Friday, October 30, 2009

As If The Mages Weren't Smug Enough Already

"Damn it all!" Fulguralis yells, slamming the door of the house.

"What is it, dear?" Fuubaar asks calmly.

Shaking the piece of parchment held crumpled in his fist, the warlock stutters twice as he tries to speak his mind. When words fail him, he throws his arms up in the air in frustration, releasing the paper to float down through the air. As the parchment floats, it is slowly consumed by fire and only ashes hit the ground.

Fuubaar glances at the ashes and frowns, "It was bad enough when your Imp stuck the quills up his nose and goaded the Doomguard into setting the furniture on fire. Do you have to make a mess as well as your silly minions?"

With a wave of her hand, the paladin restores the parchment from the ashes, at the same time trans-locating the note to her hand. Her eyes slowly fan the document as she tries to understand why her husband is so upset. About halfway through, her eyes crinkle a bit as she struggles to suppress a giggle.

"Oh stop laughing," Fulguralis pouts. "You're just lucky they're not screwing around with Paladins."

"Why would they dear? My order is in better shape now than it's been in ages," Fuubaar retorts. "Really, what upsets you the most? That someone is working on these things, or that it's the mages?"

"Damn mages! Ever since we gave those dunces in Dalaran any hint of power they've been mucking things up," Fulgurals rants. "Now.... NOW they want to develop both a persistent pet capable of combat AND a method for teleporting group members into the same dungeon. It's blasphemy!"

Smiling, Fuubaar points out, "It rather does take away a few of the things that warlocks think makes them special, doesn't it?"

"Damn mages!" Fulguralis rages on, "If the freaking warlock council would get on it and start giving us some things to look forward to too, maybe those stupid spellslingers wouldn't walk around all smug and self important."

"Aww, is my wittle warlock's pwide all bwuised?" Fuubaar teases.

"Oh go jump in some fel flames." Fulgurais shoots back.

The paladin glares at the warlock, then points out happily, "Well at least the whole teleport thing will help everyone."

Fulguralis stalks over to his wife, takes the parchment out of her hands, and sets fire to it. Cupping one hand underneath the burning document, he catches the ashes and deposits them in the trash bin by the door. Robes swirling, he turns and heads for the bedroom in back, grumbling to himself the whole time.

Fuubaar waits until he is out of the room before bursting out in a melodious waterfall of laughter.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Thoughts by Fulguralis

A collection of random things have been rattling around in my head and I wanted to get them out. None are really worth their own post, so they can share a space.
  • The site got a face lift. It needed it. Thanks Fuu! Suggestions Welcome.
  • So race change has apparently become available. Does the blogosphere need another announcement from a blogger such as myself? I think not.
  • Apparently GC made some remarks about a so-called "hybrid tax". I'll believe it when I see it. Until then, I'm going to stand firm in my belief that a vast majority of us just aren't good enough to really make any of this minutia matter.
  • Sort of along with that last bit about minutia, give me back fear as a viable anything to use in any sort situation and we might talk. Seriously, it's even worthless in the fake PvP faction champions fight. I mean, it's bad enough that every player has at least four different ways to get out of my three variations of fear, but these faction champions might as well be immune. When did fear become the same as an interrupt, and even then only sometimes effective at that? Gosh I hate that faction champion encounter. PvE folks just don't adapt well do they?
  • Here's a new lock blog I found recently. Cheer him on as we attempt to encase the universe in a shard.
  • Now that I've been raiding more, I'm not sure what to buy with my emblems. I have way too much hit, but am loathe to get rid of me tier bonuses. I did snatch up the robe you can get with conquest emblems though and gave up on ever getting 4pT7. What's the point? T9 inc soon, right? The good part is that I've been running my DK a lot and she needs the upgrades. She's been raiding with full Hateful Gladiator gear (yeah, I used to PvP a lot on her), but now she needs some proper raiding duds. That, and a lot of hit. Maybe my warlock can trade her some of his hit...
  • Loved this story. Mr. Butt is an inspiration in his own right.
  • The Spoon keeps hitting us with some good Aionic information. Check out the apparel, plus NCSoft is actually listening to us. Yay feedback! I have high hopes for the future (and present) of this game.
  • What's up with the Harvest Festival in Aion? I've got some candy, but like, are there others parts to it? Obviously NCSoft needs to work on their holidays. Still, see the aforementioned high hopes to know that I think they'll get it right soon enough. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day, and God was going to build the world in 7 days until Chuck Norris gave him only 6. Maybe we need to get Chuck Norris to comment on Aion, then all will be made perfect, nao.
  • Raising the level on your skills is freaking expensive in Aion, and I've never been a money making machine. *Sigh* to be poor again in a game is a double edged sword. Same with being a newb.
  • If Gold ~ Cash; then Kinah ~ Yen. (Or the old standardized test notation... Gold:Cash::Kinah:Yen. A baloo is a bear.) Or maybe Pesos, not sure about conversion rates, but you get the point.
  • I'm gonna search for some more Aion blogs. It's needed.
That is all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Please Don't Freak. The blog is under construction! If you see something that you like, don't like, want to make you vomit, by all means PLEASE TELL ME! I've never messed with a blog site before and Blogspot doesn't give you that many options to "customize" it.

Have no fear :)


The Price of Blame Has Just Gone Up

Is there anything more American than blaming someone else for virtually everything? Is there anything more warlocky than blaming another warlock for your inner and outer demons? (Side correlation of rhetorical questions: Warlocks = The American Way? Discuss.)

Personally, few things are more enjoyable to my singed and sharded soul than blaming random things on otherwise nice and innocent people. The latest post over at S&S announces a charitable competition of sorts that is enough to make my shriveled fingers catch fire in excited anticipation. In fact, I'm so enthused about this that I'm going to do something that I don't normally do: put my money where my oratory orifice is. (Plain mouths are just lame, and, as a warlock, I don't always have to talk to make myself heard.)

That's right, Syrana, you read me right, I'm offering contributions to the cause. Here's the deal: I'll pick up the tab for the next 500 "blames". I have faith that, as Americans AND Warlocks, we can take blame slinging to a beautiful new level of awesomeness that'll make Arthas look like a true team player. If we don't hit the first 500, then I'll double the initial price of blame that Syrana set to make the blame hit that much harder. I think we'll easily hit that though, and I don't wanna see the juice turned off.

So get yourself a twitter account and get to blaming. Trust me, you'll feel glorious.

(In any case, it's for a great cause and through good people... get on board already!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Abigora Does Healz for Bubbles


Jess over at Miss Medicina is putting together a "Webring" not to be confused with... well, I'm not gunna go there. She has kindly asked me to regurgitate some "Awesome" info. about my new Priest. She created a non-meme questionnaire for those of us who have healed before.

Here goes nothing!

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Abigora, Disc Priest! (wants to dabble in with Shadow as well but I want to learn the ropes of healing first)

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
I just started healing 5-mans to gear up. I went from 5-man regular runs to Heroics in about two days. Lots of upgrades & improvements with my gear/spec/rotation. I have started healing in Naxx 10-mans and I occasionally run either Disc or Shadow for Pvp because it's just a blast.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Most Disc Priests would say Penance! How can you not LOVE this spell?! It shoots, it sparkles, it smacks your damaged friend in the face with a beam of heals yelling, " DON'T DIE ON ME BRO!"... Even with all of that craziness, I must admit, I love another. HOLY NOVA! ZOMG! Healing your friends while killing baddies all at the same time?! SIGN ME UP! Got zombies Chewing on your ass? Holy Nova! Are you being attacked by a swarm of killer bees? HOLY NOVA! Just want to make ba ba ba Baysplosions all over Naxx? HOLY NOVA!

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
I wish I could use renew more. I really enjoy the spell a ton especially when I see incoming raid damage, I throw a bubble & a renew and forget about them. The only problem is, I don't have the space on my mouse pad for renew. I have my Bubbles on my thumb, Flash Heal on my pointer finger, Penance on my Middle finger, and Gheal on the other side of my mouse. Those are the most widely used spells in my arsenal and if my mouse wheel wasn't so ghetto, I could totally use that but, sadly, it was not meant to be. The only people I really use it on is myself and the tank.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
The Ability to prevent so much damage. Even if I'm on tank duty, I have the ability to throw bubbles around on everyone in the raid to ease the pain of the raid healer with out breaking much of a sweat. Of course we don't/wont/shouldn't be top of the healing list, but that's not where we should be. We are TOP of the Badass List :D

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
Well, I've only had the opportunity to heal with a Holy Priest & a Druid once. Maybe it was the person behind the avatar but I felt WAY more comfortable with a Holy Priest by my side. When I'm watching the tank, I like to keep an eye on the rest of the squad to make sure I don't need to throw bubbles around. When I'm with a druid, I can't tell wtf they are doing. I know they are doing something because their limbs are flying up in the air every so often but it just doesn't seem that the raid's health got any better. Maybe they were celebrating? I don't know.

