Asshats, Enjoying the PUG pain and Henry V in WoW: The Friday WoW Roundup

It’s been a comparatively quiet week in WoW, but with new raids coming, a new patch on the way and several bloggers returning, I suspect it might become much more active soon! In the meantime, though, here are some peaceful WoW posts from this week – along with one very positive crusade:

  • Navimie is declaring open season on asshats, after several instances of bullying that made her worry nightmare players would end up ruling WoW“What I am afraid of is that people are scared of the bullies and sway towards them.”
  • In contrast, Spinks takes a surprising stance this week, talking about how much she loves the undergeared, uncertain days with a character in PuGs“I know not everyone likes excitement or that skin of the teeth feeling, but I do enjoy the learning curve.”
  • Redbeard asks if the Cross Realm Zones are doing their job, as he surveys zone after low-level zone empty of players“Let’s call the cross-server zones what they really are: Lowbie Server Merges. They’re indicative of an increasingly visible problem that WoW has: most of the toons are at or close to max level, and there’s a lack of new blood coming into the game.”
  • And Bravetank reinterprets Henry V’s famous “once more unto the breach” speech for a more Pandarian age“Once more unto the breach, dear Alliance, once more; Or close the wall up with our Human dead. In peace there’s nothing so becomes a Night Elf as modest stillness and humility (and less nonsense chat about Elune)”

Unfortunately, I think Navimie may be right about assholes driving people away from WoW – I know I basically have no intention to run an LFD or LFR in WoW ever again without a 90% guild presence, and from what I’ve been reading, I’m not the only one. I wonder if this, in the end, is what will sunset WoW as a major MMORPG – not ending with a bang, but a steady stream of “lolnub l2p”?

What do you think? Do you love or hate PUGs? Are CRZs doing their job?

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Debate Incoming! Trivial LFR, 90-degree Guild Wars and Sexism in Pandaria

It’s Discussion Day here on the Pot. In fact, it seems to be discussion month – there are more and more interesting, passionately-argued debates cropping up every day in the MMOSphere right now, from the silly to the very, very serious.

Here are three posts that either highlight or start what I suspect will be long-running, heartfelt discussions on the state of MMOs today:

  • Slurms looks into the heated debate currently happening in the Guild Wars 2 community over whether to enable changing the game’s Field of View“The other half of me takes sides with ArenaNet. This is their creation and they have final say in how it is to be consumed by the public. Just because you like Buffalo wings doesn’t mean that it should be an option on every restaurant’s menu.”
  • 15 Minutes of WoW asks if the latest LFR has gone too far in making the content trivial“But after doing the first 3 bosses of Mogu’shan Vaults, perhaps we should consider that content that has been made so accessible that there’s no challenge left might not be worthwhile content after all.”
  • And Apple Cider voices serious concern about several places in Mists of Pandaria where she feels the content becomes sexist“As a woman, this quest chilled me a lot. It bothered quite a few women in my guild and for good reason. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of stuff that’s happened to women in both our fictional worlds and even real worlds. Get taken prisoner, get put in a cage, be left to get raped by your captors. This stuff isn’t the fancy of someone’s imagination, it is stuff that’s happened to real people.”

What do you think? If you’ve got an opinion – or you’re writing a blog post – let us know!

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Weekend Roundup: MMO-Specific – LoTRO, WoW, GW2 and DUST!

And finally today, we’ve got a grab-bag of really fascinating posts from the weekend looking at elements of specific MMORPGs.

We’re heavy on the information today, with a detailed guide to Guild Wars 2’s PvE content and a great look at EVE developer CCP’s new MMOFPS, DUST. But we’ve also got some speculation and some hard thinking to round everything off!

