Yearly Archives: 2010

Cata Travel Part 3 – New travel methods added for Cata Content

Ok so I must say that the portals in Stormwind and Ogrimmar are nice to get the new content. The thing that would be nice would be if it were a little more consistent. What I refer to is the bi-directional portal in Twilight Highlands and Deepholm. The other zones need a portal back to Stormwind. Ya I know we can hearth but I like things that are consistent, especially for Uldum. If not that then at least put a portal from Stormwind to Dalaran so we can then take the portal to the Caverns of Time.

All in all travel in the new content is much better than it has been in previous levels of content. The thing is that travel between sections of content by level brackets for expansions leaves a bit to be desired. Travel from Outlands to Northrend sucks as it does not exist. Travel from 1-60 and Northrend is by boat only, so it sucks as well.

So all in all travel is good for current content and well is lacking for previous tiers of content, maybe when the redo Outlands and Northrend in future expansions we may see something interesting.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Guild XP Cap – (Good Intentions) * (Easy Implementation) = (Poor Outcome)

Ok after several days of the current Guild XP system it is evident that it is a complete waste of effort.  Blizzard has taken a concept that was cool and added nice flavor to the game for guilds and made it suck and suck big time.

Here is the xp chart for the guild xp system from WoWpedia.org

The major problem is the xp required is a very steady linear increase, hence why we need to have such a low XP Cap per day.  Otherwise even moderately active 10 and 25 man guilds would already be level 10-20 by now.  Now is when the bonuses form the guild system are the most needed and useful, in 4-5 months they will be nice to have but more of an “oh yay” rather than that is “@#$# Awesome”.  Way to piss on a new “Advertised” feature there Blizz.

The way to have a system that works for all guilds of all levels of activity is to have a Geometric/Exponential XP increase needed between levels of tiers of levels.

For example a better system would be to break it into 5 tiers.

Levels 1-5 are a linear growth like you have now except maybe a little steeper so the XP/Day can be increased by 300% or just removed.  Then each tier the next 5 levels are some multiple of XP per level of the previous teirs XP needed each level.

Below is a Chart using a progression similar to what I describe here.

[table id=4 /]

As can be seen using a multiple of 2 will require 3 times the amount of XP than the current system overall and a cap increase of at least 3 times the current would be required to keep the about the same progression.  However it front loads a few of the features more conducive to leveling and getting money into the guild bank while everyone is leveling and gearing up, which should have been though of before the stupid low cap was put in, or at least the 5% going to the guild bank should have been level 1 or 2 guild perk.

I was not in Beta but I know the guild xp was reset many times to try and find a happy medium. They were not able to so implemented a low xp cap per day to not give the 200+ member guilds an extreme advantage, more than they already have. Here is the thing, we the players are all gamers or a large percentage of us are and the rest follow our optimizations. Adapt to it and implement a fun system not something cool but so limited it is useless when we want to use it most.

Of course it is now too late. I wish there had been a more interactive discussion on the guild xp system but then again almost everyone is focused on end game raid balancing and class balancing so these secondary systems get shafted in the intellectual resource department. Even our smaller 25 man guild would be level 6+ if there were no caps so I think Blizzard really did the player base a major disservice by not building enough XP room into the guild leveling system. Here is the thing with large amounts of xp required between levels you hurt no one with out having a cap. By having small amounts of xp required per level and having a draconian XP/Day cap you hurt everyone except the very small social guilds. The small social guilds are likely to stay that way because of what they are and how they play.

I almost would have preferred see this system go the way of the Dance Studio than to have the broken system we have now.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Guild Perks G-Mail … Seriously?

So I was taking a closer look at some of the guild perks, and one of them stood out as something cool and yet annoying at the same time.

Over time to help fight gold buying/selling and such Blizzard imposed a delay on all mail transactions between World of Warcraft accounts, this was before the Battle.net merger so each wow account was and is completely separate. This is still technically true but now there is a relationship in common between the Battle.net account. As we know 1 Battle.net account can have many Blizzard game accounts associated to it, I think the limit is 10.

Now in Cataclysm we get a guild perk called G-Mail.

G-Mail
In-game mail sent between guild members now arrives instantly.

