Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O frabjous day!

Callooh! Callay! I chortle in my joy! Because blizzard has seen fit to respond to my most recent post with a wondrous statement: http://www.wowhead.com/blog=175386/experience-reduced-for-dungeon-quests! Experience is being reduced for dungeon quests! Success! Triumph! Happiness for all!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Old Solution is a New Issue

Leveling some characters on a RPPvP realm (I normally play on a normal) in the post-cataclysm has given me an interesting yet vaguely annoying feeling - I level too fast. Way too fast. I mean, I should be progressing to the next zone when I've barely completed the first quest hub. While I am not required to move to the next zone, it does mean that questing provides no challenge whatsoever, which is much less fun for me. And I was on a new server, so no twinking, and no heirlooms! "Egads!" You must be saying. "Where could we have gone so wrong?" There are 3 simple reasons: Random Dungeons, Past Habits, and Tons of Content.

Random Dungeons
In the old days zones were structured as follows: Intro quest(s), Exclamation Point Explosions, then Dungeons. The Intro quests were just to give brief exposition; they could be as brief as a one-quest story bit from Hemet Nesingwary in STV, or as intricate as a couple quest chain. the Exclamation Point Explosion (which has all but disappeared in the Wrath/Cata world) was when your minimap would be flooded with fifty quests and you'd refer to Wowwiki or your leveling guide, or your pal who just leveled the wrong way. Dungeons could be instanced or microdungeons, like Jintha'Alor, and you'd have a smattering of quests that let you go into the dungeon and beat up some trolls or naga or what have you. It was not this organized, but it was what was behind the design.

In BC, they refined their ways to the form above. It worked well; at normal speed of leveling, you would get through every quest and every dungeon and be very prepared for the next zone. Then... well, then came XP nerfs (which I won't write about, because they should be taken into consideration when Cata was designed) and wrath. Oh, I should note - you could intentionally make the game easier by doing more lower level quests, or harder by doing fewer harder zones. 

Then came random dungeons. Dungeon quests are now offered in instances (so they are removed from the lore of zones), making people think of them more as separate bits of 30-minute content. XP-ridden content. You can level a good number of times without actually doing quests and not getting bored of dungeons. With a new dungeon ever couple levels, it's quite profitable to at least run them a few times and out-level what the zone thinks you should be. 

Past Habits
Face it - Wow had 11.5 million players BEFORE Cata. even if a solid million of players now come with Cata, it's ridiculous to assume that the majority will not have played the game before. That means people leveling will be looking at content with experience; this means people will be smarter. Running dungeons when they're bored, killing a few extra mobs for a bit more xp, making sure your characters are well equipped, not to mention bag space, twinking, and heirlooms. Especially not the heirlooms. People will be smarter, and out-gear and level content faster.

A Bloody Ton of Content
Not a whole lot to say here. There's a bloody ton of content, and not only is there lots, but it's good content. Compelling. And fun. More zones = more XP = more outstripping of higher zones.

Why is this a bad thing? Well, if I want to play the game - and make it a challenge - I have to a) skip fun content or b) not finish any content. Both suck. Or, I could cap my XP. Which is no fun, because I still want to develop my character. Solutions? Maybe a Difficulty slider, or an XP slider, or something? Please? Because your game is fun, Blizz, and I want to play it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sheldras Moontree and his Fair Warning

Sheldras Moontree was the head druid trainer (or so it looked like) in The Park of Stormwind. When Deathwing took a little vengeance upon the trees and happy courtyards, he managed to escape with a few others out to the docks, where he currently resides. When you approach him on a druid, he says an oddly forecasting statement:

"There will be a time soon where the call of the Emerald Dream will take hold in you. You will hibernate for many years and walk amongst the purest of forms. It is there and then that your ultimate training will take place."

Well. What does that mean? First off, Stormrage was only a setback. Obviously we are going to the Emerald Dream at some point, but in no way can it be as peaceful as our Lunar Arborist suggests - because there is no such thing as class-specific content any more, remember?

What I think is going to happen is that some time before the expansion is launched but in a world event, there will be a little class specific content. Druids will be called together and will enter the Emerald Dream. But all will not be as was hoped - and Old God, or one of their puppets, resurfaces there and the entire fight begins. The druids have to open a massive portal to Moonglade (all sorts of potential here), where a huge staging ground is built and (just like in Ulduar) the horde and the alliance aren't teaming up this time.

So the expansion Starts - using a heavy amount of phased content - when the invasion of the emerald nightmare/dream begins. Unlike Outland, where bases and outposts are already made (Honor Hold must've taken months to build), this one's entirely fresh - any quest hub will be the barest of places and entirely phased. Tacking in monthly world events that are seemingly in the works, this hypothetical expansion could be quite epic indeed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Awesome Idea that Never Will Exist

Blizzard implements an item, given through a ridiculously long (perhaps repeatable) quest chain which is profession specific, which acts as an enchantment to any item of rare quality or lower. When it is applied, it turns said item into Bind on Account, scaling based upon your character's level. Totally, totally wicked awesome. Never, ever implementable. Le sigh.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wulfrix on the evolution of rotation complexity

As a preface to this post, it would be widely advisable to go read This Post over on WoWInsider. Essentially, it's a peek into Blizzard's current design focus, and how the game has adapted from a 'Sink or Swim' talent speccing situation to a 'Dog-paddle or Butterfly'. While talents have previously blatantly disregarded the community that is built up around the game, now they incorporate this huge community fanbase into existing design decisions. Interesting stuff, but for one simple issue, which Eyeball2452 correctly points out.

