Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do Gamers Hibernate?

3 comments
Short one today. One of those question deals where I'm counting on you guys to fuel discussion.  As summer quickly approaches fall, we stand on the verge (or just over the verge as the case may be) of some exciting releases.  SCII is out.  Cataclysm cometh.  I'm hitting up GenCon next week and there is a BlizzCon scheduled for this fall too.  There are plenty of nerdy things to do. 

Summer always seems to be a dead time, but is it just me or is fall f-in crazy?  It seems to be a recurring feeling for me where I skid into Christmas with a list of things I didn't quite get to.  That isn't to say I try to wait until Christmas, I think patience isn't a typical gamer quality, but it's more that as I age and get busy with things like RL, I just don't have the time to knock out all the games that interest me. 

Is it just me or is this more poignant in the fall?  I mean there are economic reasons for fall releases, and a strong Q4 makes sense.  Who doesn't want to finish the year on a high note?  But do we almost end up being the gaming equivalent of RL bears?  Are we gorging ourselves prior to the winter freeze, where we'll be confined indoors until spring?  Do we feel the call of nature to acquire a horde hoard of games just in case we need to snack while it's frigid outside? 

I guess the point I'm getting at is that there is a definitely flow to my gamerisms.  That flow centers around a fall-ish binge and a summer purge.   I mean it makes sense when you think about things like the weather, but what if you hail from the Southern Hemisphere?  Gnomeaggedon, help me out here, do you flip flop gamer seasons with us like weather, or do we follow the same patterns despite which way our toilet water may spin?  Saresa, you can chime in too, you panty-burning Aussie.  (Or anyone else from those regions of the world... I just picked those two off the top of my head.  For some reason, they're the first that pop to my mind when I think of nether regions.)

Maybe it's just the natural passing of the seasons that makes it feel more poignant to me today, but I can't help but feel this impending sense of electronic busy-ness looming on my horizon.  Is it that time of year again already?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Using the Right Tools

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It seems to me to be increasingly clear that the success of an MMO is not dictated by innovative gameplay, pretty graphics, or clever lore. It is not in how much you market the game, or to whom you cater the end game. It is not even how good your service is or your industry reputation. All those things contribute, of course, but it's impossible to hit all those nails on the head with one hammer.

No, what I believe to be the secret of WoW's success in the face of so many other failures (or mediocre successes) is that Blizzard knows very well how to use the right tool for the job.  And make no mistake, there is a right tool for every job.  Sometimes have a more specialized tool than others.  Some could be done with multiple different tools.  A screwdriver, however, will never substitute for a hacksaw if you need to cut through some pipe.  Similarly, that hacksaw would have a tough time tightening that screw.

As a player base, I think we're pretty forgiving of things like "not getting the balancing right" or "having holes in the content".  We'll hang around for months on the off chance that it might get fixed.  What we cannot abide by, however, are poor executive decisions.  When a company blatantly uses the wrong tool to respond to criticism, it just drives us further away.

Blizzard is not a perfect company.  In fact, they have made quite a number of mistakes over the years.  I think what sets them apart, though, is that they not only spend the time fixing the problem, they make sure to pick the best tool for the job.

That RealID announcement?  I think we could agree it was pretty much a mistake.  In that case, backing off and re-envisioning the addition was the proper tool.  Backing off is not always the proper tool, and I think Blizzard has stuck to their guns in the right places too.

Some of it may be pure luck.  Maybe Blizzard is just the luckiest company in the world when it comes to game design.  However, I have to believe a large part of it stems from active decision making.  They don't use duct tape for everything.  They don't have one trusty multi-tool that they always turn to.  They simply spend a small amount of time to choose which is best, and then get to work.

It's a simple philosophy when you think about it.  Sure, use the correct tool.  But how many other companies have failed in this department?  How many MMO's have been killed not because they weren't good ideas, good games, or strong contenders, but because the parent company simply didn't dig deep enough in the tool box and took the easy road out? 

Maybe I'm just being a fanboy and am totally out of touch with reality here.  It's possible; I have been burning the candles at both ends recently (gets wax everywhere).  It seems to me, as WoW continues to surpass expectations on longevity, to be a recurring theme.  That is, I don't always agree with Blizzard's decisions or their visions, but I can rarely argue with their methods.  They make a decision, and then implemented it with best and most applicable tools available to them.  The end result may not please everyone, but at least it's of solid construction.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Feat of Random

4 comments
No, Gnomeaggedon, I will not tell people about the random fora of lesser classes. I have the Warlock's Den and that's all I need. Kthxbye.

I don't know what Jess is doing on my wife's leg, but I can agree with the not talking about beta shit until I get some firsthand experience.  Which, since I've not opted in to be considered for beta testing, will be when the shit goes live.  That's just how I roll.  Though sometimes I do feel the urge to comment... what good are principles if you can't be a hypocrite about them sometimes?  I take no responsibility for Fuu's postings though.  She devours beta information like a ravenous ghoul.  Or a felpup that just sniffed a Mage.

I guess my point above was just that this isn't necessarily a "super news zone" or a "spoiler free" zone.  Read at your own risk.

I don't really care what they do to the Warlock class as long as it ends up feeling warlocky.  If they make me feel like a damn Mage, I'll frostfire my account or something.  It takes a lot to disappoint me, though.  I also don't really mind if they make stuff simpler and more transparent.  People can go anywhere for a burger.  They come to Chotchkey's for the attitude and the atmosphere.

First aid got maxxed out the other night.  Take that healers.

Engineers should be able to make some sort of funneling device with an attached hollow cylinder whereby you could utilize the potential energy provided by gravity to accelerate the consumption of all mana-regenerative beverages.  If frat-boys can master the beer bong, you'd think mages could conjure that shit with their strudel.  Mana Bong ftw.  I'll do one.

SCII will be purchased and played, just not right away.  I'm rather busy atm.  Maybe in two weeks.  Or maybe tomorrow.  Business is only a state of mind.

If I wrote a novel, would you publish it?  WTB literary agent.  It could happen, right?  Beats the hell out of this 98-56 grind.

Apparently a lot of my female coven members are getting knocked up.  My wife is concerned about this, but breeding is merely one of many tools for world domination.  (Grats to all you pregger 'locks out there.  Don't freak out when the doctor totally treats you like a summoning portal.  Where do you think they got that animation?)

Why can't Worgen become Shaman?  I mean, they already have fist weapons.  I wanna go Wolverine on some bastards. 

Is that enough randomness?  I'm expecting a dead Sindy tonight.  We shall see.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Extra Crispy

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Decedereful's burning blue eyes fluttered open and stared at the wooden beams above her.  Her head was a pounding mass of pain, and she felt vaguely... crispy.  Sitting up slowly, her dead skin felt as if it was crinkling with each tiny movement.  It was really rather unnerving.  And painful.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Just where do you think you're going," a kindly male voice said.

Decedereful swiveled her head in an attempt to locate the sound, but immediately regretted the action.  Her vision swam and pain shot down her spine.  Through the haze, a rather striking young man materialized.  He had short, dark hair and piercing baby blue eyes.  His shoulders were broad, but not overly muscled, and there was a youthful ebullience to his demeanor.  The world had yet to sour him. 

"You got hit pretty hard, there.  In fact, you're probably be dead except for... well... erm..." he trailed off uncomfortably.  An awkward silence stretched.  "Well, in any case, I did the best I could.  I'm still learning this healing stuff, but I'm told I'm pretty decent at it."

Decedereful's vision cleared completely, giving her a better view of the young man who had pulled up a chair to settle nearby.  She was in a small room of what she was sure was an inn.  It had all the telltale signs.  Lumpy mattress.  Stale, disinfected air.  Overly polished surfaces.  No personalized adornments.  A generic room for a generic purpose.  Now if she could only remember how she'd gotten there.  Had she been drinking again?

The skin of her eyelids seemed to crackle as she blinked.  "Um?  Thanks?"  Was that what she was supposed to say?  She didn't want to be rude, but she had more important things to do than lie around in bed.  Surely she did.  There was a time for pleasure and a time for...  A huge hole gaped in her memory that swallowed the last several weeks right up until she'd woken.  What had she been up to?  She could recall vague snippets of conversation with her brother, his minions, some slick fella in a tent, and... Jaina?  She had voluntarily talked to that crybaby?  Ugh.  She must have hit the Dwarven Ale extra hard.

Putting one crinkly hand to her forehead, she said, "Where am I?"

The young man's face lit up with a disarmingly dazzling smile, "My room here in lovely Hell.  Or Honor Hold as they call it."  He spread his arms in a grandiose gesture.  "After you got smoked by that meteor, I got you to some cover.  It was pretty wicked... erm... sorry."  It seemed awkward pauses flourished around the young man. 

