Drama, Brawling, How Average is Average, and How To Understand Stamina – WoW Roundup

It’s been a busy couple of days for WoW, with everything from the LFR Debate to news filtering out of the Public Test Realm faster and faster. So, if you want more brain-food for your WoW, from the troubles that Stamina causes top theorycrafters to an impassioned argument for opening up the Brawler’s Guild, here we go…

  • Theck writes a fascinating – if somewhat mathsy – explanation of why understand Stamina’s effectiveness for tanks is actually a huge unsolved problem“If you model a “perfect” healer, the tank almost never dies. So you want to model an “imperfect” healer, because tanks tend to die when someone makes a mistake (healer or tank). But how do you model “bad” play when that sort of play is inherently inconsistent and varies from player to player and encounter to encounter?”
  • The Godmother boggles at players who want the old LFR looting system back – because they miss the drama“What I find incredible is that if someone in the Real World went to the amount of trouble Blizzard have to improve people’s quality of life, they’d get a lot less grief and a lot more general acceptance for their efforts. It just goes to show, you can’t keep everyone happy, even if you do your best.”
  • The Grumpy Elf attempted to estimate the average competence of LFR players – With Science! (Sort of)“I wonder what the other 15 DPS would think if they knew that the person that finished #2 was a tank with all tank type gear playing cat for the first time in ages pressing only 1 button the entire fight.”
  • And Olivia Grace argues against the current intention to sell off Brawler’s Guild invitations to gold barons and AH players“The part that I find most objectionable about this proposed change is that those who have the invitations can hold other players ransom for access to the Brawler’s Guild. “

I honestly don’t know what the right way to jump on the Brawler’s Guild is – although I agree, it seems somewhat unfair to limit it only to players with huge amounts of in-game gold. Still, as the invitations are one-way, I’m not sure how long the gates would hold – I recall how easy it became to aquire Gmail invitations, back in the day…

What do you think?

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WoW This Weekend: Social Hate, Execute Problems, Food Games and Fun Fail

WoW’s a little more active this weekend – although one post at least isn’t too happy. But that’s OK – we’ve also got some really interesting discussion of DPS class design, and a fun minigame for all the WoW-playing family…

  • Tobold just isn’t having fun in WoW – he’s quitting again. In fact, he’s quitting all MMORPGs, and explains why in an interesting, analytical post“And it isn’t much different if I changed from WoW to Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Secret World, or most other major MMORPGs. Combat works the same in most of these games, and when developers think about innovation in MMORPG combat, they want to make it more twitchy and action-based, and even less tactical and decision-based.”
  • Gordon at We Fly Spitfires looks at the kerfuffle over Cross-Realm Zones, and asks if MMORPG players, or at least a lot of them, actually don’t want to be social“Isn’t there something wrong if we’re starting to treat other players as obstacles in our path to progression rather than as opportunities for friendship and camaraderie? “
  • Rades shares a charming little quirk and entertaining mini-minigame to play in raids, all at once“I have to admit, I like taking a few seconds to play this little minigame with myself, to see if I can work out the exact combination of mailed potions to grab, and to see if I planned properly and mailed myself a versatile variety of stacks, to end up with a perfect 20 or 40 sum. “
  • And Matthew Rossi talks about the Trouble With Execute in a fascinating look at DPS design that’s of interest to far more than just warrior players“Again, before players of other classes come along and say “What problem? Execute hits like a truck” that is, in fact, the problem. Execute hits like a truck, all right. In fact, Execute hits like a truck full of angry bees that have just seen you crossing the street in your Winnie the Pooh costume.”

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Why Shouldn’t Games Let You Move And Cast?

It seems that Syp has sparked off a bit of a blogstorm. You see, he suggested that all MMOs should let spellcasters move AND cast at the same time.

That suggestion has sparked off a furious debate in the comments – and today we have both Syp and Rowan Blaze defending the original point in a pair of fascinating posts.

First up – after Syp’s initial post, he expanded his points in a fuller article explaining his position

“First of all, I’m not a developer but a gamer. I don’t care — nor do I have to care — about balance difficulties or whatnot when it comes to MMOs. I just report from my perspective, which is a gamer. And my perspective is that casting while moving is fun and freeing, while needing to come to a screeching halt and standing still like a redcoated British soldier during the Revolutionary war while I slooowly load my musket under withering enemy fire is annoying. Maybe that was the solution for “balancing” a long-range damage dealer a while back, but if devs can’t figure out other ways without breaking down into gibbering panic, then that’s on them, not me.”

