Sunday, October 26, 2014

Changing the game Part 1: Why I like the "dumbing down" - pruning, removal of reforging and stat squish

You must be blind or deaf not to hear the outcries from the current active World of Warcraft players complaining about the changes.  The game has been "dumbed down" or they're "taking the fun out of our class" are some of the most common complaints.  There was a lot of complexity to the game as it stands currently, and for those of us who have played for a while, we didn't really bat an eyelid over things like using Ask Mr Robot to max our gear stats, or read Icy Veins to figure out our hit and expertise caps or haste break points, but for the uninitiated, it can be SO difficult especially when you're just learning the game and everyone is telling you how stupid you are because you aren't hit capped.

But don't you think it's funny that some of the same people complaining about the changes are also some of the same people who say that Vanilla was amazing.  Where back in Vanilla we had less abilities, very few of these extra stats, and you just ran around hitting things and having fun.  Of course, there was skill to being good at what you did, and you could still do amazing things with those few abilities we did have if you knew your class well.

With each expansion Blizz added more.  More abilities. They changed the talent tree - a few times. They changed our specs.  They put in new abilities and rarely took old ones away.  They gave other classes HoTs and AoE heals, and my class more direct heals.  The distinction between healing classes seemed to blur a little, and I was happy when I finally got some damage mitigation spells in my arsenal so that I could have a bubble type effect like a paladin or a disc priest.

Before you knew it, my bar was full.  In fact, my secondary bar is full.  And my third. And my sidebars (yes I use a standard UI).  And I don't like remembering a zillion keybinds - I want my daughter to be able to get onto my character and have a little bit of fun about it without having to remember that you have to do 1, 2 and 3 and if then hit [ and then 8 and 4 if you're taking lots of damage and sometimes you may have to use 7.  In fact, I tried to make it just 1,2 and 3 for her and if she's dying too much she can just run away.  THAT is dumbing down. But the extra things, still have a bit of depth to them.

The ability pruning is actually a really GOOD change, and I don't think it's dumbed down at all. My class has gone back to what it used to be - a HoT class - where burst healing was not it's strength but overall raid damage counteracting was what druids used to do best.  It was the Priests and Shamans who used to get the fast big heals out.

My husband used to play a lot of WoW with me in Vanilla and BC, and then he took a break.  He has found it hard to get back into the game because learning it was not as easy as it was - the game was no longer intuitive, he had to read outside World of Warcraft to actually learn how to play his class again, and he didn't enjoy nor find that particularly fun.  And of course he would come back for brief periods and I'd try to get him geared up a little bit so he could have fun, but inevitably he found himself unsubbing again because he didn't enjoy it.  I've been excitedly telling him about how he would enjoy Warlords of Draenor because the class is simpler without all those hit and expertise things he didn't quite understand and couldn't be bothered with, and all the extra stats are now more FUN because they make your class better not hinder or handicap your class if you had too much of one and not enough of another.

Now, my challenge is to find where I sit in terms of raid functionality.  In times of big AOE damage I still find myself struggling to get out a fast AoE heal (there's my bloom shroom nostalgia again!) that ISN'T tranquility but blanketing rejuvenation is something I have to get used to again.  Not something I really did in 10 mans as I tended a bit towards a few rejuvs with swiftmends and Wild Growth but I am slowly finding my feet.  I feel like Haste is the most yummy stat I could lust for come WoD so I can get more Healing Touch and Regrowths out!

Reforging for those stupid caps was also a nightmare.  One piece of gear and you had to redo all your gems and enchants - OK maybe a slight exaggeration, but it would be expensive.  And it was definitely NOT FUN. I hated doing it.  I hated that I had to have an outside application to do it and sometimes I would sit down with paper and pen and write it all down to try do it myself.