"Hm... A meteor you say?" Decedereful said.  What the fel am I doing in Honor Hold

"Yeah, we get a light dusting from time to time around here."  The young man shrugged and Decedereful noticed for the first time that a pattern of strange, light scars crisscrossed his face beneath several days worth of unshaven stubble.  It looked like he had been in a rather vicious knife fight.  Or made love to a cat-form Druid.  Either or.

Decedereful struggled to her feet with a groan.  She needed to get out of here.  Mornings after were not her forte.  Even platonic ones.   Especially platonic ones.  If she could just get out of the Outlands and back to the manor, she'd be able to sort out her shattered memories.  Then she could get back to business.

"Where are you going?" the young man said she stumbled towards the door. 

"What's it to you, soldier boy?" Decedereful snipped, harsher than intended.  She wished that when life had abandoned her, that it had taken pain with it. 

The cute man frowned, "I ain't no soldier anymore, toots.  The captain don't take it too lightly when you go runnin' off with a girl in the midst of an attack."

Guilt.  Life could have taken that too.  "I was hardly a damsel in distress.  It's not like I could die more."

"Sure," he smiled again.  It really was a dazzling smile.  "How's that strat workin' for ya?"

Decedereful frowned.  "What did you say your name was again?"

"I didn't."

Another awkward pause.

He raised a hand and stroked the shadow on his chin.  "For now, you can call me Sham Wow."

"Oh, that's clever," Decedereful replied dryly.  She took another step towards the door and then looked back, crinkles and all.  "Well, let's go then, Mr. Wow.  Who knows when I might need rescuing again."

The young man leaped off his seat to follow.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ruby Sanctum Reflections and Strategy

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Due to the vacation of one of our regular members and a general desire to "see new things", we hit up Ruby Sanctum instead of continuing our ICC10 save.  In ICC, we're still on Sindy, and with the recent uppage de buff to 30%, we'll probably toast her next Monday.  Again, it'll probably seem a bit bittersweet as we were so close without needing the extra 5%, and it always seems a little weird when something that was so hard becomes suddenly that much easier.  That's especially true when there was no personal progression in the interim.

In any case, we almost one-timed the Ruby Sanctum on Monday night.  Since we were just trying to switch things up, we went full bore.  We went in blind.  None of us had done much more that a casual reading of what to expect, and we just went with it.  Usually, when learning a fight we send out a chain email during the day so people can read at their leisure and be ready.  No such preparations were made this time as it was sort of a game-time decision.

Honestly... I expected it to be worse.  I'd read some horror stories about people struggling with trash and such.  We almost wiped on one of the patrols (when we accidentally got a double dose), but otherwise we just fine until we started on the bosses.   Take it easy as DPS and let your tanks grab them before opening up.  I did more DoT spreading than straight AoE on most of the pulls.

The first mini-boss, the big dude who blocks the tree, went pretty smoothly.  We figured out the mechanics on the fly.  I think there was something about a tank swap, and DBM helpfully popped up a 12-yd range warning, so we spread out.  Then he split and hell broke loose.  We just picked the one with lower health, I believe.  Our tanks fell when the bugger was at about 3%, but we stuck with it, burned, and got him down with 3 folks to spare.  First try.  Good times.  I think your second tank just has to be ready to pick up the split, and I believe aggro resets, but I didn't really get a chance to see it.

The second mini-boss wiped us pretty quick when she flew up in the air and bombarded us with fire.  Again, we had heeded the 10-yd range check, but since it didn't come into play until the mini-air phase, we weren't still very well spread out.  I believe half of us (the ranged DPS) had run to the edge of the pond to hopefully be able to take some pot shots.  That turned out to be a Bad Idea.  So we worked out a half moon spread, facing the fire breathing lady away from us, and went to town again.  Two shot style.

The third mini-boss was a neat-if-gimmicky tank swap combined with add management.  Since we didn't know about the adds going into it (winging it, remember), I died pretty early.  In direct contradiction to the first two, on this guy it makes it a lot easier to stack up so the tanks can grab those adds.  I dirt-napped my way to victory as the rest of the group got the gist quickly and then it was no problem.

So, if you haven't already done them, here's a recap on what you need to know for the first two mini-bosses of RS: spread out.  Simply do that and you should have a pretty easy time of it.  Otherwise, follow your normal raiding instincts.  Tank swap when stuff stacks.  Watch your aggro.  Stay out of the bad.   You know, the basics.  If a dude splits, don't freak out.  For the third guy, beware the adds.  Easy enough, right?

We got to Halion in short order and spent about an hour wiping on him.  We didn't yet reach phase three, as phase two has our healers a bit sore fingered, but we made good progress.  I should think with another night or two of practice, we'd have it down.  Considering a night of practice for us is usually only about an hour, I think that's pretty good.  We're all casual by necessity of life, not strength of caring.  I'm blessed to have some really smart folks on my team.

In any case, we didn't make things any easier by doing things like "referencing a strat" until we'd wiped a good half dozen times.  We just tried to figure it out as we went, which I think is an underrated approach in this day and age of easily accessible Tankspot videos.  Don't get me wrong, the starts published are usually very high quality and well thought out.  You just don't get the same feeling of discovery, plus there's always the chance you come up with something that they did not.  A fresh look is an unbiased look, and the biased mind usually sees only what it expects to see.

A quick rundown of the fight for those who may not have seen it yet:  You and your friends are in a big, circular clearing, surrounded by a wall of fire when the fight starts.  You tank the big internet dragon roughly in the middle and stand to the side (as usual for dragons due to fire breath and tail whip).  There are three phases.  You can think of them as 1. Fire, 2. Shadow, 3. Shadowflame! 

In the first, or fire phase, your group is located in the normal, physical realm of Azeroth.  You only need one tank per phase (but you will eventually need two tanks on the third phase, so don't let your OT swap specs).  While the rest of the group stands to the side and pew pews, there are basically two things you need to look for. 

The first is a debuff that is the Mark of Something.  "Mark of" is the important part here.  DBM should warn you when you get it, as players are chosen at random.  At that point, you have 5 seconds to get to a generally clear location (10yds away should do, but more on that in a second).  I say 5 seconds because the standing order with our healers is that they will wait five before they remove the debuff from you.  You can call it out on vent too, but we like things to run without having to make each person key in to speak.  When your debuff is cleansed, you'll drop a glowing Circle of Bad.  Get out.  The size varies with how long the debuff was on you (it stacks over time).  5 seconds didn't seem too large to us.  The debuff can be removed by anyone.  It is both magical and a curse, apparently, and everything else in between.  You may end up having roughly two CoBs up at the same time, but they will go away eventually.

The second mechanic you need to watch out for are the meteors this dude calls from the sky.  They target a random individual and will show up beforehand as a pulsing pattern on the floor (like a rune).  The pattern does no damage itself (just shows where the meteor will hit), but you'll want to get out of the way.  When the rock hits, it shoots damage out in four directions (sort of like the blue flames from Marrowgar).  If you watch closely, there are four arrows like the points of a compass on the icon that will indicate the direction of the flames.  This allows you to be pre-set when the meteor hits and is a good thing.  Anticipation is always good.  Also, the animations make it seem a lot worse than it is.  You don't have to be very far outside of the floor icon to avoid splash damage, and a lot of times it seemed to me like I was in flames, but I wasn't taking any damage.  You can get closer than you'd expect.

Apart from avoiding those two mechanics, follow the normal dragon rules, and at 75% health you'll enter phase 2.  This phase takes you into the nether realm, the shadow of our physical realm.  A big portal will appear and the dragon will hop through.  Make sure a tank is hot on his heels before anyone else goes through.  We actually left one tank outside for this (less to heal), as you don't have to go through the portal and nothing will be happening outside of it until phase 3. 

Inside, we exchange shadow for fire and have, again, two mechanics to worry about.  One is a "Mark of" mechanic that works essentially the same and should be dealt with the same.  The other is a Shadow Cutter that takes the form of a shadowy laser beam stretching between the two smoking orbs that rotate clockwise around the room.   It's sort of like Life or Death Limbo here.  If that beam catches you, you die (presumably by decapitation).  The goal then is to plop the tank in the middle, and when the laser comes up (DBM will warn and he does an emote and the things "pulse with energy"... plenty of warning), the tank will need to rotate clockwise with the beam. 

If your tank can keep the beam essentially on his/her right shoulder, then everyone else can stand on the backside of the beam's path and thus have more room for error.  Getting the position right on this was sort of tricky, and you cannot heal someone through a mistake.  It only stays up for ten seconds, so you basically only need to avoid one rotation.  Having to watch out for the tail swipe complicates this though, requiring you to stay to one side of the dragon.  You'll have to keep doing this dance until he hits 50%.