I think this is a cool change however it also annoys me a lot because those of us that do have multiple Warcraft Accounts tied to 1 Battle.net account have been asking for some of the “perks” shared between characters of 1 World of Warcraft account be translated to extend over all wow accounts within a Battle.net account.

I am not talking about paid for separate items like the mounts and Collector’s edition Pets, even though the Blizzcon perks this past year were on a Battle.net account basis so there is something to it already in place.

The 2 main issues would be instant mail between characters on the same Battle.net account on the same server since we don’t have inter-server game mail.  That is a battle for another time, even though it be needed.  The other would be sharing of BoA items be bound to the Battle.net Account.  Since Warcraft Accounts can not be removed from a Battle.net account.

Anyway just something that I found cool and annoying at the same time.  It is now shown that the time delay can be selectively lifted by joining another associated set of data.  Now it is time to take it where it logically should have gone first.

Oh and yes I know that if you have 2 characters in the same guild on different accounts they would now be able to mail one another instantly, which I do and will have access to that Guild Perk.  It is just something that should have already been possible and implemented and was not.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cata Travel Part 2 – Further Contemplations

While getting all of my characters that are 80 out of Dalaran and back to Ironforge or Stormwind in preparation for the release I saw MMO-Champion’s Compilation Post, and while looking through all of the information we already knew it dawned on me another “reason” for the removal of the portals in Dalaran and Shattrath.  One word sums up the reason, Archeology.

Honestly if it is Portals or a new Profession that gives BoA Epics of quality 359 I would chose the Portals any day of the week.  Items can and will be replaced.  Quick Travel from point A to point B is priceless.  So to be able to “justify” to all of the hardcore raiders that have contempt for casual players everyone now has to suffer increased travel times just so the Time/Investment to Reward ratio is higher and will somehow equalize it a little between the different playing groups.

So in the end there is no good justification to the removal of the portals.  It sure as hell will not reduce lag, well maybe in Dalaran and Shattrath but it will become 10-100 times worse in Stormwind and Ogrimmar.  Why is this well that is what I will get into below as we look at why Dalaran and Shattrath were lag fests to begin with.

Lag and Blizzard’s Failure Dealing with It

In my Incentives and Planning post I made in May(09) last year I throw around some theoretical numbers dealing with bandwidth limits at the server end, not to mention processing requirements.  Then if everything is working well at the network layer you still have graphic lag which is usually what everyone experiences.  This previous post dealt with some of the changes that at the time had either just occurred or were going to occur to Wintergrasp.

So in that post one of the issues I mentioned was that Wintergrasp was over incentivized which was lending to some of the really bad lag spikes and in some cases were lending to server stability problems.

This is exactly the same issue that occurred previously with Dalaran and Shattrath in addition to the Graphics upgrade each of these cites were used to showcase in both expansions.  Now we are seeing and will see worse examples of this in Stormwind and Ogrimmar and unlike the previous 2 examples this will not just effect level cap characters, but characters of all levels while leveling through the new Azeroth.

How to fix the Problem

When this is deemed an issue, I hope/bet sometime between now and 4.1 what can be done to solve it or at least alleviate it some.  There are several things that will need to be done in no particular order.

  • Duplicate 2 Auction Houses and Banks in each Capital city, Dalaran and Shattrath can be kept at one now that it is better than none.
  • Instant/Portal travel between Capitols of each Faction, either fully connected or single pass through, preferably fully connected.  Portals can be level restricted but should be available no matter what by 58 same as the short cut to the Dark Portal from each of the Capital cities.
  • Fishing/Cooking and all other profession dailies that are now in Stormwind have equivalents that are not repeatable between cites per day in all of the other capitols.

These last 2 are the keys to spreading the pain and minimizing some of the geometric communication and graphical lag that occurs when you have many many players in one place.  Let the players do what they want/need to do but allow it to be done from many locations and the players will selectively spread themselves out.  If there is fast travel it encourages players to be more mobile and then you don’t have the entire player base setting their heart in one location to travel.  If there are more places with reasons to be there and fast travel to and from those locations, the players will spread themselves out.  If a player is then having issues you can just say go somewhere else because there is some place.  At the moment and with the design of the last 2 capitols in each expansion respectively this was not the case.

