Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins. . .

Well, I have been pretty good about my Wow exile, have to say I'm not really missing it. I have been playing a lot of Dragon Age: Origins, and I have some thoughts on the game, a few which apply to the mmo genre.

First of all, one of the major selling points of the game are the 6 different "origins" you get when creating a character. Some of them are VERY good, some of them are meh. Having played through all of them, I have to say my absolute favorite is the City Elf, its amazing. Common Dwarf and Human Noble were also very good. Dhalish elf and Noble Dwarf had their high marks, but didn't give me the same general sense of purpose. The mage origin was a complete disappointment. It just wasnt fun and involved a lot of running around. I was expecting equal amounts of action in all of them damn it!

As far as classes go, Dragon Age Origins has a very interesting but fun system. There are only three classes in the game: Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. However, each class has access to various ability subsets. For example, both warriors and rogues have access to Archery and Dual wield trees. Mage is just a generic magic user, they can access both elemental and healing trees. Another interesting aspect of the classes are the unlockable "prestige classes" these unlock new special abilities. I really think this gives Dragon Age a high degree of customization and replay value. My main character is a tank warrior with the shield specialization abilities. Having played through the early parts of the game with other class/specs, things just seem to go smoother with me being the focus of enemy damage.

The stats in the game are also very simplistic and intuitive. Strength is your melee damage and ability to use heavy weapons and armor. Dexterity is your ability to dual wield, hit with missile weapons, and avoid being hit by enemies. Willpower determines the pool and regeneration of your resource bar. Magic is your ability to cast spells. Constitution (I think thats the name of it) determines health and regeneration. Lastly Cunning is a social stat, which impacts your interactions and also for rogues, your ability at picking locks and disarming traps. Its a straightforward system that works. I would have liked to see constitution as a little more impactful, but other than that, I have no complaints.

Presentation-wise, I have only a couple complaints. First of all, there is no way to skip certain cut-scenes. If you're making a new character, you have to sit through the opening cinematic. Its very well done, but the 8th time you see it, it loses some appeal. Also, the weapons seem elongated. One handed swords look to be two handed weapons size-wise, daggers are shortsword sized, and two handed weapons are just ridiculously long.

One feature I think is awesome, and one that has potential for mmo's is the ability to set tactics for your NPC's. Rather than just rely on AI to control them, you can specificy tasks for them to accomplish as well as cycle through and give them individual instructions. I will admit, I'm not very good at initiating a turn based type combat, I will have to look into doing that. Guild wars had something where you could hire mercenaries to do group content, and I think this is a feature mmo's should definately look into. I don't like groups or grouping, I would LOVE to hire NPC's to run group content. It could also be an effective gold sink if done correctly.

Hope everyone is enjoying 3.3 and is having a happy happy holiday season. Also, to any of my Jewish readers, Happy Hannukah!

Monday, December 7, 2009

done with Wow. . .

I made a pretty significant decision on friday: I decided to quit World of Warcraft. Now, I have attempted to quit before, only to come back, my reasons are a little different now.

They say one of the signs of addiction is when it starts interfering with your life. Now, I'm not saying I'm necessarily addicted to Wow, but there are a lot of parallels. I work 10 hour shifts at my job, and have around a 45 minute commute. Normally my days consist of go to work, come home, play wow, go to bed. I don't necessarily have a problem including video games in the routine, but as we all know, there is no "sit down for 45 mins and play" with Wow. For me, it's more sit down, and next thing you know it's 12:30am and you have to leave the house at 7:10 to be at work on time. Another factor in the decision is my difficulty in juggling Wow and the gym. I will admit, I don't enjoy working out. I have alwats done it because either I had to, or it was a means to an end.

Do I believe it is possible to juggle Wow and still have a healthy well rounded life? Definately. I have just come to the conclusion that thats not something I can manage. I havent necessarily decided to completely flee the MMO genre, but for now, I need to cut Wow out of my life to focus on the rest of it.

I may still blog from time to time about other things, I think Dragon Age: Origins is an AMAZING game, but the Wow chapter in my life is closed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alts, gear grinding, and the use for Rawr. . .