At that point, we enter phase three, where the dragon will exist in both realms simultaneously.  You will want to split the group so that some are in each realm, as his vulnerability will shift between realms.  Basically, the goal is to balance the damage across each realm.  Too much on one side will swing up his resistance in that realm so that you're gimped.  If you keep him at 50-50, you'll be maxing each side's damage.  For this phase, the two mechanics to watch depend on which realm you're in, but they're the same as when you did them in each phase.  

It's a pretty neat fight, and I appreciate its execution.  It's nice that you sort of learn one phase, learn the second phase, and then put them together.   Blizz has been doing a great job with recent fight designs and teaching on-the-fly. Some might see this as "dumbing down", but to me it just makes the game more playable and less about pre-done research.  (Not that I don't love research, just that being able to wing it is nice too)

As a 'lock, I used my portal to "Limbo", as you won't die if you port past the path of the shadow laser (Blink might work too, Gnomeaggedon).  Also, don't forget that you have a shadow aura that lets you absorb some damage.  Great when you get that Mark debuff.  Otherwise, it's all about positioning and awareness.  Did I miss anything?  You guys got any neat tricks?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

*Spoilers* Paladin Cataclysm Stuffs: FINALLY!

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Hey Gang!


We normally don't talk about new changes in the game that have yet to be implemented on this blog, but it's been a long time since any big information has come out for Paladins for Cataclysm. If you are someone who doesn't want to know or read about Cataclysm, you probably can just skip this post. All of the information that I am going to talk about can be found at http://www.mmo-champion.com/ and I will be adding my thoughts (like you give two Felpoops about what I actually think anyways).

I will be focusing on the Protection Paladin stuff with a hint of Retribution. Again, if you do not want to be Spoiled, please GTFO (with Love) :-D

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Holy
  • Healing Hands now has a 1 min cooldown.
  • Divine Plea is now trained at level 58. Down from 68. That's pretty good since they seem to be nerfing Mana Regen and other ways of getting mana back. Maybe beef it up a bit?
  • Light's Beacon now affects each heal you cast on the target instead of just Holy Light and Holy Shock. Now heals the beacon for 50%. (Down from 100%)
  • Holy Wrath no longer scales from attack power and deals 2400 Holy damage divided among all targets within 10 yards. 2400 Damage spread among friends isn't very much. I'm going to guess that this is a place holder for a MUCH larger number. *crosses fingers*
  • Holy Shock now grants a charge of Holy Power. Ok, so this is how Healadins get their Holy Power stacks... I'm guessing that they really want Holy Paladins to have this be a big part of their tool box. Cool for them I guess.
  • Seal of Wisdom is gone. This is extremely interesting that they are taking this Seal out. It has been my grinding Seal for a long time now. I also use it in heroics where I'm chain pulling and need mana. I wonder where they will be putting our mana regeneration.
  • Seal of the Pure now seems to have a chance to restore the Paladin's mana. <---- Oh here it is :)
  • Holy Light is now trained at level 14. Up from 5.
  • Divine Light - A large heal that heals a friendly target for 7761.99 to 8648.14. Good for periods of heavy damage. / 30% of base mana, 40 yd range, 2.5 sec cast Cool that Paladins get a new EVEN larger heal.
  • Divine Favor now increases your chance to critically hit with your next Word of Glory, Holy Shock, Flash of Light, Holy Light or Divine Light by 100%. / Instant, 1 min cooldown
  • Denounce - You have a 50/100% chance when any of your Holy spells get a critical effect to make your next Exorcism spell instant and cost no mana. Similar to Ret's now.
  • Sacred Cleansing is now a Tier 4 Talent. Down from Tier 5. In the back of my mind, I'm still really hoping that they don't get rid of Cleansing for all of the Paladin specs. It's really become second nature for me to cleanse myself & others not only during solo play, but raiding. If they do, I'll probably have to end up having some sort of hybrid Holy/Prot Off-spec that can cleanse so that I can go back to soloing everything.
  • Infusion of Light is now a Tier 3 Talent. Down from Tier 4. It now only affects Holy Light. (No longer affects Divine Light)
  • Blessed Life is now a Tier 6 Talent. Up from Tier 4.
  • Enlightened Judgments is now a Tier 3 Talent. Down from Tier 4.
  • Healing Light now affects Words of Glory.
  • Tower of Radiance (NYI) *New* - Directly healing the target of your Beacon of Light has a % chance to generate Holy Power.
  • Judgments of the Pure is now a Tier 1 talent. Down from Tier 2.
  • Sanctified Light now affects Word of Glory and increases critical chance by 6/12%. (Up from 5/10%)
  • Speed of Light *New* - Casting Holy Shock grants 5/10/30% spell haste for your next Flash of Light, Holy Light or Divine Light, and casting Healing Hands grants you 10/20/60% movement speed for 10 sec. Also lowers the cooldown on Healing Hands by 10/20/30 sec at all times.
  • Clarity of Purpose *New* - Reduces the casting time of your Holy Light and Divine Light spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3 sec.
Protection
  • Shield of Righteousness is now trained at level 44. Down from 74. This is a wonderful change in my opinion. This is THEE best Single target threat generation tool for a paladin. The earlier the better I say.
  • Sacred Duty now only Reduces the cooldown of Divine Protection by 1/2/3 min.
  • Improved Crusader Strike has been replaced with Grand Crusader - When your Shield of Righteousness and Hammer of Righteousness deal damage, they have a 20% chance of refreshing the cooldown on your next Crusader Strike and causing it to hit for 50/100% additional damage. Ok, this is the big whopper right here. Not only do they want us to introduce Crusader Strike into our rotation, but they are also making us leen towards a F.C.F.S. (First come first serve that means more or less a priority list) rotation rather than a 969. This would be a HUGE change up for old paladins. I really hope that they don't make it choppy but I'm going to guess that it will be at the beginning. I really enjoy the smoothness of a Protection Paladin rotation. If you get into a groove, it's beautiful. I can totally see myself staring at cooldowns and having to re-learn everything. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing though :)
  • Ardent Defender is now a Tier 4 talent. Down from Tier 5. This little guy makes me nervous. So many QQ about this ability. "It's too OP!" they say. Well stuff it you mongrels. Everyone has something unique about their class and mine just means that I have a Super Mario 1UP. Is that so bad for your tank to have the ability to bounce back after taking a huge smack to the face? It's win win baby :-) <3 Ardent Defender.
  • Divine Guardian is now a single rank talent and has been revamped (but is probably NYI) - Party or raid members within 30 take 20% reduced damage for 6 sec. Now this is what this damn talent was meant to be used for. The whole shinanagains of "I'm going to eat raid wide damage WHILE tanking this Dragon" sounded like such a stupid idea to begin with. I liked the redirection of damage part but redirect it to something that we WANT to die... like the Dragon :-)
  • Holy Shield has been revamped - Increases your chance to block by 30% for 10 sec, and deals 97.8 Holy damage for every attack blocked. Consumes Holy Power to extend duration by 10 sec per stack of Holy Power. / 10% of base mana, Instant cast, 1 min cooldown Ok, I'm still quite confused on the HOLY POWER and wtf it even is. It sounds like you get a stack of it for doing a spell and can allocate these stacks to do different things. Being able to extend spell lengths or the potentcy just sounds Ultra Mega Sexy & will most definately add a level of complexity. Complex Paladin is a total oxymoron. Te-hee
  • Hallowed Ground is now a Tier 3 talent. Down from Tier 4. If I remember correctly, this was the one that brought down the cooldown for Consecration by such & such amount of time. Or Maybe it was threat/ DPS increase. Anyways, they are mixing it up with the Paladin's entire rotation. Quite excited & scared....
  • Vindication is now a Tier 5 talent. Up from Tier 4.
  • Shield of the Templar is now a Tier 6 talent and has been revamped - Increases the critical strike chance of your Shield of Righteousness by 5/10%. In addition, your Shield of Righteousness critical strikes have a 50/100% chance of making your next Judgement a critical strike. LOLWUT?! I wonder where they got this idea from. Adding crit for tanks is a really odd direction to go. Crit's cool I guess o.0
  • Spiritual Attunement is gone. More mana regen gone bye bye. What they should just come out & say is: We don't want you to regen mana anymore. You get one bar of this blue shit, make it happ'n Capt'n.
  • Divine Sacrifice is gone. Previously Cheered... kthx
  • Improved Exorcism is now Wrath of the Faithful - Increases the damage by 10/20% and critical strike chance by 10/20% of your Holy Wrath spell. I'm a total fan of this spell. If they do bump up the useability of this sexy AoE, they better have some more undead areas for me to wreck havoc on Skellies. An entire circle of undead skeletons always makes for a pretty screen shot :-)
  • Improved Devotion Aura is now Protector of the Innocent - Your Auras reduce your damage taken by 1/2/3% and the amount healed on any target by 2/4/6%. So it just got a fancy name but does the same. whoopie....
  • Sanctuary Reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by melee attacks by 2/4/6% instead of reducing damage taken from all sources. Well Poo. Not all incoming damage is Physical & Magical Damage is mighty painful. I guess Stamina will still be king when it comes to Fighting Fire (or Arcane, Shadow, Frost, Holy, or Nature)
  • Sacred Oath is gone.
  • Reckoning now gives you a 10/20/30% chance after blocking an attack for your next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec to generate an additional attack. Huh? So if a mob hits me & I block it, I have a % chance to hit him back within 4 swings for an ADDITIONAL Swing? This totally sounds like if all of the moons align and I'm facing Northwest with a light breeze in my face that I'll generate another swing.
Retribution
  • *Divine Storm - An instant weapon attack that causes 20% of weapon damage to up to all enemies within 8 yards. The Divine Storm heals up to 3 party or raid members totaling 25% of the damage caused. Consumes all applications of Holy Power to increase damage dealt:
    • 1 Holy Power: 22% Weapon Damage
    • 2 Holy Power: 50% Weapon Damage 
    • 3 Holy Power: 90% Weapon Damage / 20% of base mana, Instant cast
  • *Crusader Strike now grants a charge of Holy Power. AH HA! This is what I was looking for. A way to generate these HOLY POWER OF FACEMELTING Magnitute psudo combo points! *cough* So now I can see where this is coming from. So you rack these stacks of Holy Power up by using your Crusader Strike and then expending them on abilities to make them more powerful the more stacks you have. So like a mix of a Rogue/ Druid Cat with Mana? Sure....
  • Inquisition *New* - Consumes Holy Power to increase your Holy Damage by 30%. Lasts 10 sec per charge of Holy Power consumed. / 20% of base mana, Instant cast
  • Conviction is now a Tier 2 talent. Down from Tier 6.
  • Sanctity of Battle is now a Tier 3 talent. Down from Tier 6. Now reduces cooldown of Exorcism by 3/6 secs. (Up from 2/4 secs)
  • Swift Retribution is now a single rank talent increasing melee and ranged attack speed by 20%.
  • Fanaticism (Tier 4) is now Improved Judgment (Tier 2) - Increases the damage of your Judgment spell by 15% and decreases its cooldown by 3 sec.
  • Judgments of the Wise now grants you 40% of your base mana over 10 sec. (Old - immediately grants you 25% of your base mana) WoW, this is the first mana regeneration spell that I've seen. Sounds extremely powerful too. I'll call it a MoT (Mana over time) Clever... I know.
  • The Art of War is now a Tier 4 talent, down from Tier 3. It now has a 15/30% chance to proc from any melee attack (Old - 100% proc from Critical) and no longer reduce the casting time of Holy Light.
  • Seals of Retribution is now a Tier 4 talent. Up from Tier 3.
  • Eye for an Eye is now a Tier 1 talent. Up from Tier 2. It now gives you a 5/10% chance to cause 30% of the damage taken back to the attacker. This is probably one of the talents I'll be getting once I put my 31 points into Prot. Sound's really neat for a tank to have this actually. I totally envison one of those bullies on the play ground that pins the weaker kid down & makes him punch himself. "Quit hitting yourself!"  Maybe that's just me :-)
  • Righteous Vengeance is now a Tier 6 talent. up from Tier 2.
  • Improved Judgments is now Improved Crusader Strike - Increases the damage of your Crusader Strike by 15/30% and decreases its cooldown by 1.5/3 sec.
  • Heart of the Crusader is now a Tier 3 (Up from Tier 1) single-rank (Down from 3 ranks) talent.

