Friday, October 31, 2008

Again, real life intrudes into my Wow time. . .

We're having a halloween party tonight which means plenty of tasty adult beverages, people in costumes, and sugary treats, but no Wow. I have a pretty awesome Captain Morgan costume and I'm stoked, this will however delay my attainment of level 70.

Megan at Out of Mana has a hilarious post on Halloween. As a warm blooded male, I enjoy the hell out of *ahem* scandalous female costumes. My fiance is dressed up as a pirate too, just her costume has about 1/8 the fabric of mine. . .HUZZAH!!!

Yeah, halloween is like the best holiday ever. . .I just resent it a little for coming at a time when I have important things to accomplish. . .

Onyxia is our bitch!!

I was deciding what to do last night when one of my guildies mentioned in guild chat that they wanted to try Onyxia. Now, I run dustwallow marsh with every character I make from lvl 36 to 42, so I know exactly where her lair is, I've just never been inside. I also know from reading that it was an old school lvl 60 40 man raid.

A few of our more epic'd out members decided they wanted to run it. We had a prot paladin, a holy paladin, a couple of rogues, a hunter and me (a regular geared 69 prot pally).

The dragon-kin leading up to the actual lair part were ridiculously easy, probably could have solo'd them.

Onyxia herself has LOTS of health. I will say, the part I enjoyed the most is when she sent out her lil whelps. I dunno how many there were, but there were a LOT, which made for a lot of AOE goodness. I wish we'd had a mage to blizzard them. OK, I'm an AOE whore, I just like to see lots of mobs ticking down damage.

It took a while, I ended up switching to sort of off healing (my beating on her while completely ineffectual from a damage standpoint was regaining me mana). 400 points a hit when you're looking at a million HP is a drop in the bucket but even our holy pally's phat epic healz (lol) could be helped with a flash of light every now and then.

Anyways, end result, nobody died, I ended up with the head and a few shards from the useless epics. We got the achievement, and it was pretty fun. Maybe next time when we go back, I will main tank it. . .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I rolled a _______ because. . . .

Gnomeaggedon posted a blog quiz entitled "I rolled a fire mage because. . ." I think it is an interesting thing to think about. Why did we choose our first characters, did we stick with it? Were we correct in our assumptions?

My first character was a paladin named Leshif. I was going to name him Lefish, but a friend/coworker who had been playing Wow for a while convinced me if I reversed the last name, I would have a better shot of not having the name be taken. It seems to have worked, according to the armory, there is only 1 Leshif on US realms.

I picked a paladin because I wanted to be able to wear heavy armor, fight with weapons and heal myself. I pretty much have always played some variation of that in every game, even back to the original Elder Scrolls (I'm talking Arena here, one of my favorite RPG's EVER). I originally specc'd retribution, again because my friend who was playing at the time told me that was the way to go. Apparently unbeknown to me on Pvp servers Paladin = target. This was actually a motivation for switching to a PvE server (I want to play what I want to play, I don't want to have to play something else to keep people from killing me).

I've since rolled every class in the game, I've even rolled a few other paladins. I must admit, I prefer the look of Humans, I even stopped playing my paladin for a while (my warrior hit outlands first on that server). I always come back to paladins. Lately with the changes that were made, protection is pretty much the paladin I always saw myself playing. I can fight multiple groups at a time, they may not die fast, but they die. I can heal myself, and I wear heavy armor. Honestly, I was fine with protection before the changes, it is just a lot more fun now.

So yeah, I think I made a pretty good choice. Thats not to say I dont enjoy playing other classes, I just enjoy paladins most of all. . .

Everyone needs goals. . .

So I've decided on goals for my characters. I basically figured I wanted to select one attainable goal for each character before Wrath releases.

Paladin: Sun Eater - I want it, I've wanted it since the first time I saw it. There may be other weapons with better stats but this is seriously the best looking weapon I've ever seen. This means running heroic mechanar at least once (yeah, I'm sure it won't drop on the first run).