And it is SO strange looking at gems that have +10 or +20 to a stat.  It's good though - at least this is one part of inflation that can easily be uninflated.  A shame that can't be done for the economy :D

And so, now we are going back to a version similar to Vanilla WoW.  Let's see if those Vanilla was better people still are saying the same thing NOW... but I think that complainers will always be complainers. I am excited for WoD because now my husband can come back and enjoy some of the game that he used to love to play because the whole thing is so much friendlier to a new or returning player than it used to be, and I can't wait to show him some raids in the new Raids when he's ready for it.  And I think that Blizz is on the right track with this if they want to keep players or encourage players to return (even for a short while) - making an easy learning curve and be able to play the game for fun without it turning into some kind of ... homework... for the more casual player.

Learning faster, means you get to have fun faster!

Raiding - Now's the time for cakewalking!

I know it's fun to have an easy time but Crooked said to me once that sometimes nerfs can be depressing.  That boss we were struggling was no longer a struggle.

We started with Blackfuse and Exray said he wanted to try something but I wouldn't like it.  I could only assume that it was a one healer strat.  Yes, I was right, he wanted to do a one tank one healer strat.

Fortunately this week we are down a healer so having less healers was good for once.  I told Morz he could log in later but he logged in on time so off we went with me and Morz with Aimei tanking.  Morz went DPS and we told everyone we were going to try Zerg strat.  We were one over and Alca sat out so Duck could go.  There are some youtube videos of people killing it in 30-40 seconds.  We had our first attempt and we wiped with 3million left.  Even I was doing some DPS with Heart of the Wild.

We had a couple more goes and got it down at 1min 20 seconds.  I had to stop and start tranquility and actually HEALING, and do a Battle Rez.  I could not believe that it could be done that way!

Then it was onto Paragons, what we had been bashing our head on for ages. And they melted like ice cream on a warm day.  Only a few attempts and we had it down.  People were still moving with their red lines which was ugly the first time and also the Paragon who does the wind spinning thing (haha my wonderful descriptive language and epic boss fight explaining skills are showing!) took out a LOT of people.

I am feeling a little weak without some major burst healing in bad times - shrooms used to fill that nicely and I notice it a lot now without my bloom during things like Whirling corruption or standing in the weapon and people are slow to smash it down.

People are excited for Monday. Exray says we need to do the Jade Temple transition better, because we are too slow.  Getting the buff thing is annoying as well!  You can actually live without the buff with some healing, but if you're not geared well it hurts still.  Anyway, 2 hours to bash at it on Monday.  We shall see!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sydney WoD Prelaunch Celebration - The Low down

I had been excited ALL DAY thinking about this event as it was THE DAY!  I had organised someone to cover me at work, I had worn what I was going to wear to the event TO work... I was set! I hadn't thought about dinner, but I would have been too excited to eat anyway.

So, at 4pm I left work, after handing over my patient to my friend to finish for me, and headed home to get the train in.  I met up with Aimei/HK and then we hopped on the train.  Neri was already in the city, Exray was making his way in with Lushen and Consti, and Cymre was also heading in.  Moo and Natanie were already there!  Lacrox was slowly dragging himself in, and he asked us to save him a seat.

We headed straight into the cinema and ran into Neri, so we went and lined up on the stairs - there weren't that many people, fortunately.  I expected more!  I guess that's the good thing about limited tickets.  I felt guilty for not talking to people around me, so I decided to be friendly and chat to random people around me.  Luxy would probably laugh at me, because next thing you know I'd be inviting them to flex or to the guild.... 

But I finally met Natanie and Moogyver in the line!  Lots of squeals and hugs!  I heard that Dayani of Heliocentric was around - Neri pointed her out to me but I was too chicken to go say hi in the big queue, I thought I'd try and grab her later.

And how cool was this, they had a DARK PORTAL to walk through to enter the cinema!  Off we go to Draenor!  I didn't get any good pics but here's one HK took.

Then there was some massive artworks being displayed around.  I should have taken more photos. Got to meet @Msmiggy as well, who was responsible for getting us our tickets.  I had to make a note to take a pic with her later in the evening.

And once we went into the cinema, the walls had the Warlords looking down at us from the sides, looked pretty neat.

And there were surprises on the seat!  Each seat had a drink, small popcorn and a mini figurine!  I got a Murky, but there was also Murkimus and Fishy toys as well!  Lucky I didn't buy popcorn outside.

So we watched the cinematic of the original World of Warcraft on the BIG screen and we then got to meet Ion Hazzikostas himself.