You see this happen in LotRO as well.  The city of Man Bree, is a central transportation Hub and has links to many of the far flung zones.  Also since travel is even more of a pain in the ass than it is in WoW you have many players grouping up around the Skirmish vendors for gear because it is the most time/cost effective way to level and get gear.  Skirmishes become extremely repetitive and boring but if it is the best/fastest way to effectively level and get gear that is what the players will do.  The goal/job of the designers which both Turbine and Blizzard have failed to varying degrees over time is creating multiple nearly equivalent ways to progress, it is a bitch but it is necessary otherwise you become a 1 trick pony for content.

Posted in Uncategorized

New PVP Brackets

I saw this in MMO-Champion’s Blue Tracker which points to the official post here

Here is part of the blue post, well most of it, but all in all it was a short post anyway.


The clash between the factions has also never been so hotly contested:  Battleground brackets now match up teams more evenly.  The new brackets span five levels each, except the final bracket composed of level 85 players:

10-14               30-34               50-54               70-74

15-19               35-39               55-59               75-79

20-24               40-44               60-64               80-84

25-29               45-49               65-69               85

Fighters can also join the battle in Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm, and Alterac Valley at an earlier level than ever before:

Level 10 – Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch
Level 35 – Eye of the Storm
Level 45 – Alterac Valley
Level 65 – Strand of the Ancients
Level 75 – Isle of Conquest
Level 85 – Battle for Gilneas and Twin Peaks

This has been a long time coming.  With the new enhancements coming with cross battle-group queuing the more focused brackets should not have super long wait times.  Also this breaks the old X9 twinking to a certain extend because there are now more brackets with which to focus and stop XP.

I want to say I have posted an idea like this somewhere before but I can’t find reference to it, so it must have been in one of my various complaining rants to a random player about how the PvP system works now.   Also I think when I was fuming about it I was thinking about a more complicated system that would eliminate the ability to twink by making dynamic brackets and grouping people in queue with others +/- (2-3) levels of one another.  But that would be rough to implement.

All in all this looks like a really really good change to the leveling via PvP option, for when you get sick of all of the current content.

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Cata Travel Part 1 – Alliance Flight Points

So I have held off on this post for a while.

I completed my graph just before the 4.0.3a patch last Tuesday. It is lacking some of the Cataclysm flight points because Beta closed before I could get Lissanna to get me the flight information. So I have removed those nodes and edges from the graphs and have the ones I have been able to verify in. I don’t think I missed any edges or made mistakes but I may have. For comparison my old graph had between 11-18 flight points per continent in the Azeroth for Vanilla content or 1-60. Now each continent has around 30 or so nodes with many many more edges.

There was one flight connection I was very surprised was lacking and that was a connection between the new flight points in Burning Steppes and Searing Gorge.  As of my last attempt to use them you have to go from Iron Summit North to Thorium Point then South to Morgan’s Vigil then North again to Chiselgrip.  A better connection would just to have Chiselgrip and Iron Summit to connect directly.  This as the only one that seem like it was overlooked by Blizzard.

Now after the patch and then starting to read the thread about the removal of the portals on the official forums I got really annoyed and got snarky on the forums resulting in a 1 week ban.  Essentially I think it was calling all of the fanboys on the thread supporting Blizzard ass kissers but not sure which of my statement were inflaming enough for the ban.  Considering the fanboys were calling everyone that wanted the portals back names but lets not go there.  I also use to use stronger imagery on the old forums years ago than what I posted in that thread but what ever.  I can’t stand the official forums anymore anyway.  Just a cesspool of trolls, and yes I admit I am sometimes a troll there as well when I get annoyed enough to post.

Anyway with the portals removed for now.  There is a gaping hole in the travel system that needs filled.  There needs to be some sort of instant travel between the Capitol cities both Faction and Neutral.  This also allows for some more interesting solution than just opening up portals in SW to all the other major cities.

Lagarath and Lagaran were LAG#### because everyone went there for fast travel between expansions for what ever reason.  To get somewhere for training, farming, helping others what have you.  The point is the more ways to get player A to a location that player B is the better it is for the game.

