Friday, July 30, 2010
Gotta love those "frickin' sharks with frickin' lazer beams attached to their frickin' heads" with dinosaur-riding-undead-mages floating around the Maelstrom. Frickin' awesome!
What most don't know is that this will be a new amusement park ride in Cataclysm, it will only cost "1 billion, gagillion, fafillion, shabolubalu million illion yillion...yen".
Dr Evil would be so proud.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Bottom line is, I'm proud to be a Rebel. The question is, are you a rebel?
I don't pretend to know everything about guilds as I have not been a member of every WoW guild in history nor have I a degree in guildship. But I've been around, witnessed various leadership styles, loot distribution systems, and hierarchal structures. I've also been a student, reading about guilds online from some who have written books on the subject to commenters blasting their guild leaders. Currently, Gronthe (my Warlock), doesn't have a guild. One day I woke up and was guildless, don't know why. But my main raider is in a "casual" raiding guild, and enjoys it there...even if it gets weird at times.
I'm not very good at finding old threads on forums, so when I went to MMO-Champion this morning to try and find a post from about a week ago I failed miserably. Please don't laugh, I don't even have a cell phone, ok! I can code an Excel spreadsheet to reconcile over 4,000 transactions from a mortgage banker's 1 Billion credit line in 30 seconds, but can't find an old thread on a website...so sue me!!!
Anyway, someone was looking for advice because his guild decided to NOT continue their attempts on LK 25 hard mode, but rather move on to Halion for a while. The poster was attacked viciously, many reinforcing the same basic theme..."You do whatever your raid leader tells you to do...period!"
I may be an overreacting git here, but many of the comments to this guy made it sound like when you are in a raiding guild that you follow the raid leader’s wishes without question. If the raid leader says you're doing Naxx 25, you do it, no questions asked. It really surprised me, and it got me thinking about guild structures, rules, government, and other guild related subjects. I'd like to share a few observations and some opinions on a few of these topics.
Playing the Game Your Way...or the Guild Leader's Way
All too often I hear and read about people who play the game their own way, according to their desires, and don't enjoy being part of a group that tells them to play in a manner that's not conducive to moving the "fun" meter. I've seen people, bloggers included, encouraging others to play the game how they want to, something in my heart I support. Krizzlybear is another of these, playing and raiding as a Frost Mage and doing a great job at it.
But how many of us capitulate to a guild's request to play the game in way that we don't enjoy? Perhaps that’s too strong, maybe I should say we’re asked to play the raiding game in a role that wouldn’t be our first choice. Grow up a Fury Warrior only to have your raid leader tell you that you MUST gear up and become a tank? I've seen it. I've always made my preferences known to my guild that I’d rather not heal, but even so I was “encouraged” to become a healing Shaman, though that’s not my preference. Even though I do enjoy healing now, I mean I really do love it, I yearn for opportunities to raid as Enhancement. An argument I have heard quite often is that when you join a raiding guild you need to be ready to put off some of these selfish qualities and subjugate yourself to the will and needs of the guild/raid group, abandoning those things you may desire most for "the good of the group."
When faced with scenarios like mine or the Warrior, you come to a point where you ask yourself, "is it worth it"? Is playing the raiding game with these particular people worth playing the game in a manner you would not have chosen for yourself? You begin to examine your motives for raiding; is it loot, the challenge, the society, or something else. After taking a rapid look into your soul you decide, to submit or to be a rebel? I think my old college friends wouldn't take too kindly to my decision, to bend my will to that of the needs of my guild – we’re supposed to be Rebels. But at the time, as I thought the request a reasonable one, and seeing the need and my ability to fill that need, I decided that it was best to be a help rather than a hindrance. But was this best for me, individually? I can say with conviction, definitely not. For the simple reason that it’s not my first preference.
Also curious to me is how easily and readily people accept the guild structure at the raiding level. It acts almost like a fascist government, with some additional freedoms. Fascism seeks to organize people within a nation (or guild in this sense) according to "Corporatist" perspectives, values, systems (like political or economic). Corporativism "views a community as a body based upon organic social solidarity and functional distinction and roles among individuals". Corporativism is common throughout the world in many major world religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It has also been found in many political ideologies such as, for example, fascism, capitalism and socialism. I found the evidences in Christianity most interesting, especially how it relates to the game.
A Bible author taught, generally, of a form of politics and society where all people and components are functionally united, like the human body. Is this not how a raid group interacts, how it's structured? All parts, tank, dps, and healers alike form one whole body, but each function important to the betterment of the whole. You will not succeed with the loss of any body (raid) part. The necessity to work and function together is essential, and this idea is that of Corporatism.
Further notes on the subject discuss how "In Italy, various function-based groups and institutions were created in the Middle-Ages, such as universities, guilds (a mix between a union, cartel & secret society) for artisans and craftspeople, and other professional associations. The creation of the guild system is a particularly important aspect of the history of Corporatism because it involved the allocation of power to regulate trade and prices in guilds, which is an important aspect of corporatist economic models of economic management and class collaboration."
Maybe to call guild fascists is too much, (definitely too much), but to call them Corporatists is not. Where fascism views violence and its use as positive, I've yet to meet a guild leader who used violence to marshal the guild into following him/her. Still, Corporatism is prevalent in all raiding guilds. If it's noticed that a thumb is missing (i.e. Holy Pali), then there is a recruitment period to fill that role so that the body can function as a whole again. But if one can't be found, often some Pali in the guild will be asked to build and offspec gear set and fill that role.
The raid leader has the power to regulate the raid groups, to ask someone to sit out or to invite someone else in. When a body piece is missing and somebody's offspec can fill that role, that raid leader can and should, according to many, demand the use of that offspec for the good of the raid. And the individual, in order to be a part of the Corporatist group, either feels pressure to fill that role so that once again, as I said before, the raid body can be whole and functional, or they do so willingly because they truly enjoy acting as different parts of the body. I think both scenarios can be good, depending on motive.
There is a disconnect out there that I can't fully understand. I saw a lot of comments (in this MMO-Chamption thread that I still can’t find – darn the internet and my ignorance) and opinions saying that you/I should remember that if you/I want to be a part of a team that we should be ready and willing to lay down our will and desires at the feet of the guild and raid leader and become whatever part of the guild body that is needed. But there's an awful lot of people that say "play the game how YOU want to play it". Maybe there is absolutely no overlap, and half the people who raid feel one way while the other half feel the other way. But if there is overlap, that can only be described as hypocrisy or sheer luck of being able to do have your cake and eat it too.
I'm in a guild with some who have to eat cake they didn't want, or have a cake they cannot eat. They don’t whine and complain that they have been asked to change specs for one fight, their willingness does them credit. I've seen it in other guilds, in discussions online, and I'm left to wonder what the reality is. In a game with such freedoms to do things by ourselves we're often reminded, once we get into group content, how much of ourselves don't really matter, and that collective consciousness is the only thing that's important. Maybe it's the curse of anyone who plays a non-pure dps role that they will be expected, or sometimes demanded of them to perform a role they would not choose for him/herself. But at what cost? What, of ourselves, are we sacrificing for the good of the group? Personal satisfaction? Can I be satisfied performing well in a role not of my primary choosing? Even if I grow to enjoy that role, deep in my mind I/you know that you're missing something.
I’ve been the recipient of this counterargument a few times:
I am not just speaking for myself, because I have known far too many people who have given up their "favorite" spec to be part of a group of people that fit exactly who they are. Each of us seeks something different from the game, in small degrees, and from raiding. But I believe (with only anecdotal proof however) there are many people out there who have given up what they wanted when so many others didn't have to. Is it your fault you love playing a Druid more than any other class? You've played all the others, maybe have multiple 80's, but the Druid class just "clicks" with you, and you love it. But the only thing people ever want from you is to tank or heal (or whatever). You can't just "play another class if you want to DPS", because why should you give up even more of what you want just to be invited to the party or chosen to be on the team?
If I own a business, a bank for instance, it's my job to hire the right people to fill the roles to make the bank successful. I don't hire a janitor to be a teller, just because he does the home budgeting in his family. I don't hire a marketer to be an accountant, even though she does her own taxes. I hire people who are good at what they do and have proven in the past that they can get the job done that I need done. For the most part, it should be the guild and raid leader’s job to fill the open roles with those who have an expertise in that role. Need a tank? Recruit a tank, not a Ret and ask him to switch. Regardless of whether the Ret Pali is willing to switch, I think the raid leader should do all he/she can first to recruit a tank who’s first preference is tanking.
I understand that there are limitations in recruiting, such as server population. And with the large number of guilds raiding in Wrath, it makes sense to ask some of your current guild members to build that tanking offspec set, that’s what dual-specs was made for. My point, however, is that I think the “offspec” route is taken more often than the recruiting trail when looking for that tank. That’s clearly a result of the dual-spec feature, but whether it’s good for people is the question I’m asking.
