Oct 272010
 

The gaming crowd overlaps (to some degree) with the tech crowd, but not always, so I figured I’d post this link to an interview with Greg Street (“Ghostcrawler”). (haven’t seen it on any of the wow news sites yet).

http://interviews.slashdot.org/story/10/10/27/1441243/Greg-Ghostcrawler-Street-Lead-Systems-Designer-For-World-of-Warcraft

Highlights:

  • Cataclysm content enough for two expansions
  • Thinks 3.1 (Ulduar) and 3.2 (TOC) could have been held a bit longer, to not make 3.3 (ICC) last so long (Agreed. A LOT of guilds were still working on Ulduar content when TOC came out.)
  • Hopes that people will start posting DTPS meters and yelling at people who took a lot of damage (and sucked up healer mana)
  • Explains why they can’t just “hire more people” to do stuff
 Posted by at 3:15 pm  Tagged with:
Oct 262010
 

I’ve added a Q&A based captcha to the registration page, so I’ve turned comment moderation off again. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks to those who offered suggestions. (FWIW, I wish I’d realized that I needed to clear the phpBB cache after changing the captcha template…I spent HOURS yesterday trying to figure out how my theme was broken.) I’ve left moderation on for the 100+ accounts that were created over the past week; if this includes you, I apologize, once I approve one of your comments you won’t be subject to moderation anymore.

Now that the forums are somewhat sorted out, I’ll be doing some work to the website, so apologies if things look broken around here for a bit. Adsense is going away, and I’ll be experimenting with Project Wonderful. (Runycat, if you’re still around, I DID listen to you….eventually.) Feeds should still work fine. Again, I appreciate those of you who’ve donated; I’ve been getting quite a bit of traffic lately, and I may need to up my plan with my hosting provider.

(If anyone has any particular ideas/suggestions for feral content, let me know. I’m going to do some bear stuff next, and I may overhaul my 3.0 bear guide for 4.0.)

 Posted by at 10:43 am  Tagged with:
Oct 242010
 

The forums have been under low-grade attack by spammers over the past few days (seeing about 4-5 users/day register and post nothing but spam). I IP block them and delete their posts when I see them, but it’s getting somewhat tiresome. If anyone has any phpBB experience or knowledge of a better system, let me know. If it keeps up, I’ll have to make the registration process more difficult, and I hate to do that.

Also, to the gentleman who sent me a donation after reading my guide: thank you. You didn’t know it, but that donation actually came through on my birthday, so was very cool. :P

 Posted by at 10:21 pm  Tagged with:
Oct 132010
 

From GC:

    Rather than try and address multiple threads, I’m just going to plop our current thoughts in this one post. Please excuse the brevity.

    1) We think Fury, Arms, Feral cat and Retribution dps is too low and we will be buffing them.
    2) We think mage dps is too high, especially Fire, and will be nerfing it.
    3) We think Shadow priest dps is too high, but that’s largely a result of Shadow Word: Death spam, which is tough on healers. We’ll be fixing that.
    4) We think Destro warlock dps is too high, but that’s largely a result of Searing Pain spam, which is tough on tanks. We’ll be fixing that.
    5) As we suspected, PvP dps is just too high given that the health pools of Cataclysm haven’t kicked in yet. While competitive PvP is over for the moment, we still want the environment to feel better so we will be buffing resilience. This change might be reverted at level 85.

    There will probably be more changes after another night of raiding and BGs. Many of the bug fixes we have made today will affect dps as well. Stay tuned.

Couldn’t resist the pun in the title…and Boomkins are okay, apparently? Time to go spam some moonfires in WG, I guess :)

 Posted by at 11:23 pm  Tagged with:
Sep 062010
 

Several people have wondered where I’ve gone, and I now have the opportunity to set the record straight. (Personal details to follow; skip if that’s not your thing.)