What is your worst habit as a healer?
Tunnel Vision. This can be taken in two different ways.
1) I'm so focused on what I'm healing and not paying attention to the fight and stand in the BAD or just not look on to the screen at all. This is so completely different from tanking where I never focus on any one's health only on what I can see in my screen. If I only have the pleasure of seeing a bosses crotch for 10 minutes, then I watch health or ask Fulguralis to tell me if something goes wrong. Now, I have the privilege to stare at the bosses ass, I don't sneak a peek :(
2) I'm watching everyone else's health that I completely ignore my own. This has gotten me killed a few times.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
When people don't do everything in their power to save themselves from death. I know tanks like the back of my hand and when they are really taking a beating, why not throw up a shield wall, lay on hands, eat that cookie, drink a health pot, etc. WTF? I know you have them! USE THEM! DPS? You have ways to do it as well, but I really don't feel bad when you die. It's your fault anyways :)

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
I think so. I know that Priests have the largest (tool) box and can be useful in many situations. I believe that Holy Priests have much faster, stronger, and more athletic AoEs than I do but my bubbles are sexier and I'm ok with that. I also think that it's pretty neat that my spec is very good at healing in a PvP situation as well ( not that that has anything to do with this question but there you have it). Since I'm such a newb at Disc healing, I've very excited to learn more about every spell that I have in my book and using them to their full potential.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
If every one's alive, I call it a win. If I still have mana left, then that's a bonus. If I'm not sweating after the fight, then I'm OP ;)

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
That Disc Priests are crappy healers.
We are mitigation healers not healing healers. If that makes any amount of sense. TBH, this is only what I've read. I've heard stories about Raid Leaders sticking it to Disc priests after the raid and telling them that they need to step it up since the Paladin out healed them by a significant amount. I do believe that Recount should really rework their calculations to show absorptions and damage avoided along with healing output.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
For me, it was trying to find the best way for ME to heal. I've read up on spells that I should be using the most, how "best" to keep a tank up, and how to mitigate raid damage. All of the resources that I've read have given me a great start but they weren't working until I figured out how I enjoy doing it.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of over healing, low healing output, etc)?
Not sure. I've never used Recount yet on my Disc. I can take a guess and say pretty low on the output and quite a bit of over heals. I think that I get nervous when I'm healing the tank and over heal them quite a lot especially with Penance. Once I get used to working with specific tanks, I can predict what kind of damage they will take and my over heals will go down. I believe my output will be low because of my reasoning above. I bubble a lot so I don't have to cast a ton of Flash heals.

Haste or Crit and why?
I prefer balance overall as well. If I had to choose though, I think I would pick Crit. I eat crit for breakfast! Ummm, that doesn't sound right :( What's better than our green numbers flying all over the place? BIGGER GREEN NUMBERS!

What healing class do you feel you understand least?
All of them I guess. I get the jest of what they all can do but I really don't "Know" them all that well. Trees are Hot, Discs mitigate, Holy does everything forever, Paladins spam, and Shammies do it with totems.

What add-ons do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
I use Healbot mainly. I also have grid to watch a bigger raid and have that set up for switching my focus easily. I'm slowly tweaking my set up to make it work for me but I don't want to change everything around so fast that it's not productive.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
Right now, I'm really working on replacing my questing blues & greens with heroic, emblem, and raiding gear. The two major stats that I'm primarily focusing on is SP & Crit. These two spells make my heals bigger & my bubbles stronger. Obviously, I wouldn't turn down an upgrade that has haste on it, but right now, Haste really makes me OOM faster that I can say Penance. Once I finally have my gear replaced, I'll be focusing on more of a balanced look so that I can have the output & the longevity for any Raiding environment.

Welp, there you have it! The ugly truth about Abigora the fresh lvl 80 nooblet romping the plains of Naxx.

This is the part where I'm suppose to link someone I know who heals and that should be different from my Main spec but... I've been reading up on so much Priesting (especially Disc) that that's all the blogs that I know.

- Amber over at I Like Bubbles is a great read & just fun all around. She's a Disc Priest who loves to rant. She also has some guides that are quite helpful for the common raider & her fellow Priests.

- Divine Aegis also is a Disc Priest who has some AWESOME L2Discipline Guides

- Penance Priest is not for the beginner Disciple Priests. He (I think the blogger is a He) does some wonderful Theory Crafting on Stats. If you're looking to really dig into your class, I suggest going here.

Sorry for the Druids, Paladins, and Shammies out there who were not represented in this shout out. Maybe try more Neon Lights? Or a Laser Light show?

~ Fuu/ Abigora

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Fourth Wall

In today's age of television and movies, you've probably heard the phrase "breaking through the fourth wall." I believe the concept to be quite applicable in the MMO realm as well. However, it takes on a somewhat different context.

You see, in the gaming realm, most of us go by pseudonyms as opposed to our real names. Yes, I'm talking about our avatar names. The catch here is that sometimes, in the course of our online lives, it may become necessary to contact online friends through another medium.

Now, for some of us, our online friends may also be RL friends... no big deal. For most of us, this is not the case. Though we may have spoken with these individuals at length in a voice chat (vent) or merely in text chat (IMs, gchat), we've mostly gone by our online pseudonym. Thus, when the need to contact someone outside of your normal venue arises, you may find yourself in somewhat of a quandary.

Take, for example, this case. A fellow officer by the name of Optimis had a bit of a mishap whereby he couldn't log into his account. Therefore, he got my number (we have a forum section with Officer contact information) and left me a message explaining his predicament.

I'd like to take a moment and explain something about myself. I am NOT a phone person. Some people are phone people and that is not me. Phones may be an enjoyable method of communication, but they're not for me. I... I.. dislike phones I guess is the main point that I'm trying to get across here.

I dislike phones so much, in fact, that I will do almost anything to entice Fuu to make the call to order pizza. Or Chinese. Or the tech people in India. Or my mother. Okay, maybe not so much my mother, but sometimes. And I know I'm not alone in this strange phobia (Jess, I'm looking at you).

In any case, you may now see the conundrum in which I now found myself. I had to return a call of someone I primarily knew online... using a PHONE. I couldn't type this person to join me in vent. I couldn't chat with them in any way. I had to call. (You may say to yourself, well you coulda texted or something... that's besides the point, don't interrupt my story.)

In my pre-call trepidation, I'm envisioning how this call is going to go:

Me: *dials number* *phone rings*
Family Member of Optimis: "Hello?"
Me: "Yes, excuse me but is Optimis there?"
FMoO: "Who?"
Me: "Optimis, the hunter. Pet's name is Prime. Likes to shoot things with arrows?"
FMoO: "I'm afraid you have the wrong number."
Me: "No, no. He called me. I have the message and caller ID right here. I know he resides here."
FMoO: *Calls Cops*

Luckily for me, it went more like this:
Me: *dials number* *phone rings*
Optimis: "Hey Ful, it's Opti."
Me: *sigh of relief* "Hey Opti, what's up? Got your message."
*Conversation carries on safely from there*

Now, one might think it would be beneficial to find out Opti's real name:
Old Woman: "You could have just called me Dennis."
Arthur: "Well I didn't know you were called Dennis."
Old Woman: "Well you didn't bother to find out now did you."

Opti's real name is NOT Dennis, FWIW.

The point isn't that, had I not been preoccupied with my phoniphobia, I might have found numerous avenues of information to make myself not sound like a complete dolt. The point IS that when real life intersects with virtual life, sometimes awkward situations ensue. What I'm wondering is, have any of you experienced virtual awkwardisms? I'd bet it's more common than we think in this crazy business of online gaming.

At least his name wasn't like, Gangbang the Dwarf with the Gorilla pet named Imhereforthe. Phones, who need's em, amirite?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tricks and a Treat

A chill wind gusts through the human capital of Stormwind and stirs the robes of the warlock as he stalks towards the tavern. It had been another unproductive week, and Fulguralis was starting to worry he'd never see the inside of Ulduar again. There was so much left to do there, but the band of adventurers he'd joined up with had been temporarily dispersed by the recent festivities. A circular shadow crosses Fulguralis's path, causing him to look up in search of the source of the obstruction. His reaction allows him just enough time to catch a glimpse of orange and cringe.

The pumpkin makes a grotesque squishing sound as it settles on the warlock's head, reminding him of the mage brains he has stored back at home. The gourd quickly catches fire as the warlock's rage heats up and ashes rain around him. Once he can see again, Fulguralis looks around in a desperate attempt to identify the prankster that has just pumpkin-hatted him. Damn the holidays, he shouts in his mind, unable to eye the perpetrator.

He is nearly knocked over as a rambunctious group of small children brush by his legs, scrambling towards the next house. So intent are they to acquire their sweet loot, that they pay no heed to the common courtesies normally required when walking the streets of Stormwind. The ruddy whelps should step aside for their elders! They're just children enjoying the holiday, the warlock reminds himself. Memories of his own childhood holiday experiences threaten to swim up from the depths of repression within Fulguralis. With a grunt, he brushes them aside and continues towards the tavern. A warm drink will surely make the festivities seem more... festive.

Suddenly, Fulguralis feels a strange sensation course through his body and his vision becomes restricted by a hood that wasn't there a moment before. Looking down at his robes reveals the truth: he's been made to look like a ninja. Again, he looks around for the prankster but fails to find an obvious target amidst the holiday crowds. Damn Hallow's End.