An individual may, by choice, offer to perform in a job that he/she is qualified for but not hired for if they choose, but the more I think about it the more I believe that that raid leader is taking something away from the gaming experience of someone who doesn't want to, for example, tank. Yes, it is taking away the enjoyment of a game by applying social pressure to fill a role unwanted or not primarily preferred by another player. It's obviously different if, as a Paladin, you enjoy both tanking and DPSing, because both play styles are favorable to you. You made a choice to have them both because you enjoy them both. But I still believe there are many who take on that offspec role not out of preference, but out of the social and situational pressures. There is no compensation for the loss of time, even if the newfound role is enjoyed.
There's no compensation because you cannot give back time, it's impossible. Once time has been taken it's gone into the abyss of the universe, never to return unless a wormhole is opened and time travel made possible. It's sad that we've allowed ourselves to be subjugated to a collective thought, not all of us, there are many who find that their role is perfect, for fate was kind to them. Many truly love all specs of all the classes they raid with. And there are still many who like what they do for their guild, but it wouldn’t be their first choice.
A Bit Too Personal – But here’s Why I do what I do!
My bitterness is too obvious at times, and I am embarrassed for showing too much of myself here on the blog. But it's how I feel. So why don't I quit my guild and join another? Because for everything that was taken away from me in a particular way in which I could have enjoyed this game in my preferred role (however large or small that level of enjoyment could be), I have been the recipient of far greater rewards.
Camaraderie, understanding and empathy of my disability, laughs, a sociality that I was unable to find in many previous guilds. So please don’t think that I'm here railing on my own guild for applying that social pressure I find unwelcome, because one act does not condemn a leader. My raid and guild leaders have been more understanding and supportive of me than I have ever found, and maybe, just maybe could ever hope to find. I look forward to chatting and laughing and sharing weird stories with them every day, which lifts me up to a place where I need to be. All too often my physical disability weighs me down, depresses me in reminding me of all those things I cannot do. The sociality of my guild quickly lifts me up, so I continue to play the game in a role that's not my Perfect or Preferred Role, but I do it for all those other reasons.
I know I'm not alone, I know there are others out there who have traded a favorite spec for the friendship and sociality that came with their guild. It's not a bad tradeoff, but it is a tradeoff. In general guild and raid leaders do a great job running things. It’s a difficult job to put together the right groups with the right makeup, I don’t deny that. I guess in a perfect world (for me) those leaders would recruit more to the tastes of the individual, but that’s not their job. They need to explore all options available, and dual-spec offers a powerful option.
I am not claiming to speak for everyone, we all have different experiences in the raiding game. My thoughts are based on experience and anecdotal evidence, not on research performed at Stanford or MIT or even my beloved UNLV. But I think many of us do give up something in order to play with some really great people. They matter, for me it’s THE reason I give up what I do. What I get back in return is worth it and always will be.
In summary: Guilds are not fascist groups, they are Corporatists. Corporatism lives large in guilds today, and even though it's A form of guild governance, it's not the best. I’d like to see more freedom from social pressures, more targeted recruiting. I hope that Cataclysm will fix some of these issues by making more specs raid viable. Perhaps this will allow people to play more a spec they prefer and thereby give our server populations the variety needed to recruit all kinds of people.
I love the people I play with, they make my life more fun and my choice to do something I wouldn’t have at first chosen, one of the best decisions of my gaming life.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Ok, I've made it clear that I'm not about to theorycraft, but I'd like to take an over-simplified look at the raid buffs and debuffs that all the classes can bring to the party. Over at MMO-Champion there's a nice summary of the potential buffs and debuffs (by buff/debuff) that will be in the upcoming Cataclysm expansion.
Taking the elementary approach, that is counting and adding, I'd like to show you what each class has to benefit the raid/group:
Let's assume that a debuff on the bad guy is considered a buff to the group, or at least part of it, let's take a glance at who, by the numbers, brings the most utility to the raid group.
Shaman (accross all talent specs)
Interestingly, the Shaman will provide no debuff on any of the targets, the only thing a Shaman can do is enhance those around him/her.
The median total is 9 (Warlock, Warrior, Paladin), the mean is 7.6 buffs. In last place is the Priest...no surprise there, a class with two healing trees buffs people by giving them life. The Shadow Priest giving out, aside from Fortitude, only two other buffs. Sad, just sad. Maybe they will make up for it by filling the top spot as the best non-pure-dps DPS spec in the game. Then again, probably not. So sad.
On the bright side, aside from the lowly Priests & Hunters, everyone else brings 7-9 buffs/debuffs to the raid. I guess it would have been too obvious that the homoginization plans devised by Blizzard in their secret underground caverns are real if all had been given either the same buff or 8 each. Even though there is not one buff that only one class can bring (like Hero/Bloodlust is now), there's still a nice mix and every spec of every class gets to contribute something.
I'll leave it to the nerds to tell you what the optimal mix of class/spec will be for the Cataclysm 10 man raids. I don't really care what it is, all I know is that whatever group you get together, as long as it's not all Paladins, you'll be able to get many of the raid buffs listed, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Need replenishment? Great, that guy who insists on raiding as Frost Mage can give you that. I look at it as I will be able to give something to the raid group no matter my chosen class/spec combo. Clearly Shaman and Paladins will be the biggest buffers in Cataclysm, but that really isn't much of a change.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Whenever this happens it's a rule that the other must give a complete answer, full of reasons why we are making that particular choice. Sometimes we go a bit deeper and ask each other "Who are you?" Meaning, of all the characters in this show/movie, who do you most connect with or who is closer to your personality, etc than anyone? It gets really funny sometimes, mainly when I choose a leading actress and I have to give reasons why I am more like a woman than I am myself, a man.
Let's play the game, shall we? Two questions, similar but separate, I require an asnwer to at least one of the two. You cannot use a player-controlled character, that's stupid and lazy, please select any NPC within the World of Warcraft game, so:
1) Who would you be?
2) Who are you? (i.e. Which NPC is most like you in character, personality, etc).
Who would I be?
Lord Jaraxxus, eredar lord of the Burning Legion. Yep, I'd love to be him. Firstly, not having grown up in old England, I've never really been considered a lord of anything. So to satisfy my selfish desires of others to bow before me and proclaim me their lord and ruler, I guess has a nice ring to it. But seriously, I would want to be Jaraxxus for one simple reason:
Tirion: Grand Warlock Wilfred Fizzlebang will summon forth your next challenge. Stand by for his entry.
Fizzlebang: Thank you, Highlord! Now challengers, I will begin the ritual of summoning! When I am done, a fearsome Doomguard will appear! Prepare for oblivion!
Enter Jaraxxus...not a doomguard.
Fizzlebang: Ah ha! Behold the power of Wilfred Fizzlebang, master summoner! You are bound to ME, demon!
Lord Jaraxxus: Trifling gnome, your arrogance will be your undoing!
Fizzlebang: But I'm in charge her-
Jaraxxus kills fizzlebang...looks around, wonders whether or not he can get a Starbucks. Upon realizing that there's not a good cup of coffee to be found in Northrend, he gets mad and starts attacking everyone else in the room.
That's right, for the pure joy of being able to kill Mr. Fizzlebang, I would love to spend a day in the shoes (he wears New Balance, btw) of the unsettled Lord Jaraxxus.
Who am I?
This is extremely difficult, there are many choices that would be appropriate in my case. However, after much ado I came to realize that I am a lot like Muradin Bronzebeard. Please allow me to quote a section from WoWwiki about his personality, I'll draw my similarities from that description.
Muradin is a kindhearted dwarf, fond of good ale and good company. He is a steadfast ally and a ferocious enemy. His years abroad have tempered his Ironforge accent, and he carries himself proudly — he represents both the Bronzebeards and all of Khaz Modan. He enjoys a challenge, whether in exploration, game or battle. Muradin relishes a good fight and willingly throws himself against his enemies. A dwarf of many interests, he appreciates foremost ancient architecture, new lands, strange creatures and the mysterious Titans. Muradin possesses high morals and ethics, always helping those in need and smashing evil whenever he finds it.
I consider myself a nice, good-hearted bloke, who enjoys a good IBC Rootbeer - nice and cold! It takes me a long time to call somebody a friend, but once I do I will defend that person as fiercely as if they were a brother or a sister, a lover or a child...my friends become my family. I've lived in other countries, which have seriously dulled my pure Maine accent that I had for many, many years. Now I find myself speaking part southwestern drawl, part Argentine spanglish, and part upper NE New Englandy with a hint of french Canadian influence. It's a complete mess.
