A History of my WoW Experience Part 5 (MoP)

Almost done now we are at the second to last post I plan for this topic and this one focuses on the current expansion Mists of Pandaria.

Unlike many in the community that were expecting WoW : Kung Fu Panda, I went into the expansion with a somewhat more open mind.  I did have some issues with the speed of leveling and Jade Forest even while in Beta but kept my fingers crossed hoping for some minor tweaks when it Launched.

MoP Launch Date – September 25th 2012

So for the Launch I was actually able to schedule 2 weeks off from work, and it happened to be around my Birthday so I had multiple reasons to take some time off.  Due to being able to take that amount of vacation time for the Launch I was able to get the only 2 achievements I was concerned about relatively early on.

Master of All – October 14th 2012
Quintessential Quintet – November 4th 2012

After the 5th character however given the xp curve at launch and that there was no system to get my leveling alts the ability to fly in Pandaria, I could not bring my self to level another character.

It was during the push for 5 characters and eventually a 6th where I actually started to Hate the game.  Not just dislike certain parts and still be able to push through the pain but visceral hate for leveling and the content in general.

Not to mention I like crafting such that one character can make items for others while leveling and maybe for themself.  Well with the way crafting materials and patterns were distributed and locked as BoP or behind rep walls that you have to be 90 to get access to.  Well there went the ability for my factory of alts to be able to help one another in any reasonable amount of time.  By the time I got 1 the patterns they would not need anything for themselves and I would be sick of playing them almost exclusively sometime before that point.

So after a few months I realized that I did not have the interest to keep both of my WoW accounts active and as I listed below my second account I let expire in January 2013.  This was not unprecedented I have had 2 or more WoW accounts since tBC where I spun the second account up for the Zhevra mount with RAF.  What was unprecedented for me and WoW was when I decided that by there had not been enough changes by 5.3 to prove keeping my Primary account open and me interested in the game.  I had started to feel that way in April 2013 which is when the last achievement on my account occurred and I stopped logging in regularly.

Primary WoW Account Expired July 24th 2013
Secondary WoW Account Expired January 22nd 2013

So due to the structure of the content of MoP, I a player that had taken no previous complete brakes from WoW did so.  All previous expansions were structured such that I felt that there was at least something interesting for me to do as a player that did not Raid much.  It was no one big thing like there is for some where raiding is not hard enough, or there are Panda’s being added.  It was death by a 1000 little things and those little things not changing or changing soon enough to change my opinion.  Blizzard really needs to learn how to do Smaller/Faster content cycles.  I can not imagine how many 100Ks if not a Million or  more they will lose over the next 20 weeks+ so there is enough time for another PvP season while everyone waits for WoD.

Now I realize that the PvP season is being added because there is enough time for it due to the current schedule for WoD, but lets be honest, the clock started ticking when SoO was released.  No player wants a repeat of the last tier of Cata let alone ICC but due to pacing of content Blizzard is yet again setting itself up for pain in that department.

Here’s a hint, launch an expansion with no opening raid tier so you can get all of the systems up and running and out the door.  Let the expansion, dungeons and such run for 4-6 weeks so those that want world firsts don’t have to quit their jobs for the first month each expansion just to get leveled, geared, and running the first second they could.

Well I am already getting into topics that I should save for my summary and WoD discussion so I will end this post here.  It is also short because unlike the other expansion which were earlier ones this one is ongoing even if I am not playing it anymore.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience Part 4 (Cata)

Now picking up in Cataclysm or December 2010 I was very active in game at the time and was actually a raider at the beginning of the expansion.  I power leveled 2 characters quickly at the beginning to get geared for raiding on both of them.  Malchome my warrior for Off-Tanking and DPS, which when I was asked to DPS more than Off-Tanking I used my Shaman ShepardBuch for throwing around the Lightning since Melee has been screwed in every tier of raiding since Vanilla and maybe even then.

IMO this is either the best or second best expansion WoW has had.  The other being Wrath,  and I am not sure because areas where Cata was better than Wrath are many but there are areas that Wrath did much better than Cata so it really becomes a toss up.  Both are better than either tBC or MoP in terms of content accessibility and progression for more than one character.  If all you play is one character/class and that is all you do then I can see in some ways why they may prefer tBC and MoP over Wrath or Cata.  I will leave more of this for my WoW summary post which will be after my MoP post which is the next I will write.

Some of the best features that were implemented in Cataclysm have since been removed from the game and I will list them here.

