Archive for January, 2008

31
Jan
08

Counterpoint… what’s not so fun?

In an earlier post I listed some of the things that make WoW fun. Taking the opposite side of that argument, there are some things in the game that make it less fun. I’m not whining about encounters and instances that are challenging. I’m just talking about parts of gameplay that I think could be improved to create more fun.

  • Hard-to-find quests

I think this was my biggest complaint during leveling. Pre-BC there were always quests to “Find item X” or “Collect 10 of item XX” and sometimes the quest text did not give a good indication how to find the item. Running around aimlessly through the forest is a huge inconvenience. After BC, Bliizard seemed to learn from their mistake. Outland quests are much better about explaining where to go.

  • Grinding for drops

Actually, I’m not opposed to grinding for faction or for a quest. But there needs to be a little balance. I assume that there were people who played this in beta who did these quests, and I assume that there were Blizzard employees to playtested it even before that. Did no one think, “Hmmm, if we’re going to ask the players to collect 15 of this item, maybe we should make the drop rate a little better than 20%.” There were times that I had to kill 50+ of the same mob to get my quest drops. It got me great XP, maybe some junk items to sell for silver, but it stopped being fun after about the 15th mob.

  • PvP vs PvE

This doesn’t become and issue until raiding and arenas, really. Still, Blizzard has backed themselves into a corner. It must be outrageously difficult for the devs to keep class balance for both PvE and PvP. If you nerf one class because its dominant in PvP, then suddenly its not raid viable. If you buff a class to improve performance in raids, then it throws off the balance in PvP. Its created a system where everyone has a reason to complain.

I go back and forth on the “welfare epics” debate. On one hand, I don’t really care if a PvPer goes in arena and gets his good gear. However, I do have a person in my guild who is horrible at PvP… his record in arena is terrible, and half the time he goes in and loses on purpose just to get his matches in. He plays BG and loses there as well (alliance… ’nuff said). Yet he shows off his shiny new PvP weapon which is nearly as good as my Kara drops.

In order to get that Kara drop I probably spent hundreds of gold on consumables and armor repairs for raids. I also had to improve my play by wiping on the bosses repeatedly until we figured out our strategy. Then there is the time spent running weekly.

All my friend had to do is lose over and over and over. No consumables. No armor repair. Just time.

Does this actually affect me? Not directly. But if there were one DPS spot left in my raid, and he was chosen since his fancy PvP weapons gave him higher DPS, then I’d be yellin’.

I’ve always thought that the high-end PvP rewards should be PvP-only. The stats on those items are pretty PvP-oriented anyway. You could do the same with raid drops… make them PvE only. If someone wants to do both, then they have two sets of gear. I know that stance wouldn’t be popular with the PvPers, and its probably got a thousand flaws in it that I haven’t thought of because I don’t do PvP, but that’s my opinion.

  • Trash respawns

OK, I know this is a game mechanic that Blizz puts in to slow down progression. They don’t want anyone buzzing through new content in a couple of hours. But really… a half hour respawn timer? You get one, maybe two good attempts on a boss before you have to reclear. That’s not fun.

When a raid leader says, “OK, there are respawns. We’ll have to call the raid for tonight and come back next week” you can almost imagine the high-fives at Blizzard HQ.

  • Ganking

This is why I won’t play on a PvP server. When I ask my friends why they gank horde in STV, they always answer “because I got ganked there.” Its a vicious circle that has no point and no purpose other than to be annoying. Killing a member of the opposite faction who is 20 levels below you gives you no tangible reward, so the ganks don’t earn you anything but a chance to /taunt.

PvP is OK.  Quality World PvP would be better.  But a level 40 running through STV getting one-shotted by a level 70?  How is that fun?

30
Jan
08

Playing WoW with your Spouse

My guild has at least five husband-wife pairs in it. Is that normal?

I have a wonderful wife. She and I share a lot of hobbies, but then we also have a number of separate interests so that we are not always in each others’ space. One area where our lives have always diverged was video games. I love ‘em. She doesn’t.

Now, she and I both enjoy the fantasy genre in movies and books. We read the same things growing up (we have known each other since we were fourteen years old). We see the same movies. She even started playing tabletop games with me like AD&D and TORG through our high school and college years. But she never liked the need for manual dexterity and snap decisions that are typical of video games in general.

Two years ago, I decided that I was in a place in my life where I could fit an MMORPG into my schedule. I liked the look of WoW, but I knew that it would eat up a big chuck of my free time. So I asked my wife if she would mind if I started playing the game.