In the past, he might have gone after the headless horseman or gotten some candy of his own to enjoy. This year, however, he just had too much on his mind to fully enjoy the holiday. Plus, holidays always resurfaced uncomfortable memories for the warlock, especially since his recent reunification with his lost sister. To make matters worth, she was off doing all the raiding and he was stuck here in the land of domesticity, dodging children, dressed like a ninja, and just wanting a warm holiday cider. Preferably with a kick to it. With another grunt, he dispels the magic that had clothed him in a costume.

Still, he couldn't blame his lack of raiding entirely on his sister or the holidays. Deep down, he knew that his group had just hit a snag in their part of the siege, and needed to re-think their approach. Some of the groups best minds were on it now and Fulguralis had been sending many letters to them with his own ideas. Hopefully, he'd get called back again soon.

Until then, he was stuck at home with his Paladin wife who insisted on making the holidays special. She was probably off decorating their home, handing candy out to the kids, and otherwise making him feel like a humbug for not enjoying the holiday like she did. It just wasn't there for him though, why force it? His place was in the back of a raid, in his sissy robe, flinging spells at some monstrous baddy. There, or in a tavern.

The bartender at The Slaughtered Lamb nods to him as he enters, then goes over to merrily refill the bucket of candy that stands on the end of the counter. Fulguralis pulls up a stool and sits at the other end of the bar, tingling slightly in anticipation. The sensation surprises him; it wasn't like this was his first time in a bar. I must need a drink more than I thought, he reasons.

"What'll it be, matey?" the bartender drawls oddly.

Taken aback and slightly confused, Fulguralis answers, "Just a cider, please. Hard."

"Yo Ho! Comin' right up," the man acknowledges, chuckling to himself and heading off to pour the drink.

Looking around, Fulguralis notices a few of the patrons smirking in his direction. The Lamb was pretty busy this time of year, as many adventurers returned home to visit family and partake in the festivities. Chances were, none of these people knew him. Still, what were they staring at?

"Here ye be!" the bartender returns, bearing a cider.

Fulguralis frowns and looks down. Of course, he thinks, remembering the tingling sensation when he'd sat down, I'm a pirate. Quickly, he takes a long drink of the cider, relishing the feeling of the warm liquid as it slides down his throat to ignite a cozy fire in his belly.

"Be it hard enough?" the bartender asks.

Raising his mug and smiling grimly, the warlock responds, "Yarr!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

insert catchy title for todays post


I have no clue where Fulguralis is today so I didn't want to leave all of you hangin out there sadly waiting for Ful's "entertaining" posts. I figured I would save you from him today & just Cancel Thursday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DK Icy Talons Buff Clarification

My Frost DW DK post is something that I continue to get some good traffic on. Good traffic sometimes means good comments, and this has been the case for that particular article. Commenter Mihai left me a great tip the other day when he pointed out that:

"I see you went with 1/1 Improved Icy Talons yet your rotation is based on refreshing diseases through pest. I recommend doing a "manual" refresh of diseases (IT + PS) instead of that every 20 seconds, because, unlike the tooltip states, IIT does not proc off Frost Fever, but off applying the diseases (that means casting IT). If you don't hit a mob with IT, you'll lose the buff after 20 seconds, translated in a fair amount of own and raid DPS lost."

This is a great point that I hadn't even thought about or noticed until he commented (so thank you!). Now that I've been getting to raid a bit more on my DK (we started up with a new group, working from Naxx through where we can get as 10-mans), I've been able to play with this a bit more. Last night, while I was instancing, I used the DPS opportunity to watch my buffs like a hawk and to play around a bit with my rotation on-the-fly to see if I could juggle the Pest refresh with keeping my IIT buff up.

Exactly as Mihai mentions, the IIT will drop off after 20s if you do not apply the frost fever disease. The glyph that causes Pest to refresh your diseases just doesn't do it. However, Pest still spreads your diseases and can still occasionally save you some runes if used correctly, so I wasn't sure I wanted to get completely rid of glyph if I didn't have to. It would seem to me that there is perhaps a way to weave the use of both IT and Pest in so that you could still benefit from the glyph.

What I found is that the easy solution is just as Mihai suggests: go with a manual refresh and replace the glyph for something else. However, I did notice something that may provide a different route: since my HB is glyphed, that provides an application of frost fever as well. Sure enough, using the spell also refreshes my IIT buff. This added another variable to my musings.

Now, I *think* that HB is worth more damage than IT + PS if you don't consider the DoT portions of those attacks. It costs the same runes as IT + PS, so if the damage is better for HB, I could theoretically use HB to refresh my buff and then use Pest to refresh both diseases. What are the benefits of this, you might ask, apart from damage? Well, let's look: IT + PS take two runes, two GCDs, and are lower damage when the DoT/Buff portion is otherwise cared for. HB + Pest use three runes, two GCDs, and hit for higher damage over all again excluding the DoT/Buff portion, just on a single target. (I think my HB was hitting for easily over 5K while my IT and PS together were under 5k, not counting crits).

A further benefit is the the HB+Pest combo gives you AoE. You're going to have the burst of HB, plus the plague spreading benefit of Pest. While on one target it only *might* be better, it is most definitely the better choice in multiple target situations because you've just multiplied your DPS. There's also a couple ancillary benefits here too. First, if specced for it like I am, Pest will activate a Death Rune, and those are always helpful in a rotation. Hopefully it'll allow you to get off a couple more OBs, but in any case they're just nice to have. Second, if you proc off an OB (which you might be doing more of), you can get an HB for "free" runewise. This leads to even MORE OBs, perpetuating your cycle and ramping up your DPS. It feeds upon itself.

Since a lot of this is proc dependant, you really have to pay attention, but if you do it pays off. Here's what my rotation looks like: Apply diseases (IT+PS), OB, BS, FS, Pest. After that, I get into a rotation where I'm just hitting HB+Pest whenever my diseases are getting low, then hitting OB's and FS's the rest of the time. If I'm in downtime and I don't have two death runes up, I'll throw in the random BS, but it seems to work out decently well in combat. I know plenty of people can do math and line cooldowns up, but, perhaps because I find that I play less than ideally, those sort of rotations don't always work for me. This is one that just feels right AND lets me use the glyphs and spec I already have.

Sometimes, especially with bad procs, this approach can lead to some rune down time, but I think it generates pretty darned good DPS. For the instancing, it was hard to gauge, but it certainly felt smoother and AoE opportunities really jumped me up on the meters. Single target I'd been around 2.5k, I think I was closer to breaking 3k... and AoE I was always easily over 3k, nearer to 3.6k (this was mostly in VH heroic).

So, I guess what you could take from this (if you don't play how I play) is that both IT and HB refresh your IIT buff, and that knowledge may help you iron out your own rotations.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scenes From The Field

Today is going to be a montage of screenshots, mostly taken by Fuu, that just are fun and for your viewing pleasure. I may try to explain a bit of each, or just let you figure it out...

First up, from the World of Warcraft:

Flying Sharks?

Fuubaar of the Penguins

That's a huge... minion.

Croc Surfing is always a fun way to get where you're going.

Congrats to Fuu on her second 80!

And now, some shots from Aion:

Ahhh capitalism...

That's some baaaad corn.

These last two require a bit of an explanation. I had mentioned the other day that we were involved in some massive PvP action. After a two hour siege, we had finally made it down to the "boss" of the fortress. Basically, deep in the heart of the fortress is a large, guardian-like character that is the final thing that needs to be killed for your faction to capture the fortress. He/she/it is the objective, if you will. I want to stress the utterly cool feeling of having laid waste to this place for the last two hours, busting through defenses, to stream down a spiral staircase and into a large chamber that houses the monstrosity you will soon see. It's really an epic feeling. Fuu and I each got a shot from our respective viewpoints, and you can see not only the winged beast (this fortress was controlled by the Elyos. Had it been a Balaur fortress, the guardian might have looked a lot more demonic), but also the multitude of people gathered at it's gigantic feet, attempting to grasp victory. So, without further ado...

My View

Fuu's View

Monday, October 19, 2009

AI: Spiritmaster Guide at 25

Last time we spoke about Spiritmastering, I had just hit 16. As of right now, I'm halfway to 27. Ten levels make quite a difference.

I suppose the biggest change is that I've now been attuned to the Abyss. I mentioned it a few days ago, but getting your access to the major PvP area of the game is big enough that it sort of changes your playstyle. This is NOT a purely PvE game. Thus, unlike my warlocking, spiritmastering takes a certain degree of flexibility. Still, it doesn't stop me from doing a little research and trying to figure out how best to play my class. So, today, I'm going to try to break down a few of the things I've learned from both research and in-game experience.

Spell Usage
Somewhere along the line you pick up the Chains of Earth dot to compliment your Erosion. This instant cast spell has basically replaced my ice chaining. You even get the second spell of the chain a bit later which causes the same knockback/stun as Ice Chain. In fact, this combo has really become my primary spell consideration. Perhaps it's a reflection of my warlock origins, but I like to get my DoTs up right away.

