Thursday, February 10, 2011

Du Hast mich, Du Hasst mich

We are all limited to some degree by our likes & dislikes. After all, if you dislike coconut, it's pretty much standard that you will avoid it. And if you love chocolate, well, we know where that leads.

But there are more complicated emotive situations... such as my current state with WoW. I really truly love(d?) the game. And I hate it.

If you're reading this, then I'm sure you know exactly what I mean, and know exactly how I feel, at least to some degree. The myriad variations of fun to be had... playing the auction house, levelling, raiding and blogging, are all part and parcel of the enjoyment. They also compliment my always evolving and moving obsessions.

One week (or month) I'd be playing the AH like a fiend, the next it's farming rep to get that next mount or achievement followed by a run at the Lich King.

But, at the core of my enjoyment was a foundation of relative stability: Balth the Ret Paladin/quasi tank. The gear might change, the slight tweaks to character balance with nerfs & buffs may buffet him slightly, but at his core he was who he was. For 18 months he was the window through which I viewed Azeroth and the "Waldo" with which I interacted there.

Even still , I was getting a bit tired, though the coming Cataclysm promised new vistas and challenges. But there was this small, niggling issue that had been creeping up along with Cata: the class restructuring.

As the paucity of my writing may indicate, that change proved fatal to my enjoyment of the game.

Many folks play WoW for the challenge, the evolving hurdles that appear and dispatch them with extreme prejudice. The revamp of their toons was just another challenge, on the boulevard of beat downs. For me, however, the game is a place of escape and relaxation, with challenge thrown in as a bit of spice, not the main course. The class changes, however, felt like being yanked from the comfort & knowledge of the university/adult life, and being dropkicked back to the crazy insecurity of middle school.

Sadly, Balth and the class of Ret Paladin as they existed through patch was the game and class I enjoyed playing, and the way I enjoyed playing it. Holy power stacking? Not so much.
But still, my enjoyment of the WOW universe, and the peoples that inhabit the blogosphere in particular, is a place of enjoyment, camaraderie and comfort as well.

Except that it too is changing, though not all to the bad. I do wonder though... is there a net (double meaning intended) migration out of WoW, by the more established playerbase? I'm not sure, but I definitely hear some unhappy rumblings from many sides, and Cata seems to be part of that.

Is this just another ripple in the biorhythm technorhythm of a game moving through the stages of a new expansion? The Burning Crusade hit Azeroth long before I arrived, and the ascendance of the Lich King occurred when I wasn't really aware (or playing much) so I don't recall that either.

Or has the game essentially reached its zenith, and now progresses towards it nadir, as one new blogger (but long time WoWer) seems to think roguegogo.

What's the lifespan for a mature, advanced MMORPG? Are MMORPG years like dog years? If so, then at seven years old, the upcoming trip to the "netrinarian" for a tearfilled euthanasia is not that far off. But if WoW lives in cat years, well, then there's another decade of enjoyment left, and it's only now entering it's more sedate, mature phase.

I'll sit by, peeking in occasionally, though my focus will likely be in Rift, as I mentioned the other day... I'm interested to see where the road will take WoW. Balth is still there, sleeping somewhere in Dalaran, and Ignomeminy is sulking in Ironforge, waiting to lace the ground with fire, so I may yet ake them out to stretch their legs. But the biggest truism of life even holds true in the life virtual: you can never really go back... it's never quite the same.

In the mean time, this place will likely be filled with the musing and teethgnashing of me trying and learning the ropes of Rift.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I See a Gap... a Chasm... a Rift...

It's been a while.

I played around with Balthazario a coule more times after my last blog post, but mainly to just log in, then log back off. My heart just hasn't been in it.

And then some racing buddies brought me back to Forza (XBOX racing game that I REALLY enjoy)) and then a little hanky panky with Dragon Age: Origins (wish I could say the same... "meh", IMHO)

And then Kattastrophe started rummaging around the MMORPG genre, playing a little Guild Wars and happened across a free beta for a Fantasy MMO, Rift.

I enede up with a free code and joined in this weekend past, and enjoyed it. There's a wide open final beta. For more info look here: LINKY

It's simplified in some ways:

Only 3 Races per faction
Only 4 character classes

BUT (and this is a HUGE but)

Each class can have up to 3 active character/class talent trees, and they can be switched out.