So I have made another picture, it looks messier but I don’t have the inclination to clean it up with the tools I have readily available.

Here is the graph code for the differences between the two graphs.

	A_EK_EF_1 [label="Stormwind City"]
	A_KAL_AZI_1 [label="Exodar"]
	A_KAL_TDS_2 [label="Darnassus"]
	A_EK_DM_1 [label="Ironforge"]

	N_EK_CoS_1 [label="Booty Bay"]
	N_KAL_WS_1 [label="Everlook"]
	N_KAL_TAN_1 [label="Gadgetzan"]

	N_KAL_MG_1 [label="Moonglade Central"]
	N_KAL_SIL_1 [label="Cenarion Hold"]
	N_EK_WPL_2 [label="The Mender's Stead"]
	N_KAL_DS_2 [label="Karnum's Glade"]

	edge[color=red,weight=100.0,penwidth=1.25,len=4.0]
	A_EK_EF_1 -> A_KAL_AZI_1
	A_KAL_AZI_1 -> A_EK_DM_1
	A_EK_DM_1 -> A_KAL_TDS_2
	A_KAL_TDS_2 -> A_EK_EF_1

	N_EK_CoS_1 -> N_KAL_TAN_1
	N_KAL_TAN_1 -> N_KAL_WS_1
	N_KAL_WS_1 -> N_EK_CoS_1

	N_KAL_MG_1 -> N_EK_WPL_2
	N_EK_WPL_2 -> N_KAL_SIL_1
	N_KAL_SIL_1 -> N_KAL_DS_2
	N_KAL_DS_2 -> N_KAL_MG_1	

	edge[dir=none]
	N_EK_SG_2 -> N_EK_BS_1

So there are other opportunities as well. Looking at the new Hearthglen being part of the Argent Crusade it would be interesting to have a one direction portal loop between neutral faction locations. Place level restrictions on them so low level characters should not be able to get them early but for level cap or post level characters there is no good reason not to make some sort of fast travel available. I would hope not to have them tied to standing with the faction because that would be a pain in the ass for alts so level is really the only relevant restriction. Alternatively a single quest would also be good not a chain but just some simple action to unlock them after a certain level. Also making multiple loops as new content comes out would also be cool.

For example the Argent Tournament Grounds, Hearth Glen, some Argent Tournament location in Kalimdor. For the Cenarian factions having portals around Eastern Kindgom, Kalimdor, Outlands for the Expedition and something in Northrend (DEHTA) or in the Basin. I do not mind the portals being removed from Dalaran/Shattrath as long as something else is implemented that fills a similar role and the Boats/Trains/Planes do not count.

Posted in Uncategorized, World of Warcraft

Entry Tanking Plate Options

Not much to say here but here is a list of the tanking plate from known locations for the beginning of Cataclysm.  Different pieces may be better at different times depending upon various Dodge/Parry/Block Values and whether your class has block.  Needed to compile the list for Undying Resoultion’s Forum so thought I would repost here for everyone.

Tanking Plate

Chest

Feet

Hands

Head

Legs

Shoulder

Waist

Wrist

Posted in World of Warcraft

A new Ghostcrawler Pet

Well I was looking around on wow-petopia looking at the new buff system for hunter pets.  I have not really spent much time on my hunter or any class other than my mage and warlock since 4.0.x patch.

Anyway I was looking at the spirit beasts and saw one labeled as Ghostcrawler, a Ghost Deep Sea Crab named after our favorite lead system designer.  My current hunter already has a pet I changed the name to Ghostcrawler and it is a similar model to the one used on the forums.  I hope the new forums have GC updated to his new elite form.

Anyway nothing really important here just something I had not heard about earlier that I wanted to bring to light.  I and I am sure others will be hunter for the new spirit pet.  I find it hilarious to read the combat log in pvp when I have my GC crab pet out and see GC hits SoAndSo for X.  I just LOL.

Posted in Uncategorized

Class Panel from Blizzcon – Hunters and Raids

I wanted to take a few days to let my thoughts percolate for a bit on the class Q&A panel.  I had a few knee jerk reactions and one of them has not changed so I am now taking the time to add my 2 cents on it.

