Archive for October, 2014


mythicsiege

ownguildGAH! OK, people usually form guilds for one of three reasons. 1) We were in a guild and they stuffed us so we’re going to form our own so we can be the ones doing the stuffing. 2) We were in a guild and they stuffed us so we’re going to form our own and do things nice and fair. 3) Both 1) and 2) really, they say it’s 2) but they end up doing 1) a lot.

gquit-fishfeastPeople are always telling me that running is a guild is hard. Hmmm…being a guild officer is easy, being a GM is tiresome (QUIT WHISPERING ME ALL THE TIME AS SOON AS I LOG ON!) Guild running is easy peasy. People management is another thing entirely. Getting ten people organised and together to raid can be like herding cats. Stopping them taking loot and moving to a “better” guild, leaving the average gear level of your raid unchanged after is hard. Guild leaders have no real power, in the final analysis the only thing GMs own is a name: nothing of any real significance. GMs and Officer’s only have as much authority as members choose to give them.

If you’re going to form your own guild it’s worth knowing how it is. Everyone who plays World of Warcraft is an arsehole. You’re an arsehole too. I am definitely an arsehole (have you read this blog?). There are basically three types of arsehole in WoW.

spam1) Arsehole Type 1: your common or garden arseholes. They ninja loot, they’re arrogant, aggressive, elitist, racist, sexist, homophobic, raid raging morons, we all agree they’re arseholes. 2) The second type of arsehole is all those feckin’ cool people! You know “Oh yeah, they’re cool. no drama” What ever happens they never complain, never object, never cause any drama. You can have Arsehole Type 1 ranting in guild chat some horrific or stupid stuff and your Arsehole Type 2 has nothing to say. Even after the Arsehole Type 1 gets kicked out of the guild, Arsehole Type 2 has no expressed opinion, nothing at all to say on the matter. That’s why they’re an arsehole, they’re not cool and easy going, they only seem so because they never give you anything. They’re the same seething mass of ire as Arsehole Type 1 and if they get pissed off they will /ragequit the guild but you’ll never get them to tell you why, what went wrong or what you might be able to do better. The majority of people playing WoW are Arsehole Type 2, they think that the only thing worse than an opinion is expressing it: that’s drama. ARSEHOLES! 3) Arsehole Type 3 is your raging drama llama. They have an opinion on everything. Most of the time you’re pumping the “cool guys” to express any opinion, you will already know Arsehole Type 3‘s opinion. Just try shutting the drama queen up for five minutes.

opinionSo if you set do up a new guild with some “cool people” from your previous guild be aware that the first time you try to do it your way their reaction might not be what you expected. Express an opinion or take an action and you’ll quickly discover you’re not actually on the same page at all liked you’d assumed. You may see them move quickly from being the drama light, opinion free, “easy going guy” to being the out-of-order, selfish, /ragequiting Arsehole Type 1. You may find yourself drawn towards Arsehole Type 3 – at least you know where you stand, know what they really think and can reasonably expect them to behave in a way consistent with they’ve said.

So everyone who plays World of Warcraft is an arsehole, but you still fancy running your own guild? Let me tell you the circumstances in which running a guild is straightforward. If your guild can and does raid early in the new expansion, two or three weeks after the raids are actually released, you’ll be OK. If you can guarantee raids every week on each of your raid nights. things will go smoothly. If the same people can raid every week and get decent gear you’ll get decent progression, you’ll be fine.

Flex will solve many problems and create new ones. It’ll make it easier for small, friendly guilds to manage their raiding roster: basically they can take everyone raiding who turns up. Sadly, because the raids won’t be so keenly balanced, people who have no real raiding commitment, and have gear and skill to match, will be able to go raiding and perhaps get the gear the more regular and committed raiders really need. If the committed raider got the gear, raid progress would be stronger too (it’s not rocket science). Guilds who show less backbone in saying No to casual, poorly geared raiders will progress slower and gearing will be slower for all raiders. “Core” raiders will drift and probably leave for a more rigorous guild with stronger selection, better progression and faster gear accruing. That’s life, this is how guilds live now. Flex may simply accelerate and reinforce this.