  • Aly gives us a great guide to getting the best from Guild Wars 2’s PvE content – did you know that Hearts are far from the be-all and end-all of it?“Hearts do not provide the bulk of PvE content. They are a familiar, static element that provides guidance and leads you toward many (but not all) dynamic events. I find it helps to think of hearts as training wheels. “
  • Chris at Game By Night writes up a very interesting two-part post looking at the upcoming EVE Online-universe MMO shooter, DUST – Part 1, part 2” The game is incredibly punishing to new players, more so than any shooter I’ve played.”
  • Justin Olivetti looks forward, and makes some pretty plausible-sounding predictions of LoTRO’s expansion roadmap over the next few years“LotRO’s final expansion will conclude our great tour of Middle-earth by taking us as far from the safe lands of Eriador as possible: Rhun. Why Rhun? Why not just end the game or give us the Scouring of the Shire (which I think is going to be a skirmish)? Because the map, that’s why.”
  • And Reliq thinks hard about a problem most WoW players will recognise – the situation where you’re immediately judged incompetent in LF* based on the flimsiest evidence“Once someone forms a judgement of a person, it’s difficult to get that person to retreat. They’ll hold onto their opinion like a rabid dog, no matter how hard you hit them around the head with your logic shovel.”

I’m excited by the idea of a Rhun expansion. I’m worryingly familiar with the more obscure parts of Tolkien’s lore, and there’s a lot of great stuff that it could draw on, from the missing Wizards of Middle Earth (there are 5. Two of them are probably in Rhun. Doing… something. Bad.) to the elven nations that fled there thousands of years before LoTR…

Are you looking forward to GW2, DUST, MoP, Rohan, or something else?

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What’s The Matter With WoW Raiding?

The big news of today is MoP – but we’ll get to that. There’s another pressing matter occupying the bloggers of the world today – and that’s WoW raiding.

Yes, in one of those wierd synchronity events that sometimes hits the blogosphere, everyone seems to be writing about the problems with raiding in WoW today. And this isn’t a “quick thoughts” moment, either – we’ve got a lot of deep, interesting thinking going on:

  • Stubborn at Sheep The Diamond is comparing raiding with his day job, teaching, and asking why WoW doesn’t teach the skills necessary for raiding” I’m not a developer or programmer, so I have no idea how hard it would be, and I’m sure it would be, but there’s no reason that leveling, particularly higher-end leveling, should be so incredibly different from the end game. “
  • Binkenstein at Totemspot suggests that despite their best efforts, Blizzard may never manage to equalise the difficulty between 10-and 25-man raids“While that’s a nice goal, it’s going to be very very hard to achieve in practice, as there are a large number of variables to consider. It’s not just a matter of multiplying everything by 2.5 and calling it a day. You have to consider the available space, possible class balance, possible buff/debuff availability, how likely you are to have the current Flavour of the Month Tank/DPS/Healer present, recruitment & reserves and even loot distribution.”
  • The Grumpy Elf looks back at the hard questions he asked about LFR before it launched last year, and considers how the reality turned out“I was worried about how loot will be handled and it looks like I had a good reason to be worried. The first time I ran it two bows dropped and two rogues won them. I then needed to run it for well over 20 weeks before I ever saw a bow drop again. “
  • Zellviren of Unwavering Sentinel is well-known to dislike LFR, but today he’s asking whether LFR is even benefiting the players it’s supposed to help“Is LFR seeing involvement because people want to raid but otherwise can’t, or is it seeing involvement because players are out of other activities to get involved in?”
  • Tzufit is asking a really interesting question – do the progressive nerfs to end-of-expansion content actually harm the casual raiders they’re meant to help?“Why do we think that a casual raid team that struggled through many of the more challenging fights at the end of BC and the beginning of Wrath should be pushing Heroic content in the final tier of an expansion? Because we established that expectation when we were successful in Heroic ICC.”

**As we start eyeing up a new WoW expansion, what are your thoughts on the State of The Raid?

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Hot Topic Watch: Attunements, Gear and Dailies

It’s been a week or two of fast-paced discussion and debate in the WoW blogosphere, and as we move into the weekend, that discussion’s still raging. Whether it’s attunements, dailies or gear, here’s the latest pieces of thought on the topics everyone’s talking about:

  • Scott Andrews at WoW Insider takes us down memory lane in the attunements discussion, taking us back to the pure joy – no, wait, I meant anguish – of the Horde Onyxia attunement chain in Vanilla WoW“Thrall sends you on the most dreaded part of the attunement chain: talking to Rexxar. Rexxar was not a static NPC who stood there waiting for players to interact with him. No, Rexxar had stuff to do. He patrolled all the way through Desolace and into parts of the two adjacent zones, Feralas and Stonetalon Peaks.”
  • Ratshag has decided to take pity on those of us who want attunements back – with his Do-It-Yourself guide to attunement simulations“The Karazhan Attunement Experience: Read page 1 of yer novel. Go ta that cave in Southwest Twilight Highlands. Kill everything. Wait fer thems ta re-spawn. Kill them all again. Read the next page…”
  • Bob at Altclysmic weighs in on the “motivation and gear” discussion started by The Grumpy Elf, looking at how Mists of Pandaria will change the way loot motivates us“The new system will allow me to daily my way to the top, the asumption will be that this is an easier way but the reward gathering will be so much slower.”
  • And Spinks at Spinksville writes a lengthy post discussing various elements of Mists of Pandaria to come, including a section to the daily quests of MoP, and how she (unlike other commenters earlier this week) believes they’ll be a good thing“At that point in the game, people just want to log in and do something fun that will progress their character in some way. Assuming dailies are at least as fun as normal quests and that people who like PvE are happy with normal quests, the only issue is whether players get bored and how many dailies you have to do to get whichever reward you are aiming for.”

Any opinions on the dailies, gear or attunements discussion?

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Believable monsters, wretched scum and loud music

Of all the gifts Star Wars has given our culture, I sometimes wonder if the phrase “wretched hive of scum and villainy” will be the most enduring. Find out why it’s being applied to WoW (this time) below, plus some discussion on the lifecycle of Secret World monsters, the plot of Isengard in LoTRO, and a selection of MMORPG musical hits…

  • Jeromai at Why I Game highlights the alarmingly well-thought-out lifecycles of the hideous eldrich creatures in The Secret World“OMG. Through all of Solomon Island, I’ve been shooting dozens and dozens of these brood pods to stop Draug from hatching out of them, but it wasn’t until I watched the entire incubator cycle that it really hit me where the hell these brood pods COME FROM.”
  • Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer discusses the successes and failings of LoTRO’s solo Isengard storyline“This expansion feels like it’s increasingly putting the player in larger conflicts involving large numbers of NPC’s, presumably in preparation for the battles that are to come in the IP over the next few years. “
  • Jasyla at Cannot Be Tamed categorises the players she has found in WoW’s LFR, and their extremely unfortunate interactions” In another LFR we had a Mage who thought it would be clever to put a portal to Theramore over the portal to the Eye of Eternity. Charming!”
  • And Redbeard at Parallel Context highlights some of his favourite, less “rah, charge!” pieces of MMORPG music” WoW has a history of music that evokes and complements the scenery of a region, but for some reason they really hit one out of the park with the soundtrack to Hellfire Peninsula. “

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Could We Design A Better Kick System?

Could WoW’s current “kick” system be, well, better?

That’s the question The Grumpy Elf asks today – and he’s not just asking the question this time, he’s got a fully worked-out proposal that I found very interesting indeed. From improving the “reason for kick” dialogue to minimising kicks from sheer innattention, it’s clear that Grumpy has given WoW’s minimalist kick system a lot of thought

“When someone is kicked, they will get a system mail that will tell them why they where kicked. This way, they will know what they did wrong. I think the only way for people to learn is to tell them what they did wrong.

Just kicking someone does not do anything to teach a person.I think that when the person starts the kick and picks one of those options they should be given a line to post a comment if they wish. After they start the kick and it goes out to others, the others would see the reason for the kick and be allowed to agree or disagree and post a comment as well.

Example of how it would work:

In looking for raid a person signed up as a healer, for the fast queue most likely, and is playing the role of damage dealer. A kick starts up and the person chooses the option not preforming the role they signed up for and adds the comment priest in shadow spec refuses to change to healing spec.

It would now go to vote with the reason and the comment for everyone else to see. ”

Grumpy’s proposed /kick system is one of the best-thought-out proposals for a replacement system in WoW I’ve seen lately. There are no obvious ways to game it – at least not that sprung to mind on first reading – it’s mostly practical without vast investment of developer time, and whilst it does suggest more community oversight from Blizzard, his reasons for suggesting that are intelligent and reasonable.

A couple of his suggestions are a bit wooly – the manual oversight of excessive kicks, in particular, looks like it would need more work – but some of his ideas are things I genuinely wish were in the game, like his suggestions for improving feedback through a Demons’ Souls style limited feedback system that actually informs the player why they’ve been kicked.