Fortunately due to my procrastination on the matter I do not need to recount the panel as WoW Insider has some nice summaries of the questions and answers.  In particular the this article has the section that I want to elaborate on here.  As a side note, I will say after being introduced to other developers at the panel, IMO I now see why GC likes to drink.  Being the moderator/lead of that set of personalities I am sure would make most people want to drink.  Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they all mean well and how someone reacts in front of 20k+ people and how they are in an small group meeting I am sure is completely different, hopefully.

From the article mentioned above:

Question: Aspect of the Cheetah — OK, hunters, Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack — it’s been in the game for a long time now. This is somewhat of a credit to you guys, you’ve given all the other character classes wonderful tools where a lot of hunters now no longer feel it’s necessary to have a gimp to a skill like this. We all feel it’s antediluvian, you know; remove it from the game, please. That way it would add more dynamic to the hunter class. Aspect of the Pack would be used in other situations.

The reason why Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the pack aren’t like — or that they have the daze I guess is what you’re referencing — is that if they didn’t have the daze then you could just kite stuff all day long in PvE and it’s also used like —

– you put mobs on leashes, you cannot kite stuff all day long. That is no longer true. And mobs you can kite, it’s irrelevant; you could kill it anyway. Who cares?

This comment was followed by loud booing from the crowd.

I don’t know, I think I’d be able to kite stuff and kill stuff solo as long as the boss doesn’t hit me.

I challenge you this: remove it from the game and see what happens.

After this comment he was roundly booed by the crowd again and his turn was done.

Honestly, I was pretty disappointed by this question. Of course Blizzard is not going to give us a permanent 30 percent speed increase with no substantial downside. Of course that would break things. I was a bit annoyed that one of our precious question slots was wasted on this one. But, happily, future questions were more interesting.

Ok I too was a little annoyed by the time the question took not so much by it being asked.  I also was disappointed by the response from the Developers.  For example they seem to be forgetting Unholy Presence and some other class abilities/talents that are available to other classes.  A more unique or interesting answer would have been asking the player base what about a medium/minor Glyph that turns Cheeta/Pack into +15% movement speed buffs with penalty.  That at least would make it an option effect and also keep it in line with some other base line abilities that other classes have or can spec into.

Hell I would not put it past the devs to have thought of this after the fact sometime later when not in the spot lights.

Now for the one that I have harped about before and completely pissed me off when I heard the developer response to a legitimate concern.  Here is that excerpt from the WoW Insider Summary.

Question: Minimum range in raids — From a technical standpoint we seem to be the only ranged class in the game that has a minimum range. This seems to come into effect quite a bit in our raids where everybody in the raid — ICC first couple of bosses — everybody in the raid stacks up on the boss at max hit at the edge of the hitbox, except the hunter — you stand about five feet back and die.

If your raid liked you more they’d save you.

Seriously WTF?  Have you looked at the encounters and how class dynamics interact with them.  I know you usually do but to so flippantly dismiss a legitimate concern is sorry to say complete BS.  Now back to more on this.

Question: My question is just — mages, warlocks, priests — they’re all ranged classes but they can stand directly in front of you and repeatedly use what would be a ranged attack. Why have hunters been singled out? Why are we not allowed to do the same thing with our bows or our guns? It makes no sense.

It’s part of the overall flavor of the hunter class unfortunately, and it goes hand in hand with using ranged weapons. That said I’m very sympathetic to the reality on fights like Lord Marrowgar, and other bosses that have very large hit boxes — which works to the advantage of melee because it lets you spread out — but effectively it’s subtracting from the viable range for hunters. That issue in particular is something that we’ve discussed addressing because it is intended to make life easier for you, not harder, and life would be easier for you on Marrowgar if you were smaller and that’s just not how it’s ideally going to work.

Question: Is there supposed to be any form of a balance for the fact that it is a negative to the way our class plays is that we must be at that range or our DPS goes to pretty much nothing once you get into melee. Is there going to be something that cancels that out and makes us a slightly more viable ranged class than somebody who doesn’t have that negative.

At the same you can shoot while moving and a mage can’t channel his spells while moving, so there’s trade offs right? Or a rogue or a cat they can’t do anything when they have to run around the room, and you can. So there’s different classes have different strengths in different situations.