When attacking a PvE mob, I lead off by setting my pet up with a few of its abilities (more on pets later). Then I put my dots up. From there, I move to nuking or maintenance spells. The nuke spells are pretty much your Fire chain and summoning your "servants" (the orbs of death as I like to call them). Those abilities are pure damage, and so I usually go through a small rotation at this point: Apply Dots, Summon Servant, Fire Chain, Pet Attack... rinse repeat until death. I may leave out a step of the rotation, depending on the speed of death. I also may jump around in that rotation as the situation dictates. Like I said, this game requires flexibility.

The maintenance spells consist mainly of the first stigma you get: Absorb Vitality. This is a very warlocky spell that allows you to do magical damage and then return part of it has health. You also acquire the ability to heal your pet. Thus, I'll throw a pet heal if the pet needs it and immediately follow it with an Absorb Vitality, healing me for what I threw at the pet. This seems to work pretty well. Also, in my maintenance frame of mind is applying things like Stone Skin or having the pet Re-taunt the mob if I'm using it as a tank.

So for a PvE mob, my thinking goes basically like this:
  1. Set up my pet.
  2. Dots!
  3. Do I need maintenance spells right now?
  4. Deal Damage.
After each "rotation" of damage dealing spells, I'll ask the maintenance question again (or jump to it if things start going poorly). That's sort of how it works for me.

Pet Choice
By the time you hit 25, you should probably have each pet. A couple of the pets are drop dependant, but if you haven't gotten the drop for at least rank one of each pet, you should probably pick it up at the auction house. This will give you four spirits:
  1. Fire Spirit - After getting rank 2 of this guy, I've been using him as my main tanking mob when duo'ing with Fuu, my assassin counterpart. He has a strong taunt and pretty decent survivability. At this point, he's probably out 75% of the time.
  2. Wind Spirit - After getting rank 2 of this pet, he's my main consideration for straight DPS. His survivability and taunt are weak, so don't use him as a tank. He can put out some good damage though, so in a group environment where I'm with a tank and a healer, I'll use this guy. I probably pull this guy out 20% of the time, leaving the other 5% split between my last two pets.
  3. Earth Spirit - I've not gotten to rank 2 of this spirit yet, but for a while he was my main tanking consideration. His shield ability is pretty handy, giving him above average survivability, however his taunt isn't as strong as the Fire Spirit's. Thus, the only reason I might use him right now is in a group that lacks adequate CC. He might be able to output decent DPS while allowing a temporary tanking of a renegade mob. I haven't really had reason to use him yet. Once I get rank two, I may pull him out to tank a bit just for kicks.
  4. Water Spirit - I've also not gotten rank 2 of this spirit yet. He happens to be our lone ranged pet and is drop dependant, but it's definitely worth picking up. I tend to use this guy in large scale PvP encounters. It's nice to have him sit back and pop damage on melee classes, goading them into getting close enough for a Templar to yank or for someone to root. Also, the ranged nature can keep him off of a player's radar longer than a pet that's gnawing on said player's leg. Plus, in PvP, taunting doesn't matter, so the weak taunt doesn't matter, though he is a bit of a glass cannon if he gets focused on.
That's all the pets I've picked up at this point in time. Rank 2 of the Water and Earth pets are looming on my horizon, but I'll probably still pull the spirits out in the same situations. The percentage of usage probably reflects my percentage of type of gameplay more than anything, but it should give you a small idea of how often I'm using certain pets. Sadly, since our spirits can't fly yet, I don't really use one all that much in random Abyss encounters. Things just happen too quickly to make summoning a pet worthwhile.

The pet abilities I mentioned using above vary based on the pet you're using. Basically though, I try to use the Thunderclaw as a "pet attack" in my rotation above. The set up abilities include the two that are on longer cooldowns and the taunt. I obviously only use the taunt when I'm using my pet to tank, and in that case it's often what I lead off with. Then, I'll only reapply when I see the mob running at me, leading to a little bit of a ping-pong effect. The other abilities I just try use when they are off cooldown.

A small side note: I choose which servant to use based on which pet I used. Most of your pets weaken your target to a specific school of magic that is aligned with what they are. Thus, my theory is that it helps to use the same servant, since you'll get more bang for your buck. It's hard to really test any of these theories since I don't have a damage meter like I do in wow, but it seems to make sense from reading the tool tips.

PvP Encounters
For small scale encounters, Dots are my best friend. I try to Chain of Earth anything right away and then hopefully get a stun out of the chain. If that happens, I might throw in a nuke, depending on the situation. If not, Erosion is quick on the heals of CoE. At this point, I usually check to see how much my initial salvo hurt them for. By that, I can usually judge how much of a chance I have. At this crucial point, it's fight or flight. Either way I probably have to keep the player away from me, but if I'm doing zippo damage, I'll probably just run for it, saving my root spell for if they catch up to me.

If I'm hitting them for a good chunk, I might try to get some distance and pull out one of my servants to bother the player. Other than that, it's time for fancy evasion and keeping those dots refresh. If I get enough space, I'll try to throw in a fire chain. This strategy has served me well, keeping me alive most of the time, if not always victorious.

For a large scale encounter, the difference is that you're going to have to really pay attention to your range. The LAST thing you want to do is get yanked into the fray by some over-eager Templar. Thus, I usually hang back, looking for the opportunity to slap a dot on someone. Most players seem to dance back and forth, so I find it advantageous to focus on one person and nail them every time they get too close, leading off with my CoE to slow them. Sometimes, this delays enough that our Templar will yank them and then they're in bad shape.

Another little tactic I like to use is what I call dive bombing. You see, it seems that, as gamers, we're still trying to get used to the fact that flight is an integral part of this game at all times. Most of us are used to looking at battles in 2D, so we forget to look above us. So sometimes you can pop your wings and just fly down like you're buzzing the towers in Top Gun, dropping instant cast dots as you go. Again, you have to be careful you don't get yanked, but if you're quick about it, most players won't even know what hit 'em.

A final tactic I mentioned a bit earlier is to send you pet in to annoy a player. For melee, it's particularly effective if you use your water spirit. Some players see a spirit and run out to kill it, forgetting that they've just brought themselves within range of our Templar. It's REALLY annoying as a melee to have to sit there and let someones puny water spirit take pot shots at you. Also, just the general harassment effect of it gives me pleasure, even if it doesn't really kill anyone. Getting in their heads can sometimes goad a player into making a tactical error.

To be honest though, I'm still learning a lot about this part of the game. I've been involved in a lot of PvE, a moderate amount of small scale PvP, and just a handful of large scale PvP encounters. I really enjoy the large scale stuff, but it just doesn't always happen. I'm happy to say that, while being involved in a 100+ vs 100+ siege of a fortress, the game held up and remained playable. In fact, I had to adjust some of my display settings so I could see people because other wise it was just a mob of names and winged bodies, NOT because of slow game play. There was a bit of lag (especially when we were all assaulting the gate), but it was never unplayable.

So here's hoping that some of this experience finds other Spiritmasters out there and is of use. If you're a spiritmaster, please leave me your thoughts. Have you found some of these tactics useful? Do you know of ones I didn't mention. With such a young game, class specific help seems hard to find, but I'd like to at least relate what I've learned through experience and research here and hopefully it'll be somewhat useful.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tonight, We Dine In Hell

*Dusty the Ghoul sits staring aimlessly at a sputtering candle on a table*
Midnight: What's he doing? He's been staring at that blasted candle for hour now!
Berry Blue: Maybe he's caught the flame of looove.
Midnight: Right. You have no idea, do you?
*Sparkie the Felpup jumps up on the counter for no apparent reason, catching the attention of the other two minions in the room*
Berry Blue: Yo, Sparkie, get down. You know the master don't like you jumpin' on the counters.
*The Felhunter makes a snuffing sound*
Midnight: Get. Down. Now. I'll come over there and whip you.
*Sparkie jumps off*
Midnight: See Blue, you just have to be a bit firm. Boys respond better to direct orders.
Berry Blue: Hey, I've got an idea. Spaz! Come here, imp.
*Spaz runs out into the room, banging into stuff along the way*
Spaz: Yeahwhaddyawant?!
Berry Blue: I heard that Dusty over there done stole your sweets.
Spaz: WHAAAA?! Sweeeeets!
*The Imp launches himself at the Ghoul, rummaging throughout the rags that hang from the slightly-less-than-animated corpse*
Spaz: Candycandycandycandycandycandy!
*Dusty fails to respond to the Imps provocations. Due to the rummaging Imp, the Ghoul's arm falls off*
Spaz: There'snocandyhere! Yourcandyisalie!
*The other two minions shrug*
Midnight: Maybe DeeGee knicked 'em. Why don't you go fetch him for me?
*The Imp speeds back out of the room, running into the door frame once before disappearing into the gloom beyond.*
Berry Blue: Well, what now? Is he dead?
*While the big blue minion is busy poking the Ghoul with a stick, Decedereful the Death Knight enters the abode*
Berry Blue: Dearest Decedereful, your dead companion has fallen prey to discordant notes.
Decedereful: What?
Midnight: Your Ghoul is borked.
Decedereful: Oh! No. He's just hungry.
Berry Blue: Ah the pangs of hunger. Oft have I felt their siren call.
Decedereful: Is he always like this?
Midnight: Only for you, dear. What does he eat?
Decedereful: Brains.
Midnight: I'm not sure we have any of those.
Decedereful: Oh, I'm sure any good warlock keeps some brains around. Sparkie, where does your master keep the your food.
*The puppy jumps happily back up on the counter, nosing at a cupboard. Decedereful walks over and removes a jar filled with a gelatenous substance*
Decedereful: Yuck, mage brains. Of course he'd have these. Not the best quality of brains, but it'll have to do.
Berry Blue: Felhunters eat brains?
Decedereful: Mostly mages. Not just the brain, either, but that's probably the best part. Not that that's saying a whole lot.
*A small ding seems to sound from somewhere and the Death Knight looks up towards the ceiling*
Decedereful: Ha! A summons! Must be getting near raid time. Finally, I'm getting my shot! Here.
*She tosses the jar of brains to the Voidwalker*
Decedereful: Feed him these, he'll perk up. He may try to construct a portal out of air for a bit, or make a table of pastries out of... who knows, but he'll come to his senses as soon as he digests the brains. Gotta go.
*She disappears*
Deegee (yelling from the back): GET THIS IMP OFF ME!
Midnight: Right, gotta go.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Work Crit +10