Syp’s chief argument is that the “no moving whilst casting” limitation is an unnecessary crippling of spellcasting classes – and only caster classes. He points out that Hunters, for example, and equivalent classes, have many, many instant attacks, whilst fundementally playing very similarly to a mage or other caster.

Rowan Blaze writes on the same subject, looking at the history of moving and casting, and asking just when it became so sacred to not move?

“The old-school arguments about things being correct the way they were—the “if it ain’t broke” argument—forget or ignore that almost everything in a game is a design decision. The choice to balance this or that class against another can be done a bunch of ways. Tell me this old-schoolers, was there ever a game where the casters dominated so thoroughly that the devs made the decision to nail their feet to the ground?”

Rowan makes a good point about unnecessarily penalising casters working with impatient tanks, in particular. I’ve suffered from this multiple times myself – although one could argue melee classes suffer as much.

What do you think? Should casters be able to move too?

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Timelapse Guild Wars, Unwritten WoW Rules, and A Good DPS Deed

And finally, as always the weekend has thrown up some excellent links that were neither Diablo 3 related nor 30,000 words long, but are still very much worth a look!

  • In “Other Big Projects”, we’d file Project Tyria – a mammoth pictoral attempt to chronicle the changes in the land of Tyria from Guild Wars 1 to Guild Wars 2
  • The Ancient ponders the unwritten rules we’ve all seen at work in WoW“Rule #11 If you’ve been camping a rare spawn forever AND you’re also expecting an important phone call it will spawn in front of you just as the phone rings.”
  • And The Grumpy Elf is an unlikely angel of mercy for just-dinged 85s, as he gives us a stirring call to bring your DPS to a few undergeared Heroic runs“Believe it or not, you will make a huge difference and not just in that one run but in the community as a whole. Remember, people only complain when things go bad. Your damage could make sure that does not happen. You will be helping people with smoother runs which makes people happy and the community needs less hate in these dungeons and a little more happiness.”

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How EVE Works – A Guide To EVE roles for the noob (like me)

EVE Online is getting on more and more peoples’ radars these days – but it has an entire language and playstyle all of its own. Fear not, though – Flosch is on a mission to clarify Just What’s Going On, starting with EVE class roles…

I must admit, I’d never really thought about the roles that various ships take in EVE battles. It’s fairly obvious that the old trio of tank/healer/dps won’t be much use out there in space, but I’d assumed it more or less broke down into “Big Ship, Small Ship, Cannon Fodder”.

Not so much, as it turns out. Indeed, as Flosch of Random Waypoint explains in today’s fascinating post, EVE’s gameplay is actually a fascinating mesh of different supporting ship types

Healing

The “healer” ships in EVE are called logistics. They are typically highly sought after, because there are no really viable basic ship that do logistics well. You need to train into Tier 2 cruisers, which takes quite some time. Logistics come in two flavors: shield healing and armor healing. Depending on whether the ships in your fleet specialized in increasing their shield or armor resistances, one or the other is more desirable, obviously. I can’t fly Logistics ships at the moment, hence I didn’t bother buying any. I did fit out a basic “POSprey” though. It’s a basic ship that is fit to sacrifice all defenses for an at least acceptable amount of shield healing. The idea is to use it if a Player Owned Starbase is attacked: as long as the control tower of that station is up, it projects an invulnerability field around it. You can sit in the invulnerability field (hence no need for defenses) and help heal the shields of the control tower, hoping the POS will survive the attack.

Debuffing

These are typically called “EWAR” (electronic warfare) in EVE. Debuffs come in four categories. Tracking disruptors make it harder for the debuffed ship to properly shoot enemies. Target painters make it easier to hit a target. This can be especially useful because larger ships have a hard time hitting smaller ships with their larger weapons (due to, for example, slower tracking speed – you see how the two belong together?). Sensor dampeners reduce the lock-on range for ships (you need to lock on targets before you can shoot/debuff/buff them). ECM (electronic countermeasures) make the target completely lose all locks and unable to lock onto new targets.

That sounds very overpowered, and it would be, if not for a small detail: while the other debuffs are applied to a target and do their job 100% of the time, ECM only has a chance of working. Every 20 seconds, the attacker rolls a random number based on their ECM strength, and the attacked rolls a number based on their ship sensor strength (which is based on the ship type – larger ships typically have stronger sensors – and can be further boosted by certain modules). I have halfway decent skills for ECM, so I bought a couple of Blackbirds, which are dedicated ECM cruiser-class ships.”