How about a Life Draining, Healer Fire mage? You got it!

(There's something wondrously evil about having both a healing tree (Chloro) and a Warlock tree active, so that you put hots AND dots.

The graphics are a bit prettier than the bulk of WoW, (except the water - Blizz did things really nice there)

The beta servers have been rock steady, even during the recent stress testing.

Give it a whirl.

Oh, and my Healy-Warlocky-mage? He's the new Balthazario.

And since I happened over here, I saw the end of an era: Righteous Orbs is shutting its doors. Tam & Chas, you guys will be missed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Avoid Your Moody Blues, but Still keep Your Balance

In my recently "Tamarized" post, You're so 133t, You're Simply Irresistable (Tamarind linked/recommended it) I mentioned gear inflation, and the importance of it was pointed out even more in the comments I received (Thanks Shintar & masith!)

Bascially, the reality as it is now, is that for any given expansion/patch level of dungeon, there is enough gear available inside for everyone to slightly out gear it. Especially once the dungeon gets slightly nerfed. And the problem only gets worse once a given set of raids is superceded by a newer release.

And still, there's a need to keep gear (and the ensuing raids) accessible to the ravening horde er, masses.

And release newer, tougher instances.

And provide newer shinier loot for each instance.

And prevent instances from getting too easy.

Um, I'm glad I'm not Blizzard. From what I can see, at least on the surface, it's impossible.

On the one hand,

If the raids are tuned (and stay tuned) for high end raiders, with the bare minimum of available loot (to prevent the dropped gear from overpowering the instance)

AND the followup instances are kept only *slightly* more difficult, and with a similarly "sparse" loot table.

AND the gear progression between the instances is kept low/small/whatever. (basically, instance one drops i290 gear, the next drops i293, and the next drops i296)

Then the older instances will still have a fair amount of challenge for the players.

Except for 2 things:

We have been trained by Blizzard to lust for gear, and the increased power it
gives us. If gear really isn't much of an upgrade, how interested will folks be
in the quest to get it? (conversely, if instances are tough enough, then even
small upgrades will be sought)

While nice for the top end raiders, the
above scenario will basically be a return to Vanilla WoW, and 90-95% of players
won't have access to the content, because the "middle" (average) players simply
can't won't be able to play at the level needed to succeed or make any

Another option

This is similar to what we have now, with hardmodes as well as the slow(?) steady nerfing of the instances so that over time the instances become more accessible.

BUT, you maintain the gear "sparcity" (or just very small gear bonuses/increases)

The problem here is that with nerfing, eventually the raids get "too easy" for the top tier players. Especially if the nerfing gets to the point that even hardmodes become readily accessible.

Now, I DO have a couple suggestions...

1 - keep hardmodes and heroics hard, BUT DON'T GIVE BETTER LOOT FOR THEM. I think the 10 vs 25 man equalization Blizzard has done is a great step in this line of reasoning. If people are truly serious in that what they really want challenging instances, well, tune the dungeon such that normal mode gear is sufficient for a good team to complete hard modes, but will make it hard enough that "the unwashed masses" won't.

This will help prevent gear inflation since there won't be extra (half) tiers of gear. Also, without the lure of better gear, "normal" folks won't feel obligated to run them, and they won't cry (as much) for nerfs.

A slight downside is that "good" players/guilds will be able to finish the normal modes without getting much (if any) of the new tier gear. But, assuming the hardmode is the "feather in the cap", then that should be fine.

2 - Realize that no matter how much folks want to avoid it, gear inflation WILL happen. If new content needs to be tougher than the old, (which usually necessitates newer, higher level gear) then it's bound to happen. Especially when multiple new raids get released. Even if Blizzard had made the difficulty jumps between raids smaller (ie, Ulduar was a smaller increase over Naxx, etc) it would still be a given that, once you had completed ICC, you would completely outgear Naxx.

3 - Realize that there will be content that not everyone sees, BUT ONLY HARDMODES/HEROICS. If the gear that drops between normal & hardmode, between regular & heroic are the same, then this should be fine.

If all of those are done, then I think that the difficulty of the various instances will still be fair/moderate, even at the end of the Cata expansion.

BUT, there is still a downside.