I have no less than three posts that I've started typing, only to be stolen away by the work boss. Being a test engineer, work comes very much in waves. Some weeks are really slow, others are ridiculously busy. This is one of those busy ones, complicated by the fact that: 1. We just emerged from bankruptcy and have gotten a load of new business as a result - and - 2. This is the last week of the regular season for Indiana High School football. When coaching and working collide, blog time gets a rather massive crit on time. Heck, so does lunch (which I'm skipping today in favor of some "in-flight" Taco Bell on my way to practice).

In any case, I had an article half written today about Spiritmastering in Aion which I wanted to do a good job of, so I'm not going to rush it and thereby commit sins of omission.

In lieu of that article, I'm going to link some real articles to substitute for my own...

The lovely and intriguing Mrs. Sideshow (see what I did there) writes about re-becoming a newbie. Great points and an echo of feelings I think many of us WoW-Aionites share. I would, however, suggest that she bind her bags and such to similar keys so as to stave off confusion... both games do offer customizable keybinds XD.

The healful yet militant Miss Medicina (healful is new word, you heard it here first, and Jess defines it.) writes about the problem with theorycrafting. Her well put argument illustrates why guide writing is so difficult to do properly, IMO. Often times, I'm rather against guides in general when they try to dictate playstyle as opposed to enticing one to use one's own brain to choose for themselves. A lot of bloggers do a very good job of getting readers to think for themselves with their guides. EJ is not the site for that, unless you use it appropriately as a resource.

Sick of MMO's? I don't know why you're reading me then, but check Samo out as he dives in the world of console gaming with an Ultimate Alliance 2 review. Makes me nostalgic for the days when I used to console game. I still do on occasion, but not as much as I'd like. The holidays ARE coming though...

Finally, want a cool picture? Check out Abi's new Mammoth, then go read Darraxus's song/advertisement about "that" guy.... You know who you are. Makes me want to drink... but then again so does work, which I have to now get back to!

You know you're starting to get important when you get pulled into random meetings that don't enable you to do your job and you really have no input in whatsoever. People just feel better if you're there. That, and meetings are really a shared pain. No one likes to suffer alone. So maybe I'm not important, maybe I'm just becoming the office tank. Heals pls, DPS this motha down, kthxbye.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Leveling Grind and Why We try to Rush it


May 6th 2008

A couple sat on their big comfy couches next to one another with their laptops spread across their laps in eager anticipation. Feet reclined and ready for anything. These two adventurers have just installed one of the most talked about MMORPGs in the world.

They are about to enter... The TWILIGHT ZONE! du du du du!

Ummm no, actually I was talking about the game we all know & love (well, love could also be ad libbed for any number of words here "Hate" "Despise" "Makes me want to punch a puppy""Throw someone onto a bed of sporks" you get the idea)

They are about to enter... The World of Warcraft!

Loading screens were up, both were nervous about what character to choose. They know that they want to go Alliance on Lothar because of a friend, but those are the only expectations given at the moment. Should they roll Night Elfs for their long ears & bouncy nature? Dwarves for their stout stature and drinking problems? How 'bout a Gnome for their... nah, there's no good reason for that race. Ok, how about Humans! Bingo.

Now, what about classes?

The boy always likes the pew pew of it all and something sort of ummm, evil?

A Human Warlock! Perfect!

The girl likes to be helpful. Her previous toon on FFXI was a healer but she wanted something different. She enjoyed the flexibility of healing, DPS, & tanking all rolled into one. That leaves a Druid or a Paladin. She's played a paladin before and really enjoyed it.

A Human Paladin! Perfect!

These two wide-eyed adventurers watch the intro scene and enter Elwyn Forest not quite knowing what would happen. Their friend invited them into his guild to meet the people he talked about so much. Generations was his home and wanted to welcome them into this warm & inviting place.

Generations wasn't a hardcore guild nor really ever raided very much but when they did, the Guild Chat would light up like a Christmas Tree with cheers & excitement of dropping their first Boss or someone finally getting that epic to drop. The adventurers felt so far off from ever participating with these mighty fighters. 70 levels just seems so forever away.

"Ding"s were excitedly written in the Guild Chat box. Anyone who was on, would cheer with excitement and shock at how fast they were appearing. Some felt that they were leveling at a Top Rate of Speed and it was "Frightening".

Conquered lands lay in shambles behind these two admirable foes. The forest didn't even see it coming, nor did Westfall. Gear was quickly replaced from grey, to white, to green.

The two adventures felt that this was where they should be. They would try their best to get to the highest level to be with their friends. What a game!

September 20th 2009

A new MMO has just been launched onto the scene. These two adventurers are anxious to begin. The loading screens are up. What character to choose? Will they feel the way they did before?


Over the past few nights, something went wrong. I was angry. Was it my class? I ended up rolling something that I've never rolled before because I wanted to try something completely new. I rolled an Assassin (something similar to a Rogue in WoW). Did I just not like the play style? This game is awesome, why can't I enjoy something new and challenging?

Then I realized, I had been cursed. (Not by Fulguralis if that's what you're thinking). I was cursed by another game.

The leveling process in the World of Warcraft forces you to believe that the leveling process is just something in the way, some obstacle to block the road before end game. Blizzard is basically telling you that you have so many levels that will teach you your class before you hit level cap. Over time, they have made it easier and easier for the new player to enter the game, and fly past zones & levels and never really enjoy them. Yes, I know that some say that leveling is a major focus of the game. I would have to disagree with you. What can a level 25 anything do in the game? A few instances and if they feel up to it, a Warsong Gulch? WoW, that's cool :P

Let me tell you what a level 25 anything can do in Aion:
-Craft extremely useful items
-Level in many different zones and areas through out the world
-Enter Rifts to other worlds/ enemy factions land
-Enter the Abyss and join in on Epic battles for Honor and experience

These are just to name a few.

I was so frustrated because I looked at my low number of 25 and felt we had such a long way to go to get to the awesome stuff. Low and behold, I already had the ability to enjoy them.

Now, is this shining WoW in a bad light?
Not necessarily. I believe that WoW has put a ton of focus on their development into their end game. So much so, that they want more players to experience it. During the Sunwell patch in TBC, the Devs felt that they had put so much work into that instance and so few got to actually experience & enjoy it, that they would change the expectations of their players in end game raiding in WotLK. With each additional patch comes easier leveling, smaller learning curves, and more experience with every zone.

The World of Warcraft is an endgame focused Raiding game. The journey to level cap is not the adventure but the beginning of Raiding. I believe that this attitude has followed its way over to Aion. I feel like I should be easily flying through levels so that I can enjoy the end game. The thing is, Aion isn't built that way. They want the leveling experience to be... an EXPERIENCE! So, comparing these two games is totally an Apples to Oranges kinda thing. There are a few things that they have in common but that's it. When people compare the games, they are setting one of the games to fail. I love both games equally for very different reasons and I will continue to play both with very different expectations.

As for readers out there struggling to let go of these comparisons, enjoy those levels because they wont come easily or quickly but there will be more than enough to keep you happy.

~Fuu /Awrath

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting Attuned in MMOs, Love it or Hate it?

Over the weekend in Aion, Fuu and I got attuned to the Abyss. (Before the WoW folks run away screaming, bear with me, this is not necessarily an Aion centric post.) In NCSoft's game, when you hit 25, you open up a quest line that gets you into the major PvP zone. The quest chain is pretty long, probably spanning at least a few hours of work, but once completed, you can zone into the Abyss at will.

The chain includes various "tests". These tests are based on lore knowledge, combat, and flight skill. In my opinion, it's very well done, really focusing you on different facets of the game in an entertaining manner. First, you have to visit the library and take three multiple choice quizzes that test your knowledge of some of the very basic lore. Then, you choose one of three combat quests (we did the arena one right there in town) that see if you can blow stuff up (it was pretty easy). Finally, you have to fly through a grouping of rings in order in a certain amount of time as a flight skills test. After completing all of these, you are admitted to the Abyss where your orientation continues in the form of video cut scenes explaining some of the fortress aspects of the game. All in all, it's a very epic quest chain.