  • Have Group Will Travel – Guild Perc – Essentially for a predetermined cooldown period any member of a group/raid that is a member of a guild that has this perc could summon the rest of the Raid/Group to themselves.
  • Cauldrons of Battle 10/25 versions – These allowed for the cost of about 60-80% in materials to create Flasks for Raiding 1 big Cauldron that would provide a Flask to a group/raid member of the appropriate type based upon their current spec.  This the sizes would have different numbers of charges.
  • Feasts – These were implemented at the beginning of MoP but were weaker than the individual food buff items and were therefor useless for anything other than leveling of the cooking skill.  Now food carts are implemented so this feature is mostly back but much to late in an expansion cycle.

In Wrath I had 10 level 80s by the end of the expansion almost all of who were able to run the ICC dungeons by the release of the Cata.  In Cata I had 13 level 85s ready to start into the MoP content.  Most of the 13 had enough gear to be able to run the CoT dungeons that launched with the Deathwing Raid Tier.  For the first few weeks of that Tier I ran and Valor Capped 4-6 characters a week because the dungeon run bonuses were not tied as some stupid Daily restriction but were in Weekly increments of bonus, which helped keep them filled.

The real problem with Cataclysm was since so much of the Old World was reworked, which it was desperately needed, there was not enough Level Cap content variety and options and Cata was always on the lower total content level.

However due to the small size of Tier 9 in Wrath and the duration that Tier 10 lasted in the same expansion everyone had time to level alts and start to build out a stable of resource gatherers and crafters by the time Cata launched.  Then with so little variety and volume of content in Cata, most likely because everyone was working on MoP by the time Firelands was finished people had even more time to level even more alts and get them geared and ready for the next expansion, then the third Cataclysm occurred.

By third Cataclysm I refer to the first being the actual in game Cataclysm.  The second Cataclysm be the state of the Raiding Playerbase due to the raid mechanic changes implemented in Cataclysm.  The third Cataclysm I will talk more about in my MoP and Summary post.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience – Part 3 (UR)

Continuing from my earlier post, we are in Wrath of the Lich King, my significant other Lissanna now wife, and I were raiding in ICC with Conspiracy and we the guild is recruiting new raiders to fill gaps in the roster as long time members take a break from the game or retire from raiding.

Well due to churn and Conspiracy being a social raiding guild, a type that does not exist anymore thanks to the Cataclysm in multiple ways, and a Lich King kill is slow coming.  At the height of raiding in WoW Elune had 40+ 25 man raiding guilds Conspiracy was not the best but was not the worst either and was comfortably in the middle.  The rough part of this was an additional factor to the player churn was more progressed guilds on the server when openings would appear would either recruit from the mid tier or off server.  I was also getting frustrated with the guild leadership because they refused to just buy a LK kill so that we could start on heroics which many were easier to execute than the LK fight on normal.  Way to design progression there Blizzard.  This is a problem they have had and will continue to have until they get out of the requiring an end of instance boss kill to unlock “heroic” and soon “mythic” raiding.

So I end up using my gold resources and buy a LK kill on my mage for the title and so that Heroic ICC can be unlocked and we can get some heroic gear to make the LK fight more forgiving.  Needless to say this did not go well with the leadership of the guild and I just said hell with raiding for a second time during LK.  With the year-ish time that ICC was the raiding content in wrath I had started raiding it in my Priest got halfway through before getting fed up with the raid leading and going casual again.  Later after some leadership changes I started with my Mage this time because in the mean time the guild had recruited a really good Disc Priest, which happened to a relative of Lissanna.  I am not sure when in all of this a new raider was recruited which ended up taking over raid leading in some fashion.  I was only partially paying attention to Conspiracy’s internal politics and my buying a LK caused a minor shit storm which was increased when Mindalen went and bought a second kill so that there would be more people who could unlock heroics, and she wanted the title as well.

So all of this simmered during summer and reached a boiling point at the end of September 2010.  At this point Ranico the raider that was leading Conspiracy raids more and more during the end of summer, Mindalen, Lissanna and I took alts we had on server and created a new guild named Undying Resolution.  We expected maybe 10-12 of the new members in Conspiracy’s main 25-man raid to potentially move to the new guild with us.  What happened is at the end of the last scheduled raid day of the week, it was announced to the raid that the the 4 of us an a few others were moving to the newly formed guilds and anyone currently in Conspiracy was welcome to join us no questions asked.  The majority of the raid moved with us.  This was done so quickly and cleanly that we were raiding with a full 25-man the following raid reset with most of the old raid group and a few other new recruits that we got through various channels.

Part of the reason this went as quickly as it did was I had a full working guild website up and running before we even filled out the new guild charter.  Lissanna had been getting frustrated with ICC and raiding and was contemplating just making a causal guild based around her blog and most likely full of Druids but she only idly contemplated that.  Me, liking the idea got portal page, forums and raid calendar all set up ready to go when ever she wanted.  I just cloned that site when we needed to use it for Undying Resolution, just one of the few secrets in the History of UR.