Interesting stuff, and I’m looking forward to hearing what other people think about it!

What do you think of The Grumpy Elf’s proposals for improving WoW kicks?

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Three Fascinating, Unexpected Opinions On What Mists Will Bring

Will Garrosh invade Theramore? Maybe not! Will Resto Druids love permanent Tree Form? Perhaps not! Will this iteration of the LFR loot rules work? Maybe it actually will!

It’s a bit quiet on the MMOsphere today, but there are some really interesting posts out there. Strangely, three of them centered around one topic – specific features coming up in Mists of Pandaria, and how what actually happens might be nowhere near what you expected to happen.

First up, Rades of Orcish Army Knife is back with another of his brilliant prognostication posts. This time, he’s looking into his crystal ball at a strange new Feat Of Strength that has made its way into the Mists beta

(Warning: this blockquote and the linked article contains story spoilers)

“So wait. Jaina has to recover the Focusing Iris from the ruins of Theramore? Would that be the same Focusing Iris that Malygos was using to control the surge needles, distorting and manipulating Azeroth’s ley lines so that all magic began to flow into the Nexus? And the same Focusing Iris that the Dragon Aspects used to channel their magical power into the Demon Soul, to empower it so that it could defeat Deathwing?

Why is it in Theramore??

We never really do find out what happened to it after the Aspects used it to charge up the Demon Soul. And you know, this probably isn’t something that should just be left lying around. We’re talking about an extremely powerful artifact created by Malygos, the Aspect of Magic, at the height of his power, using his own blood. We’ve seen in the past that someone can use the Iris to divert and mess around with all magic on Azeroth through tapping into the ley lines, which is rather significant. And the Aspects – essentially Warcraft’s demigods – needed it to charge up the Demon Soul, perhaps because it let them focus their power into an single concentrated point, or perhaps because it could absorb/contain such raw, unbridled power in a controlled manner. ”

Spoilers end

As always, Rades has a tremendously readable writing style, and his conclusions are fascinating. I think they might well be right on the money, too – the suggestions he’s making fit well with the way Blizzard have been writing so far, and would be a really interesting twist. We shall see…

Meanwhile, on a rules note, Zellviren of Unwavering Sentinel has been looking at the latest LFR loot rules. They’ll be rubbish, right? Well… apparently not so much

“Every time a boss dies, the game will roll against each player to decide if they won something. 25 separate rolls, 25 separate chances for everyone to get a shiny upgrade. To paint an example, say there are four plate melee classes in against the Madness encounter and all want Gurthalak. Each one has a separate chance of winning it and all four of them might do so. They play no part in each other’s rolls, just as they keep the heck out of everyone else’s.

I’ve no idea how that can be considered a bad change unless your desire is to troll or steal.

Now, point three on Ghostcrawler’s list is the one causing the arguments. It’s hard to say exactly what “appropriate” means at this stage, and I suppose we’ll need to wait for more commentary before finding that out. But even if that’s simply a case of picking something your class can use, ignoring spec and what you already have, it’s STILL preferable to seeing some Unholy death knight with a heroic Slicer take a Souldrinker “because he might play Frost”.”

My only remaining concern with the LFR loot rules – which feel very Diablo 3 inspired – is that they feel a bit impersonal, and further devolve much of WoW into a single-player game with NPCs that just happen to be controlled by other players. But that’s just a feeling thing, and overall, Zellviren’s got me convinced.

Finally, on a lighter note, one ex-Tree druid is finding herself unexpectedly conflicted by the new choices in Mists.

Yes, Tzufit of Tree Heals Go Whoosh was amongst the baying hordes clamoring for a return to full-time tree form, for a long while. And now, it’s finally here – but she isn’t convinced that she will actually use it

“It’s a good thing! A great thing! So, why do I find myself with no idea what my druid is going to look like when Mists launches?

I never used to identify with my night elf’s caster form during Wrath. I liked the way she looked, but I hated the night elf idle animation with its annoying bounce-bounce-bouncing, and I had trouble identifying with a character who was taller than most of the others in a raid group (I’m 5’2″ – gnomes are more my speed). I was in tree form from the moment I logged on until the moment I logged off, save the few seconds it took me to switch back after a wipe. The Pink Kitty and I used to have a good-natured snicker at druids who spent all their time in caster form and who flew around on actual mounts. “What, your forms aren’t good enough for you? You don’t love turning into a giant purple bird? Sure, have fun on that Frostbrood Vanquisher while I insta-cast flight form. Oh, and did I mention I can farm nodes and tap quest items without ever dismounting? And that if a Hordie jumps me in Wintergrasp I can just Shadowmeld and fly away? Chump.“

And then came transmogrification.”

