Saturday, November 10, 2012

When Your Best Isn't Enough

Someone once said to me that if a game reduces you to tears, it's time to stop playing. I disagree.

6th. In the end, its all about the numbers.

Last night I failed to bring the numbers. If you know the first fight in the Moshugan Vaults then you will be aware that to succeed (and to not hit the enrage timer) all your DPS are going to need to bring at least 44k to the table. What makes this screenie all the more significant is the priest at #3 swapped out of healing to dps when it became apparent we weren't going to do it. He should have stayed healing. Last night, I did not do what was required.

My hunter compatriot wasn't rocking the same spec as me, but was able to contribute (on average) 8-10k dps more than me per fight. The next question, as far as I am concerned now becomes: why?

Our gear is, if truth be told, pretty much comparable. He's Survival, I'm BM, but even switching spec last night to match his could not give a return comparable to his. I was told this morning by my husband that I failed to grasp a fundamental mechanic (you should always attack lions in pairs, never a solo lion even if it's the one charging for overload because of the damage reduction a single lion possesses) but even so... 10k. That's a MASSIVE difference. My Paladin mate also has a dps issue but a great deal of that cannot and should not be laid at his door because as melee, he has his work cut out to begin with. I'm at range, I can pretty much pick and choose where I stand and (assuming not encumbered by Chains) should have far more opportunity to actually do damage. The question remains: why am I not bringing the numbers?

I am as well geared as it is possible for me to be considering the circumstances of my rep position. I have maxxed Valor every week and bought items according to gear lists. I am optimally enchanted, gemmed and reforged. At this point, I am left with one very simple possibility. We apply Occam's Razor and the answer to my question becomes clear: I am the problem.

I get confused in fights and forget cooldowns. When I macro them I forget to use the macros. I spend more time concentrating on the floor and not stepping in stuff than I do putting dps into the boss. I am not capable of co-ordinating with the speed and dexterity of my hunter friend, who is not only capable of all these things, he can also tell me on Teamspeak when I should be moving when I forget I should. These are my failings, and no amount of gear and macroing will ever solve these problems. The only way I will ever improve my dps in these circumstances is by doing better than I did, and by learning to do things differently. I do not expect to be carried, and as GM I cannot be critical of anyone else until I am capable of doing so myself.

When I look at people complaining on the forums they are nerfed or that things are too hard, it makes me wonder if they have take the time to stop and think about all of these things. I also wonder, when I look at people who effectively leave characters because they 'don't work for them' if these people did their best and were able to take a long hard look at all the problems that there were to solve, and not just the ones that involved Blizzard making the game easier. I don't want an easy game, I need one that makes me think and demands I work it out and expects me to do the absolute best I am capable of. When my best isn't enough, it isn't Blizzard's responsibility to meet me halfway. If I want it, I should have to work for it. I shouldn't be able to buy my way to success either: I purchased a Tigers Deck this morning (as it is the last day of the Fair) as I know it is a major upgrade but with the knowledge that extra stat boost only means something if I make the most of it. Just having the numbers is pointless if you cannot maximise their potential.

I click my abilities and don't use a keyboard. I'm a keyboard turner. Both of these things I know are sub-optimal, and will require a major shift in co-ordination after eight years. I'll still get confused and forget stuff, and I'm not sure how I can cope in situations where I know every ounce of dps will count. The most sensible solution is also remarkably easy: I just don't pick myself any more. If there are better players who can bring the bigger numbers it is a simple equation: bring those people to beat the content. Then of course we move into a whole different moral predicament: should it be about beating the content at all? Should you not pick your pace over the need to run to the line? If everyone else is faster than you, there comes a point where it could become unfair to expect them to wait, where you could be seen to hold them back rather than be helpful to the overall cause. These are the problems you need to deal with as a GM. These are the things I must consider before our next raid.

I need to improve the player I am and what I an capable of doing.