Now that 25-man guild created from the ashes of another guild when there was a major deviation between the will of the guild officers and the raid/raid leaders was setting itself up just as the Wrath expansion was closing.  Currently UR is the top real 25-man raiding guild on Elune.  Just Crusade who use to be the top guild on the server for several expansions and went 10-man only during Cataclysm and then imploded since then.  Now is an organized PUG with characters/alts from many of the 10-man guilds that just feel like raiding more.  As far as an actual guild community, UR is the top 25-man guild on Elune.

I will refrain from ranting about the guild Cataclysm that occurred during Cataclysm as I have bitched about it a lot in previous posts and it solely falls on Blizzard as to why it happened.  I will say that while many guilds collapsed UR remained strong and grew stronger during all the turmoil.

This post turned into more about the founding of UR than Cataclysm so I will pick up in my next post with my real play experience during Cataclysm.  Then I expect another post on MoP and then a final post for this trend covering Blizzcon and WoD.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience – Part 2 (Wrath)

So in my previous post, I ended with myself, Lissanna and a few of our IRL and in game friends transferring servers from Sentinels-US to Elune-US.  At the time it was between T6 and T6.5 the Sunwell content.  I think it was actually during the Sunwell opening event and we used Sunwell opening progress as one of the criteria when picking the new server.

We chose Elune because at that time it was a phase or 2 ahead of Sentinels in the opening of the Sunwell, and it was a large population server without being very high or over-populated.  The server also had many guilds that were raiding content at the time.

So we all moved, it was also around the time of year when Americans get back any money overpaid to the IRS for federal taxes.  That year this move is where most of my refund went, since at the time I had 9 characters to move.  I will not go into server transfer and character change costs at this time and save it for another post.

Now on a new server we all applied and joined a guild named EXILE.  I really don’t remember much about this guild anymore as there were some personality clashes that became apparent shortly after beginning to raid with EXILE.  I not really being a “raider” and not understanding that left the guild and formed the new version of a guild that was started on Sentinels before the move.  That guild called Northrend Privateers still exists on Elune as a Bank Alt guild for a friend of mine but all in all never really went anywhere.

After getting fed up with raiding as it was at the time I turned my attention back to alts and worked on leveling, gathering, crafting and selling of items from this time through really Tier 9 during Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

I did rejoin EXILE when Wrath launched and there was some changes with the leadership of the guild.  That, however did not last long and I bounced between my guild and other guilds on a few different characters until T9.  However, I did find one guild, Conspiracy, that had some nice and friendly members while also being a raiding guild and kept one or more characters there from January 2009 until October 2010.

So while I was doing the casual alt leveling thing during Wrath I finally achieved the goal I set out on shortly after starting to play WoW.  I got 1 character of every class to level cap 80 at the time, so 10 level 80s.

During this time Lissanna ran into yet more raiding problems with the various guild not having stable leadership or just the constant churn of players constantly looking for a guild farther progressed than their current guild.  Which is the story of the game experience for players in guilds not in the top 10-20 or so on a server.

So even though I was not raiding with the guild I knew from the forums that Conspiracy if nothing else had stable leadership and suggested that Lissanna apply there.  Eventually after doing her own research Lissanna applied and joined Conspiracy in May 2009.

Shortly before joining Conspiracy, something completely unrelated occurred in the Druid Blog-0-sphere, Resto4Life closed its doors , also at the same time Blizzard revealed that they were going to change the World of Warcraft forums and revel IRL names on posts.  This does not go over well with the player-base and is the main reason that Lissanna started Restokin.com.  Now the forum decision was later changed when the Battle.net forums we have now were initially implemented.

I mention Restokin.com here because if it was not already mentioned elsewhere I perform all of the back end hosting and maintenance for Lissanna’s blog.  I usually have weird things here as far as posts and features as I will test plugins here before adding them to Restokin.

So from early T8 though most of T10 Lissanna is raiding with Conspiracy and I am doing the casual thing with various alts and just running dungeons or occasionally PvP.  It was during this time that due to following a lot of WoW blog community that I stumble across a post by Matticus asking for user interface screen shots for PvP for a project he was working on.  My setup was different enough from many of the others he received so I was interviewed for an article which ended up being for the first issue of the World of Warcraft Magazine that only had 4 issues before it was discontinued.

If there was one thing from this period of time that I regret arguing for on the WoW forums it would be for equality between 10 and 25 man content.   While I was in a 25 man raiding guild at the time I still wished I could raid with my closer friends that had moved servers and we were lucky to get 10 people.  So I was all for making 10 man content viable.  I regret these arguments after seeing how Blizzard implemented the “equality” in Cata and MoP and I am glad to see the raiding changes coming in Warlords of Draenor.