I love a challenge, I love thinking about how I can make a game out of sticks, batteries, and paper dolls that will entertain a room of 500 businessmen. I have taken on tasks at my job where the CFO has proclaimed it IMPOSSIBLE to achieve...I've done it! I have many interests, from games to movies to great literature to classical music and modern day hip hop. I'll pick up Tolstoy one day and JK Rowling the next. Variety is the code I live by. I love studying other cultures, their archetecture, language, customs, everything I can.
And finally I enjoy helping others and doing what I can to fight against the evil influences of the day...The Hills, politicians, diet soda, and such. All in all, I think Muradin and I have a lot in common.
I'd love to hear from you, just answer one of the two questions posed above and have some fun with it. Thanks for stopping by.
Monday, July 26, 2010
But there is a piece of gear that has been overlooked, a little slot that can be needed by all and ninja'd by equal amounts. The back piece, i.e. the cloak. I was thinking about this as I ran into Blackrock Depths this weekend. I don't know my way around that place, so I can't tell you exactly where I was. But I do know that we killed some important dude and he dropped a nice back piece with intellect & spell power. Great, I'm the only caster here (aside from our lovely Druid healer), so there should be no resistance in needing this.
Stupid huntard rolled need...and WON! This counts as a clear violation of loot rules and forever classifies this hunter as either a total noob, plain stupid, or a ninja. I whispered to the hunter, and tried to be really nice, asking if they could truly benefit from a cloak with spell power on it. The hunter whispered back that "Yes, I definately need it."
So, the ninja is stupid, great! Others chimed in to voice their displeasure at the hunter rolling need, and did so in party chat. The hunter got a bit defensive and eventually said that they would give the back piece to the healer (btw, I rolled higher than the healer - 29 v 9 - but whatever, the hunter was about to capitulate).
I then did something I don't normally do, I pursued the issue further.
"You'll excuse me, but I can't help but think but that hunters don't ever need spellpower, but I think you know that. Very well, if you wish to keep it then that's your choice."
In response I recieved a "chill out" for my continued interruptions into this hunter's play time. And a few other rants, but the "chill out" was touching. All in all I don't think I was ever rude, although my frustrations came out in my whispers to the hunter. I ended up leaving on principle, and thanked everyone but the hunter for a nice run.
So I was a bit childish, I really don't care. I rarely, if ever, speak up like that in dungeons, but every now and then you've got to stand up for yourself, right? It got me thinking, however, if there was a way to stem the tide of ninjas even more than has been done to date. Back pieces can be needed by all, so there's got to be some sort of mechanism to prevent a ninja'd cloak. Here's my crazy idea.
We have a "Vote Kick" system currently, on top of that let's add a "Ninja Labeled" system, where if the 4 other party members in a dungeon percieve that some stupid hunter has rolled Need on a spell power cloak, for instance, then they can vote to label that person a "Ninja".
The Ninja label would be added in front of their name, and remain above their head for one week or until that player ran 3 consecutive dungeons without rolling need on any piece of gear, even if that gear could truly be considered an upgrade and the armor type match their default armor. Imagine strolling around any capital city or Dalaran with the Ninja title above your head. More people may place you on their ignore list, worried to be grouped with a known felon.
Sure, there could be abuses to the system, but there can be abuses to the vote kick system too, right? A group of 5, 4 of whom are in the same guild, kick the 5th right before the final boss. Sound familiar? But how many of these groups have you been in? I have been in zero (0). I imagine that most groups would never abuse the Ninja Labeling system, just as most don't abuse the vote kick one today. Plus, to be labeled a Ninja you would need 4, not just 3, to effectuate the change. That would be a tall order for a truly random pug unless the infraction was legitimate.
There has to be some sort of public shame to being a ninja. And if that didn't work, then I may even go so far as to suggest more drastic measures...more on that later, however.
For the most part, the ninja has been hampered by the tools currently implemented in the LFD tool, but they still exist and are stealing our cloaks right off our backs. Unite, my brothers and sisters, and put to shame all Ninjas for their dirty, underhanded tricks, and reclaim our loot and our right to fairly outroll another spell-caster!
Well alright, perhaps it wasn't the most EPIC raid ever, but it sure got my heart racing like Lance Armstrong in the French Alps. Orgrimmar's side gate, easy access, minimal player interference. Yes, it was here that I would make my assult on the city.
Taking a deep breath I moved my trusty steed Applecider forward and took the plunge! My heart rate doubled the second I crossed the bridge, knowing that any player (non NPC) interference would spell my certain doom. Classic Dungeonmaster harkening me and Ragefire Chasm taunting me I rode through the streets with the speed of light itself.
Rounding the corner near the Horde battlemaster I encountered a small problem that I didn't foresee...a net was thrown over me, holding me down while a powerful 80 Elite orc pounded me with his sword. Chains of Ice, escape, I needed to get out of there and NOW! Success, he was too far behind me now, but others joined in the fray and were dazing me senseless, my health was fading. Down into the cavern I started to make my run, I had to turn around, even for a second, I had to find a way to slow as many pursuers as possible. 2,000 health left, I can see the instance portal in front of me.
I made it, just in time, I was taunting now. HA! Now this chasim will feel my raging fire!
The whole experience was sort of a last second sort of thing. But it was fun. I've been on "For the Alliance" runs before, and it can be thrilling to enter the enemy capital city and take out its leaders. This was different, it was even more thrilling because I was alone. Not the first (looking at you, you stinking Rogues) and won't be the last to brave the challenge of Orgrimmar alone in search of the lowest of intance portals. Even if it was possible to use the Dungeon Finder, which I didn't check on purpose, I wouldn't have done it. It would not have given me a memorable experience. This...this was memorable, and totally worth killing level 13-14 elites with my all powerful 80 DK. I loved every heart pounding minute of it.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I could trick you, I could say that there's a possibility that I think X when I really think Y, but then again I just might believe Y and not care about X. Let's try it. Try and guess whether I truly believe what I'm saying here:
Namecalling is an acceptable practice where proof of my opinion can't be refuted. Idiots, morons, slackers, you name it, if there's a good reason for it I'll do it. More so if I can prove it.
Or how about this:
The game design is clear, end-game activities must be centered around raiding or high-end arena in order for a person to be considered skilled. Without participating in those activities, it's proof that that person has no skill and is most likely lazy and unimaginative. End-game raiding should be the goal of all serious players of WoW.
Oooh, here's another:
Beta is for babies. You heard me. Impatient, lazy, "know-it-all" types - these all describe those who participate in beta testing or even just want to participate. They can't wait for the final product, no, they need to lick the spoons and dream about the perfect cookie, all the while the cookies are burning and the game will never be as perfect as they want it. Beta testers actually hurt the game more than help it.
One more example:
Raid leaders who apply undue amounts of social pressure on a player to fill a role (such as healing or tanking) in a raiding guild are short-sighted and lazy. More time and effort should be put in by a raid or guild leader to build the right kind of team, a team made up of people playing the class/spec of their choice. For all the collectivist talk about doing "what's best for the guild", at what point in time will a guild do what's best for their members? If we claim to encourage people to play the game how they want to, we, the guild and raid leaders should accept this without hipocracy and recruit in a targeted manner, as opposed to being lazy and making your Ret Pali put together a tanking set.
Do I believe what I just said in any of the above comments? Maybe yes, maybe no. As a blogger I have power, power over what I put on my site. I can, if I choose, put lies and false beliefs, or I can say what I really mean. You, the reader, never know the difference unless 1) I state it absolutely what is real and what is fake and 2) You believe I am honest in said statements.
I am sick of watching news on TV and seeing pundits proclaim opinions that are not their own. I'm sick of watching my own countrymen and women spew forth political beliefs that they are just repeating off the TV, which are not honest opinions to begin with. I hope, sincerely hope, that there are no WoW bloggers out there that do this, I hope that I can be assured that what I read is what you think. It makes it far more difficult for me to trust you if I have no idea where you stand. I don't care if I agree or not, just give it to me how you see it.
Aside from the examples in this post, which I'll leave to your guess as to whether I believe them or not (just for fun...just this once), you can always know that what you get from me is the truth. At least, as I see it. I've got my opinions, and I'll never share anything that isn't mine.
That's all, for now. Have a great weekend!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Or maybe you are just the person who is "perfect at everything"...gag!!!!! You can leave now, us mortals don't need you telling us how much we suck.
I have many alts, a Warlock, Shaman, DK, Priest, Mage, Paladin, Hunter; all at either 80 or high enough that they have seen their way around the world and have sufficient experience to make a judgement on whether these class/spec combos "click" with me or not.