Warrior: Blacksmithing - I had my blacksmithing up to about 280 on the paladin. I dropped it for enchanting. I won't really go into the reasoning, but I think it was a solid decision. That having been said I think a warrior is a good choice for blacksmithing. Although a decision to make is do I go armorcrafting or Axesmithing? I went away from protection on this character to Arms, so Axecrafting may be a more solid choice.

Warlock - Level 58 - I checked at home last night, this char is currently at lvl 48, with presumably max rested XP. I would like to hit lvl 58 so I can push through my tailoring and enchanting. I have stacks of netherweave waiting. We'll see how that goes.

Mage - Lvl 35 and work on Inscription - I leveled inscription to 120ish on the first night with herbs I'd banked. I have some more waiting, but not much in the way of mid level herbs, so I'll have to gather those. I like inscription, I think it provides a minor functional boost and I'm a crafting whore so what else can I do?

I have a number of other characters of course (and I'm not even counting the 20 or so alliance alts I have floating around). I've ignored any leather wearers for a few reasons. A) I have been less motivated to play them, B) I dont have a high level skinner, so I havent been able to make any crafted leather goodies, and C) similar to A, I've found my efforts are best left to leveling a smaller group of alts. I dont care for rogues, so I don't have a horde one anymore. I love druids, but I dont like Tauren, so I just never play my horde druid. Shamans are cool, but never really had the burning desire to play one.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wandering around aimlessly. . .

It boggles my mind. I thought I might never get to 70. Too many alts spread over too many servers. I figured the Pvp would eventually get to me and I would go back to my Alliance PvE characters. It looks like I may have been wrong.

Unless something unforeseen happens, I should ding 70 this weekend.

I figured it would be a momentous achievement. Again I may have been wrong.

I don't know what to do. Do I try to get an uncrushable tanking set knowing in two weeks it will be obsolete? Do I grind dailies for gold? Do I try to level trade skills? Do I level my alts? I've currently got 4 alts I actually play: 69 Blood Elf Pally, 62 Orc Warrior, 40 something Blood Elf Warlock, and a 30 something Blood Elf Mage. I have a spot for a Deathknight saved, and I'm pretty excited to play one, although he'll probably look pretty similar to my Warrior.

So what do I do?

When Wow intrudes into real life. . .

Much like everyone else who plays Wow, I have a real life outside the game. It involves normal every day type stuff: going to work, taking care of our cats, going to the gym, chores around the house, etc.

I do most of the cooking at our house. I became kind of addicted to Food Network while in college, and I enjoy doing it. My fiance cleans up, it works for us. A few nights ago, she wanted me to make chili for dinner. I texted her "I can do that, leave the mats on the counter."


"Mats? WTF" was her reply

It's subtle things like this that make me realize how much this game is seaping into my "real life" not that I mind. . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blizzard, I want my $1.53 back!!

Dear Blizzard,

For as long as I have been playing your game "World of Warcraft", it has given me a generally enjoyable experience. For this reason, it makes the events of the past week that much more shocking. Blizzard, I want a refund of $1.53, which amounts to three days worth of game time. Three days which were completely wasted due to your implementation of the "zombie invasion mechanic". Although I despise PvP, I put up with it, and you have made it possible to enjoy the game in certain areas without fear of random attack and instant death. Until now. I spent over an hour getting ganked, dying, and running back to my body with NO DEFENSE. I was rendered completely unable to accomplish anything in any large cities due to this inconvenience.
I have accepted the fact that games, MMO's in particular have "time sink" mechanics designed to waste a player's time. Never has it been this overt. Since apparently you saw fit to make me completely unable to accomplish anything worthwhile in the game, I want my $1.53 that I spent for this period of time refunded.
I have enjoyed your game for the past 2 years. If something like this happens ever again, I'm canceling my account. There are other things I can spend my money on that don't involve warcraft. As a matter of fact, writing this has made me wonder why I continue your game in the first place.

A disgruntled user

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dr. Phil's credentials should come on a cocktail napkin. . .