Now during the end of Wrath of the Lich King turbulence was growing in Conspiracy with many new members being brought in as long time members stopped playing or raiding.  Due to this things were coming to a head.  This is a good breaking point as it ends at the cusp of a logical break in my gaming history with regards to WoW.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience – Part 1 (tBC)

I was going to initially make this post about my thoughts on Warlords of Draenor and some Quality of Life fixes I am not waiting for in FFXIV:ARR before deciding on the game one way or another.   Then while typing I ended up just start telling my story of playing wow.

I have a peculiar play-style and I fully admit that.  I am not one of the majority in really any MMO I play.  What makes me different is I don’t get overly invested in any one character I play.

When initially leveling in WoW, I was the last person to begin playing out of the social group of IRL people who I knew at the time and also played the game.  That said I was left to my own devices while leveling, occasionally I a group of us would group up and do quests.  I did the warrior quest for the nice 40ish 2-handed sword before getting tired of leveling around a 40-man raid schedule, as in when I could ask for help and maybe get it.

So shortly after reaching 40 on the warrior, I re-rolled on a “new” server at that time Sentinels and liked the idea of being on a new realm where everyone would essentially be on an equal footing.  I then proceeded to roll 5 new Alliance characters, Malchome, Jaynn, Rivir, Inaradria and Lavata.  Firefly was very popular at the time and my IRL social group was on its second or 3rd viewing of the DVDs and I am horrible at picking names.  I then at the time accepted the challenge of leveling 1 character of every class to level cap because that was insane at the time and I had no interest in Raiding as it was at the time.

Also of note at this time I had only played one other MMO for a short time which was EVE-Online and in that game I had really wanted to be an Industrial Player: Mining and Building things.  That did not work out real well at the time and from that point on and off when I would get into combat so I could defend myself, now 8ish years later and 70+Million skill points my eve character can fly most sub-capitol ships.  I only mention this because in Vanilla where I was leveling these 5 characters and tBC where my highest level character Kaeley was 55 at time of launch, I really enjoyed the crafting system in WoW.  I like aspects of the crafting system better now while at the same time completely hating others.

Oh I also started playing WoW around the time of the first Naxx launch as I recall the first scourge invasion in Undercity where I as a level 15-20 would occasionally attack the giant patchwork zombies that would attack after the 10-30 level 60s would pile onto it.  So about 7-8 months later when tBC would launch in January my highest character was 55 as I mentioned above.

Also as a side note between the time of starting to play WoW and the launch of tBC, I was in several IRL clubs and social organizations, one of which was the SCA (The Society for Creative Anachronism).  I only mention this because it is relevant to my life and Warcraft experience as at one of the events that fall I met Lissanna and we started talking about WoW as it was something I found out she played.

So tBC launched and I worked to level my Mage to 70 and then worked on my Druid Lavata for 2 reasons, first I liked that Druids got flight early and secondly by this time Lissanna and I had been dating for a couple of months so got to hear about all the benefits of playing a Druid character.

So I could spend a lot of time going into the details of what I liked and disliked about tBC but will not at this time.  During tBC Lissanna could not keep up raiding on a West Cost Time Zone schedule while being in Grad School so was looking for another server to play on.  A few IRL friends of ours convinced her to come play with us on Sentinels.  It was then a bit later around the time of the Sunwell patch a group of us got tired of Sentinels since it was a low population RP server and transferred to Elune-US.

This is a good breaking point, I will hopefully finish this in a future post but I make no promises.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Blizzard based PvP – Opportunity Costs The Missing Element

This topic has been a major grievance of mine with most MMO-games and is also lacking in most Blizzard PvP interactions.  I say most because technically the measly rewards you receive while loosing in Random Battlegrounds could be considered such but is more insulting than useful.

I bring this up now because it was a subject that Lissanna of (Restokin), Wyrmwood of (Wormwood Tea), myself got into about Hearthstone.  The conversation lasted 15-20 minutes before the 3 of us were asked to change the subject by other members of our Friday night Table Top(TT) game.  Wyrmwood has written many and varied TT RPGs and is very familiar with the issues involved with balancing game play and reward mechanics.

This goes back to my earlier post about Hearthstone while the game is fun, after having played it for a week and a half now there are things that I am finding not so fun.  I have 5-6 of the classes to level 10, i.e. I have all the basic free cards that are given to those decks.  To be honest while being a bit of an alt-o-holic in WoW, I am really getting tired of playing new class decks from 1-10.  Especially when I get a new daily quest of win 2 or 5 games playing a class I have not even looked at yet.