With my Warlock I've tried all three specs. They are all DPS specs, so ultimately there's not a huge difference like there is with a Shaman or Druid, but the differences are still noticeable. I've settled on Affliction, and I'm not exactly sure why. Throwing fire out as a Warlock never made much sense to me, so perhaps this prejudice hampers my ability to play the class well. Demonology is fun, but again I can sometimes seem uncomfortable not really knowing if I should primarily use shadow or fire spells or both, so I watch my minion fight while I stand 30 yards away flossing my teeth and decide that I need to go back and do what's most comfortable...DoT and suck my way to victory. Hey, look at that, I do suck!
My Shaman is a different story. I made him as a male Dranaei, which for whatever reason didn't look like he'd be the type to be afraid and stand in the back of the room throwing out weak bolts of lightening all over the place. No, he looked big and tough enough that he was one who wanted to mix it up and smash people's faces as Enhancement. So that's what I did. On my trek to 80 I flirted with Elemental, but only at night when they other side of my brain was asleep and didn't know I was cheating in it. I didn't have the same life-sucking spells as my Lock, but I still found a way to suck big time. Later when my then small guild asked me to try healing, I did so reluctantly. I am now a raid healing Shaman, and a very good one, but I am so much better as Enhancement and make sure I do everything else in the game (daily randoms, weekly raids, farming, battlegrounds, dailies, dancing) in my Enhance spec. It's how I roll...and I definately don't suck at it!
I've had very similar experiences with just about every other toon I play with on a regular basis. In each case there seems to be one particular spec that I understand better than the others. One talent tree that makes sense, that I feel like I don't have to theorycraft to play extremely well. One that is a "perfect fit", in other words.
I've known others who have similar trouble. One girl I play with just can't ever seem to understand any melee DPS class. She reads, studies, gems and enchants properly but for some reason there is something that doesn't "click", and as a result she just sucks at DPSing with any melee class. Likewise for a fellow guild-mate who has tried to heal; most instances have resulted in many, many untimely and unwarranted deaths. The healing classes he plays he's just not good at. Which is fine, because he's an unbelievable tank, the best we have.
I don't know what factors someone's intellect, personality, or past personal experiences play into having certain class/spec combinations not fit them. I have no idea why one is a supremely awesome tank while the next, with equal gear and playtime just can't get it. There must be billions of permutations of variables that go into you or I being great at playing a Frost Mage, but others of equal gear and even knowledge suck at it.
I have no answers, just that everyone is different and that's a wonderful thing. If all of our crazy little personality traits were the same, and we were all good at the same thing, we'd all be playing WoW as an Enhancement Shaman, and for as much as that's a perfect fit for me, it's a good thing it's not for everyone else. Variety allows us to play in 5, 10, and 25 man groups, each with a different spec and different abilities that compliment each other. So thanks, ya know, for not being anything like me!
Monday, July 19, 2010
These are dangerous. There is only one buffer known to mankind that can shield a group from a tank's overconfidence (more on that later). When a tank becomes overconfident he/she moves with increased speed and decreased hearing. It's a natural trade-off..."I'm burning through this place, but I'm going so fast I'm completely unable to listen to any complaints by group members" quoted one tank (who shall remain anonymous...no real names on this blog). It goes bad because he can't hear the healer in the back yelling "I've got adds back here...we're dying...tank, get your........we're dead."
It takes an overconfident tank well over a minute of his entire group dying to realize that he is alone, fighting a boss, and not getting any heals. He pops some CD's, but still can't get that "fail healer" to do their job. "It's usually at this point," says anonymous tank, "that I realize what has happened. Most of the time I feel bad because I know I'll have to pay for repairs, so in an effort to curtail those costs I'll drop group, usually with a parting note to all those suckites who went and died on me. It's a lonely world, tanking is."
Poor, poor overconfident tank. It's hard to blame someone who truly is deaf. I mean, will we stand here and judge the disabled so harshly? Surely we shall not. The healer was "fail", right?
The plight of the overconfident DPS isn't that much different than a tank. A DPS never suffers from hearing loss, but rather mental instability. A terrible affliction overcomes the overconfident DPS when others speak, the words get mixed around in their head and the buffer that should be working at peak performance (the brain) is weak and will often interpret instructions in a very different manner than intended.
"Don't pull any mobs, that's the tank's job" gets turned into "Pull the mobs, it's the tanks job, he'll get'em off me, I like ice cream cones in winter, pull all the mobs to meeeeeee!"
In an interview with an overconfident DPS he was asked why he thought it necessary to solo Halls of Reflection, in response he said: "I didn't solo it, I had my trusty bear friend 'Berry' with me. I really am leet, and everyone knows that without DPS the tank is nothing. NOTHING I SAY! DO YOU HEAR ME? NOTHING! But where were we, would you like to hear about the time I solo'd the Deadmines? I was awesome! Here I was, a lowly level 75 noob, wandering into the deep, dark places of the world..."
I'm sure his story would have been enthralling, but even after being reminded that level 20 mobs weren't that impressive compared to a levl 75 toon, he retorted that "If I can solo one, I can solo them all. Now, where's my bubble bath?"
See what I mean? Mentally unstable, these DPS are. Mentally unstable. Simply put, overconfidence in a DPS almost ensures a wipe for any group. Now put together an overconfident and DPS together and what do you have? That's right, deaf, crazy people running in every which direction eventually turning on each other and eating each other's ears. Not a pretty sight.
Remember when I said "There is only one buffer known to mankind that can shield a group from a tank's overconfidence."? The answer is an overconfident healer. They are the ultimate buffer to the power and energy of the overconfident tank and sometimes...nope, just tank!
What is good about an overconfident healer is that they usually don't initiate attacks. They will, however, often be seen firing off Shadow Word: Pain or Lightening Bolt, I've even seen one stab a mob in the back with their dagger. They are soo leet that they can allow everyone to get to 10% health and quickly heal them back up to full without stopping dps. Amazing!
The downside to an overconfident healer comes gradually, like Priest's DoT's. Pull by pull they venture into "overconfident tank AND dps land", and by the end of an instance you will see the healer charging, yes CHARGING into a group of mobs yelling "I AM INVNCIBLE!" 10/10 times this causes the overconfident healer to die. Leading to the wipe of the entire group. The DPS usually isn't angry but confused, not sure why they were not as courageous as the healer. The overconfident tank, meanwhile, is stumped because they have no idea how the healer ran faster than them, which causes them to sit on the ground and cry.
My last interview was with an overconfident healer, for his actions this is all he had to say: "I am invincible, you know. I never did die, really, all I did was come alive back at the beginning." Then he burst into song, "I believe I can fly...I believe I can touch the sky...I dream about it every night and day..."
I left the room, I think he's still singing.
Left to their own devices, the overconfident will always find themselves alone. The tank, believing everyone else is the epitomy of suckiness, leaves and roams the earth lonely and forelorn. The DPS stays in group and talks to himself, recalling all his previous victories over that level 1 noob in Goldshire. The healer, meanwhile, wanders through the instances of the world singing old songs and showtunes, a bit wonky in the head himself, wondering why nobody appreciates him anymore.
Overconfidence is a lonely isle indeed. My suggestion is to stay off that island, come back to reality, and allow yourself to be smacked in the face a few times...you know, for your own good.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Here's my stupid ideas about how to further fix the talent trees. I had some fun with this one.
When was the last time you went outside and danced in the rain? If you live in a freakin' desert, you don't have to worry about rain. And when it does rain you usually have to drive really fast through the city just to get to that one spot where it is raining, only to have it dry up by the time you get there. So you turn around, hit the highway and get poured on. You can't get out and frolic, and when you get home it's sunny again. Stupid desert!!!!!
So you think that Arthas is a villan? I'm afraid that you need to get out more...or at least read more. The thing about people like Arthas, or Sauron is that their manifest aim is simple, to destroy life and bend the will of all to their own. They don't play both sides of the fence while plotting your destruction, they just serve fiery volleys over the net and hope that they land somewhere near sentient life that can be killed.
Iago, from Shakespeare's Othello, was a more sinister type of villian, perhaps the greatest in all literature in the past 200-300 years. Why? Because while Iago was slipping little hints quietly into the ear of Othello that his wife, Desdemona, was being unfaithful to him, he was also telling him things like this:
"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on."
He attempted to bring ruin upon Othello by making him jealous and warning him against it at the same time. Ultimately, however, Othello kills his wife only to find out later that she was innocent...and he kills himself.
So you see, Arthas went about it all wrong. He never should have told us he wanted to kill us, he should have just had us kill each other out of jealosy and madness. Maybe Deathwing will learn a lesson from Iago...then again, blowing things up and messing up most of Azeroth won't be a good starting point for us to trust him. Oh well, maybe some day we'll get a villian in the mold of one of the greatest villians ever penned. Until that day, we'll keep killing those internet dragons.
