Last week (the Memorial Day holiday weekend, for those not stateside) a good friend of mine at work had a heart attack and died. He was only 46. Saturday was his funeral. That was a tough thing to see/attend, but I’m glad I went.
Nothing like a case of human mortality to give you pause and to make you think about where you are, and where you are going.
Even if you aren’t on any major path in your life, or if things aren’t going as you had hoped, just take a second to reflect, and to appreciate what you have. As my dad loves to say,
Any day I’m looking at the flowers from the top is another good day.
It’s not a mantra I live by (though I should), but it does give some perspective.
We will all miss you Jon.
To top it off, two more got laid off during the week.
In other less depressing news, things in WoW have been a mixed bag.
Iggy the Mentor
I have been making slow progress leveling Ignomeminy. I generally run one instance a day, and do some questing along side.
In recent days gallivanting around the Redridge Mountains, I have run across a couple human Pallies that are very new to the game. These folks (guys or gals, not sure) were not dumb, were not mooches and seemed genuinely interested in the game. BUT, they were very lacking in some very basic knowledge:
- There are websites that can help with WoW?
- Why bother using the auction house?
- What’s a dungeon finder?
- Agi helps me attack faster and stuff, right?
- I got tailoring because I heard you can make good money selling bags (a Paladin, remember?)
Some of the questions & comments may seem like they come from a complete doofus, but while /whisping them, it became VERY clear that they were not stupid or anything like it. It’s just that if there was no direct, in-game mechanic to teach them, they didn’t know much, or very little, about a given thing. “Learning by trial and error” is fine, for a couple small things, here & there. But trying to learn all about WoW that way is just not practical or realistic.
Between the two, I probably spent a good 2 hours wandering around, chatting, questing, teaching and stuff. (I even logged on to Balth to craft some gear for one of them)
But the whole thing highlights the single biggest failure that WoW/Blizzard has to deal with: an absolute, fundamental and unequivocal failure to educate the truly “new-to-the-game/genre” player.
Where to How?
Maybe this will change with Cataclysm, maybe not. How could things be changed to help?
- don’t rely on loading screen “hints”
- create entire optional quest lines for each topic. Make the “?” marks a different color (like they are for dailies).
- pick 5 herbs, skin 5 animals, make 5 bolts of linen and mine 5 nodes of copper, and a couple “feaux” greens from an NPC or two, to be disenchanted, all “freebie” and done without learning an actual trade.
- part 2 would be taking them to various NPC crafters who explains what benefit each type of craft has to offer, in addition to the use of each relevant collection trade: some ore to a blacksmith, leather to a leatherworker, cloth to a tailor, herbs to an alchemist, strange dust to an enchanter, and copper to a jeweler. Maybe you get to keep them as your first greens?
- part 3 could be to sell a few items on the AH, and use the profits to buy something else on the AH.
And for completing the questline, you maybe get a class specific (or maybe trade specific) set of tools, gear or equipment. And a good bit of exp for each step.
WoW’s got Talent!
As for talents, well, I think several bloggers have pointed this one out, as well as a good partial solution: quit charging for spec changes. My thoughts would be as follows;
- again use a quest line that walks you through the very basics for each class (and a walkthrough/intro to each spec!)
- possibly give “cheat” abilities, and a test dummy, so that you could try out each basic talent function, with a full 10-20 talent points, that last as long as you are in the training room.
- re-spec for free until level 40, or maybe 60, and reduce the cost overall, at least until you hit max level.
Trinity –now in 3 flavors!
The basics of raiding in 4 simple quests. (or maybe 2 or 3, if you aren’t a hybrid) One quest introduces the whole concept, and the other quests would give you a ”boosted” ability to do a particular function (tank, DPS or heal), within an NPC group, and would teach (and test) you for each one
-1 NPCs get to escort YOU while THEY tank, DPS and heal. You just get to watch and see what the whole thing means. It can be run a couple times to see different tanks, healers and DPS classes. Ideally, each run would show a “near miss” by one of each type (lose threat, over aggro, and poor heal) to highlight the functions. Each one would only be 2-3 minutes and 1-3 encounters to keep it short and watchable.
-2 How to DPS and watch threat. IF you do too much DPS, the baddy pulls off the NPC tank and eats your face. If you stop soon enough, the NPC healer might be able to heal you and let the tank regain agro.
-3 How to tank. The NPC player-mobs can pull *some* aggro, so you have to work at it, but as long as you keep the bad guy beating on you, you “pass”.
-4 (or 3, if your class doesn’t have a tank spec) How to heal. The basics: keep the tank alive, help out keeping DPS alive, and don’t get so close to the baddies that you get healer aggro.
The Fourth Wall
While I'm sure you know that there is a mega-metric shit-TON of online information available about WoW online, not all the new players do. Even the most basic places like wowhead, wowwiki and thottbott are (for me at least) daily helpers in my meanderings. But clearly, a LOT of folks don't know they exist.
How could you approach this? Well, in-game, it would require that the game break "the fourth wall". That is, the game (or a movie, or a book) exists within 4 walls. Three walls internally, with a fourth wall separating us (the reader/player/viewer) from the action.
Breaking the fourth wall is when the actor, in-game-avatar, or whatever, talks directly to the reader/viewer. You know, when the actor looks directly at the camera and winks? Or when the comic book character explains just how silly the situation is to the reader? THAT is "breaking the fourth wall".
And, as far as I can tell, there's no reasonable way to pass on the needed information (about online resources) without blatantly breaking the 4th wall, (and very much breaking the immersion) Maybe THIS would be a good use for loading screens?
Then again, I don't think Blizzard much cares for the non-official info sites, even if they are the lifeblood of their game.
On the Road Again
Balth has now joined a guild. It’s a fairly social guild, though they do have groups running ICC in 10 and 25. I know very little about them, and have only done the weekly with them. We shall see.
He’s also been doing the oddball activity… he now can buy Oracle Mysterious eggs and is only 2 more days from being exalted with the Kalu’ak.
He’s also run through both Razorfens. While an easy task for him, it actually came in handy, since Iggy had the chance to run through Kraul the other day.
OH! He has now soloed “Threat from Above” a few times now. I ran it once, and BARELY survived, ran it the next day with 75% of my health, then died twice on the third day (not sure what happened, but it was ugly) and then finished it.
And he and Kattastrophe have run Zul’Gurub a couple times for the cat and raptor mounts. No luck as yet, but I’m slowly building rep with the Zandalar tribe :)
A couple more thoughts about guilds.
I actually had a Vent interview with another guild that was a bit more of a raiding guild, but I don’t think I’m a fit. Basically, it would be a moderately long wait before I *might* get a spot, and even then, they are taking the fairly hardcore approach that a given raider may be switched out for another raider, so that they can progress. (If a given fight favors a given class, and is not ideal for another class, they will get switched)
I would much rather play in a guild that lets me play as a regular team member, even if it slows down progression, and not simply be a guild component/tool, that gets taken out of the “tool box” and put back when a better tool is a better fit. (yes, I’m calling myself a tool :P )
Please note that this is simply my own preference, and not a reflection on the guild in question. The folks that interviewed me were quite nice, and VERY honest about the situation. Clearly, they have a goodly number of players raring to go and that want to play that way. I just don’t think it’s for me.
Kattastrophe has had her own progression and guild work. I think, over the course of the whole weekend, they put in 8-10 hours beating their head against the wall that is Sindragosa.
Kattastrophes Happen That’s just too much time in the Citadel for me.