 All and all, I'm pretty excited about the reduced size & bloat reduction of the talent trees. Still waiting on my Beta invite because I SO want to test out these new abilities and see what type of rotation the New and "Improved" Protection Paladin is looking like.

Also, where is my Pally Pet?!

I can haz!!!!!

<3 Your Friendly Neighborhood Fuubaar

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Invest in GEEs Today!

5 comments
While we were traveling this weekend, a pretty profound thought occurred to me. Basically, I think airplanes should be more like Gryphons. Or Hippogryphs. Or whatever the Horde flies on.  Maybe we're wasting all our money constructing these huge, metal behemoths, and what we should be doing is splicing some good old eagles with lions. 

Now, I know you're thinking: "well duh, Ful.  Eagle + Lion = Badass. /Endofstory."  Certainly, I would tend to agree with that sentiment.  I mean, anytime you take a ferocious feline and splice it with a bird of prey, it's probably going to be pretty sweet.  Cheetah plus Falcon.  Watch out for Ludicrous Speed.  Jaguar plus Hawk.  Do you enjoy Luxury?  Cougar plus Condor.  A Stealth MILF.  Tiger plus Owl.  Night Prowler.  Also good at golf.  Snow Leopard plus Thunderbird.  Window Shatterer.  I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.

Apart from the badassery, however, there are several more practical reasons why this would make good business sense.  Let's look at the facts.

You don't need a huge airport for our genetically enhanced eco-airline (or GEE).  They just leap into the air and take off.  No runway necessary.  Additionally, they don't need any sort of hanger or roost.  They just stack merrily in one or two representative icons that allow the individual to recognize that yes, this is a point of flight.

Jetfuel is expensive.  Hay and vermin are not.  I'd imagine our GEEs would run on small to medium sized vermin.  Maybe even insects.  It's totally "green" like that.  Also, chow does not explode when caught on fire.  Except for maybe some of the insects.  They do tend to burst when hitting the bug light.  So no bug lights near our GEEs.  Easy enough.

The weather does not affect a GEE.  GEEs are not grounded due to things like excessive ice (see: Icecrown) or electrical storms (see: Netherstorm) or even a spontaneous meteor shower (see: Honor Hold or Shadowmoon Valley).  We might have to invest in a little training, but nothing is more annoying than being stuck somewhere because of acts of the Light.  Or whichever deity controls the weather. 

Random crashes are not fatal.  In fact, you just end up at the flight point closest to where the crash occurred, all safe and sound.  Heck, this could even be exploited as a way to shave off some time from a crazy routing or to correct a miss-click on the booking screen.  Additionally, if you get kicked off the plane for any reason and you're still above the ground, parachutes come standard.  Even if you're not wearing one.

No pilots are needed.  GEEs can find their way from point to point just fine.  You don't have to worry about them dozing off during flight or checking their Facebook or arguing.  A downside here is that there will be no beverage service since there aren't any stewardesses flight attendants either.  (Fun fact: stewardesses can all be typed with your left hand.  It is the longest of such words, tied with desegregated and reverberated).

You ever try to hijack a gryphon?  Good way to get your hand bit off.  Just sayin'.  And crashing it into a building won't do shit; they just bounce off.  Or go right through if there's a glitch in The Matrix.

More than one can take off or land at the same time in the same place.  Collision is completely turned off on GEEs, unlike those silly airplanes, all running into each other like a Groucho Marx film.  No more being 26th in line to take off.

This is total speculation on my part, but I can't imagine that the saddles on a GEE are any less comfortable that the seats on a plane.  I highly suspect they have a great deal more leg room, as well as a less claustrophobic feel.  And also, there isn't a baby two rows back.  Only a newb puts a baby on a GEE.  Or a well funded alt.

More importantly, though, is that if we start with GEEs and dump money into that area of research, it would probably eventually lead to Dragons.  And boy do I love me some Dragons.  They might be a bit more hazardous what with the fire breath and talons and all, but then you won't need a DeLorian to travel back in time.  Chromie's got that shit covered. 

So yeah, Gryphons rule.  If you don't like Gryphons, you suck.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Static For A Year

7 comments
A concept from our days playing Final Fantasy, being static with someone implied that you would not level your toon without them. In WoW, this concept is all but absent due to the ease of catching up.  In FF, there was no such thing, thus it was common to put in your LFG messages of profile itself "static with x" so people knew you were a package deal.

I bring this up now because on Sunday Fuu and I will have been static IRL for one year.  That is to say, it's our first anniversary of having formally declared to the world and various deities that we are, indeed, coupled for life.  As long as these RL toons exist, we're together.  At least that's the plan.  RL has a funny way of spoiling plans, but so far so good. 