Both Fuu and I really enjoyed getting attuned. The quests lent an air of excitement to the process, and we took it pretty seriously. While it would be easy to just breeze through stuff like this, if you enjoy the ride I think you get more out of it. Which got me to thinking: wait, didn't WoW have stuff like this at one time?

Being TBC babies, we were coming into the game as Blizz was taking the need to get attuned to things out. Keys were a big part of "vanilla" WoW that we missed. From what I understand, these quests lent the same epic sense to some of what you were doing. It was really an achievement to get attuned, and people often looked to these as benchmarks for your progress in the game. Not the kind you get points for either. An achievement for achievement's sake.

The main reason it was a benchmark, obviously, is because you couldn't get into the important places without having the key. This usually held you back as far as content went, and you usually missed out if you didn't complete the quest chains. In a way, it was a big step for a player. Even today in WoW, it lends you a certain amount of street cred to talk about how you were keyed for such and such back in the day. It certainly doesn't mean what it used to, but I think we recognize it was something special. Something extra.

So why take them away? At first, I didn't care because, hey, being a late-comer, it would have been really hard to go back and catch up to the crap that people had already spent two years on. How was I ever going to catch up and contribute to my guild? Yet now, after realizing what I missed out on, I can't help but feeling I was a little bit gypped. I mean, getting attuned in Aion was epic. It was special, and I'm sure WoW was the same way... but I'll never get to know. Nor will any of the Wrath kids. Heck, if you look at it, they have even less to "get access to", since things like the druid flight quest or the warlock mount quest were taken away. Those were epic too, and very similar to getting attuned in their own rights. Yet they were all given the axe. Why?

I suppose it has to do with making the game accessible to a large number of new people. A loft goal, but at what cost? Are we removing the epic-ness of the game in favor of accessibility? By arguing against the process of keying, are we, in effect blanding down the game for everyone? I guess it depends on if you enjoy the long, involved quest chains that it took to get "caught up". It may also have something to do with the quality of help available to you to get up to speed.

For me, having loved both the warlock mount chains in WoW and now the Abyss key chain in Aion, I have to say that I've experienced a renewed sadness at the loss of those quest chains in WoW. I understand the "why", but I don't really like it. I'm not even sure there is a good answer for keeping epic keying quest chains while keeping the game accessible over the course of years. I don't think Aion will need to remove theirs, as it operates more as a tutorial than a keying, and the learning I think is necessary. However, if Aion enjoys a lifespan like WoWs, then I could see them adding a "skip" function or something to appease the masses when they get sick of having to go through it again and again with alts. It may be a necessary evil, but it may also serve to send the wrong message to the MMO industry in general.

I mean, don't we want "epic"? Isn't part of why we play RPG's to feel that sense of special, which is so, so difficult to attain in an MMO? I know it is for me, and so part of me mourns this directive of the player base. It's not the first such thing we've clamored for that is probably counterproductive to the genre, and it won't be the last. If you're at all a fan of the larger picture (and not just someone who enjoys the small parts of the greater sum), I hope you celebrate the keying quests for what the bring/brought to the game, and next time some asshat QQ's about having to "go through this again", tell them to bugger off because that's the game YOU want to play. Don't let the squeaky wheels keep ruining it for the rest of us. If not just for you, then for all the future players that will miss out as well.

Friday, October 9, 2009

AI: Finding Rifts In Aion

-Or- How to Find Rifts In Aion
A Rift!

I'm hoping that the title is generic enough that search engines will be able to find this article. No, I'm not trolling for traffic. This article really has its roots firmly grounded in a desire to help other players. For real! Here's the background.

In Aion, when you are at the awkward stage between levels 20 and 25, the only PvP action (at 25 you can get attuned to the Abyss) you can get is via rifting. For those of you who are not mildly seasoned Aionites (I mean, the game is new... so we're still all pretty noobish), rifting refers to a clever little mechanic in Aion whereby portals open to an equivalent locale in the lands of the opposite faction. More of the specifics about rifts in a moment, but the point here is that it dumps players into the opposing faction's zones. Fun times.

You also get "spy" quests where you need to do certain things in the other zones. These can be quite difficult to accomplish, as you are a hunted individual on the other side. Thus, it becomes necessary to try and educate one's self on how to find these rifts in order to give yourself multiple chances at completing spy quests. Enter the Internet. You see, we all have this amazing repository of information at our fingertips. All we need is a search engine and a keyboard and whoosh, we're off on a learning spree.

Problem is, searching for the string "Finding Rifts in Aion" didn't give me many usable results. Sure, there are plenty of sites that use the words "Aion" and "Rifts" in close enough proximity that I'll get a whole hell load of results, but none of them really explained what I needed to know. It was as if everyone had already figured it out and just took for granted I had as well (not really the case, but it always feels that way, doesn't it?). Thus, I found myself wading through forums and topics looking for the magic link that would dispel my ignorance.

And I found it: here. That link should take you to a nice little blog called the Flying Bishounen. The blog itself is a tripartite effort by the authors to illuminate three classes within Aion. This particular article was written by Zot, who "blows shit up" for a living in Aion. The sorcerer writes not about his mage archetype in this case, but about how to rift. Great article. Especially the part where he gives you a copy-paste section to go into your memo pad that yields click-able locations markers for each of the rift spawn points AND where they'll dump you out. Check it out. Love it.

So this is my effort to try and get that article out to more search engines. Their title, "Rifts and You" is good, but obviously not what I was expecting. I could get into the blogging theories surrounding titles and search engines, but it's not really all that interesting. Short story, generic titles search better, but sound... generic. I think every blogger tries to find the balance between the good and the bad in order to get their message out there without boring us all to death. That might make a fun blogger oriented shared topic, but is hardly the point of this particular article.

Point here: if you haven't already, check out this link if you're looking to understand rifting in Aion (it's the same one from above, don't freak out. It's worth a double linking). It's a short-and-to-the-point article containing all you need to know about rifts.

Now, having been sufficiently edumacated once again by the interwebs, I can quickly scout the "good" rift locations when they pop up and join in the laughter and ridicule directed at newbs in general chat who want the rift location spoon fed to them on a link. Yeah, cuz I'd do that. Right, I'm soooo uber. And we're all sooo seasoned. Like slow roasted ribs. Mmmm, ribs.

(Edit: Since Flying Bishounen has recently announced that they don't plan to continue with the game for now, I wanted to copy over the snippet that you'll need to put in your memo pad to locate the rifts.  This is in case the blog completely disappears, though for now it is still up.  So here's the nice little code stuffs:)

Elyos Eltnen->Morheim Rifts
Eltnen [pos:Entrance A <12>;210020000 183.269086357947 2829.47434292866 0.0 -1] Morheim [pos:Exit A;220020000 745.420675537359 1872.32548618219 0.0 -1]
Eltnen [pos:Entrance B <20>;210020000 824.070087609512 2023.46683354193 0.0 -1] Morheim [pos:Exit B;220020000 1364.66325486182 1334.96622313204 0.0 -1]
Eltnen [pos:Entrance C <35>;210020000 1655.10888610763 1858.26032540676 0.0 -1] Morheim [pos:Exit C;220020000 617.477993858751 209.070624360287 0.0 -1]
Eltnen [pos:Entrance D <35>;210020000 1024.32040050063 61.0137672090112 0.0 -1] Morheim [pos:Exit D;220020000 1820.13920163767 1309.37768679632 0.0 -1]
Eltnen [pos:Entrance E <45>;210020000 1459.8648310388 581.664580725907 0.0 -1] Morheim [pos:Exit E;220020000 1559.13613101331 2757.68884339816 0.0 -1]
Eltnen [pos:Entrance F <50>;210020000 2210.80350438048 2644.24280350438 0.0 -1] Morheim [pos:Exit F;220020000 2613.38382804504 2235.68270214944 0.0 -1]
Eltnen [pos:Entrance G <50>;210020000 2180.76595744681 541.614518147685 0.0 -1] Morheim [pos:Exit G;220020000 2930.68167860798 879.490276356192 0.0 -1]

Elyos Heiron->Beluslan Rifts
Heiron [pos:Entrance A <24>;210040000 2662.01160005043 434.266044634977 0.0 -1] Beluslan [pos:Exit A;220040000 126.507629704985 1061.38860630722 0.0 -1]
Heiron [pos:Entrance B <36>;210040000 1300.266548985 1437.9225822721 0.0 -1] Beluslan [pos:Exit B;220040000 1067.50457782299 313.677517802645 0.0 -1]
Heiron [pos:Entrance C <48>;210040000 1103.57004160888 656.180052956752 0.0 -1] Beluslan [pos:Exit C;220040000 1036.98575788403 2073.59613428281 0.0 -1]
Heiron [pos:Entrance D <48>;210040000 649.655024587063 1821.22859664607 0.0 -1] Beluslan [pos:Exit D;220040000 2125.49033570702 456.098677517803 0.0 -1]
Heiron [pos:Entrance E <60>;210040000 725.307527424032 2512.18812255705 0.0 -1] Beluslan [pos:Exit E;220040000 2863.02848423194 542.568667344863 0.0 -1]
Heiron [pos:Entrance F <60>;210040000 503.393519102257 555.310049174127 0.0 -1] Beluslan [pos:Exit F;220040000 2725.69379450661 2343.17904374364 0.0 -1]
Heiron [pos:Entrance G <72>;210040000 2742.70760307654 2078.44710629177 0.0 -1] Beluslan [pos:Exit G;220040000 1744.00508646999 1900.65615462869 0.0 -1]

