Cross-Realm Raiding – WHy To Do It And What To Do It With

The advent of cross-realm raiding in WoW – essentially allowing us to raid with anyone, anywhere, at least if they’re in the US or EU with us – looks to provoke a huge change in the culture of WoW. It’s only just starting, but we’ve already seen entire sites springing up to support finding groups to play with, integrating with social media, and other Cool Stuff.

Poneria has a great writeup today on joining a group of fellow WoW twitterers and bloggers to PUG Firelands. There’s everything in here from experience, to practical tips, to lists of useful sites – have a look

“I felt very social at the end of the night. I didn’t realize it was 4am (Firelands ended for me at 1am) until Jed mentioned he was logging off. I’d had a blast and my mood had turned a complete 180 from before. That’s a rare occurrence for me, to feel totally happy & not want to go off recharge by myself, since I struggle with social anxiety that affects things from going out to eat to blogging to even raiding.

Sometimes raiding (even with guildies) breaks my entire world, but I’ve learned far too much about myself while raiding to leave it alone. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to mesh with the great social environment that is TLR, since I tend toward the shy & quiet, especially on voice chat. But it worked out well, and I think I’ll try it many more times. 😀 “

Poneria’s written a great guide for anyone who wants to consider jumping into cross-realm raiding here. I’d be considering trying it out myself, if only it weren’t for that damn US/EU split… (I assume cross-realm can’t get past that?)

Meanwhile, another fantastic service has launched for anyone who’s thinking of doing some cross-realm raiding. Sleepy Hams aims to solve one of the remaining tricky problems for a non-established raid – voice chat:

“Initially, this project is aimed at supporting World of Warcraft Cross-Realm Raids, but the server can just as easily be used for voice chat in other online games, or even just as a voice-chat chatroom. The information can be publicly given to pick-up groups and friends alike.

The server will be moderated – hate speech and harassment will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with swiftly. Being ignorant of this rule of expected human decency will not be accepted as an excuse to break it – if you’re on the server, regardless of how you came by the information, you will be held accountable to the best of the server administrator’s ability.”

Sleepy Hams is the brainchild of @vitaemachina on Twitter, and I suspect it’s going to see a lot of use in this brave new “hey, we can actually raid with friends!” era. Also, as far as I can tell it’s entirely a charitable endeavour – nice one!

Have you tried cross-realm raiding yet?

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Snow Crash, Love, Hate, And Dreams Of Violence – Tuesday Links

Again I see that WoW’s no longer dominating the news today. Indeed, partially bolstered by the total silence from Blizzard on, ooh, anything, we’re looking at another 5050 split today, between the scrappy contender of SWTOR (if a multi-hundred-million-dollar game can be a scrappy anything), and the tired giant WoW.

  • Cynwise writes a fascinating and extremely long post on the future of WoW as a social network“The advantage Warcraft has over Twitter is that you can do stuff with people while talking to them. You can go play a video game with people while chatting with them! You can have a real avatar, one that like moves and talks and walks and can wear clothing and kill Internet Dragons!”
  • Aldous the Boozekin is having a rare moment of sobriety as he discusses how he both loved and hated Firelands because it was so hard – and easy“Dragon Soul is, in my opinion, far easier as a whole than Firelands. I think the majority of players would agree with me here, but I could be wrong. But what exactly is it that makes it so much easier? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
  • Gazimoff has hit Level 50 in SWTOR, and wonders if LFD is actually essential for modern endgames“Today the MMO landscape changes at a much faster pace – in six months I could be playing Guild Wars 2, The Secret World or the Mists of Pandaria beta.”
  • And Klepsacovic at Troll Racials Are Overpowered finds that SWTOR’s choices don’t always keep up with their storytelling“Even if I really want to kill him, even if I have already rejected his offer in order to kill him, I cannot kill him. Nope. I am magically compelled to take him on as a companion.”

Don’t forget to vote for the People’s Choice Awards !

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Reflections on the last 9 months of MMOs

The blogosphere seems to be in a reflective mood today. Perhaps it’s WoW Patch 4.3 looming into view, or just the fact that we’re in the fourth quarter of the year now, approaching the end of 2011.

