass scared her away from Stormwind.

While we're in Blackrock Mountain, we're the ones who banished Ragnaros.  Though admittedly, it was us mortals who summoned him in the first place (I'm referring to the dwarf clan wars, not us talking to Domo early and wiping the raid, not that the latter did not also happen).

Outland was pacified entirely by us mortals.  Though I recognize that the dragons' power power and responsibility may be limited to Azeroth, so I won't hold this one against them.  And a blue dragon did help with the Netherdrakes.

Caverns of Time: Infinite Dragonflight beaten with the help of us and the Bronze Dragonflight.

Notice the trend?  The only problems the dragons fix are the ones created by their own existence.  The rest we've been handling just fine on our own.  They should have dug up Deathwing, beaten him, and then all retired almost a decade ago, or longer, depending on whether you're counting World of Warcraft as when mortals first rose to power or if you're counting the Warcraft RTS games.

What came after Wrath of the Lich King?

| Wednesday, January 9, 2013
It's no secret that I didn't like Cataclysm much. As a result, I didn't play it much.  Previously I'd played WoW every month since the fall of 2005.  A month or two after Cata launched, I stopped caring and stopped playing.  I later returned to see what was going on and left again.  About five months ago I started a new character with a few friends and essentially leveled up, ran a few LFR, and then MoP came out and I fled in terror.  All in all, much less exposure and no attachment to anything.  Beside Twilight Highlands, I have no nostalgia, no sense of "I miss doing that; wasn't that neat?"

In other words, Cataclysm essentially does not exist when I look back on WoW.  There is a fuzzy time when I didn't have much fun, and that's about it.  It's like a repressed memory, shut away so as to not ruin the otherwise fun time I had.

I've started running Wrath of the Lich King heroics, particularly the ICC 5-mans (for Quel'Dalar).  These should feel like very old content, yet they do not.  I feel as if I was just in them, as if they were just in the previous expansion.

I wonder if the level structure strengthens this sense of Cataclysm being little more than a big, bad patch.  Typically they've added ten levels, but Cataclysm and MoP only added five; though taken together they're a solid ten.  Add in my lack of raid experience in Cataclysm (LFR barely counts) and the overall effect is that I see MoP as the expansion that came after LK, with Cataclysm just being a patch that added a few instances.

This leads me to a hypothesis: Players who only play for a short time in each expansion will tend to view them as smaller, with less content, and as less substantial, less dramatic a change to the game, than players who play for longer periods.

This would mean that players who play less don't merely get less value by playing less, but also by their perspective being different, so that for the same amount of content, they will view it as less.  Of course if there is less content, then there will be less willingness to pay for the next expansion, as it would appear as just an expensive patch.  I see this in my own behavior, in that I did not want to pay full price for MoP, though half price was sufficient.

I'm sure Blizzard realized this a while ago and it explains a behavior that sometimes confused me: adding new content mid-expansion.  While I understood that they wanted to keep subs going for the money, I did not see the other value: keeping a sub going adds value in the mind of the player.  Not only are they more invested, but they will feel as if they got more out of an expansion.

From this perspective, of keeping subs going having value beyond merely the sub price, it makes a great deal of sense that Blizzard would have absurdly slow daily grinds such as Golden Lotus.  EVen if players complain, merely by playing, they are increasing their sense of value from an expansion and will be more inclined to buy the next box that, from previous experience, they expect will be filled with content.

From ignorance of the past comes blissful tolerance of change

| Monday, January 7, 2013
People tend to dislike change.  I suspect it is because deep down, we all know that change means entropy and the gradual death of the universe, all life, and all meaning.  But what if we don't realize the change happened?

If we don't realize that anything changed, will we get mad?  I doubt it.

This brings me to my paladin. I know something changed from Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria.  I know this because I logged in the day of the patch and was very confused and a bit annoyed.  Yet now I couldn't quite tell you what changed.  Pressed for details I might cite abilities from Wrath of thew Lich King, thinking that something is similar, though no quite sure what.

In this confusion, in this forgetfulness, I have lost my customary ability to be enraged over what were surely intolerable changes to my chosen class.

Mists of Pandaria is an abomination, unworthy to be called a WoW expansion: Proof inside

| Friday, January 4, 2013
Gourmet Kafa

A poop quest.  Of course.  All expansions must have them.  In one, we ate the results.  It was as it should be.

Then Mists of Pandaria comes along and just ruins everything.  All that is proper in the world of World of Warcraft is undone, destroyed, thrown out, as if it were nothing.  But it is everything.  Or was.

Gentlemen, ladies, ungentlemen, younger males, younger females, and females of less-than-reputable standing, I have a terror for you:

I won't ask you to gather it--kind of a mussy task, not fit for hero-- just mark it so we can find it easily when the mountain is safe again.

I thought it would be the kung fu panda that ruined WoW.  I was wrong.  It is the dung poo not-in-handa.

Monk: First Impressions

| Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Jab: Pull out your staff for one attack, then spend time with your hands behind your back to put it away.

 "You are an honorable opponent" - Said to the guy who walked up and, without any warning or indication, whacks them with it, while they are unarmed.

That said, I like the area.  It's rather peaceful and beautiful.  It fits with the theme.  While it is light-hearted, it is not unrelentingly silly, as the goblin area was.

You may be wondering, "Kung Fu Panda?"  Yes, but it is not a ridiculous joke or an endless stream of movie references.

This sounds like something a goblin would say:
They breed faster than we can kill them!  I have the perfect solution for such a situation: kill them faster!
This is from the same panda who is shouting at the ground in an attempt to wake the earth spirit.  And kicking it.  He sounds angry. Maybe the sha are all his fault.
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