Asmodian Morheim->Eltnen Rifts
Morheim [pos:Entrance A <12>;220020000 450 2350 0.0 -1] Eltnen [pos:Exit A;210020000 718.938673341677 2779.41176470588 0.0 -1]
Morheim [pos:Entrance B <20>;220020000 750 920 0.0 -1] Eltnen [pos:Exit B;210020000 383.519399249061 1277.53441802253 0.0 -1]
Morheim [pos:Entrance C <35>;220020000 250 500 0.0 -1] Eltnen [pos:Exit C;210020000 1289.65206508135 2438.98623279099 0.0 -1]
Morheim [pos:Entrance D <35>;220020000 1650 1400 0.0 -1] Eltnen [pos:Exit D;210020000 93.1564455569462 246.245306633292 0.0 -1]
Morheim [pos:Entrance E <45>;220020000 1630.78403275333 1099.5516888434 0.0 -1] Eltnen [pos:Exit E;210020000 1329.70212765957 346.370463078848 0.0 -1]
Morheim [pos:Entrance F <50>;220020000 2400 2300 0.0 -1] Eltnen [pos:Exit F;210020000 2295.9098873592 2278.7859824781 0.0 -1]
Morheim [pos:Entrance G <50>;220020000 2450 600 0.0 -1] Eltnen [pos:Exit G;210020000 2586.27284105131 651.752190237797 0.0 -1]

Asmodian Beluslan->Heiron Rifts
Beluslan [pos:Entrance A <24>;220040000 233.323499491353 150.910478128179 0.0 -1] Heiron [pos:Exit A;210040000 2132.44408019165 434.266044634977 0.0 -1]
Beluslan [pos:Entrance B <36>;220040000 1301.48219735504 634.12512716175 0.0 -1] Heiron [pos:Exit B;210040000 1955.92157357206 1821.22859664607 0.0 -1]
Beluslan [pos:Entrance C <48>;220040000 767.402848423194 2226.19023397762 0.0 -1] Heiron [pos:Exit C;210040000 871.569032908839 903.311562224183 0.0 -1]
Beluslan [pos:Entrance D <48>;220040000 2069.53916581892 262.812817904374 0.0 -1] Heiron [pos:Exit D;210040000 861.482032530576 2194.44761064179 0.0 -1]
Beluslan [pos:Entrance E <60>;220040000 2842.68260427263 618.865717192269 0.0 -1] Heiron [pos:Exit E;210040000 291.566511158744 2658.44962804186 0.0 -1]
Beluslan [pos:Entrance F <60>;220040000 2812.16378433367 2561.89725330621 0.0 -1] Heiron [pos:Exit F;210040000 362.175513806582 514.962047661077 0.0 -1]
Beluslan [pos:Entrance G <72>;220040000 1596.49745676501 2053.2502543235 0.0 -1] Heiron [pos:Exit G;210040000 1905.48657168075 2577.75362501576 0.0 -1]

A New Addition

Midnight: "Ménage à trois."
Berry Blue: "Girl, that's not even English! Plus, it's three words."
Midnight: "How the bloody hell do you know? You're not French."
Berry Blue: "I know all the words of looove."
Midnight: "What's love got to do with it?"
*Sparkie looks between the two bickering minions and then down at the Scrabble board between them. He then looks forlornly at the door as if hoping his master will return soon.*
Berry Blue: "Besides, you didn't even spell it right. Manageatwat is not even a word."
*DeeGee snickers as he walks by on his way out of the house. Berry Blue frowns at his back.*
Berry Blue: "That dude can never stay put, why do you keep enticing him here, Nighty?"
*Midnight shrugs*
Midnight: "He's good for a quickie."
*Berry Blue shakes his head and removes some game pieces from the board. Midnight pouts.*
Midnight: "Why do you always call Pablo when the oven's broken? The bastard only stays for like... a minute, tops."
Berry Blue: "He's handy. He's got the smoothest hands with a wrench that I've ever seen. That cat gets the job done real quick. Can't keep Berry Blue from his food for too long. Definitely not cool."
*Spaz enters from the back and looks around mischievously, spotting the board and sneaking into a position across the room from it.*
Berry Blue: "Tenderness. Goes great with looove. Count 'em up."
Midnight: "I beg to differ."
*The front door opens and a foul looking ghoul comes in.*
Berry Blue: "Dusty, what's shakin?"
Dusty: "Ahhgh unhhh."
*Midnight looks questioningly at Berry Blue*
Berry Blue (in a whisper): "Poor cat's got a thing with his lower jaw, can't talk good."
Midnight (also in a whisper): "A thing? His bloody jaw is missing!"
Berry Blue (whisper): "That too. Master wants us to chill with him though, now that that Death Knight's going to be hangin'."
Dusty: "Arhha Uhhn, uhht hahhanah?"
Berry Blue: "We're just playin' some Scrabble, you want in?"
*Dusty nods and sits down at the table.*
Midnight: "Triage. Sometimes a post-romp ritual."
Dusty: "Ughh."
*Berry Blue chuckles.*
Midnight: "What'd he say?"
Berry Blue: "Don't worry your pretty little head about it."
*The imp, having aimed his head straight for the table, takes off running at full speed across the room.*
Berry Blue: "Your turn, Dusty."
*Calmly, a shadowy hand reaches out and snags the imp off the ground, spinning the imp around and setting him back off in the direction from which he came.*
Berry Blue: "Watch this."
*BAM! Spaz runs head first into the wall, knocking himself out cold.*
Midnight: "Serves the bugger right."
Dusty: "Uhhn."
*They all look down to see that the ghoul has spelled out, quite perfectly, onomatopoeia. Midnight and Berry Blue both gaze in open astonishment at Dusty.*
Berry Blue: "Looks like I might have some competition."
*Midnight pouts.*

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An Enchanting Service Announcement

I haven't really seen it announced anywhere, but they hotfixed in a new pattern for enchanters. Abyssal Shatter is the name. Creating essences or dust from an Abyss crystal is the game. The result is random, with essences seeming to happen more of the time. Still, you get more dust per result than essences, so I imagine it almost balances out.

To get this pattern, you just go to the trainer in Dalaran and pick it up for some cash...
This Is The Place.

There are some other rumored changes coming our way in the 3.3 patch, but I'll continue with my tradition of not covering such things until they go live. For the preview, check out what Abi has written here. At least we look to be getting a bit of attention, though it may be the wrong attention.

Also, good article here, even if it's from a mage. The comments are fun to read on this one as well.

(I suppose I felt I needed to give a few links since the service announcement was so short and to the point.)

This has been an enchanting service announcement. Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

About Real Money Trading

If you've been playing Aion lately, you know that the hot-button topic right now is real money traders. Gold spammers. Shitheads. Whatever you want to call them. "Aww, but those poor Indonesian children are just trying to earn a meal," you may say. "Bullshit," I reply. They're working their poor little fingers off so that some fat cat can sit back and live an average lifestyle for little or no work.

That's right, if you're buying gold, kinah, experience, kidneys... online, then you're totally slaying small Indonesian children. Slaying them from the fingers down.

Maybe that's a little extreme, but if you are purchasing in-game benefits for real life cash, you're certainly enabling the practice. For my part, I'd like to yell at you, "CUT IT OUT!".

There is nothing good or glorious about RMT'ing. You cannot justify it. It is bad for the industry, bad for the players, and bad for the developers. Right now, NCSoft is, I'm sure, wasting a whole bunch of time and energy on solving the "gold spamming" issue instead of developing. I'm sure Blizzard has put some time and money into the issue as well. In fact, name your game, and if it's at all popular, it's probably had to be regulated against RMT'ing in some way. Unless that's part of the game I guess. Still, how do games deal with the spam?

Spooner over at does a wonderful job of keeping us up to date. I'll link over to him for the latest communications from NCSoft regarding gold spamming. Read it if you'd like, but it's not necessary for this small rant. It's just the current problem.

The rant is nothing new, however. Even back in my days of FFXI, RMT'ing was a very real problem. It's been around since MMOs have gained popularity. How do we, as gamers, deal with it? How should developers deal with it?

I'd love to have your thoughts on perhaps some clever ways of dealing with it, because while we know what developers have done in the past, I'm sure there have to be some better ways. I know, I know, for Aion's part they just need to make it a bit easier to report these buggers, and have done well making blocking easy, but they could do more. Blocking and reporting are really the two tried and true methods. I think we'd all like to see something more...automated?

My suggestion is to put something in place sort of like Gmail's spam filter. Basically, let a user "block" another user as a "RMT" (a different designation from a normal block). When a certain number of users do this, it confirms a RMT identity and will be automatically blocked from everyone else. Each user could then go in and disable their RMT scanner, or even "unblock" individuals that they claim not to be RMTs. This could be highly automated, and if someone gets mistakenly RMT'ed (which would have to have been done by like 100 peopleganging up on them, which might mean they should be blocked for all anyways), they could simply send a personal email to a GM or an in-game ticket, explaining what's going on. RMTs don't contact GM's, so that would be simple as well. Periodically, the devs could even go in and ban accounts that have been caught by the "spam filter". Gmail can do it, why not an MMO?