On top of that I can not complete the win 2/5 games while playing in the practice league, so I essentially have to go be free cannon fodder with a level 1 class deck in the un-ranked play mode and keep my fingers crossed to win maybe 1 in 5 games before completing the quest which would amount to 10-25 games.

So essentially there are 2-3 major issues brought up here.

  1. Something has to be done with the daily quests so if there are certain ones you don’t want to do you can just be rid of them.
  2. The above is still a problem but less so, IF and ONLY IF (IFF) you can complete the victory quests in practice mode, ONLY WHEN CLASS LVL < 10.  This way you only have to go into the Ranked/Unranked Play Mode (PVP) if you have at least gotten the class to Level 10.  Eventually everyone will be there, maybe just by trying to complete them in practice.
  3. There needs to be better rewards for Loosing, i.e. staying in the game until your character is taken to negative hit points.

I bring this up because it was relevant it occurred before the TT game on Friday and then as stated above became a topic of conversation while we were eating as a group before game.

After a losing streak of 4-6 games on my Priest Deck when trying to complete a daily I really started to question if I even wanted to play the game anymore.  I did take a break from the game for that day because I felt that it was becoming a waste of my time and I was not really getting anything out of loosing, also it was a good reason to go pick up the food for the TT game.

Further more since then I have had a few other Dailies that revolve around class decks that I have not leveled.  So my pattern is to log in play 1 -3 games and then log off if I end up not really making any progress.  Since at this point it has been a couple of days since I started this post my opinion on Opportunity Costs have not changed but I also am now more against the entire daily quest setup than I was before.

So to wrap up here are my suggestions and ultimately some of these could also be carried over into WoW or even Star Craft.

  1. Daily Quests should always be generic and therefore class neutral.  I.E. Complete 5 or 10 games.  Where complete means either you win or you are taken to negative HP, so no Concede workaround.  Even complete-able against players on your battle.net list.
  2. Additional forms of play within the 2 major types (Play/Arena).  for example have a type of ranked play that has a deck limitation of no card in the deck can cost more than 4 mana.  Another would be you must have 20 minions in your deck or even a 30 minion deck so no spells.
  3. I really like the looks of what the one fan did by constructing a Raid deck like the current TT CCG for Warcraft.
  4. Maybe even further iterations that allow 2v2 or 3v3 where you play like Emperor style of Magic the Gathering.
  5. Further more a (1v1)^4 or ^5 where you can only attack the player to the left or right of you, last person standing wins.

Now I don’t expect some of these for open Beta or even 1.0 of Hearthstone but it opens up some interesting possibilities for the future.

Back to the subject of Opportunity Costs in then end and it is something that is made plain as the seasons progress in WoW, you need to keep the players that lose in any particular PvP setting interested enough in continuing to lose so that others can win.  PvP in this regard is a zero sum game.  It is one of the reasons in theory I like the Arena but in Beta now it is rough.  If you don’t know every possible card and the best combinations on how to use each choice you will lose because chances are you will be matched up with someone that does.

So in the end if 100x is the total reward that is available from every Hearthstone match then 60x goes to the winner and 40x goes to the loser.  Essentially think of it as for playing in this match you each get 40x and the winner gets a bonus 20x for winning.  In Battlegrounds it use to be 3x to 1x and while on the whole globally it may have kept the win ratio somewhat equal if you were unlucky to get in on a losing streak you that many games times 2 behind anyone that was lucky enough to have the same winning streak.  The 60/40 split keeps not only the victories about even but also the gear/currencies available to the winners and losers about the same.  That is what will keep the game running a long time.

Posted in Hearthstone, World of Warcraft

Hearthstone – Game Good, Meta-Game Bad

The basic game play in Hearthstone is phenomenal and in general is fun.  I have started to read the Battle.net forums for Hearthstone and from my conversations with Lissanna about it once you get all 9 classes to level 10 has me concerned.  Fortunately it is still in BETA and hopefully some/many of these will be addressed in the future.

I have also been playing another Card-like game ironically by Square Enix.  I say ironically because I, in the past couple of months stopped playing World of Warcraft and have been playing mostly in Final Fantasy XIV:ARR.

Now there are 4 aspects to their Card-like game Guardian Cross.

  1. Hunting Guardians – Both normally to get new cards and eventually quests to capture a specific number of a specific guardian.
  2. Story Line Progression – There is a rough story to the game and you get pieces of it after you progress for different levels of combat against computer opponents.
  3. Side Quest Dungeon Delving – There are dungeon crawl quests that send you into dungeons and is somewhat reminiscent of early Wizardry games just with no RP or Puzzles.
  4. Dueling Coliseum – This mode is the closest in-game play to Arena/Ranked Play in Hearthstone.