In general, the "progression" characters make as they gear up (currently) is something like this:

Quest blues/greens
Regular 5 man
Heroic 5 man
10 man regular
25 man regular
Heroics (10 or 25, depending)

If we followed my suggestions, it would be a *little* different...

5 man
10/25 man
10/25 man Heroic

Is that a good thing? I don't know, but I honestly think it could keep "most" players "mostly happy". Hey, this is a massive group of people, and it is impossible to keep everyone happy.

I would guess the top end raiders wouldn't like the "normal Joes" getting the same loot with less work, but I would also guess that the "normal Joes" would be somewhat unhappy that there would be content that they would likely never get to.

Then again, hardmodes/heroics are generally very VERY similar, with maybe one or two slightly different fight mechanics, with the vast majority of difference being how hard things hit. It's not like completely missing content, just not getting smashed as hard.

Are there other options? Yeah, but I'm not sure they could accoomodate the vast number of often contrary requirements that players put onto the game.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween

I'm one of those weird adults that still enjoys getting into costume for Halloween.

Any cool Halloween coolness from the Blogoshpere?

I decided as half of my favorite TV show... (and pose a Myth)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't You Know You are a Shooting Star?

Yep, that's Balth on his Headless Horseman's steed. And yes, that is him keeping up with a Violet Protodrake. No, I didn't pay 5k for the pleasure.

And, well, mounts and achievements have been a nice little distraction lately:

A wee bit grindy? Um, yeah. Especially the Wintersaber. Kattastrophe & I have been working on it since we found the trainer 16 months ago while levelling (16 months or there abouts)

Next up?

I'm 23/25 on my Exhalted achievement, with 3 different factions well into the Revered level. (Honor Hold, Shattered Sun and maybe lower City) I'm not sure which I'll finish. If I can get Honor Hold rep in regular Ramparts, that will likely be one.

Also, I've been helping Kattastrophe get her Rivendare mount (she now knows her way around there well enough, so I may not go much more). We have also been farming for the Zul Gurub Tiger (I got the lizard already) and we've also been working on the Ravenlord (so I may get Lower City Exalted in the process as well)

As far as RAIDING goes, I'm still a temp player on our main (only) raiding team, and we are now 3/12 in heroics (we gave Saurfang one attempt before calling it a night last night). There is talk about somehow helping other guildies (like me) get to see and hopefully kill the Lich King. Possibly an alt group or something. But we shall see. The last couple times a second raid group formed we ended up losing those players to new guilds. Also, since it would likely be alts of the main raiding group, I may STILL have problems getting in.

As far as the new ret stuff...

  • I reforged about 100 Expertise points into Haste, and that seems to be helping a bit (I went from 580 or so, up to 680 or so) I'm still expertise capped, so it was "free" Haste.

  • Rotation? I am getting better at it, but that's about the best I can say. I still dumb-thumb the hell out of it, and it is STILL super clunky.

  • Output? On Test Dummies, I am get ~6,300 DPS. In ICC last night, I managed to be 1st overall in Damage (and waffled between 2nd & 4th in DPS) We have a Fury Warrior (wow-heroes GS of 3224, compared to my 3188) that is sligtly better than me single target, but KILLS me on the small groups, small single target, "target switching" stuff. Single target I can pull a solid 10-11k. Taqrget switching, small mobs gets me down to 3-4k range (remember, this is with the ICC buff!) My Ret survival abilities and some reasonably head's up playing is what enabled me to be top damage dealer, but my actual fight by fight throughput still has me bugged.

  • Gear? I now have enough Justice points to buy my 4th piece of T-10(i251). The bummer is that I already HAVE an i251 chest with slightly better stats/etc: Blade-Scored Carapace Do I want to "waste" those justice points for a slight (and completely theoretical) DPS bump? Do I want to buy 2 new gems PLUS an enchant? I don't know. Especially with level 81 looming in 6 weeks or less.

  • Tanking: I haven't even talented my Prots spec yet. I could use those Justice points here as well, but my tepid interest in tanking right now, as well as the "free" level 81/82,etc greens on the horizon make it a difficult choice as well. Though, if I ever intend to get back into tanking, getting in the swing of things sooner rather than later would be a good thing.

We shall see...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Geek Is (By Chris Metzen)

I made mention of this in my earlier post, and realized most folks have no clue what I'm talking about. During the opening ceremonies, Chris Metzen spent a few minutes talking about a word. A word filled with lots of connotations.