There is a very good reason why L2P can be as abusive a phrase as it is. If you can, then it is likely you will never understand the issues that arise if you can't. Knowing you can't, and admitting that fact is often very difficult. Objectivity can often be too painful and it becomes easier just to either ignore the problem or blame it on someone else, and not yourself. The fact of the matter remains in this case: I am the one who needs to change, and I need to find ways I can do that which I can easily grasp and that will have decent, long term benefits to my playstyle. In the end, I need to pull my weight, and if I'm not capable of doing that then the solution is fairly straightforward. Blizzard tell us to bring the person and not the toon, but that only works to a point. I don't expect anyone else to change one iota of anything because I can't bring what's required at this point. The responsibility rests firmly on my shoulders. I just wish more people would understand that when you can't bring the numbers it might have something to do with the person playing...

Friday, November 09, 2012

IntPiPoMo 2012 :: Across the Wall

The sky should be enough of an indicator... :D

It has been a long week of Real Life Awesomeness: I got to see one of my heroes in concert, and I've been struggling (it must be said) to keep up with my NaNoWriMo commitments. Then there's game time. I am acutely aware that the time it takes to do most things currently I just don't have, so I've been trying to fit stuff in as and when I've been capable. This means inevitably the Golden Lotus and the Klaxxi (I managed Stay Klaxxi yesterday, wanted it as much for the name as the actual achievement!) and that in turn means a flight across the Wall.

I am totally in love with the architecture in this patch.

I will say this much for the levelling experience this time around, the 'story' of this land has been beautifully played out, and the conflict my faction inadvertently awakened really is capable of enormous destructive force. Nowhere is that more obvious than on the other side of the Serpent's Spine from the Vale of Eternal Blossom.

The Serpent's Spine from the Dread Wastes.

The Pandaren didn't build this wall to hide something away, the built it to keep something out... or many things, if my Dailies are any indicator. If it's not the Klaxi its the Yaungol (or, as I discovered when I did the Heart of Fear LFG this week, both together) I'm not sure if this massive Sha infestation is a direct result of the Alliance's intervention but I'm going to assume for the sake of argument that it is. needless to say, the clean-up is a right arsepain ^^

Yeah, we did that. *cough* Sorry!

I am more excited about Heart of Fear as an instance than I was initially about the Vaults: second boss there is going to be THE MOST ANNOYING EVER but aside from that, I think the use of mechanics is clever and it should provide a decent set of challenges for raiders.

The Heart of Fear.

This weekend I hope to drag everyone over to the Darkmoon Faire for their +5 to professions, so I'd expect some postage from there, and I'm hoping we might get some more Battle Pet locations too... :D

The Guild of Calamitous Intent

What Brawler’s Guild Is
  • A fun, but small diversion that could grow in time
  • A venue for a realm’s community to come together
  • A unique way to earn some solo PvE bragging rights
  • A cool place to hang out

What Brawler’s Guild Isn’t
  • A means of solo progression
  • A major patch feature accessible to everyone (at first)
  • A way to earn lots of in-game rewards
  • Proving Grounds where you can develop class skills (that’s a different feature arriving later on)

I'm hearing a lot of muttering about this new feature for 5.1. When news of it first reached me I have to say I was intrigued, and when I heard that it was being placed inside the Deeprun Tram I immediately assumed it would be instanced. What is becoming abundantly apparent in recent days is that this 'experiment' (not my word, Blizzard's) is not about sticking stuff away for individual consumption, but more along the lines of the Jousting Tournament we saw in Icecrown, married with Arena-style ranks which you can watch being attained, even if you can't take part.

There are, as a result, some fairly major concerns on how it will work in practice, especially on high population realms. Add to that the revelation this week that to gain entry you'll need an invitation, that (initially) will only be purchasable on the Black Market Auction House. Blizzard have since qualified that additional invites will be saleable by players on the normal AH to boot. Now call me a cynic, but giving something (potentially) that valuable to people is going to raise some eyebrows to begin with, especially as this entire venture is, in Blizzard's own words, a way to earn Solo PvE bragging rights. I think sometimes Blizzard deliberately decide to overlook the 'how much I sold this for on my server' bragging rights: foolishly gifting a very small proportion the opportunity to monopolise on something is never a wise move...