Feel free to share comments, stories, jokes, or frivolous statements as you see fit. Have a great weekend!!!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I'm quite positive that my story today won't reach many out there. What I mean is that some won't be able to empathise with my side, while others just might. But that's ok, because this story is about one man's perspective playing a game he loves. Glean from it what you may, you are welcome to stay and participate.
I play this game alone. Yes, my two main characters belong to a guild, and yes there are some really wonderful people in that guild that I've had some terriffic and stimulating conversations with. But really I play this game alone. To explain further, I have NO real life friends that play WoW. There may be some past acquaintences that play the game, but I'm sure I don't know about it. Additionally, I do not consider any person that I've met while playing WoW to be a real friend.
Friend and Friendly are definately two different words with two vastly different meanings in my book. Friendly involves being open, warm, inviting, courteous, helpful, polite, and generally nice to others. Sharing times and moments of success or laughter with other gamers is a good way to pass an evening, I believe. So often those in your guild are friendly to you, and you reciprocate the sentiments because that's what guildies do. Being friendly is a skill many, wonderful players have. Many a night has gone by where I've encountered a dozen or more truly friendly people. The game is filled with all kids of friendliness for me, that is indisputable in my case.
As I said, I don't consider anyone I play WoW with as a Friend. Friend to me carries a significant weight and meaning. There's not one other player who has held me in their arms when a family member died. Nobody has offered to watch my children while I go to yet another doctor who can't seem to help me fix my back. (Granted, most don't live near me, but that's not the point). I'm pretty sure that nobody I have every played with would be willing to die for me. Whatever definition you or I choose for a Friend, for my part I can say that I do have many true friends that are a part of my real life. It's just that currently, none have the habit of embarking on a virutal life in the same realm that I have chosen.
Definitions aside, it's always been an interesting journey playing this game alone. Interesting in that some of my experiences occured precisely because I don't play with anyone I know or anyone who I consider a friend. I'm a hard nut to crack as is, I just don't like letting people into my life until I feel that they are really serious about being a real friend to me. As a result I close myself off to a lot of people, sometimes to my detriment. Often I have seen two people questing together and can't help wonder if they always do that. Are those two real life friends? Maybe they are even married? When I see people like this bouncing around Azeroth I can't but help feel a little jealous for not having the opportunity to share my experiences with someone else.
I've gone on quests with guild-mates before, but somehow it always seemed like working in my back yard on a Saturday...instead of watching College Football. I've had to, out of courtesy and necessity, shared with a few guild-mates my physical handicaps because it's affected how active I can be with others. But even those times when people display simpathy for my condition, I may feel gratitude for thier kindness but I know they still can't be my friend. I have friends in real life who have come to my home to lift me off the floor when I can't get up. There have been others who have taken my children to the park because I can't get up and play soccer with my kid. I can't tell you how much I wish that they could enjoy this game with me, where we could be the two people to run around Azeroth together getting high on falling from the tops of mountains or raiding the lair of a particularly nasty bear.
I am happy to have real life friends who care for me and laugh with me. I'm happy to have friendly folk in WoW that I can play with. But oh how I wish that I could have a friend play the game with me. I play because I don't move around so well. I mean, I could watch TV a lot, but I don't. I already read A TON each year, so I'm still educating myself. Sitting at the computer for a couple hours a day is a relief to me, it's something I can do. I just wish that I could do it with someone else I knew.
I lied. I am not alone. My kids play with me...sort of. I only have one account, so they sort of just watch me play. But it's still a lot of fun. Last night I was in Pit of Saron, and upon approaching the final boss both me and my youngest son began chanting the opening words of Scourgelord Tyrannus together. It was innocent, fun, a diversion and a good moment with a boy I love. It may be cheating, to consider a son a friend, but since no other friends my age play this game, he's about the closest thing I get to playing with some kind of friend. And I love it.
I don't resent not having a real life friend to play with. I don't really care if it seems childish to want to have a playmate. Actually, I think it's probably natural. I've seen and heard stories of people in-game becoming real friends with others, I think that's great. I don't think it could ever happen with me, but that may come from my personality's unwillingness to let people into my life to such a degree that they could even approach friend status. Unless I met some of my guildies in real life, they will never be friends. I'll continue to play with these friendly folk, and be friendly in return. Perhaps one person, one day will surprise me. Maybe I'll strike up a conversation with someone who will one day become my best friend. I'm not completely closed to the idea.
If you have friends you play with, good for you. I really envy you and your friends. It's got to be a great thing to share such a unique, common interest. Thanks for stopping by and reading some of these words today. It was very...friendly of you.
The other day I postulated on the wonders of Expanding Talents, as opposed to thrashing them into a fraction of what they were in order to assist those dummies who will put talent points into meaningless talents. I couldn't help but notice that a good number of PvP talents were also cut from the trees, making them more and more PvE centric. Sure, there are still some PvP talents there, but not as many. I've seen comments here and there from PvP oriented players that they are not happy about that design move. Well I have a couple probable solutions. So if anyone from Blizzard is listening, here's another bit of a helping hand at your talent tree design.
Ready?....Drumroll please!!!!!!! (How do you write out a drumroll sound anyway?)
Dudududududud or d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d- or tat-tat-tat...forget it, here you go!
Make 6 talent trees.
Now before you dismiss this idea, I ask that you allow me to make my case, however weak it may be.
I like the new plan to allow someone to specialize in a particular talent tree, giving them iconic and powerful abilities at level 10. I agree that it will make for a rich and exciting leveling experience, as players have more time to understand thier more important abilities and hone those skills for more than just 10 or 20 levels. So let's keep that. But I'm going to throw in a curveball here. Give a player dual-spec specialization at level 20. At level 20 the player can make a second decision: Specialize in a secondary PvE role or take an alternate path and simultaneously level a pure PvP spec, complete with PvP talent tree.
I'll use a Shaman, for example, because that's what I have most experience with. At level 10 I choose to become an Enhancement Shaman (because we all know that's the best). At level 20 I can choose a secondary specialization, either Enhance PvP or Dual-Spec Elemental (because I'm sick of healing). We're familiar with how dual-spec works, so I won't say anything except that every level or two you gain a talent point that can be put into both of your specs, just like a dual-specced toon can now.
If you want to run battlegrounds a lot while leveling, you can easily switch between your Enhance PvE or PvP spec, as easily as you can switch between your dual-specs today. The PvP tree will open to you at level 20 and immediately grant you 5 talent points. From that point on until you reach level cap, you are granted 1 talent every 1 or 2 levels to put toward your PvE tree, and 1 talent point every 4 levels to add to your PvP tree. By the time you hit 84 you will have earned 21 PvP talents that can be put anywhere in your PvP tree.
Your PvP talent tree will consist of talents which, if you could max them out, would require an investment of 29 talents. But you won't have 29, you'll only have 21. You can move to the next tier of PvP talents every time you invest 2 points. That way you can reach your capstone talent and then fill in points here and there where you choose. The key word there is choose. The PvP tree will force you to make a lot of decisions. Do you fill out 2/2 for talent X or just 1/2. At the same time as you allocate points to your PvP tree your PvE tree will also grow, providing you with the damage talents you need to actually kill someone in PvP.
One major difference between PvP dual-specialization and PvE dual-specialization will be that when you activate your PvP specialization you will have the power of both PvE and PvP talent trees boosting you to your best performance. However, and here's the catch. You can only activate your PvP tree in 3 places: The Battlemaster's headquarters (with class trainers available), Arena's and Battlegrounds. If, for example, you go to a Battlemaster's headquarters then ask your friendly Lock to summon you to a raid, your PvP talent tree will automatically deactivate. Sorry, no cheating allowed.
For the sake of dueling, there will also be pre-designated areas in all capital cities and many small villages where players can also activate their PvP talents and duel to their heart's content.
This idea comes as a result of disappointment from some in the PvP community about many PvP talents being taken away from the "new and improved" talents we see in the Cataclysm beta. But after having thought about it for...a bit...I actually think that this or something close to this may be possible. It would allow for people to follow two paths simultaneously and open up talent trees for more focused talents (i.e. only PvE talents in one set of trees and only PvP talents in another set).
I'm sure this idea is full of holes, errors, impossibilities, coding error, blah, blah, blah. But it's not the worst idea I've heard of. But I'd like to hear from you. What's good/bad about this idea? How would you alter it? What's the best way to create and manage talents?
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Talent Tree Expansion
I hope that all know about or have seen the new, revamped talent trees (31-point). There are many opinions on them, myself I am reconsidering some previous positions and have had other reinforced. But I was wondering, what about instead of dramatically reducing the number of talents available, we increased them by...a lot.
Let's stick with the Wrath style trees and add 20 talents points to them. 10 for levels 1-10 and 10 for 81-85 (two talents awarded each level). What would be the ramifications of adding 20 talent points to your pool?