Phil deserves to be a doctor about as much as I deserve to be Dr. Fish. I actually may deserve to be a doctor more, I am not under sanctions by any states against practicing pscychology due to inappropriate conduct (check out this link for details). This guy is seriously the John Madden of psychology (minus the "boom").

I am, of course, referring to this post on his website.

Wow phil, trying to say it may be an addictive behavior but want to sound official? I have no doubts that there are people who are "addicted" to Wow. But seriously man, get a life. I have 6 cats, I am allergic to cats, but me and my fiance love our babies. I wouldn't give them up for anything, I just need to take Xyrtec-D twice a day to function. Might interfere with my productiveness at work, I guess I'm addicted to cats. I've played sports in some form or another most of my adult life. I've had 6 concussions, torn my rotator cuff, torn my hamstring, and thats only major injuries. It has caused me to lose horrible amounts of productivity over the years, both in my college years and now in the "real world". I guess I must be addicted to sports. There is also his referrence to "community". Which community are you referring to phil? I don't like my neighbors. The house to the left has yappy dogs who poop in our yard, the house to the right blocks my car in routinely. I don't think my Wow habits are affecting our interactions. On the other hand my guildmates always say hi when I log in, they are happy to see me, and despite the fact that I have yet to do anything productive at all, besides run their lowbie alts through low level stuff for gear, they are encouraging and motivate me to improve.

I am of course being horribly sarcastic. Phil obviously thinks gaming as a whole is unhealthy or he wouldn't have brought this up. Sports is on his list of acceptable "goals" that gaming may interfere with. Gaming is a LEISURE ACTIVITY. It is no different than playing sports, learning the guitar, or engaging in arts and crafts. When was the last time you heard of someone having an intervention because their scrapbooking was interferring with their life.

Apart from my guild, about 1/4 of whom I know in "real life" and a few people I know who play Wow, I don't know what the Wow population looks like, but I'm assuming it is pretty varied. Yes, there are people truly addicted to it. But why not focus on something that is actually a problem in society? Oh yes, I forgot, you're not really a doctor, phil, you can't do anything that would actually be of benefit to anyone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is my "role" within my guild. I've healed before, tanked and done very limited DPS. The thing I always come back to is tanking with my paladin.

So I'm going to be a tank, now and through the expansion. That seems like an easy decision and there are definately resources out there to help (which I will need to make use of, if I knew everything, I'd be level 70 and there would be no ? after the title).

As I see it, there are three main parts to tanking: Threat generation, Gearing, and Marking the instance. Threat generation is no problem. Even with higher level characters, between consecrate, the 90% bonus from righteous fury, holy shield, and the hammer, I should generate more than enough threat to hold the mobs. Gearing also isnt too difficult. Grind rep, grind instances, become uncrushable, improve character from there. There is a degree of randomness to it, but I think I have a handle on what needs to be done. That brings me to marking the instance.

My first experience with marking came this year. I know HOW to do it, tank, DPS, diff CC get different markings, etc. I just lack the knowledge of which mobs are the most important to take out and who I should be giving what marking to. Do I CC casters and tank the melee, leaving casters for later? Who's immune to what? Are there special mechanics from the instance I'm unaware of? Solo I know I can play any class, and understand how they work. I know the diff types of CC's each class has. I DO NOT, on the other hand, have any knowledge of any instance higher level than Slave Pens, and that kind of bothers me.

I don't want to be a crappy tank because I don't know what I'm doing. I guess that is what it comes down to.

So until I get up to speed, I will be Leshif, 66% Maintankadin. . .

Monday, October 20, 2008

A new (to me) useful website

I was reading Tobold's blog as I do every day, and someone commented with a website that lists popular specs. I can't say whether the information is accurate, and it doesnt go in depth about how the specs work, but I found it a helpful additional resource.

Wehn you click in the box to the right, you can filter by class and/or spec. In the middle it has a link to the talent calculator for the spec in question. As I said, there's not the detailed breakdown of Wow Wiki, but it gives a good idea of which specs are popular.