While that's something we're going to be keeping an eye on, it will be quite difficult to monopolize the invitations. The current plan is to furnish 10 new Bind on Pickup invites on the Black Market Auction House each day, so anyone trying to control all the invitations on a realm would have to have quite a fortune, and be willing to spend it all on nothing more than simply delaying, not stopping, other players from joining the Guild.

You remember the conversation we had back in Beta, Blizzard? About how if you let people be able to cage Wild Pets it would allow those individuals a massively unfair advantage if they had enough cash to buy their way to a top team? I hate to break it to you, but there are people with enough money and clout on servers to make exactly what you're saying a reality. I'm also betting these people won't simply capitalise on this, they'll exploit it to the absolute max. When you use the expression 'bragging rights' in YOUR OWN PREAMBLE it is abundantly clear what kind of event you're going for. Absolutely THE LAST THING you want to be doing as a result is allowing people to buy themselves into the idea. This is completely not what Warcraft is about.

You would have thought that after eight years of 'experiments' someone in the Dev Team would have grasped some fundamental truths concerning wealth and power. The bigger problem comes with the stark reality that this game has not found a way of adequately metering content in a way that can bring an entire server together... actually, hang on...

The AQ Gates 'Event' was, quite frankly, a stroke of genius. It mobilised THE ENTIRE SERVER to gather a certain amount of mats, but it was down to just one Guild to get to the Scepter first. They all had an equal chance to succeed, it was simply down to who completed the questline before the other... so everyone was in a race, but no-one knew the outcome.

Why couldn't we do this with the Brawler's Guild? More importantly, why couldn't Blizzard implement a quest chain for Guilds to complete to win the rights to be in the Arena first? It would mean that the only limiting factor could not be bought outright, it would come down to those prepared to put in the hours. It would allow 'casual' guilds to have the chance to take part on an even footing as well if Blizzard din't make it just about beating boss X or being first into instance Y: if it was about the number of daily quests a guild did, for instance, or maybe the number of a special dish they cooked, or even the number of pet battles they won... oh yeah, that's what casuals do. That's a currency too you know, all those numbers could finally have a value...

One of the reasons I suspect there is a reticence to allow Brawler's Guild invites a wider audience is exactly the same problem that plagued ever server the day they opened the AQ Gates: server meltdown. The harsh reality of this plan, as it stands, is REALLY simple: at some point the numbers of people will make it break. There is a very real potential for massive queues, there could well be latency and server stability issues INSIDE THE TWO MAIN FACTION CAPITALS. What would be far more sensible, it does at least seem to me, is to go with the following:

  1. Instance the Brawlers Guild, with a 40 man limit. Guilds can then watch their own fights, without crashing servers and causing inconvenience. Rankings are still available on a server-wide basis (similar to Challenge Mode scores) and if you want to invite people or organise special Server/Cross server Tournaments, you can do it without inconveniencing anyone else.
  2. Win your invite, don't buy it. Give us a quest line, in the World, to show us how the Guild works. Fight monsters 'in the wild' to EARN YOUR RIGHT.
  3. Make it so you need a certain number of invites and then your ENTIRE GUILD gets an invite to the Brawler's Guild by default. This then gives people the 'bragging rights' to be the first Guild sanctioned as Brawler's Guild Affiliates or some such title, and anyone in the Guild has an invite. Don't make them saleable, tie them to a Battle Net account, and make sure ALL the achievements are account wide.

Although the principle of the Brawler's Guild is sound, and I applaud Blizzard's attempts to bring back some community spirit to servers, I don't think certain people programming this really grasp the way things work best 'out here' You tie ANYTHING to cash and you're on a hiding to nothing. There are other ways, and you've used them in the past. Perhaps its time to give Guilds some love, and not simply the people within them with the most gold.

[Footnote: I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person with these concerns. Olivia Grace echoes many of these sentiments in her post on WoW Insider (that I managed to completely miss) Needless to say, I really hope someone up the ladder at Blizzard is listening...]