For one you could really start to reach down into a secondary talent tree and maybe pick up 1 or two formerly especially unique abilities that before you didn't have a chance to get. A good example would be a Priest that could cast Penance and Circle of Healing. Overpowered? Who freakin' cares!!! Then we'd all be over powered and therefore nobody would be.
Admittedly the difficult part would be when trying to create tricky hybrid builds, like Feral Druid. What real benefit would they gain from 20 extra talents? Would they delve deeper into Restoration tree only to be gimped by the lack of Resto gear as a part of their normal Feral set? What about an Enhancement shaman that went deep into Elemental? Would that build benefit from more Intellect/Spell Power and therefore cause debates on gear drops?
I think the winners of the debate would be PvPers, potentially being able to pick up a lot more pvp talents than they can currently. Some are saying that the current 31-point trees gimp PvPers, and that maybe the cutback on these trees was too severe, taking away too many important and useful PvP abilities. But if you go the other way, expanding access to even more PvP abilities, then that means that those players will have more tools at their disposal, more choices to make in a very short amount of time.
I'm all for specialization and getting some iconic abilities at level 10, it will really spice up the leveling experience. But since we're gaining more levels and therefore more power, let's really make it more complicated and significantly EXPAND the talent trees. Dual-spec would still be around, you wouldn't be able to fill out two complete talent trees. But if they really want healers to DPS, then give them more talent points to spend in the DPS trees to further enhance their healing capabilities.
I know it probably won't happen, but I can dream, can't I? What good or bad do you think would come of a significant expansion of the talent trees, as opposed to the reduction that has recently occured?
Guild Expansion...The Good and the Bad
Have you ever been in a relatively small guild? I mean 20-30 people, 10-15 of which are on most of the time. The individual personalities that make up a guild each have their own point of view as to the best kind of guild as far as numbers and requirements for entry. For example, I view massive guild expansion as a bad thing, I think huge guilds take away from any intimacy that could have otherwise been present. Smaller, not tiny, but smaller guild I think have a greater chance at providing positive social experiences. It's easier to really get to know people, not just their avatar but their person. The larger the guild the less time and opportunity there is to get to know other people, unless you particularly single somebody out.
Maybe I'm just feeling remorseful about my own guild's recent expansion, which has been significant in the past 3 months, adding well over 70 new recruits. It's made raiding easier, sure. I no longer, however, have the chance to talk to my older guild-mates like we used to. There's far more idle banter (not that I'm against it, but in small and clever doses only). Any significant conversations are no longer, there's just too many ears and fingers scrambling for attention.
Ah well, that's the growing pains of a growing guild, I suppose. There's still the core group of a year ago, but it's not the same anymore. Then again, maybe it is just me...it probably is.
In summary...Talent Expansion Good (imo)...Guild Expansion (massive expansion) Bad. That's my story and I'm sticking to it...for now.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
As I'm waiting to gather and go through Activision Blizzard's Q2 financials I had a thought: Companies often like to meet or beat their quarterly expectations, right? Well of course they do, they live quarter to quarter, that's the demands of the marketplace. Interestingly the "optional portion of RealID was released late in the second quarter. The calculating decision that originated at the highest levels of ATVI management was to let the public know of their intentions to use RealID on the forums...at the beginning of the third quarter.
I think that they actually did expect some backlash to the RealID implementation on the forums and didn't want that news to be delivered in a time that could affect their second quarter performance. You see, CEO's answer to a board of directors, and no doubt the board didn't want to see a late Q2 drop in subscriptions, thus potentially hurting their chances of making Q2 estimates. When the Q2 actuals are released on 8/2/10, we'll most likely see that ATVI exceeded expectations, which will only help fuel stock prices.
By releasing this information at the very start of Q3, it gave ATVI plenty of time this quarter to make up any lost revenue from any anticipated subscription backlash. They may have said to the press that they didn't expect a fuss over the RealID on forums, but actions prove any such statements false, otherwise they would have had no objections to telling us about these plans when they first launched the "optional" RealID last patch. Oh yes, the plot thickens. They know they can withstand x% of account cancellations in Q3 and still meet or exceed expectations because of teh launch of SC II this quarter and WoW: Cataclysm in Q4. Stay tuned...
I don't do hardmodes, I consider myself a casual raider. I like it, but I really enjoy playing with all my toons of all levels. Too often I get trapped in a cycle where I feel I need to run my daily dungeon for my frost emblems, but this is getting extremely old. I mean, last night I ran the Occulus (Heroic) for the 69th time! I get it 4-5 times a week now. I've started to play with my other toons a lot more lately as a result, and my guild often wonders where I am. Thanks to RealID I can hide from everyone...as I refuse to use it.
Focused gameplay isn't for me. I would never say it's a bad thing, I'm only saying it's not my cup of kool-aid. A few months ago I was 100% into raiding, gearing up, becoming more powerful. Now, so close to the stat and gear reset, I just don't care as much anymore about that. It's all good, though, a balanced game for me means a more relaxed mind and happier kids (they hate it when I go all out raiding and daily dungeons, they always say that I forgot how to have fun - my kids, more than anything, help keep me balanced and having fun in this game; without them I know I'd burnout too quickly).
The State of Tanks
The other night I was, you guessed it, queued up for my daily frost emblem run (hoorah!). The group was assembled and we zoned in. Then the tank teleported out. The group sat there for some minutes until someone asked the tank in party chat when he was planning to come? No response. Evidently the tank had a date with some low level zones that he needed to farm. Curious to this behavior I sent a very polite tell to the tank asking how much longer he'd be. His response:
Tank: "Why did you pick your @#$% class?"
Tank: "Why did you choose your @#$# race?"
Tank: "Why are you so @#$@#$ stupid?"
I tried to vote kick but it told me I had to wait 24 minutes. What!?!?! I've never vote kicked anyone, why do I have to wait so long? Lucky for me someone else didn't have to wait, we initiated a vote kick and picked up a new one. The tank pulled the first two then ran on. Problem: There was a patrol right on our heels that everyone, except the tank, noticed. It killed two people at the back of the pack, finally garnering the attention of the tank. After turning and helping us down the patrol the tank spoke up:
Tank: "No wonder the last tank quit this group, you guys suck."
Group: "??? - Rough night for tanks"
So, according to that small scientific experiment, it can be said that 2 out of 3 tanks are utter jerks. Self-absorbed, small-minded, immature jerks. That's right, I said scientific. Because we all know that 3 samples is all you need to prove a theory. :)
The state of tanks is good right now, unless your unlucky and the tank is a jerk, then the state of tanks in this game is left wanting.
Let's see if we can deduce over the next month or so if my conspiracy theory is any good. I, for obvious reasons, suspect it is. We...shall...see.
Monday, July 12, 2010
So instead of taking out of the earth these Ranchers would put back.
Of course there would be restrictions, such as no planting or animal farms within 300 yards of any village, city or outpost. Their work would need to be in the wilderness. As a bonus, and with their knowledge of the land, they can constuct graveyards anywere they want in their travels (with cooldowns, of course) to assist in the leveling experience.
Crafters give back to the people, gatherers take from the land, how about something that would give back to the land and give to the people at the same time? Just a thought.
Friday, July 9, 2010
"...real names will not be required for posting on official forums."
Full text here:
Hello everyone, I'd like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We've been constantly monitoring the feedback you've given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums. It's important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as conversation threading, the ability to rate posts up or down, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II Battle.net character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name. I want to make sure it's clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make Battle.net a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you'll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on Battle.net to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature. In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard's success from the beginning.
CEO & Cofounder
I, for one, am jumping for joy! My weekend is wonderful and it hasn't even started yet. Over 60,000 dissenting opinions, press coverage from the BBC and Washington Post, the vocal "minority" as some believe (because barely anyone uses the forums, eh) has spoken up and our voices heard.
Whew! I guess I'll be able to return my rocket launchers and F-16's to the air force base this afternoon. A big fight on Blizzard's doorstep won't be required.
Don't think that I or every other concerned wow player won't be watching Blizzard more closely from now on, because I know I will be. We'll have to watch very closely indeed in case they try to push this or similar features at us again. But let's allow our long memories to serve us in the fight for privacy rights. At the same time, don't fret about enjoying yourself with the game that we all play. It can still be fun and exciting!
But this is a victory worth celebrating...unexpected and awesome!
I've got big-bad mother-in-law coming into town this weekend. Believe it or not the event is more distressing to me than it would if I were FORCED to participate in the RealID idiocy that's been spreading like the ebola virus. Yes, I just compared my mother-in-law to the ebola virus, I am sorry I couldn't think of anything worse.
When you take a napkin or paper towel and get it wet, it shrinks and even sometimes tears easily. Take a washcloth and wet it down and you have a sufficient tool to clean your counter tops. Now take a bath towel and soak it, what happens? It gets really heavy. I've never done the math, but it's got to be like 5x as heavy, maybe 10x.