Now the important parts of the Dueling Coliseum is constructing your card hand, leveling your Guardians to max level, and further enhancing them using magic stones.  You then throw your group of Guardians at another Players group and the game handles everything else.  So while fun and quick there is not any real depth to game play.  Some may consider there to be some depth but it is all number crunching and random numbers so no real skill or interactivity involved.

Still a fun game and somewhat addicting, the real skill is the hunting part but since it has nothing to do with what I want to discuss for Hearthstone I am leaving it out for now.

So why is the Coliseum addicting and interesting? Simple each round of combat last for a week and players are ranked by the number of points they gain from defeating other players and get added bonus points for various length winning streaks.

Now some of the brackets in the Coliseum have special requirements for entry into that bracket.  Some are player level restricted but most are construction limited.  I.E. you can only have X number of Legendary Guardians and no repeats of Guardians in your hand, other brackets have had in the past requiring only Water Elemental type Guardians.  So this style of play is going to be crucial to Hearthstone’s longevity.

To sum it all up here are the items I think Hearthstone will need to implement either for live or early in its existence.  I will have a separate post eventually discussing rewards.

  • A separate Ranking per Deck Class, i.e. Mage, Warrior, Druid, ect…., in the General Ranked Play Mode
  • An overall Player Ranking for Arena
  • Special Play modes that impose additional deck construction limitations that are part of weekly week-long tournaments.
  • Add Player Leveling and not just Deck Level as an additional metric to differentiate players, so new players can tell if they are going up against someone who has been around a while or someone new like themselves.
  • Never let it be Pay to Win, it may feel like that initially as those that pay more will have card selection benefits early one but it has to be made such that they will be naturally gravitate to playing against others who have spent or earned similar construction benefits.
  • There should be many times more general daily quests than Class specific ones.  Also rewards for daily quests should vary based upon the amount of effort required to complete them.  I will go into greater detail on the rewards post but as a quick rule at least 10 gold per victory, and at least 15 per victory on a particular class.
  • Allow each day 2 options for a daily quest and let the player choose which of the 2 they want to add to their quest log.
  • Allow players to remove quests from the log if the end up not wanting to deal with the quests they have.

That is enough for now, I will most likely make another post about other features in the future.

Posted in Hearthstone

IMO Eclipse Mechanic Change that is Needed

With 5.4 patching today I thought I would bring up a subject on Druids that has bugged me for a long time.  Now I don’t play Warcraft anymore, the game is no long designed in such a way that I find the content appealing in the first several patch cycles of an expansion and if you don’t like the start of an expansion why would you bother to play it later.  but that is a side tangent to the Druid mechanic I want to discuss.

Every version of Eclipse since it was implemented has felt clunky and ungraceful to me.  Because of this clunky feeling while enjoying balance when leveling I would never do anything other than solo and random battleground pvp with said spec.

So what is it that I don’t like about the mechanic, well to put simple I don’t like the ratchet like bar progression where you only get a pay off at the max and then you need to rush to the opposite end of the spectrum before the buff wares off to get a new buff: wash, rinse, repeat.

The changes I am about to suggest I actually thought would be a cool idea when Eclipse was first introduced but now that I have played something similar, I KNOW it would be an improvement to the class mechanic.

Where did I get this play to “know” that it would be an improvement?  Well I was playing FFXIV:ARR (Final Fantasy 14 – A Realm Reborn).

The class that I was playing was Thaumaturge, and yes it is the analog to WoW’s Mage essentially but so what.  The mechanical interaction between Fire and Ice in FFXIV can easily be substituted for Arcane and Nature in the case of the Balance Druid.  There is even an ability that switches Fire or Ice affinity to the opposite on a short cool down.  While playing the Thaum., and it hit me about Balance Druids, the first thing I did was turn to Lissanna and say I think I know how to improve Moonkin play.

Now I realize this is just IMO, but if we only look in our own little pond for solutions we may completely miss something spectacular in a nearby one.

So how would this work?

  1. Change the Eclipse Bar into a Balance Affinity Bar, keep 1 end Arcane(Lunar) and one Nature(Solar)
  2. Change Astral Communion to be an ability with a 20-30 sec cool-down that converts all  Lunar energy into Solar or vise versa.
  3. Make the Balance Affinity Bar grow over time such that it take 40 energy at early levels to fill up one side to 100 or 120 at top level, this is also a perfect place to place glyphs for end game.
  4. Rather than make the Solar/Lunar buff all or nothing make it based upon a percentage of the energy bar that is filled.  So 40/100 energy = 40% of total buff.
  5. Allow +/- of energy on each cast, and leave some filler spells off of this cycle so you can keep up 100% buff while doing a few other things.
  6. Expand the Buffs to truly explore the hybrid nature of the Druid, and if possible potentially bring the Restokin back into existence.
  7. So for Nature Affinity, Increase Mana Regen and Decrease cost of Arcane spells, and for Arcane Increase Arcane Spell cost and damage.  Yes like Arcane mages, see below.  Additionally add a Glyph that also increases the Healing effect and Cost of healing spells while building up Nature Affinity.