In my previous post, I had said that my wife had taken a bad fall. This was true…however, I left out a key element of the story. When she fell, I was raiding with my headset on, and I couldn’t hear her calling for help from the other end of the house. While she did eventually get my attention, it led to a serious, angry discussion about how WoW was dominating my life and the need for some drastic changes. During the discussion, she pointed out how I’d compromised on my sleep repeatedly, I’d lied to her about what I was doing to play WoW, and how (most importantly) I’d tried to rush our son to bed on raid nights so I wouldn’t miss the raid start time and be benched.

She asked me to quit, and after some more discussion, I agreed to quit for a month, and see how my perspective changed. No WoW, no WoW blogs, no WoW forums, nothing. I cancelled my account the next day, and have not played since (though I think I did log in once, before having a crisis of conscience and logging back out). My account expired some time ago, and I have not renewed. (Interestingly, I get 3x more phishing attempts now for my WoW account password than I used to.)

Now, looking back, I am absolutely disgusted at my behavior. Yes, I loved WoW (the minmaxing, analysis and discussion, really, more than the playing part of it), but that doesn’t excuse me one bit. I can’t believe my wife put up with it for as long as she did. Quitting WoW, however, has made my wife and I much closer; I’ve spent much of the time that I used to devote to WoW with her, and our relationship has improved markedly. (Not to mention, my son is still the coolest little guy ever, and I feel terribly guilty about how I put a game before his welfare. He’s two now, and he’ll come in my office/computer room, grab my arm, and say “Daddy…up…play?” Hard to resist that.)

I’ve realized that I am incredibly good at rationalizing my addictive behavior…after all, I didn’t PLAY WoW much, but I had 50+ WoW blogs that I was current on, I wrote guides for this blog, I analyzed WOL reports for my guild, I watched fight videos on Tankspot, I read boss strategies on BossKillers, etc. I also realized that I felt “entitled” to play WoW because I worked all day and made the money for our family…and as any working parent can tell you, when things are rough, there just isn’t enough time at the end of the day to fit in spouse time, kid time, chores, and me time, at least not realistically.

After a month of perspective of being away from the game, here’s my thoughts on a few things:

  • “Farming” for gear (random drops from instances/raids) is stupid, and it makes me angry to think how much time I wasted on repetitive content. WOTLK, currently, has 16 5-man instances. According to PUG Checker, I’ve completed 268 heroic 5-man runs. (If you count in normal runs, bugs in counting (DTK) and failed runs, I’m sure the number is over 300.) That’s 15+ runs per instance. Let’s say you can do an instance 3 times before it becomes boring…that’s about 50 hours worth of 5-man content in WOTLK. I’ve spent 200+ hours, easily.) I understand Blizzard needs to design timesinks into the game. I get that. Badges are a better way of doing that then relying solely on random drops, so this is improving, but some of the key items for improving your character (weapons, some trinkets) are only available via random drop.
  • Obsessively gear minmaxing is a huge waste of time. It’s one thing if you’re in a guild with high expectations that everyone lives up to (I hate the term “hardcore,” too many negative connotations), but if you’re in the 95% of guilds that don’t, then you’re compensating for someone else’s inability to play well, and that’s not fun after a while. For that matter, most of the fights in WOTLK were execution-based, not gear-based (excepting heroic modes, which I’ll discuss in a second), which defeats the purpose. What do I mean by obsessive? How about farming Sons of Hodir rep (in 3.0, before all the changes to make it easier) where you needed something like 1000 Emblems that sold for 3-5g apiece, or to do 5-7 SOH daily quests every day for 20+ days, to get an enchant that boosted your DPS/tanking/healing by less than 1%?
  • On that note, the daily quest thing also sucks. I HATE that WOTLK essentially says “if you’re not logging on every day to do your daily quests, you’re going to fall behind.” My understanding is that Cataclysm will go to a weekly model, which will be much better. Also, 10 OR 25 instead of 10 AND 25…awesome.
  • Heroic mode raids. I’m still conflicted in how I feel about these…obviously, perspectives vary based on guild skill and personal tolerance. I burned out badly on ICC near the end, but that was due to both it being the last raid of the expansion (why gear up if everything will be replaced?), and a guild raid atmosphere that I felt did not present constructive criticism (though this may be the ex-raidleader in me talking…it’s hard to give up that control).