Gnomeageddon posted a really great post about Rawr, much better than anything I would write. Unfortunately, I can't link it. My work has blocked his blog *tear* I read it on my blackberry, not my preferred method of reading blogs, but occasionally necessary. Anyways, I had previously downloaded rawr because after a point, I had no idea what would actually constitute an upgrade, and what was the most bang for my buck.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about gearing lately. What is the best/fastest/cheapest/most efficient way to gear alts vs mains. Do I use emblems on BoA gear? Do I use emblems for main spec or off spec? I just wanted to shed some light on my decision making process, as someone with a ton of alts, who didnt previously run much, and tries to solo as much as possible.

First of all, crafted gear is your friend. Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, Leatherworking and Tailoring can give you great starter gear at 80, most of which you will be keeping for some time. My shammy is still using ebonweave gloves with precision on them, even after getting almost all the drops I can use from heroic ToC, as well as the Revenant's Breastplate. Jewelcrafting has been another SERIOUS help because the crafted purples (rings especially) are really good and have a lot of value. My shammy is still wearing the spellshock ring (socketed with runed cardinal ruby) and pally is still wearing the crafted tanking ring and necklace. Druids can gear up for raid tanking pretty much with crafted gear alone.

What do you do with emblems, seals, runes, marks, shards, etc? Well, this is a big decision. First of all, this is a bigger decision for those characters who can fill multiple roles. Paladins, Death Knights, Priests, Warriors, Druids, and Shammies are probably going to have multiple sets of gear to fill. This is my take on it: fill the gear for the rarer role first. Tanking or healing will always be in demand and groups want the best geared characters they can find in that role. Tank have 25k health? Unacceptable. Also, if you are tanking or healing, most higher geared DPS won't need/want a lot of the gear that drops and have no problem with a tank or healer occasionally needing on some items that just aren't upgrades for them, but are huge upgrades for the tank/healer. Stonekeeper's shards I use entirely for BoA gear. I don't PvP, have no use for it, so I have no need for PvP gear. In general, I would say use emblems to upgrade your character, however, if you level a lot of alts, the chest pieces become good values. Stick to caster cloth and DPS leather. Why? Well, all caster and DPS classes can wear those pieces, and the armor difference from 1-2 pieces will have a negligable effect on mitigation. As an example, I had my shammy wearing the cloth caster chest. The difference vs a mail chest? Around 1% more damage taken. 10% more exp is more than worth it and my warlock, mage, and priest can all use that chest when leveling. I have already used the leather shoulders for warrior, DK, shammy and druid (I leveled shammy enhancement). Forty emblems is a lot, but one piece of gear that four alts can use is probably a worthwhile investment, provided you like leveling alts. As always, your mileage will vary.

One very interesting piece of currency is the Champion's seal. I find these to be mostly worthless. Why is that? Well first of all, what can you buy with them? Blue armor and a few purple weapons. Well, while the weapons are a good investment if you can use them (my pally is using the greatsword of the sindorei in my ret set), once you've bought that, they just sort of accumulate. I was working on the "crusader" title, but that takes FOREVER. Considering it takes what? 5-10 hours total to get 40 emblems vs WEEKS of dailies and jousting to get crusader, it just isn't worth it. Get your chestpiece with emblems, ignore the Champion's seals. If you love the jousting and are good at it, go ahead and grind. There will always be groups doing threat from above and foot of the citadel. I personally hate the jousting, I had to cheat to beat the valiant, the thought of doing that 2-3 more times just for a BoA chest is more than I can handle.

A few last thoughts on Rawr. I loaded up my pally in rawr, and the results were similar to my shammy in the DPS spec. The numbers it gave me for expected DPS were roughly half what I actually did, even on encounters where you just stand there and DPS (my pally does less than 2k DPS, yes I suck at doing damage, I think it's mostly horrible gearing). The thing that I find most useful about Rawr is that it shows what items might be upgrades for you from what you're wearing. For my pally that means more Savage Saronite gear, mix in some mail here and there, and fix my gemming. I will probably learn the Dragon eye cut for pure strength. Its a good tool, just not a be all, end all.