We're going out of town for an extended weekend trip to celebrate, so I probably won't post until Monday, but I wanted to leave you with a few thoughts.  I've consulted my Fuu, and here's what we've learned in our first year of marriage (in no particular order):
  1. The marital bed is a PvP zone.  No carebears allowed.
  2. Marital Achievements do not come with bonus points.  Often, they are simply "working as intended".
  3. "MANY DISHES, HANDLE IT" is considered inappropriate.  So is "gogogogo".
  4. Warlocks are not good at sharing.  Paladins like to turn all the lights on.
  5. Plural pronouns can be used by more than Hunters.  In fact, it's expected.  Especially when referring to phat lootz.
  6. All incoming damage is now linked.  If one of you stands in the bad, you'll likely wipe the group.
  7. The only bank is the guild bank.
  8. A ding more often indicates conjured food rather than a milestone.  Conjured food is still pretty damn cool, though, as you realize neither of you have skilled up Cooking in some time.
  9. It is important to work together to come up with the strat.  
  10. /gquit is not as simple of a solution any more.  At the very least, see #7.
  11. LFM is not okay, unless it's an NPC. 
  12. Everyone is curious about when you're going to roll alts.  Everyone.
  13. Random world PvP happens.  Even in PvE zones.
  14. When one of you is being an Elitist Jerk, the other one will let you know.
  15. Your rage bar fills a lot faster than your energy bar on most days.
  16. Neither of you specced for Replenishment.  Hopefully someone brought drinks.
  17. Treating your partner like a minion goes over about as well as you'd think.
  18. Group content is a lot more accessible.  The replay value of old content goes up too.
  19. You're going to find a lot more bugs, but the naked bug is still the most fun.
  20. It's a Blessing when you remember you won't have to level alone.
That's all for now.  Feel free to add to our list in comments :-).  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Misadventures of a Huntard: Nagrand Style

4 comments
Tamed Fuu has been by far one of the most neglected alts that I can even think of. She was the second toon I rolled after Fuubaar. I would have to say that I think she was created before Wrath was even out. I wanted to roll a hunter because... well, why does anyone want to roll a hunter?

-Pets are cute
-Shooting guns/bows are pretty sweet
-They are almost indestructible as far as Classes go
-Very easy to catch on to a simple rotation

So I named her Tamedfuu and off I went. I believe I got her around level 40 before I totally abandoned her somewhere. It wasn't because I hated her. To be honest, I can't even remember why I stopped. So one of our RL friends wanted to start playing the game and I rolled a Priest for the Recruit a friend thing. I ended up gifting Tamedfuu my additional levels maxing her out at level 60.

Again, I left Tamed in Shatt awaiting the moment when I had some down time.

Fast forward to a week ago:

Oh look! Some free time!

I've had the chance to occasionally do a couple of Battlegrounds with her and all of one random dung. (yes I'm calling them dung now) I'm leveling her Beastmaster like any sane individual. I slowly (I mean F-ing slowly) got her out of Hellfire and decided to head off to my favorite zone in all of outlands: Nagrand! Who doesn't love this place? It's green, lush, has floaty islands with waterfalls, and it has the Nesingwary Hunter Quests. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to get my hunter from 64-68 :-)

So I head up north to the Nesingwary Camp from memory (which I must warn you is quite dangerous). Sure enough, I found it with out too much problem. I picked up the three quests:
-Kill 12 Birds
-Kill 12 Talbuks
-Kill 12 Clefhoofs

Easy as pie. Send in Harlow, put up a hunters mark, smash keys to victory! I was about half way through the kill quests when my little Draenei stated the most horrifying words that a hunter can hear "You are out of Ammo"

/facepalm

Ok, no worries, Halaa is close & we own it. They should have an ammo vendor there & I can just come back. So I wander over to find that all of the NPCs are missing. Oh FFS! Hello level 80 horde. Yes, thank you so much for coming out to this remote location & screw with level 60s. Damn it! So, now what?

I remembered that there is a large questing hub to the south for Alliance called Telaar. Wandering around a bit, I did end up finding it. Hurray! Now, why wont anyone speak to me :-(

I pick up the only quest that is available to me at this time. Some quest about killing Ogres and one of them drops some sort of plans... Oh great, a killing quest with no ammo. This should be humorous.


So this is what it feels like to use Mongoose & Raptor Strike on the back side of an ogre. Not my finest Hour.

So I got the plans to drop with only a minor inconvenience & scarring to my pride. So I run back to turn it in only to find "Now I need you to kill MOAR ogres AND talk to some ultra Mega Ogre on the top of the Ogre Hill with TONS of linking Ogres" "You must finish this before you are allowed to talk to our people" You bitch! I have gold that I will give you for some pointy sticks to throw!

Mother of Pearl... Harlow! Stop Mooning the Ogres!

So I brutally fought my way up the hill towards Lump the Ogre. I sent Harlow in & put my hunters Mark up and ran in for the melee attack when all of a sudden a level 71 Blood Elf Paladin landed next to Lump and killed him. Lucky for me, I had tagged him before the Surprise bombing. I thought maybe he was trying to be helpful since I looked so desperately pathetic. So I /cheered him on & /bow'ed towards this interesting fellow. I finished my quest and talked to Lump on the hill. Out of no where, this paladin started spamming "Duel" requests. WTF is wrong with this guy? Not only am I seven levels below him, but I'M MELEEING! What the hell did you think was going to happen? A close victory? I kept declining it and he kept spamming. I wish there was an emote that I could say "Tamedfuu is out of ammo you twatburgler." After about 5 more requests, he finally /chicken'ed me and flew away. What a wonderful lad...

What ever! I have my quest completed and now to get my damn ammo! I ride back to Telaar and check each of the vendors to find the one who sells arrows.

ICE CREAM!?! WTF am I suppose to do with that? Throw it at the Ogres? Well, actually that's not a bad idea if I do say so myself...

Maybe I can fashion an arrow out of this quill. Harlow, get off of the bed and stop scratching your ass. Do I need to get you monkey ass cream?

Oh here are the arrows...

So I finally broke down and asked someone in the area. I found this lovely Warrior gal (Thank you SOOOOOOOOO Much Marish! You are a life savor!)  who made circles around Telaar just to save me more humiliation (if there was such a thing) She found me the vendor and I bought up 3,000 arrows.

The thing is, even after almost three years of playing this game, I find out something new. Did you know that you can flag ammo vendors from the mini- map? Yeah, well, WHY WOULD I? Lousy DPS and their stupid consumables. *grumbles*

Since I wasn't having a great track record, I let Harlow pick the next questing area.


Lucky me...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Komm Doch Mit

2 comments
Come along. Come with me on this journey through my feedreader today.

(As an aside: the title of the post was actually pilfered from the front of my old German text book.  We always sort of snickered about it because, while the book was good and taught us the language and all, it was sort of like a prescription med commercial.  It was all "come along" and had a group of people and a puppy frolicking in some sort of safely ambiguous scene.  Our teacher was totally the embodiment of the whole don't judge a book thing too.  Picturesque Grandmothery sort of woman.  Used to tell us stories about getting in fights growing up in crazy, post-war circumstances.  We're talking serious fights, too... not like pushing matches.  More like eating the curb style.  She would also inadvertently teach us German swear words too.  Once she let slip, she'd totally explain the word and make us all pronounce it back correctly.  Funny stuff.  Scheisse... Klasse, noch einmal.)

 Grade-school anecdotes aside, here is my play-by-play as I wade through the reader:
  • I'm so glad Jessabelle is back.  I missed her during her hiatus.  Which is weird because I still hung out with her at least once a week, but it didn't sate my desire for snarky satire.
  • BBB even liked the snark, but I'm more excited about his PBeM post.  And Bear, hell yes I remember Terin and have been theorizing what he's been up to for like the past six months or w/e.  Not that I don't enjoy the WoW-related stuff.  I'm just not a druid and that's all you really write about. ;-)   
  • My plan to get rid of Gnomeaggedon failed.  That's right, RealID was totally devised by me and the rest of the Dark Coven to off a few mages.  Since Gnomer is obviously the source of all credible mage knowledge (being only one of two mage blogs), then we figured to cut off the snake's head.  In other news, you should see my garden.
  • You did hear that the plan failed, right?  Did ya get the memo?  It's just that we're putting a new cover on all of our... you get the idea.
  • I like this memo better.  It's more topical.  My brother-in-law is a huge Cleveland fan.  I'm repressing the desire to call him up and gloat.  It's only fair since he does it to me all the time.  However, I'm classier and more diabolical than that.  I'll have a LBJ fathead shipped to his house.  Dressed in white, of course.
  • Chas sums up (and what a large sum it is) my thoughts on the looming talent changes nicely.  I generally take all proposed changes with a grain of salt, but tree changes, especially the locking you in early, seem like an elegant solution to an over-bloated problem to me.
  • One word.  Dragons.  Love the pictures.  Dragons are mah fave.  
And I'm pretty much clear now.  Only non-WoW related blogs left (yeah, those do exist!).  One of the great things about internet drama is that it can spawn so much creativity.  I mean, I know we all had a plethora of different (mostly negative) views regarding this whole RealID thing, but some of the means of expression were unique and entertaining in their own right.  Without adversity, we often fall into the boring doldrums of habit and repetition.  It's good to shake things up every now and then.  It makes for good material.