55721796This is the social guild dilemma. “Core” raiders turn up every week, do a pretty good job and if they’re all there progression usually follows. “Casual” raiders are accommodated: they don’t turn up every week and often their presence actually hinders progression. Core raiders move on for better progression. In MoP, guilds could struggle to raise 10 people to raid some weeks and really needed the commitment from their more “casual” raiders that they will simply never get. More “Core” raiders leave so they can raid more regularly and the guild really starts to struggle. I think Flexible raid sizes will help as you can now realistically recruit more than 10 really committed raiders and guarantee them raiding every week, no one gets benched.

If you’re thinking about starting your own guild in Warlords of Draenor so you and your mates can get all the raiding and all the gear, at the expense of the poor unfortunates you recruit, I cannot stop you, as much as I’d like to. If you’re thinking of starting a raid guild that tries to do things fairly for everyone, not just you and your officers, good luck! Running a guild is like herding cats, after you’ve been doing it for a while you’ll be forgiven for thinking that everyone is an arsehole. Worse still everyone is an arsehole sharpening a knife for your back.

Best of luck and enjoy. It’s a game remember.itsagame

6.0.2 debacle

Vanilla-World-of-Warcraft-LoginWorldMap-Barrens-oldI do remember vanilla, really I do. I do not have rose tinted beer goggles about it. “I love you man…you’re my favourite expansion…I fushing love you.” I remember what patch days used to be like then. I remember the queues to log on to highly populated realms (all of them). I remember the chronic lag and the disconnects. I have to ask though, 6.0.2 worst patch ever? Probably not, but worst for a long time? Definitely. Blizzard /facepalming themselves hard and trying to pretend it’s all under control? Oh you bet they are.

picard-wtf-meme-generator-play-a-warrior-they-said-it-will-be-fun-they-said-6daa33Ten classes and 31 specs, how do they really expect to balance three roles? Honestly you have to ask WTF is going on when tanks can out DPS pure DPS classes. With the Active Mitigation model and changes to healing Blizzard has simply confused themselves. Tanks are healing themselves through phases of boss spike damage, healers are actively trying to slack off in fights to conserve and regenerate mana, DPS is running around just trying to survive until the end of the encounter without any healing and because moving and casting isn’t possible any more, no wonder tanks are out DPS-ing them. Confused? You will be.

World of Warcraft Talents #1

Ah the good old days, when talents were…rigidly prescribed.

Blizzard said they we’re going to prune spells. Every expansion we’ve got a couple more and it’s getting out of hand. You needed bars all over the screen to accommodate them all! Warlocks make a very simple example of this philosophy and what went wrong. Curse of Elements is a debuff always applied every boss fight, no thought, no choice, no relevance, that is not interesting, bin it off, get rid of it. Good, nice one Blizzard. Malefic Grasp gone. Fine, Affliction locks didn’t really like it. We always loved that we maintained our DoTs and cast Shadow Bolt with that nice long cast as a filler. When the twenty percent execute phase hit, Bloodlust, Time Warp, classes going nuts, we ‘locks put our feet up on the desk and cast the long channelled Drain Soul took a sip of brandy, smoked a cigar. Drain Soul gave us a wealth of Soul Shards so refreshing DoTs was a simple Soul Burn, Soul Swap…back to Drain Soul and cigar.

6kobzForget all about that, they nerfed the Drain Life build because they didn’t want Affliction Warlocks channelling through fights like Shadow Priests…then they took Shadow Bolt off us and gave us Malefic Graspa channelled spell! Now they’ve taken that away after one expansion and our new filler spell is…Drain Soul! The only problem is that it regenerates Soul Shards so quickly they’ve had to heavily nerf it and give us a level 100 talent to compensate! So until level 100 in WoD Affliction will be broken, AGAIN! Meh, that’s QQ, this is a dead phase, between now and WoD nothing will be going on apart from class balancing. 90 is now just another level, we’ll never be this overgeared at this level again, this will just be a point on a char’s journey to max level like 5 or 72. However, Our execute phase spell is now our filler? A channelled filler again!? WTF do we do at 20% now?