Rule #1 about gaming with your spouse… ask her first. Its as big a commitment for her as it is for you.

To my surprise, she was curious about it. After looking at screenshots and videos online, she told me, “You can buy the game and play, but only if I can play too.”

What!?!?

As you can imagine, this thrilled me. Now my hobby could also become time spent with my wife.  We bought two copies of the game and set it up on our computers.  I let her choose the race and get first pick of class.

Rule #2 about gaming with your spouse… let her be a big part of the decisions.  Don’t just play for yourself and drag her along for the ride.

She chose Night Elf (of course) and decided to be a druid.  With her healing, I chose a dps class, which is how I ended up as a rogue.

We started playing nightly after putting the kids to sleep.  We didn’t play every night.  If she wanted a night off, usually I took the night off too.  When I got two levels ahead of her, she started to get annoyed so I let her catch up.

Rule #3 about gaming with your spouse… don’t make her feel like she’s holding you back.  Make sure that she is getting as much out of the game as you are.

The most important part of the experience is that we played together.  We leveled together, quested together, ran instances together.  Any time that I did stuff without her she let me know about it.  It gave us something new to share.  We could talk about it in our spare time (which we didn’t always do – no point in obsessing).

Rule #4 about gaming with your spouse… turn it into quality time.  Don’t be competitive with her.  If your toons are together, then its almost like you are together, too.  But way better looking and with cool armor  :-)

We leveled all the way to 60 together without really doing much separately.  After BC, once we were in a new guild, we did get a little more independent.  But by then she was a pro – the top healer in the guild.  And I love her more for it.

29
Jan
08

What makes WoW fun?

I’ve been playing this game for nearly two years. Everyone who knows me knows that I spend a fair amount of my down time online. People who are not gamers often ask me why I spend so much time in front of the computer. Typically they can’t understand it if they have never done any gaming, but I try to put it in terms they can relate to.

  • The game mixes short and long term goals

In my opinion, this is what makes WoW so addictive. As you are leveling, you are always just thisclose to achieving another goal. That goal might be short-term such as leveling, finishing a quest, hitting a milestone in your crafting skill, or finding your new hunter pet.

Also, the game has long-term goals that always keep you looking forward. Those are faction rewards, class milestones (plate armor for warriors, poisons for rogues) instance runs, or just to have the same gear as that guy you saw in the AH.

Between the two, you are always accomplishing something and advancing your character somehow.

  • Customizability

People love to customize their toon. While new hairstyles are not here yet, we still have the options available at creation, vanity pets, matched gear sets, enchatment glow effects, and others. Even among the 1,000,000 Night Elves in any major city, I have been able to spot my wife’s toon in a crowd even with nameplates off since we started the game together.

  • Simple combat with options for different styles

To some hardcore gamers this is a downside, but to the average gamer (like myself) this is great. I would hate it if combat were pressing the same one or two buttons over and over again. At the same time, I’d hate it if I had to remember 30 different keybindings in every combat or worry about millisecond reaction times. As a rogue, I can hit a few buttons, build up some combo points and then decide where I want to go from there. Maybe drop a Rupture, maybe throw an Eviscerate, maybe try a stunlock. Theorycrafters will say that anything other than the “optimum” cycle is terrible. However, they don’t represent the majority of the ten million subscribers.

  • Lore

I did play the RTS Warcraft games, so I heard some of the lore before jumping into WoW. Again, most subscribers did not. As you play the game that there is a sense that there is a bigger story… and overarching history that you are following along with. Some parts are better than others. Honestly, I’d like to be able to interact with more figures from the lore instead of killing them all the time. But still, the story makes the game go.

  • Horde vs Alliance

I don’t PvP at all, and I play Alliance on a Normal server. I guess that makes me a “carebear.” The presence of the horde still creates a sense of “us versus them” in the game. Throughout your leveling, there are always these glimpses of horde toons. You can’t speak to them or interact in any meaningful way other than some antagonzing emotes. They are like an enemy that you can’t fight.

I can still remember being in Ashenvale in my mid-teens. There was something intimidating about a level “skull” horde riding down the road toward Astranaar. I knew that couldn’t be good. Sure, I was safe. But there was this feeling of, “Man, something is about to go down here.” One of my most vivid memories of my early months in the game was a horde raid on Astranaar. I watched, unable to do anything, as they killed all the NPCs as well as those Alliance toons who flagged themselves. Within minutes, an army of 30-40 level 60 Alliance who had just come out of a raid came riding into town on their epic mounts and steamrolled the hordies. What a sight!