Did you ever play "Tent City" as a kid? You may not have called it that, but essentially you take sheets, blankets, whatever, pull in some chairs and heavy books and proceed to cover the chairs with those sheets and blankets effectively making a giant tent city in your room? The books are to hold down the edges of the sheets/blankets. Substitute those soft sheets with wet towels and your fairly-tale city comes crashing down, soaking your perfectly ironed clothes in the process.
That's kinda been my (and other's) mood this week. The RealID wet towel syndrome spoiling our make-believe, fantasy tent city fun and games.
But they ain't gonna spoil my weekend, that's the job of my mother-in-law. I'm taking this weekend and I'm gonna pour my heart into all the fun I can have. My boy's B-Day, potential LK victory, maybe a date with my wife, and a shopping trip to the office chair store. I just server transered my level 80 DK to a realm my kids play on so we can share BoA stuff and I can help them out more and have more fun with them.
My frivolity will be epic and I'm taking my kids with me. I love that they have not been weighed down by the wet towels this week, they don't really understand the seriousness of the issues I've tried to inform them about. But they're still innocent, something I wish I could still claim of myself.
Alas, innocence is usually reserved for the young, whilst the old linger under the ausmus of wet towels everywhere. Don't get trapped under wet towels this weekend, clean those sheets and use plenty of fabric softener. Make your room smelling fresh and sweet, and enjoy a weekend of frivolity without the weight of the issues at hand. Two days off of everything won't hurt anything.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I was afraid of the initial Cataclysm talent trees that were made available to the public becuase frankly they were pretty much...EXACTLY THE SAME, with only a few small changes. Seriously, they were just about the same as what we have now, and that was a disappointment since I thought we were going to witness a Cataclysm.
Now we have, and it's rocking our world. Talent trees are gettin-a-blowed-up! Leveling, as a result, will change dramatically as well. Examples:
*Paladin (Retribution) Divine Storm
*Priest (Discipline) Penance
*Priest (Shadow) Mind Flay
*Rogue (Assassination) Mutilate
*Rogue (Subtlety) Shadowstep
*Shaman (Elemental) Thunderstorm
*Shaman (Enhancement) Dual Wield, Lava Lash
*Shaman (Restoration) Earth Shield
*Warrior (Arms) Anger Management, Mortal Strike
*Warrior (Fury) Bloodthirst
*Warrior (Protection) Shield Slam, Vitality
This, my friends, is a real Cataclysm. Frankly I'm not one to care right now if it's a good or a bad thing, I'm just glad that it's a massive change. Why? Because they promised us big changes to the talent trees. And what happened when they "officially" released a sneak peak into a few of the trees?
"Oooooooooooh, Aaaaaaaaaah! I see one, no two, no make that three small changes to the talent tree...amazing!"
Hyperbole, maybe, but not that far from the truth. The first draft of Cataclysm talent trees had a lot to be desired in my oh so humble opinion. The Shadow Priest, for one, had virtually no other viable options in the other trees, making it necessary to take just about every, single shadow talent in that tree.
On one hand I dispair, I had fun trying to create a Priest build that gave me Chakra, Circle of Healing, Improved Shields, Power Word: Barrier, Divine Aegis and Power Infusion. Oh well, I guess true hybrid builds are a thing of the past.
Specialization is the new word in town. And as a perk to choosing a specialization you will be given an iconic, unique talent starting at level 10. For someone like those poor Ret Pali's this is a good thing. I've got my poor Pali to level 20 and there is still only 1 offensive spell (a Judgement), aside from Auto Attack, that I press.
But will specializations take away the ability for someone to be "special"? Don't really know, haven't seen the new trees yet. To speculate would be ignorant of me since I don't have the information in front of me. Right now all I see as a positive is that they actually DID produce the massive overhaul of talent trees promised. Maybe this was Blizzard's way of saying, "See everyone, we do keep promises."
(One note on specialization and diversification: How many of you really played with talent builds that were 28/24/19? Nobody, unless you REALLY didn't care about your talents. Most played with optimal builds that meant 58/13/0. The new talent distribution won't be that much different, but I don't think anyone was going to go the 28/24/19 route anyway. We wouldn't receive any significant Mastery Bonuses. You know it and I know it, so let's just roll with the new talents until we can prove they suck).
Anyway, as far as the feeling of leveling and the playstyle I think it can only be good. I never did feel like a Shadow Priest until I got to level 40. That's half the game of no particular feeling of specialness. Making the class and spec feel special and unique from very early on isn't diminishing the "specialness" of those super cool, iconic abilities, it's giving us a chance to immerse ourselves in a role. Until, for example, an Enhancement Shaman get's Windfury AND dual wielding, the play style is 80%+ Elemental mechanics (Lightening Bolt, Lightening Bolt, Shock, Melee, Shock, Dead). At least now I'll be able to smash things with my thunder fists from an early age and gain the experience of thunderfisting bad guys the way an Enhancement Shaman should.
I'm not disenchanted with the game, but with capitalism at it's worst. That's why I can still see some exciting things about Cataclysm. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe these changes will totally suck, but speculating about it can be fun and unproductive...a perfect combination. I just wanted a real Cataclysm to the talents, and until now that didn't happen.
What is an "Unperson"? "It is a person who has been 'vaporized'; who has not only been killed by the state, but effectively erased from existence." -Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unperson#Unperson)
I can say without a doubt that Blizzard is NOT in the business of killing people. There are some who, during this Real ID business, want to guilt Blizzard into retracting their plans by assuming that by posting real names on their forums it will inevitably lead to the stalking and assault (or killing) of another human being and fellow WoW enthusiast. These sort of arguments are in bad taste and should be avoided.
I will say, however, that Blizzard is creating Unpersons by forcing us to use our real names IF we choose to post on their official forums. How is that? By devising a means whereby a large group of people "feel obligated" to stop posting, they are silencing those voices, erasing them from existence. Sort of. Obviously these people can talk on other forums, but Blizzard says they don't use other forums to achieve the feedback they seek. They want good discussions on their official forums. So it's an Effective, not literal, creation of Unpersons.
According to Orwell's novel, Doublethink can be a complex theory:
The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.
We have been told that the reason for displaying real names on the official forums is to essentially scare or shame people into being nice. To eliminate and reduce trolling. This is THE reason being sold to us. I am sure that Blizzard genuinely believes it. They also believe that their parntership with Facebook will be a profitable one, but that fact is inconviently omitted when posting their arguments for the new feature to the end user. By standing firm in their resolve Blizzard is effectively denying the existence of objective realtiy, i.e. the protests from the community, while at the same time vocally stating that they are listening to that reality. In truth they do listen, but since there are more motives than just "reduce trolling and improve conversations" present they must acknowledge both realities at the same time while supplies us with only those words that will allow them to proceed.
Blizzard seems to get the hang of Doublethink and Doublespeak pretty well.
Raise your hand if you think that the opinion of a Supreme Court Justice carries some weight. I don't care if you think that they are political or activists, they are incredibly intelligent people that have worked long and hard to get where they are. Sure, some politics are involved in their decisions, but their knowledge of the law is significant and their wisdom shouldn't be shunned without listening to it first. That said, Vixsin over at Life in Group 5 posted a little quote from a Supremen Court Justice regarding the right of anonymity of an author:
“Despite readers’ curiosity and the public’s interest … an author generally is free to decide whether or not to disclose her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one’s privacy as possible. Whatever the motivation may be, at least in the field of literary endeavor, the interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. (n.5) Accordingly, an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.
The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But … in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.” (As referenced in: McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n (93-986), 514 U.S. 334 (1995) )
Anonymity may allow for some individuals to speak freely about some really stupid things, or in a really stupid manner. But the lack of anonymity allows for people to be judged not on the merits of their arugments but additionally on the person themselves (be it race, gender, nationality, sexual preference, etc). Anonymity helps further good discussion, it does not hinder it. What hinders it is the choices people make to say offensive things because they are a bigot or a totalinarian, or whatever. It's in the person's moral structure that they decide how to act and speak, and that is what allows them to choose to be a troll. Anonymity gives them some freedoms, but what is gained by the trolls through anonymity is less than what can be gained from those who truly intend to further a discussion in a productive manner.
Orwell spoke of many devices implemented by Big Brother to destroy all anonymity. Nobody was safe from their spying eyes. Information of all people were held by the State and they decided who was a person and who was an Unperson.
The Original Real ID
Don't take all these arguments literally, they are meant to shine light on a singular issue, Privacy. In the US in 2005 a little thing called Real ID was inserted into a "must-pass" Iraqi War/Tsunami relief bill. There was no democratic debate on the issue by the people or their representatives. There was not a single congressional hearing on its merits. But it passed, and much to the disdain of the States. What it essentially does is standardize driver's licences cards accross the nation into a single national identity card and database. Think of that, the Government attempting to mandate a National ID card where all your most personal information was centrally located.