For whatever reason, there’s a lot of reflection, summing-up, and thinking back going on today, and here’s the best of the posts we’ve seen:

  • Syp at Bio Break has just quit RIFT – but it’s not a bad breakup. He’s thinking back over their time together, and reflecting on the good and bad parts of that particular MMO” – “I love, love Trion. So many studios promise all sorts of fast, significant content after release, but I’ve only seen Trion take that challenge and keep up with it, month after month”
  • Brian Wood at WoW Insider is getting his graphs on as he reviews top raider logs to determine the state of class DPS in Firelands“. Even if the exact amount behind isn’t clear from top 100 data, the fact remains that frost unholy DKs, BM hunters, destruction warlocks, subtlety rogues, maybe SV hunters and certainly mage specs requiring more than two buttons (I joke!) are all in need of some kind of DPS help.”
  • And Zinn at Jinxed Thoughts closes out today’s MMOPot entries with a really nice idea – she’s going through everything she really likes about WoW right now“I agree with nearly all the general opinions about what currently isn’t very well designed in WoW, from the raid fight design philosophy, “bring the player not the class”-failure, how mistreated melee have been this expansion and so on. But you know what? I am still playing this game.”

Do you think the top raiders’ numbers really reflect the state of WoW’s DPS? Do you agree with Syp about RIFT’s strengths and weaknesses? And do you fancy being cheery about WoW?

All quotes taken directly from their respective sources.

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What makes a good raid?

I love deep, insightful think pieces – as you may have noticed – and today, Tree Heals Go Whoosh has something of a doozy for us.

See, Tzufit has been watching the discussion in the blogosphere about Firelands, previous raids, and what’s gone right and wrong, and today, she’s coming out with her thoughts on raids as a whole – what makes them work, and what makes them fail. It’s a pretty epic post, clearly born from a lot of thinking and expertise, and talks less about numbers, stats, and strategy than about mood, feel, and expectations

“Whether a designer is tasked with creating a raid instance that’s a haunted castle, an elemental plane, a horrifying zombie factory, or the seat of the world’s creators, the raid must feel like it could really be that place. Karazhan is an oft-cited example of this, and one that would have been difficult for its designers to screw up. The idea of a haunted castle isn’t exactly a new concept in fantasy, and so Kara’s designers had plenty of common mythology to use in its creation. A terrifying dungeon complete with a dead horseman, followed by hallways full of the ghosts of former guests, a dinner party gone wrong, a haunted opera, a living chess set, and a castle whose foothold in reality and our dimension slowly slips away as we rise higher and higher – while these are all things that may have been done before, they are perfectly executed in Karazhan.

Ulduar, for me, is the ultimate example of Blizzard’s design team being given a concept that could be extremely daunting and just hitting it completely out of the park. Imagine, at the beginning of Wrath, if you were one of the designers assigned to help figure out what the Titan architecture in the Storm Peaks would look like. The Titans were known of prior to Wrath, but we had seen only minimal examples of their structures in the form of the ruins of Uldaman. Instead of going in a predictable route and referencing Greek or Norse ideas of what the temple of the gods would look like, the Ulduar designers created something extremely unique. Ulduar blends “Titan technology” with classical columns, delicate stained glass, and the unique realms of each of the Keepers.”

It’s really nice to see a piece talking more about the game as an experience than as a collection of numbers. Tzufit’s right on the money here, certainly for me, when she’s talking about what makes these raid instances work and not work, and her decision to include a lot of quotes not just from her but also the rest of her guild make the piece feel well-researched and weighty.

And some of her points are decidedly non-obvious. I’d not really considered that the reason the Firelands doesn’t work for me, or a lot of people, is that it matches our expectations but nothing more. As a storyteller I know it’s important to surprise and delight as well as fit into expectations – but applying that rule to the raid instances of WoW suddenly makes sense of why the continual crazed inventiveness of Kharazan or Ulduar are firm favourites, whilst the ongoing red of The Firelands, just doesn’t do it. And no matter how much we may talk of WoW, or any other MMO, as a game, the fact is the most magical moments and the greatest memories come from when we’re immersed and forget that fact.

Great piece, and I heartily recommend reading right the way through!