Arms warriors in 3.02

I decided to re-spec my warrior (a waste of 5g, considering I could have done this for free a week ago, but oh well). I definately like the changes to prot warrior, but I prefer prot paladin for tanking and I believe that tree to be superior pretty much in every way (except Pvp, where prot has always been severely lacking and will continue to be so, such is the trade off for Pve utility). I went into the Arms tree, and I'm exceptionally happy with my decision. My favorite fury ability (sweeping strikes) got moved into the Arms tree, so it was an easy decision. While I like dual wielding and titans grip looks interesting (provided you stack enough +hit gear to make it useful), Arms just has way more talents that make me go ooooh.

I got a few hours on sunday to mess with this build and let me tell you, its everything I wanted out of a warrior. I had to switch weapons (I was using shadowrend longblade, not exactly suitable for an arms build). I went pole-axe spec, which seems the only way to go for an orc. I'm just waiting for a decent axe, or polearm, the hellreaver would be a nice start, but its never dropped for this character despite 10+ attempts. Anyways, the arms talents are so much fun. I had always passed over execute because it seemed like a complete waste, yes it's garaunteed to finish them, but you blow all your rage, and most of the damage is wasted. Now, it seems to proc fairly often and the burst damage is impressive. I also was able to execute sweeping strikes with cleave (I wish cleave was instant, but beggars cant be choosers), and the ending arms talent (which seems to be a super 6s whirlwind) against groups, and that was pretty fun. I actually got a lot of use out of the HoT I got for herbalism (I guess I could be swigging potions, but this is free).

The net effect of the change, my XP/hr was greatly improved over prot although nowhere near to the prot paladin (you'll have that when you cant take 5 mobs at a time). Burst damage was greatly increased and will be even better once I get a suitable weapon. I did not notice a significant decrease in mitigation against normal mobs, I will try tanking an instance tonight with just a weapons switch. I believe that although I will have less health and armor than a prot warrior, and of course lose devestate, I will still retain shield slam, sunder armor, and taunts which should allow me to be effective.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The best thing I've read in the past few weeks. . .

This comes courtesy of Critical QQ (Which has been an amazing read of late for Mage-y type info):

Here’s how to enjoy frost in the next couple weeks.

Print off a map of Outland, tape it to a wall you don’t mind getting a hole or two in.
Throw a dart at the map, while Blindfolded. Whatever zone you hit, fly there to whatever flight point is most convenient.
When you land, pick a direction at random (jumping while spinning your mouse rapidly works quite well).
Whatever direction you ended up facing, go that way.

And utterly dominate everything in your path.
Repeat as needed.

More about 3.02

Well, a few observations about 3.02. First of all, looks like XP to go from 60-70 is about half what it used to be. Thats goodness for me in my preparations for northrend. Now I won't feel bad about my 30 alts.

I noticed something in going through the auction house. Some gear which added damage to certain spell types changed, but some retained it's bonus. I saw a mantle of Arcane which still had it's + damage to Arcane, not spell power, however in checking my lowbie mage, my azure silk pants had been changed over to spell power. I believe if it was a white bonus to a school, it retained that coding, but anything that was "on equip" or yellow text seems to have changed to spellpower.

I tanked an instance for the first time after the patch, I enjoy the changed wholeheartedly. Besides the warrior charging in after my shield throw (I told him repeatedly not to do it, I know they take longer to get here, seriously, if you want to fight everything first, roll prot and tank yourself). I really like the improvement to Righteous Fury where we generate 90% more threat from holy (up from 30%). I settled into a pretty stable rotation of holy shield, Consecrate, and the 51-point prot talent (I forget the name). I had no problem holding all mobs, save when I was feared, and usually when I got feared, they chased after me. I actually lost my shield during the run (poor planning on my part) and was still able to hold aggro just through the use of consecrate and the final talent.

And yes, I now have a second shield in my bag at all times, lesson learned.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3.02: The good, the bad, the indifferent. . .


Ok, now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'd like to give my views on the updates with the patch.. Mostly good, some bad, some as the title says indifferent.