I love posts that expand my knowledge of the MMO universe, and Flosch does so here in a very readable and enjoyable style. By comparing the various ship types to WoW or other MMO staples, he avoids the frequent acronym-soup problem that can plague accounts of EVE’s universe, and even makes me (slightly) more interested in trying EVE out again myself.

If you’re interested in EVE – even purely from the perspective of reading other peoples’ accounts – I’d highly recommend this post as part of your weekend!

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‘Twas the Night before Guild Wars 2…

It’s Guild Wars 2 beta weekend this weekend, and I’m reckoning Monday will either be crazy busy or totally silent on the ‘Pot. Already, the community’s gearing up for it – but don’t worry, we’ve got some non-GW2 content too, to end the week…

  • Hunter’s Insight offers a tremendously useful guide to naming your GW2 character in accordance with lore“The most important thing to know about charr names is that the surname is divided into two parts. The first part is the name of your warband. So if you belong to the Swift warband, your surname could be Swiftblade or Swiftknife.”
  • Keen and Graev, aware that they’re sometimes accused of hyping, discuss their expectations for GW2 in detail“From everything I’m told, GW2 PvE is fairly easy in the sense that you level fast and effortlessly. That’s good and bad. If it feels meaningless, then it’s a chore. I’m expecting the PvE to be fun and engaging enough that regardless of difficulty it’s going to entertain me and keep me wanting to log back in.”
  • Navimie at The Daily Frostwolf offers a detailed look at what to do when you or your fellow raiders are suffering meter envy“You can imagine how he feels – no mater how hard you try, you won’t be as good as the other, and yet you worry you try your best, and the other person thinks elitist things like “OMG, look at you, you are trying your best and you STILL can’t beat me!””
  • And if you’re feeling a bit lost post-1.2 in SWTOR, All For The Wookie has compiled a compendium of links to help you out“There are some amazing posts out there that can help you, me, and everyone else understand some of the most important things the patch has given us and how they work.”

Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you on Monday – when there are some exciting new things coming for the Pot! (Assuming things run to plan, of course.)

Enjoy the weekend!

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DPS responsibility, Irritating Sexism, War Stories and Final Grades

Some interesting discussions on a variety of topics today – plus more info on the game de jour, Guild Wars 2!

Oh, and whilst I’m at it – Guild Wars 2 Beta Signups are now open

On to the awesome articles:

  • Tobold responds to yesterday’s criticism of SWTOR Heroic Flashpoints, discussing the crazy idea that maybe DPS could be the role with responsibility“What if tanking and healing was relatively easy, and fails were predominantly caused by the damage dealers not dealing enough damage per second? Well, what would happen would be that damage dealers would be extremely unhappy.”
  • Ravious at Kill Ten Rats gives us details of just what a Guild Wars 2 World vs World battle is like“We just didn’t have enough players. This was a well defended keep and someone had taken the time to upgrade the NPC defenders. Every minute a swarm of hefty NPCs would appear near our siege, and we had to waste precious time taking them down, healing, and finally getting back to the door.”
  • Apple Cider Mage issues a takedown notice for the tired old ‘Make me a sandwich, woman!’ joke“World of Warcraft has a fairly even split of men and women now, if current numbers are to be believed. There’s no reason to NOT accept that at any given moment, you’ll be surrounded by women, whether they choose to reveal this to you or not. “
  • And Tzufit’s “Cataclysm Final Grades” project has more-or-less come to a close, with wide selection of really interesting posts about the evolution of the various classes in this WoW expansion

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The Ugly Truths of Everyone’s Gameplay

I’m really loving the post I stumbled over on Killing Me Slowly today, and indeed the entire discussion that spawned it. I’m rather hoping it’ll turn into a blogosphere meme.

What am I talking about? Well, it all started when Fel Concentration posted an (excellent) article on how to increase your warlock’s DPS . From it, a discussion about warlocks, how to play them, and whether they’re actually fun started on Twitter.

And that prompted Fulguralis to write the post I’m talking about – in which he starts from a discussion of the “feel” of a warlock in play, which is fascinating on its own, and then moves on to a wonderful, no-holds-barred list of everything he does wrong when Warlocking

“I simply love my Affliction Warlock. I want others to share that love without fear of being a “failure.” Aff’locks (and, indeed, other flavors of Warlock) can be a whole lot of fun, even when played sub-optimally. Sometimes, it’s very easy to get caught up in eking out that extra 1k DPS, when our sanity would be better served by saying “F the 1%” and focusing on having fun with the other 99. (Percentages may vary. It’s probably more like 8020, but talking about the “one percent” amuses me.)