And he talked a lot about the game, and the 10 years of the game.  About the mistakes they had made and what they learned, and why they changed things the way they did.  It was a good explanation - they said that the game had stopped being fun because it was too hard to pick up, with so many abilities that it was super hard to learn to play it well.  And I'm thinking that maybe that chased away a lot of casual players from the game - because it was too hard to learn how to play a character.  It was a good explanation.  Ion also talked about how they were trying to configure things to please a certain group of players but at the expense of a different group of players.  And the solution to raiding was their current model - which I think has made the game so brilliant. People were being shut out of content because they could not access it, but now with LFR and also Flexible sized raids and difficulties, the raids cater to all player types and player skills.

"Accessibility is not the enemy of depth," he said, and now, I can what he was trying to say.  Many elite players said that the classes were dumbed down with the ability pruning - but Ion said that the classes were easy to learn, but more difficult to master.

Another thing he talked about was removing of some of the secondary stats, namely hit and expertise. The game was not fun if you didn't reach those caps, and then also became less fun when you went over the caps. The caps were not intuitive - you had to go look it up elsewhere to find what you needed. He said it was more fun to get more of a stat and see the benefit, like haste, where you get more haste and you cast your spells faster.  THAT was fun. 

It was a good interview.  And then @Blizzard_ANZ got deep and personal with Ion and there was so much stuff about him which I didn't know.  That he was a lawyer and he gave up law to do Game Design.  And what did his parents think of that?

"They thought I was completely insane."

And that his favourite raid encounter is Lei Shen.


You heard it.  Next week we have super extended maintenance and maybe after that... our new Australian servers will be LIVE.
Q: When will local game servers be available?
A: We’re aiming to have the new local World of Warcraft game servers available ahead of the release of the upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which will go on sale in Australia and New Zealand on November 13, 2014. An extended maintenance to the current Oceanic realms will be required in order to migrate player data to the new hardware. Servers will be taken offline on Tuesday October 28 with normal scheduled maintenance and we will have the new game servers online as soon as possible.
There was much screaming and cheering at this announcement :D  You can read all the FAQs here!

Then it was onto some questions.  Man, there were some bad questions.  But there were good questions too.  And then it was time to go find my guildies!

We found Exray, Lushen and Consti after a while and took pics with them.  Then some of us who were lucky enough to have VIP passes got to go in the Gold Class Lounge and hang around!

There was food, drink, alcohol... you know I was really impressed.  For a free event, they sure made everyone feel like it was worth their while!  I met Dayani, and Toro and photobombed @msMiggi and @Blizzard_ANZ and even Ion himself!  I shook his hand and asked Ion if he wanted to come to Australia or did he pick the short straw and got sent here (convict style!).  He said that he chose to come, which is pretty cool :D

I was exhausted by the end of the evening so I said goodbye to everyone, and straight home to my computer to get all this out of my head before I crash!

So - all in all it was a great night.  Great to see such a huge population of WoW players right here in Sydney!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Minipost: MORE reasons why I want to go to Blizzcon - Metallica!

Ok, so not everyone is a Metallica fan, but this is not about everyone. It's about ME.  And I LOVE METALLICA!

“We’re thrilled to have Metallica blowing out our speakers at BlizzCon this year,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “After two full days of epic gaming and intense eSports action, an earth-shaking concert is the perfect sendoff for everyone at the show and watching from home.”
Thank goodness I have a virtual ticket so I can watch it live and I can control the volume!  Blink 182's performance last year killed my ears so I am happy to be watching it in the comfort of my own home (with ready access to toilet and food).

I have seen a number of people on Twitter saying that there is a lot of criticism and negativity about that, but I have seen none of that on my feed - I have seen heaps of positive and excited people (and perhaps it's only because I follow COOL people who actually like Metallica, or because I follow AWESOME people who respect other people's choices and know that if you don't like it you DON'T HAVE TO WATCH/LISTEN).

Though there was a lot of expanding on that topic:


I wonder... do you think anyone in Metallica plays Blizzard games?  Wouldn't it be awesome if they did?? :D