(note: After than, I decided to try PvP. I found BG to be boring and there was no real world PvP to speak of, so I gave up)

  • Graphics

I have not played other MMOs so I don’t really have a wide range of comparisons. However, I also think that is true for the majority of subscribers. The game is simply beautiful. Each new zone as you travel is filled with unique and detailed landscapes and features. To this day, two years after buying WoW, I still swivel my camera around to look at the sights while I am on a gryphon.

Not only is the game beautiful, but it runs smoothly on most recent computer systems. That’s nice, because playing at 4 fps is not much fun.

I’m sure I can come up with more. But those are a few that come to mind.

28
Jan
08

Consider me Educated

I do not consider myself to be a great player. I do research obsessively on the internet until I know everything I need about a subject. That doesn’t always translate into in-game performance, though. (darn fingers! won’t do what WoWWiki said to do!)

I leveled my rogue from 1-60 in a mostly subtlety build. I did this despite the fact that I never do PvP. Why? Because it was fun. I was called a noob by other rogues during all that time… but I wasn’t raiding so there was no particular drive to max out damage.

Understand that I knew that I could do more damage in a combat build. I just didn’t want to be the same cookie-cutter rogue as everyone else.

After BC I respecced to Mutilate. I loved that build. The combo point generation allowed me to micromanage my attacks. It seemed that whatever special attack I wanted to use, I had the combo points to do it. Loved it. LOVED IT.

When I finally started raiding into Kara I was always at the top of the damage charts. By a lot. Then by less. Then by not so much. Then, our BM hunter passed me. Then our other BM hunter passed me. (note that they were both survival until recently. Darn BRK!) We are a casual guild, so my spec was never questioned. I was still having fun, but I felt like I was underperforming. In Kara I can’t sap, so my only purpose is DPS.

So…

I changed to Combat Daggers. I must the first rogue EVER to make it all the way to 70 without trying a combat build at all.

Immediately my damage shot through the roof. I increased by almost 100 dps just from the respec, and I am certain that I am not getting the most from the build since it is so new. More energy, less combo points. Must remember to use AR. Must remember to use BF. Must use Rupture, but still have enough combo points to keep SnD going. I think its less fun than Mutilate, but the results are worth it.

So this causes me to question not only myself, but others as well.  Last night we took our first shot at Prince and got him to 1% before respawns and the end of the night’s raiding.  If even one other player is running with a less-than-optimal build, that could have made the difference.  Is it worth it to enforce certain builds for raiding.

I still say no.  But I also wish we had killed Prince and gotten that nice T4 helm.

25
Jan
08

So… another WoW blog

Hi brave reader. That’s right – you’re the courageous one in this relationship. There are a lot of poorly written, low-on-content-high-on-QQ Warcraft-related blogs out there. And you clicked yourself to this one. How do you know that this isn’t another forgettable entry into the Twisting Nether of WoW commentary? Time will tell…

Introduction -

I have been playing WoW for about two years. My main is a 70 Nelf Rogue in a casual guild that has dabbled in Karazhan. I am the GM of that guild (not entirely by my choice, but that’s a story for another post). I also have a 40 Tankadin that I am learning to love. From day one I have played WoW with my wife (resto druid), my two brothers (warrior, hunter), and my sister-in-law (warlock). We all leveled together and learned the game together as a 5-man group. We eventually all joined the same guild.

Early in my WoW life I blogged for a while as a way of helping my family learn the game. I was the Dedicated Researcher and they were my Eager Pupils. My daily existence revolved around WoWWiki and Thottbot. Eventually I found Roguespot and BRK and Tankspot and Resto4Life and pored over them for advice on playing all of the classes in my little band of merry men. I followed the exploits of Gahlok on Frostbolt with envy, wishing that I would someday get a chance to do 40-man raids. I wrote a blog as a convenient way to disseminate my knowledge to the group. That blog faded into the void when we joined a guild. Now, after seeing the vibrant WoW-blogging community that exists online, I decided to give it another go.

What do I have to offer? Another perspective, perhaps. Many of the blogs that I read are rich with tales of triumph and frustration as they move through their T5 level content. Those are fascinating, but I cannot relate to them. I have no tales of BT or TK or SSC to share. My story is more like that of the majority of WoW players… struggling to get to higher level content against obstacles both within and outside of the game, still learning new things about my class and the intricacies of group play. Maybe that’s all been done before. But its new to me.




Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
January 2008
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