Imagine if your an identity thief. Currently information is spread out, so it takes hacking into multiple systems to get a lot of information. This would centralize all personal information into one database. As an indentity thief this is good because you just need to hack the national ID security and you're good to go...for life!
My point is that whether it's centralizing personal information or revealing personal information in a centralized location both endanger personal identity security. There are so many good arguments opposing the Real ID that Blizzard is proposing, it's ironic how similar this Real ID is to the Real ID shooved down the throats of the American people by their own Governemnt. It's release was "insignificant" and optional. But slowly each Real ID is continued to be pressed by those in power.
Blizzard, I doubt, will truly listen to their customer. But that doesn't mean that we stop fighting. In 1984 the main character Winston Smith, who questioned Big Brother and their Teamspeak, ultimately was tortured into acceptance and love of State. He stopped questioning, he stopped fighting.
I hope that any others who run a blog understand that I do not and will not judge them or their motives if they wish to not talk about Real ID anymore and the resulting privacy implications. I have my motives for continuing to speak out and they are mine only. I apply these arguments to myself, I hope you can believe that.
My motives for playing have been well documented here on this blog. (Check out my archives, they were some of the first posts I ever made.) It is because of these motives that I will not stop playing. It means too much to me and my family, it's been a relief in a life of much pain. I see this as an opportunity to teach my kids that you can stand up and fight for something you believe in.
I guess that just about everyone is against murder, but not everyone is a Policeman or Judge. We can care about something but not spend a lot of time combatting it. That's my reasoning for asking other bloggers to understand why I will not judge them. This is something that I personally feel that I need to fight against. And I will...to the very end. You will remember me, I will not become and Unperson.
I will still talk about the game I love and all it's wonderful features and it's flaws. It's just that I'll keep fighting against Real ID any way I know how. Thank you, as always, for stopping by and reading my words. I appreciate your attendence.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Until this morning. The thread on the official forums is growing every second, approaching 24K responses and growing. I guess it's time to see if Blizzard actually listens to their customer and appreciates the feedback from its playerbase.
But a blog post here and there will do nothing. And, I am afraid, neither will a few thousand dissenting replies on the official forums. Only by making this a mainstream issue will our voices be heard. In Canada and the US privacy is of paramount importance. We cannot assume, just because somebody who has a Facebook page that that person WANTS to make their identity know to the whole world without their consent. But by forcing us to post on their official forums with our real names, they have given us the ultimatum: Post or Don't Post.
Here are a list of email address of prominent news outlets in the US. Powerful media players who, if they see this as an issue, will take it up with furvor.
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
For names, addresses, and other email addresses of high powered media outlets, see the post on the official forums by Striderx, the page keeps changing so I'll copy it here:
ABC News 147 Columbus Ave., New York, NY 10023 Phone: 212-456-7777
General e-mail: email@example.com
CBS News 524 W. 57 St., New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-975-4321 Fax: 212-975-1893 Email forms for all CBS news programs CBS Evening News: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Early Show: email@example.com
60 Minutes II: firstname.lastname@example.org 48 Hours: email@example.com
Face The Nation: firstname.lastname@example.org CNBC 900 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632 Phone: (201) 735-2622 Fax: (201) 583-5453 Email: email@example.com
CNN One CNN Center, Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30303-5366 Phone: 404-827-1500 Fax: 404-827-1784 Email forms for all CNN news programs
Fox News Channel 1211 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 Phone: (212) 301-3000 Fax: (212) 301-4229 firstname.lastname@example.org
List of Email addresses for all Fox News Channel programs Special Report with Bret Baier: Special@foxnews.com FOX Report with Shepard Smith: Foxreport@foxnews.com The O'Reilly Factor: Oreilly@foxnews.com Hannity: Hannity@foxnews.com, On the Record with Greta: Ontherecord@foxnews.com Glenn Beck: GlennBeck@foxnews.com
MSNBC/NBC 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112 Phone: (212) 664-4444 Fax: (212) 664-4426 List of Email addresses for all MSNBC/NBC news programs Dateline NBC: email@example.com Hardball with Chris Matthews: firstname.lastname@example.org MSNBC Reports with Joe Scarborough: email@example.com NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org
NBC News Today: email@example.com PBS 2100 Crystal Drive, Arlington VA 22202 Phone: 703-739-5000 Fax: 703-739-5777
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: firstname.lastname@example.org National Radio Programs National Public Radio 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001-3753 Phone: 202-513-2000 Fax: 202-513-3329 E-mail: Alicia Shephard, Ombudsman email@example.com
List of Email addresses for all NPR news programs The Rush Limbaugh Show 1270 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 Phone (on air): 800-282-2882 Fax: 212-445-3963 E-mail: ElRushbo@eibnet.com
Sean Hannity Show Phone (on air): 800-941-7326 Sean Hannity:212-613-3800 James Grisham, Producer: 212-613-3832 E-mail: Phil Boyce, Program Director firstname.lastname@example.org
National Newspapers The Los Angeles Times 202 West First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Phone: 800-528-4637 or 213-237-5000 Fax: 213-237-4712 L.A. Times Contact Information by Department Letters to the Editor: email@example.com Readers' Representative: firstname.lastname@example.org
The New York Times 620 8th Ave., New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-556-1234 D.C. Bureau phone: 202-862-0300 Fax: 212-556-3690 Letters to the Editor (for publication): email@example.com Write to the news editors: firstname.lastname@example.org Corrections: email@example.com New York Times Contact Information by Department How to Contact New York Times Reporters and Editors USA Today 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108 Phone: 703-854-3400 Fax: 703-854-2078 Letters to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Give feedback to USA Today The Wall Street Journal 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 Phone: 212-416-2000 Fax: 212-416-2658 Letters to the Editor: email@example.com Comment on News Articles: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Washington Post 1150 15th St., NW, Washington, DC 20071 Phone: 202-334-6000 Fax: 202-334-5075 Letters to the Editor: email@example.com Ombudsman: firstname.lastname@example.org Contact Washington Post Writers and Editors Magazines
Newsweek 251 W 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-445-4000 Fax: 212-445-5068 Letters to the Editor: email@example.com Time Time & Life Bldg., Rockefeller Center, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 Phone: 212-522-1212 Fax: 212-522-0003 Letters to the Editor firstname.lastname@example.org U.S. News & World Report 1050 Thomas Jefferson St., NW, Washington, DC 20007 Phone: 202-955-2000 Fax: 202-955-2049 Letters to the Editor email@example.com News Services / Wires Associated Press 450 West 33rd St., New York, NY 10001 Phone: 212-621-1500 Fax: 212-621-1723
General Questions and Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org Partial Contact Information for the Associated Press by Department and Bureau Reuters Three Times Square, New York, NY 10036 Telephone: 646-223-4000 Reuters Editorial Feedback United Press International 1133 19th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: 202-898-8000 FAX: 202-898-8048
Comments and Tips: email@example.com FAIR wants to hear about your media activism. Please send copies of your letters to journalists to FAIR 104 W. 27th St. 10th Floor New York, NY 10001 firstname.lastname@example.org
Just copy paste the top part and send to all the media. Maybe this will change Blizzards mind =)
I will not take the time to post the reasons why this is a bad idea, I believe this has been covered around the blogosphere with great intelligence and detail. What I am here to do is to encourage people to stand up for themselves. To make this a REAL ISSUE for Activision Blizzard and Facebook. They need to see that this will not be a one week rant by the community, but a concerted effort to make them retract their ideas and implementation plans.
It will not be easy, for certain there are contractual agreements between Activision and Facebook for their mutual profit. But just because a contract exists between two companies to make more money does not mean that the voice of the people cannot be heard in order to either make laws to prohibit such an action or to apply the necessary social pressure to dissuade them from furthering their contractual designs.
Being in business I know this: This decision is money-based, period. If you actually believe it is for the benefit of a more mature and sensible interaction between developers and gamers you are wrong. How do I know? Because they have entered into a contractual partnership with another corporation, that's how. Any time agreements are made between companies it is NOT for the benifit of just one, it's for the mutual profit that results in divulging identities.
Speak up now, don't let this issue die. I love to play this game, it's a refuge for me and my family. I don't want to quit, but if they don't listen I must consider the option. I believe in privacy, it's important to me, to you, and to many others in this world who only wish to live in a fantasy world a few hours a week. We're not asking much, but this, for once, a slippery slope that I will not slide down for long.
I hope other bloggers will join in the charge to never let this issue die. I am sure this is what the powers that be want from us, to soften our voices and lessen our dissent. I shall NEVER stand quiet on this point. Never again!