Now #6 is a little self-serving considering who I run websites for but it was due to the flexible class nature in FFXIV that I thought of this.

Even at low-level you can start to have 1 or 2 abilities from other classes that you know in FFXIV and FFXI.  While playing my one character as a Thaum. I would cross class in a heal spell to heal myself after nuking a mob and getting attacked.  The neat thing about Thaum was Fire affinity like a WoW Arcane Mage’s Arcane Blast would build up power and increase spell cost for fire spells and decrease the cost of Ice spells with no damage increase.  While the Ice affinity would cut mana cost of Fire spells and greatly increase mana regeneration.  Then due to a limited mana bar you were cycling between Fire and Ice affinity depending upon whether you needed to Nuke or Regen.  However when it came to large random group world events I would just attack with Ice to build up mana regen and then spam my Off-Class heal on the tanks and other melee or who ever pissed off the mobs the most, sometimes me with healing aggro.  It then dawned on me this is how Lissanna use to play the Restokin way back when, and the Fire/Ice duality and affinity implementation is much more elegant than the damn Eclipse Bar.

Well that is a lot to digest and contemplate I am interested to see if any discussion begins from this.

Posted in System Mechanics, World of Warcraft

FFXIV ARR : Early Impressions

Overall my experience was positive, and I reservedly like the game.  I say reservedly for 3 main reasons, RIFT, SWTOR, and TERA.  I really liked these games and dove in head first and burned out on them within the first 3 months of playing them and stopped logging into them within a month after that.  Also while I had a lot of active play time this weekend after patching the client I was trying to take my time and not push to far too fast.

 

The Bad or Where Things can be Improved

Many of my annoyances before and during the Open Beta really comes from how poorly designed Square Enix, Lodestone and all the related websites are.  The second stems from how paranoid SE seems to be about Beta information.  I can understand that during closed Beta that the Beta forums are not accessible to non-Beta web users however when the Beta had gone Open it is time to allow “READ ONLY” access to the forums.  So that people that are interested in what is going on can at least see the patch information and any other special announcements that only seem to be made there.   However this changed a bit after the forums were carpet bombed by users with a few log in errors so the only information resource was Twitter….

The other major issues that I noticed that I think is at the root of  all the concurrency issues and log in issues SE faced this past weekend stem from 1 little overlooked “feature”.  That being while logged in you can go idle/inactive AFK for hours and not be kicked out of the game and or authentication server.  If there was proper garbage collection of Inactive sessions on servers then a large part of the log in issues would have corrected themselves after an hour or so…  WoW has this problem if you get DCed and try to log in again too fast, however after the idle time would force kick the account the user would be able to log in again.

SwordArtFinalFantasyXIVARROnline

 

So in honor of the concurrency issue and some account would never log off the server I made a mash-up image of the 2 main characters from Sword Art Online (SAO) anime with a FFXIV landscape in the background.

 

The Good

Before I get into mechanically what I liked about FFXIV, I must say that the world is utterly stunning.  I for a very long time have disliked hyper realistic looking scenery and character models, and from what I can tell version 1.0 I would have despised for the same reason I am liking the game now.  The difference is a new game engine and a metric ton of optimization.  The game looks great even on lower graphics settings which I did switch to from time to time depending upon where I was.   The 2 cases was extremely wide open spaces where you could see a long way off, and the other being when I was in the crafting guild areas and there were 30+ other players all trying to craft grind at the same time in front of the supply vendor.

I honestly after playing in the open beta feel about this game like I did after giving WoW a try on a friends account, who did the log in for me so there was no information sharing.  If Blizzard has a problem with this they should not, considering from Summer 2005 through July 2011 I had at least 1 account active the entire time and for several years of it 2 accounts active all from that one introduction to the game.