So where do I go from here?

I’m not permanently done with WoW, I don’t think. It is still one of the most enjoyable and accessible games I’ve played, even if the public community can be noxious at times. Unfortunately, my orders have been changed; I will now, most likely, be heading to a unit that is deploying next spring. As such, I’m going casual. I’ll pick up Cataclysm when it releases, and I’ll have fun with the new content, but I’ll have much less tolerance for timesinks. If it wasn’t for my deployment, I’d probably be looking for an East Coast variant of Skunkworks.

The blog and forums will stick around…hosting fees are paid up through next March, and I’ll even try to write something from time to time (though probably not much before Cataclysm releases). I’ll also be happy to answer any questions people may have, though my experience will go out of date fairly rapidly. Overall, though, I’m very content. I’ve re-arranged my priorities, and my life couldn’t be better.

 Posted by at 4:33 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 302010
 

(not that it ever stopped me, anyway)

Now that the Cataclysm beta has officially started, you don’t have to rely on dirty alpha leaks anymore. Feel free to hit up MMO-Champion’s overview, their druid page, and Wowhead’s Cata database. There aren’t any changes from the alpha as yet, so I’ll let Kalon take this one. :)

 Posted by at 10:01 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 202010
 

A short note: I’ll be working on the site and forums some over the next week (upgrading to wordpress 3.0, fixing some phpBB stuff, moving guides from the blog to the forums to make them easier to find (though I may change my mind on this and just make them static pages like Keeva did), updating plugins, updating side-bar, etc.) If you see anything broken (or you want me to implement something), please post a comment and let me know. (Also, I apparently like parentheses.)

 Posted by at 12:52 pm  Tagged with:
Apr 062010
 

It looks like a LOT of Cataclysm info is about to drop this week, and I’ll be here to kick it around a bit. While we wait for the first Druid class info post on 9 April, let’s discuss the two mechanics changes that have been proposed so far – rage normalization and dispels.

Rage (full post on mmo-champion. It’s pretty long, so I’ll paraphrase.)

Problems:

Problem 1: Currently, rage is generated (mainly) by two things- damage done by white attacks, and damage taken. Because the amounts of damage outgoing (and incoming, for tanks) scale as you progress, Blizzard is forced to either balance for early content and then nerf rage generation later, or balance for later content and force new endgame warriors/bears to be underpowered.

Problem 2: For fights that require two tanks on the same boss, or for tanks that are overgeared for the content, a rage-based offtank has large problems generating rage/threat, due to doing/receiving little damage (“rage starvation”).

Problem 3: Heroic Strike/Maul are designed as high-rage-cost inefficient abilities, to use excess rage. Due to Problem 1, however, they never get used in early content, and are overused to the point of irrelevancy in later content (mine are macroed in with my main abilities). They are also clunky and cause RSI.

Solutions:

Solution 1: Each hit  generates a fixed amount of rage, based on weapon swing speed. Crits will cause that attack to generate double rage, and off-hand weapons (for fury warriors) will generate half the rage of the mainhand.

Solution 2: Rage from damage taken will no longer be based on an arbitrary constant but will be based on the health of the tank. The calculation will ignore mitigation and avoidance effects.

Solution 3: HS/Maul will no longer replace melee attacks; instead, they will become instants, burning a scaling amount of rage based on your current rage level. (Theoretically, a maul might burn 30 rage and do 30k damage at full rage, or burn 3 rage and do 3k damage with 10 rage.)

Solution 4: Additional methods for instant rage generation and dumping are being discussed.

Analysis:

IMO, these proposed changes are excellent, and do a great job of solving the current problems. Rage generation via attacks, instead of damage, will make gear much less important and rage generation more consistent. DPS warriors will not go through a constant UP/OP rollercoaster (as much). Second, having rage scale based on tank health will solve the “infinite rage” issue for tanks, which will make Bear tanking much more interesting (1. Macro Maul to Swipe 2. *snore*). Rage starvation for content you overgear will still be an issue, but not as significant an issue as today. (Quickly looking back, a tank in T7 content had about half the health of a tank in T10 content, so you’d be generating about 50% less rage from damage taken.)