And so, his presentation is a slide show of a bunch of cool things that to Chris, exemplify what "Geek Is"

(I haven't watched this to see how well the pictures are visible, but the camera does pan over)

OH! I forgot to mention, Kattastrophe Frap-sed a number of opints in the Blizzcon presentation, so if you want tosee some of it head on over. LINK

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I am Geek

Kattastrophe & I watched Blizzcon on TV on Friday and Saturday, and I have a few thoughts...

Honestly, I debated posting this because, as any readers may have noticed, I've already been rather negative as of late, and some of my strongest feelings after watching Blizzcon are somewhat in the same vein.

But, on another bend: I really enjoyed listening to Chris Metzen. He seems to me to be one of the more personable folks I've seen and heard from Blizzcon. His "Geek" commentary was interesting and definitely got a number of warm fuzzy memories flowing. His opening presentation, along with the occasional comments I have heard him make just seem to say that he's a really neat/nice guy.

Some of the graphics for Diablo 3 are looking fantastic. (though I have to be honest, how can they maintain a fanbase when their installments are 5-10+ years between releases?) I don't think I would buy the game (not my cuppa), but it sure is purty...

Oh, one other interesting tidbit: The Diablo guys have stated over & over, much to the dismay of one guy asking them about it: Diablo 3 will NEVER have the core game play adjusted such that ANY PvP aspect will be allowed to affect how the PvE game is played. Hallelujah!

The full preview of the Cataclysm cinematic was very cool. I don't care for Darkwing's jaw (an admittedly minor knitpick), but other than that, he's one baddass cool looking dragon!


During the last couple years since I've become interested enough in WoW to know who Ghostcrawler is, I've realized I don't care for his online persona. I don't remember seeing him at last year's Blizzcon or really recall seeing him in interviews before, so I was hoping that my online interpretation of the guy was wrong.

Well, it wasn't.

The guy is a self important prick. If you were to take a couple of his comments out of context, it might seem like he's just goofing around "My name is Greg Street, and I nerf Paladins."

But, if you remember his "to the ground" quote from last year, followed by the implementation of exactly that, and his often snide off handed comments (not just about pallies, but just stuff in general), I've just come to realize, he really is like that. You know, the kind pf person that when you meet them, you have the nearly uncontrollable urge to introduce their jaw to your knee, in a rapid fashion?


Then again, I thought much of the "professionalism" as seen on a couple of blizzard panels (the WoW class and WoW open Q&A sections in particular) were just painful and had me shaking my head.

One woman asked (paraphrased) "When can we have a strong female character that doesn't look like she came out of a Victoria Secrets catalogue?"

The answer? "What catalogue would you like her to come out of?" with a lot of chuffing and guffawing by the all male panel. I was half surprised there wasn't any fist bumping after that reply.

I guess the boys club is alive & well down in Irvine... I wonder why more women don't work there... *facepalm*

And then there is the generic pally hating/disparaging (first highlighted by GC, as I mentioned above) It even permeated Priest discussion. In one case, a guy was bitching about pallies getting some damage from Holy (ie, it's impossible to resist). The reply was "if you're losing to a paladin, it's not the Holy aspect that is the problem." (ie, if you lose to a paladin, you suck)

And there was another guy talking about paladins, and he basically had to apologize for playing a paladin before he actually asked his question. (the crowd was rather nasty, and the panel just laughed) He questioned the "fun" aspect of the new Holy Power mechanic, and was told that it's working the way they (Blizz) want it to.

I have noticed a slight schism in regards to who (overall) likes the new Holy Power mechanic, and who does not. In general, it's the better (or fucking great) players that like it. And, it's generally the average (and worse) players that do not. This kind of falls into my concern I brought up where I mention that the difference between average and good Paladins has the possibility of making a large chasm in in-game-effectiveness between average and good players. (ie, if you're good, you can perform reasonably or even well, but if you're average or worse, you will absolutely suck)

The sad thing is that it must be intentional. How do I come to that conclusion? Because for TANKS, the Blizzard panel actually said that they want to make it so that an average/so-so player could still be effective, even when compared to a good player. For DPS/Ret Paldins? No comment. Sucks to be you.