Let's be honest.  Everything going smoothly is just not funny or entertaining.  You gotta have some nutshots thrown in there for good measure.  Nutshots are the spice of life.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Slippery Slope

3 comments
Fulguralis jerked awake as his head threatened to fall off his fist and onto the wooden table. He was seated around the square piece of furniture in the dining room of the manor along with his sister, his wife, and his wife's cousin.  Fuubaar had been talking about something, but he just couldn't seem to remember what it was.  Marriage was like that sometimes.

The Warlock struggled to shake off the last vestiges of sleepiness as his eyes re-focused on the room.  It wouldn't do to let sleep overtake him now.  There were important things to do!  He tried to remember what those were, but they slid away into the fog in his brain as well.  Surely they were important, though.  Everything he did was colored with epic.  It was the way of the Warlock.  If it wasn't badass, he wasn't going to be doing it.

Fulguralis stared across the table, trying in vain to grasp the situation and think of something intelligent to say.  All that came out was, "Wha?"

The strange double timbre of his voice shocked him back into silence.  It sounded as if exact copies of the sound had come from both his mouth and his sister's next to him.  A quick glance confirmed she was still there, and she looked as bewildered as he felt.  Also, it was not his voice that had sounded, nor his sister's.  Upon reflection, it had been a third, unrecognizable vocal source.  What sort of sorcery was this? 

"Did you guys hear that?" Fulguralis and Decedereful asked in unison.  Yet, neither of their voices fit the characteristics of the sound.  It was foreign.  Alien.

Fuubaar and Abigora stared back in open astonishment, a matching look on both of their faces.  They both glanced synchronously to the left, then to the right, as if searching the room for some unseen foe.  Their eyes returned to center and focused on something above Fulguralis and Decederful's head.  In tandem, shock turned to fear.

"What is that?"  Fuubaar and Abigora gasped.  While the sound they made had a distinctly different tone than the first pair of voices, it was still quite obviously not their own.  Not to mention the fact that it emanated from them both at the same time as well.

Fulguralis and Decedereful both looked up.  Floating in the air inexplicably was a pattern of letters.  They turned back to Fuubaar and Abigora, noticing a similar script for the first time.

"You have them too," Fulguralis and Decedereful intoned, pointing like twins.

"What does ours say?" Fuubaar and Abigora queried.

"Ashley," Fulguralis and Decedereful read.  "Ours?"

"Matt," Fuubaar and Abigora answered.  "But, what does it mean?"

"I don't know," the Matts admitted in that awful double timbre.

The Ashleys stood quickly in a panic, knocking over both of their chairs.  "Why?  Why is this happening?"

The Matts held out their hands, "Just... stay calm, honey.  We'll figure this out."

"I don't want to figure this out!" the Ashleys screamed.  "I want it to go away!  I want it to be like it used to be!"

"What's done is done," the Matts intoned.  "We can only deal with what is."

The sound seemed to bounce menacingly in off the walls as the statement trailed off.  The reverberations echoed closer and closer, crashing in waves upon themselves.  The wooden walls seemed to shrink and close in.  It seemed as if the whole world was squeezing to a point.  Surely this was the end.  Somewhere, a screech.  Then, nothing.

Fulguralis bolted upright in the tent.  A cold sweat dampened his robe and made it cling to him.  His wife stood just inside the flap of the tent, eying him oddly.  She seemed to have just come in out of the night.  Redness rimmed her eyes as if she'd been crying, but she seemed otherwise in possession of herself.  For now at least.

"By the Light, you startled me!" she exclaimed.

Fulguralis was relieved when her voice and only her voice fell upon his ears.  "I am now."

Fuubaar raised an eyebrow, "Bad dream?"

Fulguralis nodded.  "It was so Real," he said in a loud whisper.  "I d..." he started but was cut off.

"Yeah well, sometimes things can be too real," Fuubaar replied, plopping down on the bed without changing.  "Just be glad it wasn't one of those damned prophetic dreams."

Fulguralis shuddered at the fading memory.  "Ugh, I sure hope not.  That's a Priest talent, right?"

"Mage."

"Bastards." 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Suggestions For RealID

15 comments
I know, you're probably sick of reading about it by now.  This proposed change to the forums has everyone up in arms.  It really is quite a zoo right now, and I figure what's one more ball-balancing elephant in the room.  Or something like that.   Still, I wanted to write on the topic today not because it is so hot-button (I usually try to shy away from those things), but because I believe that one should never complain without being willing to offer constructive suggestions.  Complaining just for complaining sake does no one any good.

Well, that's not true.  If all the complaints on the forum thread light this idea, burn it up, and snuff it out, it would be a good thing.  But, really, I just want to try to give a more constructive slant to a lot of the justified ranting you're probably reading.

Before I enumerate my suggestions, I want to go on record as saying that I think the proposed change to the forums is a Bad Idea.  Forcing people to reveal personal information in order to use an optional service is a Bad Idea.  I've read plenty of reasons why this is bad, but let's be honest.  What it really does is kill the forums.  Let's not go overboard here.  People are not going to get raped or fired right away, unless they opt to use the forums.  Then, the world may very well explode, but not unless we all opt in.  Perhaps I'm misunderstanding things here, but as I see it, you still have a choice.  Don't use their forums.  You don't need the forums to play WoW.  I have never and probably will never post on there (now).  The only times I've ever actually read something from there has been at the behest of a friend or guildy.  That probably colors my opinions.  For ill or worse, it is what it is.

My point, though, is that the forums are an optional service, and as long as they don't force you to use them, then your self-revelation is still optional, right?  The way I see, they're just ruining a good and helpful thing for people, not perpetrating some gross-injustice on personal rights.  Is it dumb?  Sure.  Is it the anti-Christ?  Not IMO.  Could it lead to the mark of the beast?  Maybe, but not yet.  Like many have pointed out: it is a slippery slope.  I don't want anyone reading this to think I'm discouraging folks from going and voting with their voice.  That is our right as consumers (our only right, besides voting with our dollar as well), and it should be exercised.  Beside, as a Warlock, who am I to stem the flow of hate and vitriol?  I should be cackling with glee, right?  Go forth and QQ, say I!

With all that being said, I believe I have a few suggestions that solve the stated problem while still protecting the innocent.  I'd like to discuss my reasoning, because it may be flawed by misunderstanding.  If there's something key I'm missing to all this, please don't hesitate to comment and set my record straight.  However, here is what I believe the problem to be, as stated by Blizzard:

The forums are too infested with "trolls" and this needs to be remedied.

That is the problem, their solution?

Remove the anonymity component of the forums in order to shine the Light in the dark corners and expose the trolls.  

The problem with the solution:

It is a blanket judgment that will punish the "good" as well as the "bad".  It removes the choice of remaining anonymous from those that have legitimate reason to wish to remain unknown.  It is not a very elegant solution.

 My suggestions:
  1. Perhaps my favorite suggestion is that we instead force everyone to declare a "main" on their account.  This main would be their permanent RealID handle.  You could opt for it to display your real name, or your character name, but there are no "alt" names.  You have one account, and it must be a paying account to post anywhere or do anything.  This account has one name.  If you develop a bad reputation on your one name through your actions, tough luck.  It may not affect the trolling immediately, but it should have the same effect as using your real name in the long run.  After all, for many of us, our main is our identity online as much as our real name is our identity IRL.  I believe this to be the most elegant and fair solution to the stated problem.
  2. A second solution is to provide more heavy handed moderation of the current forum setup.  Do not change how people are able to post as alts, etc, but simply perma-ban them (and their entire account) from the forum for any perceived trolling.  Take a no-nonsense approach to it and be harsh.  Blizzard can already associate alts with the main account, so that's not an issue here.  It is less elegant in that "good" people may be mistakenly perma-banned from the forums, but I still think it's a better solution that revealing names.  It should also clear away a lot of the chaff pretty quickly.  Sick the interns on it for several months, do not offer an appeal process, and get on with life.  It solves the stated problem, and minimizes the impact on the "good" folks.
  3. The first two are aimed at Blizzard correcting their own pitfall.  This last suggestion is for us, the consumers.  No one says we need to use their official forums.  It would be easy enough for some folks to set up an official, un-official forum.  If we all just took our collective balls and went to a different court, you'd better believe Blizz would follow.  Sure we probably wouldn't get Dev buy-in right away, but if everyone is on a different forum, it would be read.  Aion proved this by failing to provide an official forum right away.  Third party sites did the deed and a small few became the de-facto place to post.  Devs even showed up.  If it's third party, it doesn't need to use RealID at all.  It wouldn't necessarily solve the problem of trolling, but it puts the power in the consumer's hands when the provider is fumbling.
Notice that none of these solutions are gloom and doom.  We're smart folks, if we put our minds to it, we can come up with really clever solutions.  We've proven numerous times throughout the history of this game that we can be smarter than Blizzard.  I mean, how many times have we figured out ways to do things they'd never anticipated?  It's a simple fact of numbers.