Dispel Changes (paraphrased again: full post on mmo-champion)

The developers feel that dispelling was too trivial and unbalanced in favor of certain classes for WOTLK. Essentially, as part of their “give healers non-trivial choice” campaign, they want healers to have to make a decision between throwing a heal  or throwing a dispel.

  • Dispels will be more expensive, less smart (you can waste mana and a GCD by casting when a debuff isn’t present) and less automatic (no more Cleansing Totem, Abolish Disease, or Abolish Poison).
  • All healing classes will have a talented friendly-only magic dispel (except for Priests, who will have it baseline) and the ability to remove two other effects. Druids—Curse/Poison; Paladins—Disease/Poison; Priests—Hostile Dispel/Disease; Shamans-Hostile Dispel/Curse.
  • Prot/Ret pallies will no longer be able to magic dispel; Shamans will lose abolish disease/poison; all other dispel abilities will remain.

Analysis:

This feels like a change driven by PvP that will have PvE implications. I’m mostly withholding judgment until we see the new class designs; however, my gut feeling is that I dislike anything that removes dispel utility from DPS. DPS shamans, especially, will take a hit from this. I’m really hoping that shamans get some love in Cata, as they’ve gotten the short end for WOTLK.  (Oh, and resto druids will be OP in PvP again. Good luck catching one.)

 Posted by at 8:27 pm  Tagged with:
Mar 232010
 

The official 3.3.3 patchnotes have been released. (wow.com) Ability-wise, there’s no change from the PTR changes previously discussed, but let’s look at some bugfixes.

  • Cower: This ability can no longer trigger effects on items that trigger from melee weapon attacks.

Yay, the world’s most useless ability now became even more useless.

  • Frenzied Regeneration: This ability is no longer noted as Rank 1 (it has no subsequent ranks).
  • Hurricane: If a druid begins casting this spell while in Bear Form, Dire Bear Form, or Cat Form, the spell will now cast as normal instead of immediately canceling the channel.

Not sure why you’d cast Hurricane out of a feral form. (BG’s maybe to proc the 20% melee swing debuff?) My question is, did they fix the casting of it out of tree form, which is much more likely?

  • Lifebloom: The final bloom heal from this spell can no longer trigger talents, trinkets, and set bonuses for the player being healed.
  • Rake: This ability will now always land. It will no longer sometimes give a “more powerful spell” error message.

YES. Now, refreshing Rake early is generally bad…but trying to refresh Rake early because you have to leave the target and not being able to sucked.

  • Tier-10 Balance 4-Piece Set Bonus: Corrected a grammatical error in tooltip.
  • Tier-10 Restoration 4-Piece Set Bonus: The Rejuvenation effect caused by this set bonus can now be overwritten by the druid’s own Rejuvenation spell casts. In addition, the combat log tooltip for this Rejuvenation effect no longer spuriously claims it requires Tree of Life Form.
  • Tranquility: The combat log tooltip for this ability will no longer spuriously claim a range of 100 yards.
  • Tree of Life Form: Corrected a misspelling in the tooltip.
  • Typhoon: Lower ranks of this spell displayed incorrect damage information on tooltips.

A few other notable fixes:

This one made me laugh just a little bit. They’re really trying to get people to use it (I don’t think it’ll be successful, but who knows). I predict 3.3.4′s patchnotes will say “Lightwell: Redesigned. Any friendly player who use the Lightwell will now receive a [Tasty Cookie] in addition to the healing effect.”

  • Shattering Throw: This ability can now be a critical strike.

This is a good as time as any to point out that this warrior PvP ability is a decent rDPS buff, especially during Hero/BL, as it stacks with Sunder. (Sunder reduces enemy armor to 80%, which is then modified by character ArPen; Sunder + Shatter reduces this to 60% pre-ArPen.)