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

IntPiPoMo 2012 :: Enforced Nostalgia

I had a lavish plan today, which included taking pictures of all the best locations in the Vale of Eternal Doobrey when I 'do' dailies. Sadly, the servers are currently broken, and as I'm out this afternoon and evening, it occurs to me that I may have to resort to some nostalgia to keep the post count coming. So, as a result, and between bouts of Internet Shopping, I present some of my favourite screenshots from my folder.

Dragonblight. Aurora borealis a bonus.

The more I look back on it, the more I realise how much I enjoyed the LK Expansion, which wasn't what I said a lot of the time. Nostalgia again softens the heart for the past: it wasn't outer space, it was beautiful to look at and its soundtrack was GORGEOUS. Its still the only part of the levelling process I really enjoy (and I actually look forward to jousting now, which constantly amazes me.) Lots of snow appeals to my Inner Dwarf. This was taken whilst hunting for Rares, which I did a lot as I recall...

My name is The Godmother, and I have a Horde Alt...

This is Tanaris before the Flood, and the first time I felt confident enough to admit I was playing both sides. I suspect I was in the late 40's when this picture was taken: I've been quietly levelling her to complete Double Agent and we're halfway to 88 as I type this. Needless to say, the Horde get just as many disparaging looks for their behaviour in Pandaria as the Alliance do...

Uldum. Bane of my existence.

I love Uldum, even after almost ruining my life there via Archaeology ^^ I'm a sucker for ancient Egyptian anything, so as a result just about anything in the zone makes me happy, even if not all of it is linked to a mount. This used to be my background wallpaper for quite some time on the site as a result, and I still remember rather fondly those early days when I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who'd read my stuff. It's always slightly amazing to grasp how far I've come in such a short space of time... :D

Relevance in Context. Discuss!

I love this part of the Jade Forest for a lot of reasons but mostly because it bought home to me what context can do in certain situations. I'd seen the original artwork for this monument well before Pandaria went live but singularly failed to grasp its significance in what was a far wider context: that the anger on the third panel wasn't simply metaphorical was a biggie for starters... I also like the scale of my wee Dwarf Girly in relation to the entire thing. This land is BIG, folks, never forget that. Gonna take a LONG time before we're done here too... :D

The Campfire Ticket

I hope the guys at The Daily Blink are feeling smug...

Apparently there was some kind of election in the US yesterday. All I'm going to say on it is I hope if you're reading this in the US (or if you're overseas but eligible) you exercised your democratic right and voted. Many, many people died to give you that opportunity, after all.

With Vol'jin not only getting a new model in 5.1 but also becoming the key figure in the next Warcraft novel I think it's fair to say that the popular vote's going his way. It is interesting to see Sylvanas polling so high considering her more creative use of Eugenics: however, it appears that Vol'jin's running mate of choice this time around should be an inanimate object that grants a spirit buff. If you don't know the joke, you should check out The Daily Blink's strip from back in March. There's even a Facebook page.

The campfire was mooted as a replacement for Thrall, before we all became aware the Garrosh was going to go insane (and presumably trash Orgrimmar in the process, Godzilla style. MAKE IT HAPPEN BLIZZARD) It says a lot about the way Warcraft culture works that The Sha of Happiness is also looking like it could make an appearance as a Dark Horse candidate (Dark Amorphous Blob candidate would be more appropriate) I'm kinda hoping that, levity aside, we'll see some actual references to the Campfire in game because it says a lot in my mind to the way people consider the concept of leadership in game. Do you really need leadership at all? After all, give it to the wrong person and you're back in the Dark Ages... ^^

I'm seriously considering getting the PTR fired up so I can go take a look at what's going on in Karasang right now, and how this might have a direct bearing on the progression of lore and the balance of power. We live in interesting times on Azeroth, an awful lot hangs in the balance and it will be a number of key individuals who hold the balance of power over the coming months.

Maybe one of them will give us a spirit buff if we sit by them...?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Game Mechanics?

LFR Rewards Visibility

Even if I don't get anything, I want to see what other's get. Not just NOTHING and some gold. I want the slight drama of who gets the high roll, etc.

What would that change other than creating drama as you mentioned? (and the kind of drama that doesn't really add anything to the community, I believe).