The Good:
Tanking awesomeness! My two highest level characters that I currently play are a protection warrior and a protection paladin. I had intended to leave the warrior a tank, and take the paladin holy at 70, but with things in our guild being semi up in the air as far as tanks are concerned, I'm leaving both of them protection. After the re-spec, OMG! Finally, burst damage. And not like a small amount of burst damage, 1700 pnts on Avenger's shield, AWESOME. The new pally ability that does damage to target and additional targets, ALSO AWESOME. I actually felt like I was able do what I did before the patch, but more efficiently and more fun as well. If they come through with dual spec and allow me to have a holy build as well, that will be PERFECT. Oh, not to say I'm not excited about the new warrior goodies, I am. Being able to AOE with my warrior is AWESOME and the cone of cold-y ability they get is pretty sweet, as well as the damaging stun and improved heroic strike. I just don't have enough good things to say about the improvements to tanking DPS. Anyone complaining either A) is asking for too much, B) doesnt play a tank so their comments can't be taken seriously, or B) hasnt actually tried out the new abilities. I am super super happy what they've done with tanks from a solo standpoint.

INSCRIPTION!!! Ok, I am kind of a trade skills whore, so any new crafting is good for me. This one is pretty good. I like the functional boost to talents and the variety that it gives. The scrolls for armor and weapon enchants are AWESOME. I love having the utility to enchant things for my alts, especially BoP equipment without having to get a guildy to do it (granted they all have better enchants than me, but thats not the point)

The Bad:
MY ADD-ONS ARE BROKE!!! Cartographer, I am looking squarly at you. I use a host of different add ons: Cartographer, quest helper, gatherer, titan panel and auctioneer are the main ones. Cartographer is broken to the point where if I open a map with it, the map won't close and I have to shut the game down. QH seems to work ok, but I get a warning that says it is broken. Titan panel won't work, and the link in wow-matrix says their site is down. This is to be expected and within a few days all will be well, but damn it is annoying.

PEOPLE ARE GANKING WITH THEIR NEW TOYS!! Also to be expected, I had to bubble/hearth last night when a mage (human btw, not a gnome) decided to guinea pig his new abilities on me. He was frost, I was less than impressed, but I'll get to that.

WHY THE $#%^ IS THERE A PINK PIGTAILED GNOME WARRIOR ON THE LOAD SCREEN!?!?!? Maybe it was there all along and I never noticed it, but with the new art style, it is un-mistakable. Why Blizzard? Why?

The Indifferent:

Mage and Warlocks seem mostly unchanged: I have a frost mage and an affliction warlock. I decided to stick with those specs (I'm not high enough level as a lock to get the ability where you change into the demon, and even if I was, although its cool, I've adapted to drain tanking and enjoy it too much). I really notice no difference pre-patch to post-patch.

+dam & +heal replaced with spellpower: for my paladin this is super uber huge awesome amazing. For everyone else, I can see why they did it, but I think it makes caster gear lose a lot of flavor. The shadowcloth set used to be warlock and shadow priest only (why would a mage use +shadow damage). Things with extra frost damage were amazing. Now with spellpower, any caster can use any +damage gear. I should have picked up the cheap +arcane gear that was cheap in AH. While I think it will make leveling easier, I wish they wouldnt have done it. It just FEELS wrong.

Those are my initial impressions from a few hours last night. . .

Monday, October 13, 2008

Frost vs Fire vs Arcane

Its like Spy vs Spy. . .except in color, kind of like an orange spy vs a blue spy vs a pink spy.

I will be the first to admit, I am utterly un-qualified to pronounce a winner, but it definately has me thinking. Sorry Gnomeageddon, I've never been a fan of fire, its not you, its your spec. Frost is seen as the ultimate in AOE grinding, there is probably a reason for that. Oh, but there is also the power of the Arcane Explosion spam. This is seriously my favorite non-paladin related blog content. Many thanks to Larisa, Gnomeageddon, and Krizzlybear.

I can breath again!

I havent been able to blog for about a week, we here in the US were in the midst of what experts like to call a "market correction" or as a coworker put it, ANARCHY! Ok, not really anarchy, but people are concerned, scared, and may have over-reacted which may itself have worsened the situation.