Hunters also have a lot of abilities to get our of melee range, that’s why disengage was made as a jump away from your target kind of ability, to get away from the shadow priest standing on top of you. But pretty much any ranged class if a melee’s on top of you, you know, you’re not doing your highest damage, right.

Ok here it goes, I think there is a good middle ground between what the player was asking about and the “theme” that the devs seem to think is so important to convey.  As as side not if you notice there is no such limitation on the new Demon Hunter for Diablo3 at least some people seem to get it on that team.

The middle ground is simple and is about the various shots.  To explain farther lets break a hunter down into their ability types.

  • Pet DPS – Not relevant to this issue.
  • Traps – Not really Relevant.
  • Stings – Somewhat Relevant.
  • Melee Abilities – the 2 or 3 of them that don’t really do anything.
  • Ranged Special Attacks, AKA Shots – The meat and potatoes of Hunter dps.
  • Auto-attack – Ranged and Melee, the melee part is a joke but for completeness included.

I think the main problem with allowing hunter ranged attacks in Melee has to do with some strange interaction between Ranged and Melee Auto Attack.

Rather than get into the details which I would only be guessing about lets discuss the model for the compromise.

  • A ranged auto attack is broken when target gets out of range, be it too close or too far.  In the case of too close auto melee attack automatically starts.
  • No matter what the range from 0-Max of Ranged Ability any ability can be activated including shots.  So the hunter can use shots at any range 0-Max but will only auto shoot when target is outside of melee while still in range.

A more involved change would be the following.

  • Stings are the only ability usable at 0-Max range.
  • # of Shots decreased to 2 base +1/2 depending upon spec.
  • # of base melee abilities set to 2 +1/2 depending upon spec.
  • Interactivity created between stings/shots and melee abilities such that no matter where the hunter has to stand they have something they can do.  Maybe even an occasional special proc that allow for a particular shot or 2 to be used at any range.

Really it annoyed me more that the devs had an attitude of “shut up and deal with it” on this subject than looking at how encounter design has evolved and refuse to evolve the classes to cope with the new dynamics.   Hell this has been an issue for ever and has been ignored for far too long.  There are other games out there that do the hunter/ranger as well or better even within Blizzard.  Naming them I would say Diablo3 and LotRO.  Now neither of these have a pet which for solo play need the improved paradigm.  However pets may do dps in raids but if the encounter screws the player on positioning the pet only supplements dps and is not the major contributor in most cases.

Posted in Uncategorized, World of Warcraft

Other Projects – Guild and Strategy Website

So with all of the information about Cataclysm and 4.0.x that has been coming in a steady stream, I have not been sure where to start giving my 2 cents about it. Given that 4.0.x just came out yesterday, 2010/08/13, other than a very brief initial opinion there is not much to say about it.

I am disappointed in the changes to the AH and Mail related mods being broken. I wish Blizzard would actually fix the systems rather than just break mods that are damn near necessary to interact with them. Yes 2-3 clicks per mail item is a good design … no no it is not. If I could click in the mail item and automatically have it loot/detach the item and currency, if there is room for such it would be nice. Like the auto-loot system.

The other 2 projects I have been working on when not at my IRL job are the new guild website for the guild most of my toons are in, Undying Resolution on Elun-US.  This guild is made up of mostly former Conspiracy Elune-US members that wanted to raid a little more seriously and with less baggage from legacy officers taking a break from the game but still active in other aspects of the game/social dynamic.  Since the split the guild has progress some in 10man ICC with a H-Prof. P. kill the other night right before the patch.

The second project is one I have mentioned here previously which is my raid strategy website however I have decided to make the scope even a little larger due to many of the group mechanic changes coming in Cataclysm.  With CC being required Dungeon strategies are going to be needed on the web more so than even when tBC came out.  The reason for this is for the most part the vast majority of the WoW player base has had it really easy the past 2 years as far as dungeon content.  I am working on re-skinning that website after getting the transition to http://www.wowraidstrategies.com working.  It is still a major work in progress but with the release date of Cataclysm I at least now have a deadline.

Posted in Uncategorized

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