Tag Archive: cataclysm

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.

Questing in Cataclysm

Questing is my preferred means of leveling up in an expansion.  I like the whole self-reliance piece of it.  I’ve become more accustomed to running randoms while I level, but in BC and even in Wrath I pretty much quested to cap and never ran an instance.

Surprisingly enough, I don’t find questing in and of itself engaging at all.  At least I didn’t.  I’ve heard before how Blizzard was impressed with how they took questing and quest lines to a new level in WotLK, and to a certain extent they’re right.  I still had a problem immersing myself in the quests throughout that expansion.  I read all the quest text, did every single quest I could find and just still couldn’t feel the storytelling as completely as I wanted to.

In Cataclysm they changed all that.  I quested in each zone, and feel like I could tell you each zone’s story.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the increase in cinematics (didn’t Uldum feel like one giant movie to some people, and no I don’t mean that in a good way) or just because they quests seem to have more important tasks now as opposed to collect 12 boar hides, but I’m certain that it has drastically improved.

Today there’s a post in the forums complaining about questing saying it’s too linear http://bit.ly/if7KMW.  The perspective of this post is from a different place than mine, and as such it raises some good points.

I do however think it might be worthwhile to remember the starting zone quests from the game years ago, and how questing in some zones didn’t feel cohesive at all, and tip our hats to blizzard.  Telling a story through quests is quite a unique medium, and they’ve consistently gotten better at it.  Even to the point where I am impressed.

Pre-Heroic Trinket Comparison

If there’s one failing of elitist jerks, it’s that it’s written for people better than me.  I am not that hardcore of a raider, so the chance of me farming every hardmode to get all of the gear I can get is relatively tiny.  All of the posts take BiS gear as a default.  Since this isn’t the case for me, I am always wondering if I’m making the best choices for gear at any given moment.

Trinkets are some of the worst possible gear choices to make.  The procs are not necessarily straightforward to compare.  To make it even worse, having a really nice trinket can be a really significant dps boost!  Going to elitist jerks isn’t really a help because they’re comparing the top 10 trinkets in the game, I’m wondering which trinket do I equip now to help me get to those trinkets?

SimulationCraft saved me here, but not in the way I usually run it.  I typically run SimulationCraft for my toon, and take the stat weights and head over to lootrank.com.  There I enter the numbers in, put my info in, and it magically compares the gear based on the weights.  That’s ridiculously simple. Lootrank doesn’t accurately compute trinket procs though, so the numbers they have on trinkets (and really most proc based things) is totally untrusted.

This is where some advanced SimulationCraft comes into play.  I took a list of all the trinkets introduced in Cataclysm that I could achieve before getting to heroics.  I constructed a SimulationCraft runtime configuration file that equipped each one of the trinkets on my toon, ensuring the other trinket slot was empty.  Now I have a list of the perceived dps value of each trinket prior to heroics, and am able to compare trinkets that way.

All in all, it was a really interesting endeavor and one that I will be pursuing.  I’m going to be doing the same thing for heroic trinkets, raid trinkets, etc.  Who knows where this will go?