Do you agree with Tzufit’s analysis? Or do you think there’s more to it? Let’s discuss!

Quote taken directly from Tzufit’s magnum opus .

Find Tree Heals Go Whoosh at http://treehealsgowoosh.wordpress.com/ .

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Firelands nerfs: Boss-by-boss

Since our last Firelands Nerf Roundup, I’ve heard a few people commenting that the boss-by-boss reports were particularly interesting.

Hence, I’m going to feature one last Nerf Reaction, from Blog of the Treant – Khizzara goes through each and every boss at some considerable length, and takes every one of them on – up to and including Ragnaros

“Alysrazor used to be one of the toughest bosses in Firelands, and the only boss that I thought could really use a nerf. I think we’ve wiped on her more times than any other boss in Cataclysm, and even after downing her six times she didn’t feel securely “on farm”. Even just last week we wiped on her twice.

I think I can safely say that our days of wiping on Alysrazor are over. This fight has been dramatically nerfed into the ground. It’s actually rather pathetic. I mean, come on, she needed to be nerfed a little bit, but this is ridiculous.”

It’s useful to have an idea of just how hard or easy FL’s going to be, particularly if you’ve not been all the way through – particularly for the few, the brave, the arguably crazy who might be intending to PUG it.

See you next week!

Quote taken directly from Khizzara’s post .

Find Blog of the Treant at http://blogofthetreant.wordpress.com/ .

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Fire No Longer Quite As Hot – the Firelands Nerf Reactions

I said on Twitter yesterday that today’s post would be about the WoW Firelands nerfs, and I wasn’t wrong. Everyone, it seems, has been out raiding, and it’s very interesting to hear just how far-reaching – or not – the nerfs have been:

  • Marks 365 has given us a boss-by-boss breakdown of the nerfs“Riplimb and Rageface drop like rocks, so does Shannox. You’ll have to watch your timing on how fast your DPS is going. We had to move DPS off of Shannox when we were burning the other dog just to prevent the enrage from happening early.”
  • Righteous Defence is having 30% ICC flashbacks“In the lead up to the fight, we were figuring out what to do while missing one raid cooldown that we usually had, when I pointed out that the whole damn raid now has a 25% Divine Guardian up the entire time thanks to the nerfs.”
  • Kurn feels that normal modes, for a group that’s completed them already, are now completely ridiculous“So we had a “fun” raid night with good spirits and good moods, for the most part, but it feels weird. The Rhyolith kill doesn’t feel hard-fought. The hardest part on Alysrazor was NOT killing her faster.”
  • And Looking For More decided to have a go at FL with an undergeared group, and found that for them, Firelands was still somewhat of a challenge“So basically, the nerf meant a group that had no business being there could kill the easiest boss, after a few fails. But it wasn’t a total pushover”

How have you found the post-nerf Firelands? Easy or not too bad?

All quotes taken directly from their respective posts.

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Mount Hyjal resources on the Pot

Mount Hyjal is one of the most enjoyable zones in Cataclysm. With the addition of the Firelands daily quest hub, the Firelands raid, and the Elemental Bonds questline, it’s also one of the most active and popular zones.

Here’s a quick summary of the Pot’s resouces for Mount Hyjal:

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An introduction to Mount Hyjal

Mount Hyjal is probably the first Cataclysm zone you’ll encounter once your character hits level 80. Hyjal, on the continent of Kalimdor, is – as its name suggests – a mountain. The zone is higher than any other zone on the continent, so if you’re flying in from elsewhere you’ll need to travel almost as much vertical distance as horizontal! Check our quick guide if you want to know How to get to Mount Hyjal.

Mount Hyjal was not accessible until the release of Cataclysm, although the zone has played an important part in Warcraft lore. During the Third War, the power of Nordrassil the World Tree was harnessed in order to repel the Burning Legion. As a result, Nordrassil was badly damaged and Hyjal was devastated.

Now the region is once again under threat, this time from that grumpy old fire lord Ragnaros and his minions. A desperate defense has been mounted under the leadership of Malfurion Stormrage. Playing through the Mount Hyjal zone questline will involve the player in this battle, and will eventually result in an assault upon the elemental stronghold of Ragnaros himself.