Let’s say this simply and clearly: Hunters are broken. We know it, they’ve admitted it.

I liked having to move in MoP. Raids are not LFR you do not stand in fire and expect to be healed through. Your job is to move to a safe place and cast. Then they took moving and casting off ranged classes. No doubt WoD encounters will retain some movement component, but it will likely be less because of the lack of casts while moving, but in 6.0.2 content, one year old Siege of Orgrimmar content, all casters are pretty much screwed.

Undead Models

No wonder Rutå (the one on the left!) looks so fucking surprised, shocked and dismayed.

This one was always going to be controversial. They had eight years to improve the appearance and update the original character models so they were a good as Goblins, or even Blood Elves or Draenai…no, don’t mention the poor Worgens (LMFAO). My first reaction on logging in was WTF have they done to the Forsaken. My second thought was to visit the Barber Shop to sort myself out. After scrolling through all the options for face, features and hair my final thought was ‘WTF I can turn this shit off right?’ Genuinely I’m yet to hear one person say “I think they did a really good job with the new models.”

Show Char models1-9Actually, to be fair Orcs are vastly improved and rolling is Troll isn’t completely retarded anymore. They are no longer competitive with Worgens for stupidest class. “Cor blimey, Mary Poppins. Can I sniff your butt as we go up the old happles and pears, gawd bless yah.” Sniff. Snuffle. Sniff.

Some things are good though, I mean I wanted to remove all my addons and reinstall them slowly over five days. Seriously, the Addon Panel is long overdue. Being able to turn addons on and off in game, before a quick reload, should’ve been in the game forever ago. The Toy Box is fantastic. I need a junk box now though – to throw all the useless shit that I hoard into (anything fishing related, for example, the Seventh Place Fishing Prize (grey) and the Old Seadog Pipe (white)).

OK, OK, I admit it patch 1. 9.0 Ahn’Qiraj was much worse.

Last Post on the Bugle (before WoD)

LastpostWhen Cataclysm hit it was with a reassurance from Blizzard that Icecrown Citadel (ICC) would not happen again. Specifically the one year wait after ICC was released and new content was delivered, in fact a new expansion. Well, in six days people, Siege of Orgrimmar will have been out for exactly one year and the new expansion is still over a month away.

The_Lich_King_HDSo, I can be forgiven for being bored. The current raid tier is a year old and the new expansion looms. Any gear I grind for now will be valueless in no time at all so why bother? I’m only logging on to raid and I don’t feel greatly motivated to do that. I do still have fun, I’m having a laugh with the other raiders, but my (wafer thin) responsibility to them is my only motivation to turn up. Right now raiding in and of itself is no motivation at all…and for once this actually is Blizzard‘s fault.

Just because Blizzard make a lot of money it doesn’t mean every decision they make in developing World of Warcraft is a good one. They’re not infallible – just look at Titan. Subscriber numbers rose rapidly during the two years of the original game and again through the entire second expansion: The Burning Crusade (TBC). During Wrath of the Lich King subscriber numbers plateaued and the number of people leaving the game was balanced by the number joining. This was hardly surprising for a four year old game. However, if you consider the number of re-workings of the game Blizzard have introduced, particularly during Cataclysm when the entire world, quest and levelling system was completely reworked, the glyph and talent trees redesigned, they have tried and singularly failed to arrest the decline in subscriber numbers.

Warlords-of-DraenorTaken from this objective point of view Cataclysm, despite it’s many technical achievements, represents a complete failure. Subscribers quit the game in millions (about 4.6 to be precise). Mists of Pandaria has been somewhat successful in arresting the decline and stabilising subscriber numbers, they ever rose a little back to 7 and a half million. The game is unbelievably coming up for it’s tenth anniversary with subscriber numbers that most online games can still only dream of, after having shed a cool four million.