If you're going to quit WoW based on the principle of this proposed change, well that's fine and your vote as a consumer.  I think it might be a bit overkill at this time, but you'll have that.  To each his own.  I would suggest a more tame solution: boycott of the forums.  There are plenty of other sources of information and intelligent discourse.  If they're going to screw up their own site, then forget 'em.  As long as they keep these forced revelations in the arena of optional services, then we can continue with the important part: playing the game in peace.  If they don't see the road signs and continue to spread this without giving us an option for privacy, then eventually we'll all leave.  For now, all they've done is threatened to kill the usefulness of their own forums.

A lot of people point to things like Facebook as an evil example of what WoW could become.  I've been a member of Facebook since long before it was offered to non-collegiate folks.  With each iteration, I got less and less involved.  My privacy settings ratcheted up.  I removed content.  I don't partake in any of the silly games, groups, causes, etc.  What I do do is use it for what it was originally good at: social networking.  I didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  There are a lot of friends and family that I can keep in touch with, and I do it all relatively safely.  There's some value there if you dig beneath all the trash.

If someone wants to find my name, they're going to do it.  That's just a fact of life in this day and age.  At the same time, I don't flaunt it around.  The problem with the whole RealID thing isn't that people might find out your real name online.  That's not hard to do no matter who you are.  It's that they'll be able to associate it with a specific activity.  This is not analogous to Facebook, because Facebook only says that you exist unless you add the other information yourself.  Facebook doesn't imply you're a gamer, a fighter, a lover, or a sinner.  It just says "someone exists with this name".  The RealID system goes a step further and says "someone exists with this name AND plays a game".  Let us be clear in that it's the "AND plays a game" part that is the real problem.  Blizzard can never be a pure "social networking" site.  Their name is intertwined with gaming.  You can be on Facebook and not play games.  It's apples to oranges. 

I guess I just felt I needed to make that last point.  In order to effect change, it's important to present a unified, coherent front.  We don't just want to become irrelevant white noise.  We want to vote with our voice and dollar!  It's sort of what capitalism is all about.  I certainly hope they listen. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Up In Smoke

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Today is an un-WoW related, psuedo-Public Service Announcement.  Coming fresh off a long weekend of revelry and family, I wanted to touch on a topic that's taken somewhat of a life of its own in my little sphere of the world, but I'd guess touches home for many of you out there.  I want to talk about vaping.  I've linked the term here before, but for those that didn't catch in the first time, vaping is an alternative to smoking.  A cheaper (in the long run) and healthier alternative.  I'm going to try not to bore you with all the research and health facts and crap like that, you'll have to do that on your own.  I did, however, want to provide a personal slant and some links for any that might be interested.

For Fuu and I, it started because her father is a heavy smoker who recently lost a close friend.  Anytime you lose someone close, I believe it causes you to step back and scrutinize your own life.  For her father, it really put into view how little time he might have left with those he loves.  As we all know, smoking can be a big factor in how much time you have left. 

Coincidentally, the folks we raid with have a big core of former smokers who now vape.  In fact, they run a wonderful podcast that covers vaping.  You can find it on iTunes or at vaporcast.com.  (Of particular interest might be the first episode, wherein the basics are covered.  Here is the feed too.) For Fuu and I, this presented a perfect opportunity to try something new.  We have great support from our friends, and great interest from members of her family.

Being an engineer, nerd, gamer, warlock... I can't half-ass anything.   If I get into something, I need to research and understand it.  It's who I am, and vaping is no exception.  So, with the help of these great friends, I dived into the world of vaping.  Perhaps the single most helpful literature I've come across can be found here.  What you'll find at that link is basically a series of forum posts that read like an illustrated blog.  A lot of info, but good stuff if you're a reader like me.

So we studied up, then made our first tentative steps into the world of vaping.  We got a starter kit for her dad, and one for us.  I, personally, am an occasional cigar smoker (maybe one or two per month, nothing heavy), so it made sense to give a try as well.  For Fuu and I, we choose non-nicotine flavors.  Yes, non-nicotine is an option.  Sort of like caffeine-free cola.  So I get to have my casual vape... without the tar, without the carcinogens, without even the drug.  Not to mention the lack of "after effects".  Let me just say that a morning after heavy vaping is quite wonderful compared to the morning after poker night and chained cigars.

The loose connection to WoW here is that not only is it something our raid group shares in common (big plus), but it really embodies something of the social aspect I'd always missed about gaming.  I mean, I was always a fan of gathering around a table with some cigars, some beers, and some cards.  This past weekend we got to do the same with our raid crew and some D&D (at Miss Jessabelle's house, no less), and I thought: what is the difference?  Why is poker night so accepted but gaming night not?  I've pointed out many times how normal gaming really is.  It is no different that the effort we expend on sports and other social events, just different activities.  In short, vaping around with my raid crew has now become my e-poker night, and I love it.  (I mean I'll still play poker, don't get me wrong, but I'll do it while vaping as well).

The biggest thing for me surrounds the idea of it.  Nicotine replacement therapies are not new.  We have the patch, the gum, and various pills.  Inhalers are even old news.  Yet none of these sport a very high success rate (most averaging far less than 50%).  Ever wonder why?  Anyone with even a light background in psychology could tell you.  Sure these items treat the drug addiction, but there's more to addiction than that.  Smoking has it's roots in a social behavior.  There's an almost meditative, calming quality to the actions of smoking.  Inhale, exhale... repeat.  Breath deep.  Make repeated movements with your hand.  Enjoy the outdoors.  Forget about the drug for a second and look at those things.  Is it any wonder it's hard to break the cycle?

Vaping is something that addresses all of that.  From what I've read so far, everything about it just makes sense and the preliminary reports of success rates around 75% seem to support that.  Now, it's a young, new thing, so I think everyone will agree that more research and study needs to be done, but golly is that promising.  And I never even mentioned anything about the price!  It's a bit more expensive to get going, but the costs of maintaining the habit are far less.  We're talking like half as much.  Cigars and cigarettes are both expensive.  I mean, they tax the fel out of those things.

Anyways, I don't want to get too preachy.  I mean I'm not a priest.  As a warlock, I just like the vapor.  It's like burning, but without all the unpleasant side effects.  No burnt flesh smell.  No pile of ashes to dispose of.  No messy investigations by the Dalaran Mage Council.  Plus you get to feel like an alchemist/engineer.  You know, all win.  Check out the vaporcast folks, they know far more than I do and love to get feedback.  Or, feel free to send me an email and I can point you in the right directions if not answer a question outright.

Now, if they would only make something that lets me shoot fake fire from my hands.  Then I could stop setting the curtains on fire...

Friday, July 2, 2010

History Favors the Decisive

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Abigora started and looked up from her book.  Her large eyes surveyed the room.  It was dark, but not too dark for a Night Elf.  A lone candle sputtered on the table in front of her, casting it's wan light on an open book.  The room was empty.

Abi shook her head and tried to focus back in on her book.  She was jumpy, but for good reason.  One could never be too careful in this day and age, especially with a Cataclysm looming.

Oh yes, she knew of this Cataclysm.  One need only watch for the signs.  She was enough of a scholar that it seemed written plain as day to her across the world.  Everything was ripping at the seams.  It wouldn't be long now.  Months, maybe days even.  The breaking of the world was imminent, of this she was sure.  It was no longer a matter of if, but when.

The book she read was the same as all the others.  A history of some sort.  Bloodshed, battles, misguided leaders, Azeroth was full of such stories.  Why didn't anyone ever learn?  History was a good teacher, if only we would listen.

And yet, Abigora found her mind was awash with far murkier debates.  For instance, if the world breaks, would old oaths hold?  A priest could not be an oath breaker, but if her oaths no longer held...  And how was one to reconcile two conflicting oaths?  What if in order to protect someone, it necessitated betrayal? 

This was all theoretical, of course.  Of course!

One thing was for sure, there was a storm coming and Abigora had two choices.  She could hide in her books, continue to study, perhaps learn all there is to know about what's to come, but affect nothing.  Or she could face the world and try to be like one of the characters in her stories.  Never a hero, no, but maybe an assistant?  The world needed assistants too.  She would make a good assistant.