Mount Hyjal is also the site of Thrall’s rather impromptu marriage to Aggra – an event which can be witnessed in-game by completion of the correct questchain – as well as the gateway to the Firelands raid (at Sulfuron Spire in the south of the zone) and the associated daily quests (at the Sanctuary of Marlorne in the west of the zone).

There are some great quests in Hyjal. If you’re old enough to remember the videogame Joust, you’re going to have a great time playing through Blizzard’s three-dimensional homage. Alternatively, you might enjoy rescuing stranded bear cubs from trees (by climbing the tree, grabbing the cub, and throwing it down onto a trampoline, naturally) or saving baby turtles from a fire (by drop-kicking them into the Ashen Lake).

Mount Hyjal is a great zone to quest in. Most quests in this zone will earn your reputation with the Guardians of Hyjal faction. Hyjal is also a great place to mine Obsidium or gather the Cinderbloom herb.

What did you think of Mount Hyjal? Let us know in the comments.

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The first vibrations as the nerfbat lands

Breaking news today: Blizzard are nerfing the Firelands in difficulty , starting next week. This marks the shortest time ever between content release and a major nerf, unless you count the built-in one in ICC.

It will probably not surprise regular readers to hear that the blogosphere is likely to have some opinions. With this announcement having only hit late yesterday, it’s early days yet, but here’s the blogosphere buzz so far:

  • Cannot Be Tamed is really not impressed“I hate to be a part of the WoW angst machine that gets upset about any change that gets introduced. But this time, I just can’t help myself.”
  • Marks 365 is decidedly uncertain” – “Here’s what I’m fearful of: I don’t want to be killing Deathwing every week for a year like we did with Arthas.”
  • And I Like Bubbles likes not only bubbles, but also Blizzard’s decision to make the content more accessible“While other people cry TOO SOON, EXECUTUS, I cry OH THANK GOD.”

We’ll be continuing to update you with the best of the blogosphere’s reactions as the shockwaves rumble outward – if you have an opinion or write a post, mention it below! (Or just link to us in the post and we’ll see it in our trackbacks).

I’m interested on which side the community will come down here – it’s such an unusual decision.

All quotes taken directly from their respective articles

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Gimmick boss fights – pro or con?

There’s a been an interesting discussion on “gimmick”-based boss fights going on of late, centered around the Firelands bosses. Many bloggers have been calling the Firelands one of the best raiding tiers ever, but for a number of others, it seems that Blizzard’s design has gone too far in the direction of fight-specific mechanics, and too far away from the classic Holy Trinity-based class roles.

Oddly enough, the two most prominent debaters are both healers. Shintar started it all with an excellent post a few days ago, in which she did a full retrospective on the Firelands boss fights, and found that she really hadn’t been tremendously impressed , despite their innovations:

“Alysrazor: While I haven’t seen her die yet, the fight basically seems to come down to – surprise, surprise – healing the tanks, stepping away from (multiple sources of) fire, topping off the raid and spamming like mad in the AoE phase. I used mind vision on our mage during some of the more quiet stretches to see how he was doing with the flying around and even though I’m not sure that it’s something I’d enjoy doing myself, it definitely looked to me like this was once again supposed to be the fun part of the fight while everyone else just goes through the motions. “

And today, Malevica at Type H for Heals responded with a stalwart defence of the Firelands bosses – whilst she agrees that “gimmick” fights are bad, she doesn’t feel that the Firelands fights fit that category, instead simply being a result of the evolution of boss fight design :

“I think that a lot of this feeling comes about as a result of the evolution of encounter design and the player base to the point where “don’t stand in the bad” and “switch to adds” are neglected as mechanics, they’re just baseline aspects of a fight. So an encounter with adds, Bad Stuff on the ground and a funky mechanic is regarded as having a single point of interest for the raid rather than three. Wind back the clock to the ‘glory days’ of Vanilla or TBC and a lot more of the fights are of the simple “stay out of the bad” and “switch to adds” type. “

I’ve not actually managed to see most of the Firelands bosses yet, but I’m finding the debate interesting!

Has the quest for innovation gone too far? Or are the Firelands bosses more than just gimmick encounters?

Quotes taken directly from Shintar and Malevica’s posts

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