Archive for May, 2011

I’m back from Arizona. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Massachusetts. I couldn’t understand why the pilot kept insisting we were about to land in Boston when clearly we hadn’t broken through the clouds yet. Then when we landed I realized it was just the cloudy, gray, and cold here. For perspective it was about 75 degrees in Arizona when I flew out……at 11:30 at night.
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It’s About Economics

So I’m going to be that guy who posts about the Blizzard Premium services. Mostly because I forgot to upload my screenshots over the past few days so my UI post is out the window.

For the record I don’t like the addition of these services as premium features. I do however think people get it all wrong about this stuff when they complain about it. This decision by Blizzard has nothing to do with gameplay experience and everything to do with economics, and that’s where I think they have it wrong the most.
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Lowered Expectations

I really try not to gripe too much about Blizzard because I don’t want to turn into an angry blogger, and I really do love the game. I do however think it’s fair game to criticize Blizzard over not doing what they said they would do. Almost all of the overall design goals for this expansion I immediately agreed with, but then again I feel like a good amount of them missed the mark when the expansion hit.

The Good
Heroics and end game content in general is harder. They stated that as a goal from the outset and they delivered on it. You can’t deny that overall progression this tier is remarkably slower then the first tier of Lich King. Being difficult for the sake of being difficult isn’t a fun thing in my opinion, but largely they haven’t fallen into this.

The Bad
The talent reboot. When they first announced it I was skeptical. Not because I didn’t think it was a good idea, I just thought it wasn’t the real reason they were doing it. Adding another 10 talent points with every expansion with another 2 levels per talent tree was feeling bloated. It doesn’t scale well at all for future expansions. By this expansion or next, I wouldn’t be able to tell you half of the things I was specced into and most of them were different variations on the same thing.

They didn’t say this was their reason though. They said they wanted to do it because they wanted to give people more choice in their talent specs. Give people the option of having a bunch of variations on any “optimal” spec to run with so they can pick up purely “fun” or “interesting” talents.

They never delivered on that. The builds today maybe have a couple of points you can move around for things, but you’re almost always sacrificing a little bit of damage, throughput, or survivability to get it.

Again, I don’t have a problem with the talent reset because overall I think it’s good for the game. I just think it would have been better if they said it was because they want the game to continue for another 10 years and having talent trees with a million talents in them just doesn’t work.

The Ugly
What is going on with healing and damage?! The big word when the expansion was looming was “triage.” Ghostcrawler talked about how they were normalizing stamina so everyone had large health pools, and this was going to allow players to take damage and survive it for a bit of time so the healers weren’t frantically healing everyone up right away. The way they described it wipes would happen more often because healers ran out of mana rather then tanks or DPS get 1 or 2 shot. If a healer ran out of mana then your DPS had to make sure they were utilizing all their survivability techniques and avoiding avoidable damage to help that healer out.

This is so far from the truth I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone. Triage healing does not work in a world where unavoidable damage ticks for 40k per second (see:Daakara).

The reason they wanted to make these changes was because having people get one or two shot and then causing a wipe wasn’t fun, and it was also a stressful job for the healers because one wrong button push means it’s all over. This wasn’t so bad in Wrath because most healers pushed only two or three buttons anyway. Now with mana costs they’re making healers use all of their heals, but didn’t expand the time window to heal people up.

Fix it?
I don’t really know how to fix it, but I am going to do my best because I don’t like raising problems without bringing solutions.

First I think that the problem is with understanding the healer’s mindset. Healer’s don’t like to see bars any color but green, and want them full up. That after all is their “job” and what they love to do in the game.

If you’re going to stick with a triage healing mindset then we need to agree on triage care and balance encounters around it. In my mind triage care means that you as a healer have a limited amount of resources, and the time you spend healing one person is at the expense of healing another person. The goal being that you give each person the least amount of care necessary to make sure they continue to survive.

All of this is a fancy way of saying that raid wide damage, and avoidable damage, in an encounter should be balanced around the use of HoTs. Unavoidable raid wide damage should be balanced so that players can survive it if they are hit with a HoT during or just after. Avoidable damage should be balanced with an understanding that a varying amount of players are going to get hit by it depending on the type of damage it is. In other words a no-cast, ticks-every-second fire wall is going to hit a couple players, but a two second cast time means that most of the time no one should be hit by it.

As a damage dealer, our main concern is making sure we output enough damage. Most people (myself included) copy spell priorities down from reputable sources, and just use those. Same thing goes for specs. A long time ago in wow these priorities used to be termed “rotations” and the term is still largely used today even though the collective feeling is that “priority” is a closer estimation to what the list actually is. What is it prioritizing? Well damage of course, and let’s talk about how.
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We’re going to get right into today and wrap up the rest of the straightforward spells in the Affliction spell book so we can spend a little time discussing Curse of Elements and how it interacts with your spells. If you haven’t read the last post, I suggest you do, or some of this might not make sense to you.
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Today’s post is going to be about getting to know our Affliction Spell Book. I’m not going to cover the spells: Curse of Tongues, Curse of Weakness, Fear, Howl of Terror, or Life Tap, because really they’re just not that interesting right now. The tool tips are straightforward, and the only interesting thing about them is deciding where and when to use them. I might cover them later on, but we’ll see.

For this little experiment, I have a character on the PTR standing in front of the training dummies in the Exodar (for peace and quiet’s sake). I’m not doing any statistical analysis, or scientific research here, so my sample size is very very tiny. All I’m doing here is getting a feel for the spells and drawing inferences. If you want to verify any of my findings by increasing the sample size and doing a real experiment feel free, I’m just not doing that here. At least not right now.

I reduce my 85 lock down to just his tabard (thankfully no one comes to the Exodar anymore) and make sure that “Show Beginner Tooltips” isn’t checked in my options panel so I can see the actual numbers for damage in my spell book.
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I started writing my first post for this project, and realized I really needed to do more of an introduction piece on what I want to accomplish and how I hope to approach it. First my goals are simple. I want to be able to understand the Warlock class better than I have in the past. I want to understand the advice I have been given and adopted rather than just take it at face value. I want to hopefully improve your understanding of your little Warlock, or maybe even of your chosen class other than Warlock too.
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So it’s Monday, I don’t know what to write about, and none of my drafts are quite ready for the prime time. I’ll be lazy and do a “what are you up to” post this monday, and who knows, maybe make it a common Monday theme?
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Tier 12

Since everyone is putting up their thoughts on the Tier 12 previews, and today’s post was kind of short, I figured I’d give you my thoughts. It will be like ripping off a Band-Aid, short, quick, and still painful enough to make you cry. Just how Warlocks like it.
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So I’m all about improving my skills, both in game and in real life. I’m constantly struggling with a lot of different things, and some are the most basic. Secretly, I’m a terrible WoW player, I’m certain of it. I think during the 4.2 testing phase I’m going to take you readers on a scary adventure. An adventure where I learn a lot more about my favorite class than I ever have before.
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