As a Priest of the Light, the choice was clear.  To keep an oath, she'd had to break an oath, though she hated knowing she was inevitably going to be caught up in the whirlwind like just another leaf.  She'd always wanted to be a flower, but leaves were important too.  Without leaves, there would be no flower.

With a deep sigh, Abigora marked her place.  She closed the book almost with reverence.  She snuffed the candle.  She took the book and placed it on a shelf in her room.  Opening a locked chest, she leaned down and reached inside.  She secured an item around her waist and strode out of the room.

Short, swift steps took her to the front of her blood-sister's dwelling.  The front door barely made a whisper as she opened it to the night.  A bright, clear moon shone down.  With a quick prayer of thanks to Elune, Abigora stepped across the threshold.  The light from that heavenly orb reached down and ran a smooth caress across solid steel, glinting at Abigora's side.  Her blade almost seemed to glow with the night's loving embrace.

Abigora shifted the weight uncomfortably on her hip.  It had been a while since she'd carried a weapon.   She hoped that she wouldn't have to use it, but one could never be too careful when you were but a leaf.

Without hesitation, she stepped onto the path.  She didn't look back as she strode purposefully away from the peaceful manor.  The time for debate was past.  Abigora had things to do.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

QotD: What Piece of Armor did you hold onto the Longest?

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Hey Gang!

As you may or may not know, Blizzard just dropped a Cataclysmic Bomb (yeah... I had to) on us yesterday. We are still waiting on the Closed Beta invites (I can haz invitez? kthx). Many of you are excited about the Ruby Sanctum and awaiting patiently to take over Gnomeregan or behead some crazy Troll King. I have yet to log on since our raid on Monday. Not only did we have the 24 hour maintenance, but I really didn't have much else to do in the game.

I could make more gold, I could level up one of my toons, I could take Fuu to the highest peak in Storm Peaks & jump off of it for pure enjoyment but nothing really excites me at the moment /sadface. I've got about 15k gold saved up and I already have 95% of the BoA gear purchased up for my new Worgen Mage. I'm pretty set for when the ball drops, so I'm not too concerned.

As I said before, I'm pretty much just logging in for raiding or the occasional Battleground with my lvl 63 huntard TamedFuu (yeah, crappiest name ever. She was my second toon that I ever created and I was an officer at the time. I felt that it was necessary for people to know who I was. I'll probably get her name changed if I get her to max level) Let me tell you, Battleground XP is sexy! Not only are you probably getting a 4th of a level every win, but you can save up and get really nice rewards with your honor. I even ran out & tamed a fluffy spider for a better BG experience. I have my Ghost Saber that I use for everything else but who can resist netting Horde into a web & making them your bitch while you gleefully prance around shooting them to death with a big grin on your face.

Anyways...

So, on Monday, we decided to reset our ICC 10-man ID and start over. Not only did we have a newbie come a long but Marrowgar the Bonestorm Queen was the weekly. Needless to say, it was hard to resist. We had an absolute blast in there with the new 25% buff. We could act like complete freakin idiots & the bosses would topple over like twigs in the breeze.

I didn't care too much because I'm there for the peeps not the purps.

Let me tell you about Fuubaar's Purp luck. She has ABSOLUTELY NO LUCK! I kid you not, if I couldn't buy gear with emblems that are a 100% drop, she would still be in blues & greens ><.  I've run every raid that has come out in WotLK multiple times and you know what? I'm one of those people who replaces the same items over & over because that's all I get. Monday night was a triumphant night for me. I finally replaced one of THEE hardest things to replace for a tank, their Shield. OMFG! I have been staring at my Wall of Terror from Naxx 25-man since ... well since when it was cool to run Naxx. I shit you not. I don't even know what do with myself now that I have FINALLY replaced that stupid thing with the Neverending Winter from the gunship battle. I've actually seen that shield drop once before but I let my co-tank have it because he was in WAY worse condition than I was. Now that's saying something about Shield Rarity.

Why does Blizzard allow for such key items to be so rare? I've seen that damn Skull Battalion thing drop off of Lady Deathwhisper every stinkin night. A shield for your tanks? Oh Hell no, we get jack shit for drops. It's totally bogus!

Rant incoming!

Tanks have it so horrible at the beginning of their tanking careers once they hit 80. It's unreal...

Once your fresh 80 decides to start collecting tanking gear (even if you've been doing it the entire time you were leveling through Northrend collecting tanking gear, it's still bad), you need to hit 535 Defense to be uncrittable for heroics and 540 Defense for Raids. This is a MUST to tank anything. Even if you are a point off, you get crit with such a low healthpool, down goes the tank. Now, does it say anywhere on ANYTHING for a new tank to magically know this number? Nope. They have to look it up or ask around. Today, I still see this question being asked in Trade chat. I very rarely ever see anyone asking about hit caps. That right there is why Blizzard is getting rid of it because they realize how stupid that is.

So you have your level 80 and you know what Defense cap you need to hit. How do you get there? Most try to scrounge up anything that has gobs of Defense on it (usually from the random quest rewards or making the Cobalt/Saronite Gear). What's the problem with Cobalt/Saronite Tanking gear? It has TONS of Defense but not much else. So what happens to the tank when they find an upgrade in their heroics? Well, it's going to be a really nice upgrade for them ... but wait... it drops them below the cap. Again, I know that DPS have a similar issue with Hit rating juggling. But really, are you completely unable to do your job without being capped? Your DPS might hinder a bit but you aren't completely lost. So that poor tank is unable to accept the huge upgrade until they can make up for it elsewhere. I still remember this part of gearing. It's completely disheartening and really deters new tanks from entering the LFD tool because they just can't gear up. Some people suggest that they should queue up as DPS and use their badges for tanking gear but I say why should it be that way? Why should someone be forced into a role that they don't enjoy just because it's inconvenient for someone else? Blizzard wants to encourage new tanks into the LFD tool but this is NOT the way to do it.

With the ultra mega gear inflation that occurred throughout the expansion, it has helped quite a bit for new tanks to quickly gear up from questing blues & greens into t-9 and t-10 stuff. The T-10 gear has SO much Defense on it that it's almost gross. Last time I checked on Fuu, she had 579 Defense. Like Whoa? Can I donate some of that excess fat to the newbies? Now being over the cap, isn't wasted like Hit is for DPS but it sure isn't as helpful as a pure stat like +Stamina or +Dodge.

Then comes the transition from each Patched Raid that came out in WotLK. In Naxx, it was get your grubby little hands on anything that is purple & is made for a tank. I think that the gear that dropped in here was really spread out and the stats were balanced. I remember really sticking with + Block gear because it was yummy :) When Ulduar came out, it felt choppy. I remember very few tanking drops at the beginning of the instance and it was hard to get any deeper for our raiders than Hodir. I did get the +Stam Iron Trinket from Ignis (which I'm still wearing) but I don't remember many other upgrades from there. Most of the problems were that it was a huge step up in difficulty & we didn't have much time to get very deep into it before ToC came around. Everyone quickly stopped raiding Ulduar to get the bigger & better stuff from ToC.

For all of the Raids Prior to this, it was stack as much Dodge as you could possibly muster. So, not only was the gear not dropping, but there was a specific mindset for a certain type of gear. So anything that did drop was built around that mentality of YOU MUST DODGE ALL! And you know what happened? The Chill of the Throne was a huge smack in the face for many of these Dodge stacking maniacs. For those few of us who attempted to balance our stats actually came out of top. It was hard for those tanks to rethink and re-do everything that they had worked hard for by re-gemming, re-enchanting, and rearranging their gear to match the new Hotness of Effective Health & Armor that ICC demanded.

RAWR!

Wow, sorry about that. I have no clue where that came from. Passionate tank is Passionate. Now I must make this clear, that rant was from my prospective only. This is not to say that every tank had horrible luck through each Raid. Or as bad as mine was. I'm ranting because it upsets me that a fellow raider & I wanted to tank with our ICC raiders but felt quite inadequate when we first arrived. We ended up doing more than fine and made up for the lack of gear with skill, which I am the most proud of :-).

Needless to say, Poor Fuubaar has been wearing a 221 lvl Shield & a 221 Necklace from 25-man Naxx for over a year now. She also wore her Alchemy Trinket well into ToC.

So, here's my question for you (if I didn't scare you off with my Holy $#!& rant):

What was the piece of gear that you held onto the longest throughout the expansion? Was it intentional or unintentional? If you had a piece of gear that you just kept for sentimental value, have you replaced it yet? What did it feel like? Tell me the Story :-D

<3 Your Friendly Neighborhood Fuubaar