So is World of Warcraft dying? Well, yes, but only like all things: slowly. Nothing lasts forever but, World of Warcraft has survived what you could describe as a mid life crisis and it’s final demise could conceivably be between five and ten years off. It’s not imminent at least, if Blizzard continue development and don’t release an expansion as catastrophically bad as Cataclysm again, the death of World of Warcraft will be slow, natural and some considerable distance away.

Blizzard have been bold with some of their expansion hype. They talked about slashing spells, trimming spell books and cleaning up our actionbars. ‘DoT snapshotting‘ is gone, Heroic Strike – gone, and Blizzard have been bullish about reducing classes and specs down to their essence, they’re bringing back mana management too. However, as the beta has rumbled on spells have crept back, Warriors for example have been given Rend back after a notable absence. The purity of their vision seems to have been tainted, most likely by community input. If Blizzard really wants to listen to the community they can bring mana management back, fine, but take back active mitigation for tanks and give us aggro management back. As a tank I do not want to out DPS the pure DPS classes and I certainly don’t want to heal myself! There are other classes to do those jobs! I want to occupy the mobs, taunting and maintaining the highest level of threat. Give us proper tanking back!

karazhan-1My love of the original game and the first two expansions was uncritical. After struggling to assemble non-guild groups for 5 man content the introduction of LFG was brilliant. Karazhan’s 10 man raiding was an innovation and the reduction of raid size down from 40 to 25 was essential. If you don’t think it was necessary or desirable you simply weren’t involved in organising 40 man raids. You’re just one of those raiders that turns up, expects a raid to be organised for them with the correct number of tanks and healers and a DPS slot guaranteed for you. You probably are a hunter…or a Shadow Bolt spamming Warlock.

During Cataclysm I stopped to consider the game and the changes Blizzard were introducing. The new Talent System was half backed (and consequently re-worked a second time). LFR solved a problem that only forum whiners could see and introduced a raft of issues Blizzard has only half addressed by removing tier items from LFR in Warlords of Draenor (WoD). That’s right ladies no tier pieces from LFR at all, ever, or until you biatches whine loudly and Blizzard cave and put them back.

The_Oculus_loading_screen

OH FUCK, NOT OCULUS! /ragequit

I never had a problem with doing more quests or dailies to earn reputation with a Northrend faction. If I got bored I could switch to donning a faction tabard and running eleventy billion 5 mans or switch back if I bored of running dungeons. In Mists of Pandaria I was bored shitless running all the dailies all the time, just to get to revered with all the factions that sold gear and on to exalted with one faction that provided my profession recipes. The thought of repeating this process to level and gear alts was completely demotivating. MoP quickly became the ‘alt unfriendly expansion’ and with only mains to play with at max level and no desire to level a spare tank or healer to assist guild’s MoP became a very stale and fun free environment. Casual, 10 man raiding became a little too brittle as well.

Pet Battles really didn’t fill that gap (though they are more fun than they have any right to be).

Pet BattlesBlizzard refused to develop heroic 5 man content. There were some new dungeons available at level 90 but only one level of difficulty. To address this huge omission Blizzard gave us the Scenario and LFR. Bite-sized, three man content, the only value of Scenarios is as zerg friendly, guild gold generating content, and the 25 man, 15 AFK, mechanic-light, shitfest that is LFR. Blizzard you can get to fuck.

So that their development intensive raid content wouldn’t only be accessed for one content patch by a small fraction of the player-base, LFR was introduced. So that now the majority of the player-base can rip through dumbed down “raid” content for a couple of weeks, see all the content and unsubscribe for the rest of the patch until some new content is released. Fortunately or counter-productively, I can’t tell, without unduly troubling the raiding community very much. The previous LFR “raid” content wasn’t bothered with too much so Blizzard forced the player-base back into previous tiers to collect meaningless tokens so we could eventually get access to a Legendary item. An item that has completely devalued the concept of Legendary items, making their “achievement” a trivial matter of grinding through the dumbed down content of LFR for a few weeks. Legendaries are no longer a reward for being good or committed, they are no more challenging to get whether you’re a casual player or highly skilled, highly gear heroic raiding player. In what sense are they Legendary, WTF is a legendary item if everyone has one?