So here are some ugly truths about my Warlock play:

I only use Demon Soul once per fight. It’s macro’ed with my guild banner. Even then, I often forget to smash the button. On most nights, I have no idea whether it’s conflicting with anyone else’s spell (heroism, etc).

I have to be badgered to provide cookies. Even then, I generally don’t eat mine.

I often forget my Doomguard. He’s macro’ed to that Demon Soul button.

I trust Mr. Robot almost blindly. I’ve never run a personal simulation.

I overwrite DoTs… a LOT. I cringe every time I do it, but I get paranoid about them dropping off.”

This is a really refreshing post, and it feels similar in many ways to Cynwise’s article about blogging greats yesterday. It’s just so nice to hear that even the really competent players out there, the guide writers and hardcore raiders, have their own list of “oh, god, I shouldn’t do that” secret playing shames – I’m sure we all do.

I know I do. And whilst I’m no-one’s idea of a world-first raider, like I said, I’d be kinda happy to see more of these, to help reassure everyone that they’re not the only ones who get it wrong sometimes. So, on a “be the change” basis, here are a few things that spring immediately to mind about my raiding “ugly truths”!

As an Assassination Rogue (my current main), I never remember to pre-pot. I’m still too gunshy from pre-aggro-boost days. I often get impatient and blow CDs before Bloodlust, and then sit there staring irritably at the cooldown on Vendetta. I keep Tricks of the Trade on CD… at least half the time. And if a raid goes by without me stopping mid-fight to replace my poisons, it’s a good raid!

But, as Fulguralis says, I’m still proud of my play. I still hold my own, and I still enjoy my rogue no end!

What are your gameplay-related “shameful confessions”, as Fulguralis puts it?

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“Lols we all just DPS” as game design, Bioware PR concerns, and HUGE as a story element

Yep, it’s time for today’s great posts roundup!

  • Gazimoff read posts earlier this week about eliminating the Pure DPS classes in MMOs, and he thinks we should do exactly the opposite“Think about it – there’s no longer a burden of responsibility for a tank to get boss positioning pixel perfect, or for a healer to make sure their spells land spot-on every time. Instead, everyone becomes personally responsible for their own health bar. You die, your fault.”
  • The Noisy Gamer is watching Bioware’s PR response to bugs, and is worrying that it sounds a lot like EVE’s Incarna response“Now, in fairness to BioWare, CCP deals with a committed player base of techno-geeks who love watching the devs kill bugs. SWTOR just launched and players will find it easy to walk away after their first month so BioWare may feel they can’t admit to mistakes and are willing to see 5-10% of their players walk away after their first month as the lesser of two evils.”
  • And Lono of Screaming Monkeys feels sorry for players who see the pitch-perfect expanses of Hoth in SWTOR, and can only think about how they slow their levelling“Yesterday, though, a fellow adventurer was making her displeasure known to all in chat by complaining and how all that travel time and wasted space was a big waste of time and ressources. All those things interfered with the leveling!”

Do you love SWTOR’s use of space? Are you worried about Bioware’s bug treatment? Would you play a DPS-only MMO?

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Are DPS classes outdated?

We Fly Spitfires is well known as one of the contrarian blogs to watch, and today Gordon’s got a great post up there, presenting solid, persuasive arguments that the DPS-only class is a relic in most MMORPGs, and isn’t much longer for this world

“Let’s face it, single role classes were always flawed right from day one. Rewind back seven plus years, before the dawn of multiple talent trees, and you have a pretty broken system comprised of healers who can only heal and tanks who only know how to tank making it pretty difficult to fill out a six man group or a 24+ player raid. Given the makeup of the grouping system in MMOs, it was simply inevitable that healers and tanks were going to be given the option to perform damage roles.

Of course, this creates the problem of function and desirability and, if tanks and healers can put out the same damage as a pure DPS class, suddenly those damage only dealers become less attractive in comparison. Why would I go a Rogue when my Warrior can output as much damage? And why go a Jedi Sentinel when the Jedi Guardian can do just as much damage as well as tank? Personal playstyle preferences aside, DPS only classes are becoming dated and restrictive, a throwback to an older style of MMO gaming.”

Gordon’s excellent post echoed a similar argument from Matthew Rossi last year for me – except rather than eliminating DPS, Rossi was suggesting that Blizzard, in particular, eliminate tanks. Overall, the sense in the blogosphere seems to be that the old single-role model is dating badly, and that we’re in for a hybridish future.

What do you think? Will there be a role for DPS-only classes in the future of MMORPGs, or is RIFT’s do-it-all Cleric class the model for the future?

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