Anyways, Wow is having its own "correction": patch day! I am pretty excited about the whole thing. This will be my first major patch in Wow (I started when BC was relatively new, but everything had been implemented). I am VERY excited to see how Ret paladins end up, although I will probably stay Prot (while big damage numbers are fun, killing 5 mobs at once is MORE fun). I'm also excited to see the changes to Prot warriors and how their DPS improves (I have a prot warrior, and although I find warrior tanking easier on single mobs, they just arent as fun in general to me). Mages and Warlocks look unchanged, so nothing else really on the class front for another month.

And a yay for Inscription, I've been gathering and hitting Dark moon Faire, and getting herbs every way I know how to prepare. I am looking forward to more crafting goodness :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Part 2: System

Most mmos focus on 2 aspects of a character: race and class. I see race as primarily window dressing, having racial abilities that vary greatly, although often providing flavor, are inherently disbalancing and I disagree with including them in a game. Class is another thing that I disagree strongly with. I feel that pushing people into pre-defined classes is very limiting, but at the same time makes game balance difficult. "classes" are already just a combination of various skills and talents, why not allow players more freedom to choose the combinations they get?

I've already laid out the player races are based on 4 elements: air, earth, fire and water. Each element has a magical skill line and a non-magical skill line. The race that corresponds to each element receives the skill line within that element for a slight discount. The elements and skills are: Air; Marksmanship & Arcane; Fire: Arms & Summoning; Water: Subtlety & Healing; Earth: Survival & Evocation. There would be certain "generic" skills that everyone had access to: ability to wear certain types of armor, riding, cooking, first aid, etc.

Characters would get a number of points to buy basic abilities in the various skills, but if they wanted to select "template" classes, there would be some of the more classic ones for quicker entry into the game. Starting stats would be determined by which skills the character selected. This would give a much greater depth of possible character types. Want to be a classic warrior? Put all your points into Arms. Ranger? Marksmanship and survival. Granted, humans would make better warriors than dwarves, but not to a disbalancing level.

I think this would give a greater depth of characters, but also allow things to be more balanced. Anyone with a decent level in Arms and with ability to wear plate could tank. Anyone with a decent Healing could heal. Each race has some manner of doing DPS, be it magical or non magical.

It is also a departure from the traditional "this race can be X, Y, and Z class" of previous games.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Section 1: Setting

The most important part of any game is the setting, why should we play? Mmo's are unique from single player games in that content is generally less story based & cinematic, but generally offers much wider choices.

My game would be high fantasy, yes there are a number of other games in this genre but it works. Magic, swords, knights on horseback, the whole bit, no reason to change it.

Most of the world history would be based on the four elements: Air, Earth, Fire and Water. When the gods of this world created the planet, they created a sovereign race to embody each element: Elves for air, Humans for fire, Terzak (a lizard-like humanoid race) for water, and Dwarves for earth. The gods did not reveal the existance of a fifth element: Void.

Each race has its own lands, and rulers. They are sovereign independant states which conduct trade with each other as well as battle for territory. After centuries of status quo, the forces of void invade the land. I see the forces of void being the classic undead, skeletal in nature.

The primary struggle in the world is the forces of void versus the other four elements, but there are sub-struggles. Elves and dwarves, being polar elemental opposites frequently fight with each other, as do humans and terzak. Since this is also a fantasy game, there would also be various wandering monsters, pirates, marauders, things of that nature.

My hypothetical MMO. . .

I have to preface this series of posts with the expectation that this is an intellectual exercise only. I have no experience at game design apart from some work on various pen and paper games and this wouldn't be an in depth look at anything mechanical anyways. My intent is to set forth a framework of what I would consider a superior MMO. Not perfect, I don't believe you can ever please everyone. I also wanted to use mostly my own concepts without borrowing any lore and borrowing very minimally from other games. I will be breaking it down into 5 sections: setting, system, trade skills, PvE, and PvP. I believe these are the core mmo elements.