This is a really interesting post that I think speaks to far more players than just tree druids. We keep track of the things in the game we dislike or we’re worried about, but often the things that we like or that suit us – or simply that we get used to – pass us by.

What unexpected consequences do you see from Mists of Pandaria?

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An argument in favour of rolling for others in LFR

You’re in LFR, and the legs you need drop. There’s only you and one other person who could want them. You roll Need. The other guy rolls Need. And then the 9 other people in the LFR group from his guild roll too, despite not needing the legs at all.

What the hell?

Rolling for other people in LFR is a much-hated behaviour, and one that feels profoundly unfair if you’re on the losing end. But could it actually be OK, if you’re one of those 9 other people, to roll on that loot for your friend? In an interesting article, Saxsy of I Like Pancakes argues that not only could it be OK, but that it might actually be the ethical thing to do

“If, for instance, you are running with a friend who is on your same tier token, it’s perfectly reasonable under this rule to roll for them, because giving them the tier token puts it to better use than someone who is rolling for the vendor value of the token (and you know that such people exist). It’s fine to roll on a tier token to build a rarely used offset. And so on. In fact, the limit to this is rolling need on items for their vendor value; this is the same use as the others, not better, and is the purpose of the greed roll.

“But wait!” you might say. What of the poor person, running LFR desperately to help her raid team progress, who really needs a tier token and is cheated by you rolling on it for a friend? Well, that’s too bad for them. As far as expectations, however, if you go into a LFR with 11 other people rolling on that token, your reasonable expectation to winning that token is 1 in 12. Everyone has a right to roll on tokens, even if it’s not ethical for them to do so. And if I roll on a token to give it to a friend, perhaps that’s not as good a use as someone who is rolling for themselves. But it is certainly a better use than for someone who has no specific use for the item and is rolling for vendor value (or perhaps for use as a bargaining chip). And — most importantly — I can’t be expected to tell one from the other.”

Saxsy expands on her point in a further post on rolling for friends, but I felt her point was better expressed in this first post. It’s a somewhat Wild West attitude – assume the other guy doesn’t have the best intentions – but then, isn’t LFR rather a Wild West place?

Personally, I don’t agree with her argument, primarily because rolling for friends still introduces an unfair burden on the person who isn’t with their guild. But it’s an interesting and reasonably well-put stance, and I’ll be interested to see the discussion from here!

What do you think? Is rolling for friends OK?

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All Around The MMO World – Weekend Links

Loads of fun, useful and generally readable stuff from the blogosphere from this weekend! Whether you’re hanging on in Wurm, observing TERA in amusement, or could really use a laugh after an awful LFR run, we’ve got something for you:

  • Tobold considers the current “guild size” discussion from a game design point of view“There are other ways, for example in games like A Tale in the Desert. Not only can you be in several guilds in that game, but also everybody can contribute in his own way to the guild’s projects. If the guild needs a huge amount of bricks for a project, for example, everybody can contribute at his own pace.”
  • Avatars of Steel provides some quick tips for Wurmians still avoiding the game’s forums for virus reasons
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings observes some strange behaviour in TERA, as players proceed to mostly ignore the ingame LFG tool“Because queues are instant, the choice as a Lancer is very binary. You either run the dungeon or you go questing. But maybe after doing a few quests, you’re sort of wavering between continuing questing or going for an instance. Seeing a request for a tank can tip you over to one side, and might even allow you to feel altruistic for helping out an existing group.”
  • And Bravetank offers some more cheering alternative definitions for popular LFG and LFR terminology“In ancient times huntards were esteemed for their wisdom, strategic minds and military prowess. Only the truly gifted could ever hope to reach such heights. If you are called a huntard then you are playing your hunter class flawlessly. Do not be surprised if some people leave the group after calling you this – it is simply that they do not feel deserving enough to be in your company. Forgive them.”

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