To take a look at this, let's bring in Billo, the brother of Billy from wowcrendor's 'How to Win' series.

Hello Billo! I see you've decided to try to spec your talents.
"Yea! And there's a whole lot of choices to pick! Ooh, I want this one! And this one!"
Hold on, Billo. You need to think hard about what talents you pick. First off, what blogs do you read?
"What's a blog?"
-cuts to MSPaint rendition of EJ-
A 'Blog' is a place where someone who has played the game far more than you ever will tells you how to play it and what to do. And if you don't, people will assume you are terrible, and nobody will ever group with yo. Especially in harder content.
"But I want to play my own way how it suits me!"
You can't, Billo.
"This place sucks! I want to go hang out with Gamon! And the Go guy!"
Shut up, Billo.
 -Crazy Music and Credits-

The issue is that if Billo here never heard from us what EJ was, or read a blog, or heard about WoWInsider, they would never have heard about this 'higher' grade of talent speccing that is necessary for all raiding. Sure, it's difficult now to think 'Oh, who doesn't know what WoWInsider is?', but it took me a solid 3 years of playing WoW to learn about what theorycrafting was (I joined in 2004), and I have seen people play - and raid - in Wrath with less knowledge than what I had in my first UBRS run. Which consisted of Leeroy Jenkins, a Dungeon Companion, and Allakhazam

Blizzard needs to actively support the community in ways it just isn't doing. Knowledge accessible to average players consists of the forums... which would be a horrible first place to learn things... and a couple of well-hidden links on their main page. Adding large featured pages with links to major websites (EJ, WoWInsider, Wowhead, even Graylo and more specific blogs) on the website is a simple way to start, but there is a much more elegant solution.

What is the number one place that people who play WoW look for information? If you answered the GAME ITSELF, you'd be correct. And would also posses common sense. Why in the WORLD does the library in SW not contain Phaela's dissertation on Threat Management? Or a tome of BRK Lore? Perhaps the book seller nobody actually goes to in Undercity might hold some speculative lore from Shades of Gray? Billy and Blind could appear on the big screen in Ironforge! Cranius and Shigihara would perform at the World's End Tavern! The possibilities are ENDLESS, people! Just let the community into the world in a way more than casual references, so that the community can teach the world. Talents are just a stepping stone, people. But without the stepping stone, this brave new philosophy is an adaptation that will split millions. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Solokin: ZG Addendum

Hey all, keeping a post schedule is harder than it seems. I can only imagine the horrors it must be to try to keep to, say, a webcomic posting schedule! Blogging makes me pity such persons all the more. Also, the deadly blog-dance Blogger and I are having is drawing to a more explosive tap-dance number, where Blogger has a load of new cool features and then decides to change the styles of all of my posts. Anyways.

I imagine, as you read the previous Solokin, you skipped past all the annoying bits and wanted to get to the meat of the post: How to beat the two Mount-Bosses, Mandokir and Thekal. Oh, you might say, what an ingenious yet simple to understand way to defeat the Bloodlord! You must have a similar means of vanquishing our tiger-taming friend! Yet when you scrolled down a paragraph or two, you were left disappointed and deflated in spirit. Be deflated no longer! For I have worked out an ingenious yet simultaneously brilliant means of defeating Thekal, without the bug I mentioned in the previous post!

Your first challenge is going to be clearing the road (past the edge of madness, Bloodlord, Bat-lady and all the way back to the entrance) of ALL patrols and mobs. Not too difficult, as you probably did it on the way here, but if one of the big trolls knocks you into the water mid-fight, things are going to get far too interesting. The background data is this: If you spam attack Thekal's minions and Thekal and such as you are fleeing out of the room, usually, they will disregard the tether that keeps them linked to Thekal's den (which as far as I know is NOT a bug, or at least a non-important one because it doesn't despawn or mechanically alter anything). Thekal also has a much, much faster run speed than either of her priests. Lastly, the fight ends when you kill Thekal, even if his two co-priests are up; but he is healed to full when he gets too low by one of his priests, Lor'kahn, if she is in range.

The main idea is you want to kite the whole squad of em back to the instance, while insect swarming Thekal and swarming yourself. The priestess cohort, Lor'khan, needs to be kept out of range of Thekal. I found a tactic most effective was summoning trees early on and sticking them on her, so they would get aggro and Zath might be delayed a good distance behind, Then, popping in and out of travel form/cat form + dash when it's up/periodic self-heals and reapplication of insect swarm and perhaps a random spin-cast of a instant starsurge, thekal should die (the first time) far away from both priests. Kill him in is tiger-mode phase, a simple TanknSpank, for instant profit. Using this method, I got my Zulian Tiger on the first try!