Under the new loot system, since you're not affected by what others get (your chance of getting a drop lies strictly on what your roll is against the system, no matter how many items might have been distributed already), there's no big loss to see if others were rewarded (besides mere curiosity and the potential of people starting to argue that this one player undeservedly got an item because of X).

Loot in LFR continues to be a 'thing' whenever I'm in there: its become pretty much a given that as soon as a Boss dies, someone complains they only got gold. This is odd: nothing really has changed in that regard since the last expansion, and everyone has ALWAYS gotten gold after bosses died. What has changed therefore since the last expansion and this one to make this issue so contentious?

It has to be that, despite assertions by many to the contrary, people actually want drama to be part of the game mechanics.

I'm still a massive supporter of the new LFR rules, so much so that I'm still hoping that it'll be rolled out to LFG. The only difference I can see is that loot is guaranteed in one and a chance in the other: putting the system into LFG would mean you'd not necessarily see loot every time a boss died, and that might not be a bad idea either if we're trying to educate new players as to how things work by running dungeons before raids to begin with. It is going to take a larger sample size than just over a month's worth of game time but, if I'm honest, I'd say I'm accruing loot thus far at a decent enough rate as this is the only raid environment so far that I'm involved with. After all, its not just about what you get when the big guys tumble, it's how much.

Taking the drama out of this situation clearly doesn't mean the issues go away: you can still run a PuG if you fancy a fight, but if you're smart and make sure you have some loot rules clearly stated in Raid before you begin even that can can be solved. The problem with this however is that its anything but a guarantee that you'll be able to randomly abuse people you've never met before... and with the changes to Legendary loot (so that anyone has an equal chance of owning summat Orange with the only current provisio beeing to stay with the game throughout the entire Expansion) you've gotta think some people are wondering where they'll be able to pick up their random abuse and regular griping... so off they've gone to the Forums. Problem there is that you have to alt tab out of the Game to complain... unless of course you run the game in windowed mode... ^^

I have never been a great fan of Drama. I do occasionally let the RNG get to me however, especially when I've been at something for some time without any discernible reward. I can tell you who in Guild loves to moan regardless of the issues, or the drop rates, and I know this is very much a part of certain people's relationship with the game, as I would suspect is also the case with things outside Azeroth. What I find incredible is that if someone in the Real World went to the amount of trouble Blizzard have to improve people's quality of life, they'd get a lot less grief and a lot more general acceptance for their efforts. It just goes to show, you can't keep everyone happy, even if you do your best.

If you're one of those people who feels there's not enough drama in game, don't worry. Looking at the fuss currently being generated by invite dispersal for the Brawler's Guild on the PTR, I'm sure you'll have plenty new stuff to moan about for quite some time to come...

Monday, November 05, 2012

IntPiPoMo 2012 :: Places of Work

The Auction House in the Dwarven District.

I'm not going to have much time for actual play this week, with an awful lot on IRL. However, I will be keeping a daily eye on my AH Empire. As a result, the next group of screenies for IntPoPiMo aren't the most exotic, but form an important part of proceedings. Most people take their Auction House trips for granted: it's a necessary evil if you're raiding (and on limited time) and can be a dangerous indulgence if you spend too long staring at stuff. For me, at least for the last month, its been part of my daily routine. I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I make enough on what I sell for it to be a viable alternative to grinding at present. This comes from selling stuff I make from leather picked up doing dailies, my stockpile of minipets and bags made before the Expansion launched, and the occasional foray out into the Old World (more of that hopefully in the week.)

The Auction House in Ironforge.

I have a fairly extensive network of Bankalts: one lives in Stormwind, another in Ironforge. My (currently redundant) Horde rogue acts as Dark Side Seller and there's the Wide Boys Inc of Human/Undead doing the business in Booty Bay across the Neutral AH:

The AH is behind me. Use your imagination.

Needless to say, this is part of my routine I have no problem living through, despite its lack of exotic backdrop. If I had the money and the time, I suspect I would have a bankalt posted at every AH available in game so I could flick through them all on a daily basis. Needless to say, unless the six numbers and bonus ball come up, this is unlikely to ever happen...