Class/Job System

To those that have played many of the Final Fantasy series this one is not very surprising and if you played FFXI then you just like well duh that is how it was there.  However I have not come across another MMO that has anything like it with one caveat, EVE Online.  In all three games you can do everything the game has to offer on one character and you don’t lose abilities by switching to something different.  So unlike every other MMO I have played I do not need to roll my army of alts to get my crafting production chain up and running.  I will still have 1-3 alts but they will be truly alts and extra storage space and not extensions of my “main” like in WoW, RIFT, SWTOR, TERA, ect…

Pace of Combat

This is a refreshing change compared to the pace set in WoW, NWO, RIFT and other current and recent MMOs.  The only combat that is about at this pace is EVE on average.  EVE goes from watching a Glacier move to where nano seconds matter in a the half-life of Antimatter.  However I only hear that at higher levels the pace picks up a bit, the key reason being you have more abilities to choose from, not necessarily because there are 40 mobs running in every direction shooting fire on the floor while dodging tornadoes, which that description reminds me of a raid encounter in Firelands the last Tier I ever tried to raid quasi seriously.

In every fight I have done in the game so far when the mob was going to use a special attack it was clearly telegraphed in animation and cast notification, additionally the area of effect was clearly marked on the ground.  You also had 2-5 seconds to respond to it versus the 1 – 2 seconds WoW seems to have devolved into.

In then end I plan on giving FFXIV a fair try meaning at least 30 days and most likely 4-5 months.  The game when I am playing it is fun and engaging and does not make me feel like any of my efforts are wasted.  The only issue at the moment is the Server Farm boss and the massive amounts of players trying to log into the game all the time in the NA/EU data centers.   Last night rather than fight with it, I just rolled on Alexander JPY region server and got a Marauder to level 10.  When server transfers become available, hopefully free initially due to all of the server fiascoes that we have encountered during Early Access and Launch, I will move the character back to Behemoth where my other 2 characters are located.

 

Posted in FFXIV

A “New” Game? FFXIV ARR

So I have been quiet the past couple of months with no posts, which is essentially for a few reasons.

Most of my focus here has been on World of Warcraft with other MMOs on the side, this is now changing because I have completely let my multiple World of Warcraft accounts go completely inactive.  I will not go into detail about my reasons at this time but the sum of it all is that with current design trends I just don’t give a damn anymore about anything in WoW.  Lissannna keeps telling me that I should only play WoW after about the 2nd raid patch because then they start to shorten or speed up the gear acquisition process at that point to let people catch up.  If I only find the game worth playing in the 2nd half or final 3rd of an expansion what is the point in playing that game at all. The answer is simple IT IS NOT WORTH PLAYING AT ALL IF THAT IS TRUE.

Let me clarify my bold statements here, I am referring on a personal level not that WoW sucks and everyone should quit.  I am saying that if you as a player are just not liking the content then quit and speak with your lack of subscript monies.

Now I will hold off on the debate about that statement and deliberate on it more in a later post as I do plan on posting a bit more often now, that I have finally figured out what I want to do with my spare time.

In addition to finally resolving my issues with WoW, I went back to EVE Online for a bit and after finally getting the reputation required to install some Jump Clones I promptly got bored as I did not have a specific new goal to work on.   So my EVE account will be going inactive at the end of August.  I also created characters in Neverwinter by Perfect Worlds and have been enjoying how much like D&D that game actually feels like.  I don’t think it will hold my interest for very long unless a few friends and I get a guild going soon, but have to wait for a few to get back from War,  Look up Pennsic if you want to know to what I am referring.

To be honest I am actually surprised by the game that has now caught my attention and will be going into my reasons in another post, especially after it launches and I can give my opinion after playing it.  I have pre-ordered Final Fantasy XIV : ARR, after watching the trailers and downloading the graphics test and running it on a few different setting and being pleased by the performance on my machine with the level of detail that is still available at medium.  I will also admit that after getting back into anime pretty hardcore that past month and watching Sword Art Online, the world in FFXIV really reminds me of the Anime which is part of the allure.  I would be interested in knowing which parts in the anime and the game are inspired by each other or a common source, potentially FFXI (Final Fantasy XI).

It is funny because Final Fantasy XI is one of the MMOs I refused to play because I was such a fan of the old FF games I refused to play an MMO version of it.  Now that was 11+ years ago and the gaming industry and the games themselves have changed greatly.  One of the reasons I have stopped being a video gamer to the extent that I was versus now am is due to the console wars over the past 15+ years.  I HATE with the heat of a million suns, how you need to buy every fucking version of console and handheld to be able to keep up with the game or story line.  So rather than waste all of the money on the consoles I just quit playing any game that had to have a console version then a slightly newer game on a hand held then the next version on the next gen console.  I can not wait to see how the gaming world is changed if STEAM ever gets its shit together and releases the console they have been talking about that allows everything that is on PC to be played on that console and vice-verse.

Well that is enough ranting for now.  Some of the other features of FFXIV that are somewhat in common with FFXI and EVE are the direction that I think the MMO market needs to move into and will go into more detail “soon”.

Posted in FFXIV, MMOs, World of Warcraft

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