That may or may not be possible, but from the perspective of the gamers, though, I have two suggestions:
  1. Don't buy it! - I don't care what "it" is, if you are giving money to anyone, you are encouraging and basically "voting for" their behavior. You are an enabler at that point. In a capitalist market, you money is your vote.
  2. Just block it! - Stop carrying on for 20 minutes in general chat about it, just hit the block button and get on with life. By complaining in-game for hours on end, you're giving these people even MORE air time. You're not really helping the issue unless you're trying to help others learn how to use the block feature. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
That's it, it's really that simple from our POV. Don't buy it, just block it. A slogan to live by in MMOs. If we all did that consistently as gamers, the practice of RMT'ing would go away. Since there will always be some people enticed by the "leg up" that money can provide, realistically it will probably never go away. However, by following that simple slogan, we can minimize the impact on all of us as a community. Hopefully developers will learn to use the community to help them as well, sort of like a neighborhood watch. I mean, who of us wouldn't spend an hour wielding a mini-ban hammer if it meant something as simple as maybe a free month, or just to kill gold spammers? I mean, think of the POWAH! Obviously, it'd have to be regulated somehow, but the point is that a lot of us want to help, we just aren't able to.

Don't buy it, just block it. Words to play by.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quick State-of-the-Blog

This post is more to assuage my guilt, but also to try and let you, the reader, know a bit what's going on "behind the scenes", so to speak.

I've felt a bit guilty that I've been neglecting WoW lately both in posting and in playtime. (Usually they go hand-in-hand). It's true, since the start of Aion, I've been pretty focused over there, spending my already fall football-choked time in the land of Atreia. There really are multiple reasons for this. First, my alliance was on a week long break from raiding. Second, Aion is brand-new and I think there are a lot of us out there that really enjoy the challenge of being a "newb" again.

However, I have missed raiding and my friends over there. I have NOT missed the drama. Also, there's not a whole lot going on in the land of Azeroth right now. Warlocks haven't seen any changes. I haven't had the time to try out my DK musings. I've never been a holiday guy. I just want to see the new content, which means raiding right now. And raiding is on hold.

I'd also love to get in on some Onyxia action and even down that stupid DIAF-Keralon. I feel behind on those. However, the raid group is mired in Ulduar and every time I try to PuG any of those fights, it goes horribly. I suppose I've always had bad PuG luck. Couple that with the fact that everyone I know is also currently time-starved, so I can't really put a random group together either. (QQ moar, right?). The point here is just that WoW has been frustrating me through no fault of it's own, but there are definitely still things I want to do in the game. I'm not abandoning it by any means. I'm also anxiously watching the wire for any and all news that pertains to me and my chosen classes. We get some new news, I'll write about it. /Promise.

Until then, there's plenty of "new" in Aion that I need to touch base on. If it seems like I'm Aion heavy right now, it's because I am in playtime as well. I expect that to balance back out eventually. Also, I'm always open to suggestions. Feel free to shoot me an email with something you're confused about in-game (either game) and I'll try my best to answer it. Sometimes those even turn into good posts. Chances are if you have a question, we all have a question.

Anyways, I hope that explains the article spread somewhat. A side note to all of this is that I feel the need to shake things up around here a bit. Maybe change the layout, get some new graphics to reflect the new found dual nature of the blog. Some people (Abi, I'm looking at you, you, and you) like to create a new blog for each topic the write about, others like to start fresh (Samo, your turn), and then there are those of us that like where we are, but just want to tweak it a bit (I would think Sideshow and Syrana are in the same boat here). Point being, I'm of the third crew. Just feel free to let me know if there's anything I can do for you guys to make it easier to discern between topics (if that's even a problem), or if there's something you'd like to see.

I do this because I enjoy writing, I love the communities in the games I play, and I like to think I can be mildly entertaining. At the very least, I've met some great people through this (see links above) and that alone is worth it. I would encourage anyone who is entertaining thoughts of writing on their own to take the plunge and do it. Today. Whether you're a once a day writer or once a month, it's rewarding. The more you put into it, the more you can get out of it. Besides, while it's not something I'd bring right up in a job interview, communication skills (read: the ability to write coherently and relate thoughts clearly) are valued in just about any occupation. You may not say "hey, I do a gaming blog", but you can confidently say "I write a lot in my free time, just for fun and to hone my communication skills." Some HR dude will eat that right up. With a ladle.

Well, that's enough from me today. I'm sure you've looked at your *free* backstage pass right now and contemplated flinging it back at the stage manager saying "where the hell are the groupies and wild parties, this behind-the-scenes sucks." It's okay, I'm not a rock star (/tear). However, I do have some beer in the fridge. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, right? *Cheers*

Monday, October 5, 2009

AI: On Enchanting and Manastones

I think one of the biggest headaches early on in Aion for us was figuring out how to properly use Manastones and Enchanting stones properly. Like Lando Calrissian, they always seemed to fail us when we needed them the most. You know, like when you're two stones in on a green item and, BAM, you lose all that you had. Annoying buggers!

I'm going to try and relate what we think we've figured out, but first a bit of background to make sure we're all on the same page. Manastones are the little stat additions in Aion that you can put into slots on gear. Almost all of your major gear (non-accessories) have at least one slot for a manastone. This mechanism lets you really customize your gear to your play style. As a Spiritmaster, I'm stacking +MP, +Magic Boost, and +HP. In that order. The trend seems to be that more people SM's are stacking HP, which isn't a bad idea, but I'm a big kiter. We're so clothy that if we get someone on us, it's going to be tough to live anyways, so I make my living keeping people away from me. This means my mana pool needs to outlast them. Simple as that.

Also, important to understand about manastones is that if you fail, it will remove any and all stones already on the item. For example, let's say you succeed with one stone, then go to fill up the second slot on your very first green item (yay you!). If it fails, then both stones will be lost to the aether. Sad panda!

Enchanting stones are stones you get from purchasing "Extraction Tools" from the General Goods vendors. You can extract from anything that you can enchant. Thus, use it on chest, pants, boots, gloves, shoulders, and weapons. Not ALL of them, mind you, because you'll need to keep your reserves of Kinah up and gear also sells to vendors for quite a bit, but some of them. How to pick then? More on that in a second. What I try to enchant, though, are green items that I plan to keep for a while, and I leave them at a simple +1. You see, if you fail at enchanting, it decreases the level one each time.

So, for example, if you're enchanting something that is +1, you can either go to +2 or back to 0. If you're at +2, your two outcomes are +1 or +3. Pretty straightforward, no? Hence why I just put everything at +1. If you fail at +1, there is no -1, 0 is the floor. So there's no risk except for lost monetary investment (and those extraction tools are expensive for a young daevling).

Well then, you may be asking, how can I do my job to ensure success? Glad you asked!

Both of these items come with a convenient level labelling. Manastones seem, after ascension, to go in jumps of 10 levels (level 10, 20, 30...). Enchanting stones, on the other hand, can be anywhere in between and are roughly related to the level of the item from which you extracted the stone. For example, a level 22 chest piece may yield a level 22 enchanting stone, but also anything from, say, level 17 to 27 (there seems to be almost a 5 level span on each side). Also, you can tell the item level two ways, if it has a level required to wear -OR- the level of quest that it came from. All items will have one of those two indicators and let you know what sized gear you're dealing with.

The success rate of these stones as well as the extraction level of enchanting stones are both governed by the same mechanism: the well-loved RNG. However, this RNG is not quite "R". That is to say, we're dealing with a probability engine instead of a completely random one. (R is for Random). Thus, you can envision your chance of success similar to a bell curve (or a pyramid if you don't like curves, but a very steep pyramid). On the far ends, it's fairly low, but in the middle it's quite high. When extracting from a level 22 item, you're far more likely to get a level 22 or 25 stone than anything else (I think the stones jump around a bit... i.e. there aren't any 21,23, or 24 level stones. I could be wrong here though, this is just based on observation. The may just be rarer).

This same mechanism is what governs success on these items too. If you're enchanting or socketing, you need a stone of AT LEAST the same level if not higher to give yourself a good shot at success. However, this is a cap on this. You don't want to socket a level 10 item with a level 30 manastone, because that his a high chance of failing as well. The "golden zone", if I were to define one, is <= 10 levels above your targeted item. I think in that region you're fairly likely to succeed, with your best bet being within 5 level above. Because a picture speaks louder than words sometimes, and because this concept has helped me to not waste so many stones, here's a crappy excel-generated chart on what I think is going on here. Caveat: I don't think these are real percentages, but the point here is that I think this is representative of the trend of the mechanism. If someone out there knows where real numbers can be found, please point me in that direction... this is just a reflection of what I've been able to collate through my own experience and the experiences of others.

Because that is ridiculously ugly, here is a pretty screenshot from the game to offset the ugliness but has absolutely no bearing on today's topic...

Abyss Gate at Morheim in the background...