Cloak

Legendary Cloak? Why not get one for all your alts too, it’s easy!

To replace valour gear, which was introduced in TBC as  catchup mechanism to prevent people, starting to raid mid expansion, from having to go back to the previous raid tiers and farm for gear before they could engage with current content, Blizzard introduced more dailies in two entire zones: Isle of Thunder and soulless grind of the Timeless Isle! Two zones guaranteed not to be used ever again by the player-base after WoD is released. So we had something to do with the valour points we were unaccountably still receiving for farting at mobs in Parndaria Blizzard introduced Upgrading. With Valour points we could buy upgrades that did a similar job to gemming enchanting: it increased all the stats on our gear.

Tauren in Legendary Cloak. New thrown weapon model.

Tauren in Legendary Cloak. New thrown weapon model.

Blizzard is jettisoning Hit and Expertise in WoD and Reforging has go too. Reforging stepped into the breach to replace the rigid build tyranny that we saw up to Wrath when it came to Talent selection and I applaud it’s disappearance, goodbye MrRobot and ReforgeLite we all hated you really. Hit capping wasn’t interesting Blizzard say. Well, I was interested in it when it wasn’t on almost every piece of gear. Before MoP, you had to think careful and evaluate different pieces, with and without Hit, to try to reach the cap with the most optimal stats.

Now to fix the problem Blizzard created itself, of the player-base thinking that LFR wasn’t a ‘tourist mode’ and was actually “real” raiding, Blizzard said they were going to make the gear from LFR less catchup and more trivial. Well, it appears that the relative difference in item level of LFR versus Heroic (the new ‘normal’) raid gear is similar to that of MoP and it’s only the precious tier set items you cannot get in LFR. More importantly changing standard or ‘normal’ raids to Heroic, sends the message that LFR is the ‘normal’ mode of raiding and and the old ‘normal’ mode is more than normal, a step above the entry level of raiding. That fact that Heroic raids are going to be called Mythic going forward does nothing to dispel the idea that LFR is normal instead of what it is dumbed down, mechanic light, tourist mode, see all our content content.

bullseye-speedboat

Now your Bendy Bully, Tungsten darts and Legendary cloak are safe. Do you want to gamble with your £37 for the chance to win Goblin engineering’s finest speed boat?

LFR is the bit in Bullsye where Jim Bowen says “Look at what you could’ve won!” and they bring out the speed boat. The only thing wrong with this is that people who have never driven a speed boat (been in a ‘proper guild raid‘) will think that looking around a speed boat in a TV studio (LFR) is the same thing (raiding). Or crossing the Solent on a car ferry is just like crewing a racing yacht in the Isle of Wight Yacht Race.  I think that’s a real shame, because raiding is really fun and I don’t know anyone who thinks LFR is.

LFRBingoCata was horrible, Mists was better but fundamentally flawed in so many ways. Blizzard had no clear idea of where they were going in Mists. They tried new fixes to problems they had created with previous fixes and introduced new features to make their content more accessible to the player-base. Accessibility seems to have brought disposablity. Blizzard have swapped highly thought of difficult to reach content, that people aspired to be part of, for content everyone can consume and discard more and more quickly. Surely there is some middle ground, surely there is a better way.

Blizzard seemed to have a single minded vision for Warlords of Draenor. They seemed to have reached the point where they were happy to say “You know what, we used to do our thing and people loved that, then we started listening to feedback, forums and focus groups and started developing by committee and people liked our work less. We’re just going to ignore everyone and develop content like we used to and you’re just going to have to wear it.” Warlords would’ve been a decisive turning point in World of Warcraft‘s development, I hope Blizzard have stuck to their creative goals and guns. I suspect that their design brief may already be compromised and for the first time I’m not really looking forward to Blizzard‘s new World of Warcraft expansion.

No surprises at the bottom here: “Last Post on the Bugle.” The Libertines…

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