Diablo 3 considered from 6 unique perspectives

Much to everyone’s surprise, Diablo 3 is turning out to be a real kaleidoscope of a game – what it is depends on how you look at it. And just because you’ve gotten one thing out of the game – good or bad – another perspective might reveal something entirely different.

So, here’s a collection of some of the most interesting and unique perspectives from the blogosphere on the latest monster title from Blizz:

  • Apple Cider Mage approaches Diablo from the perspective of a WoW veteran and non-hardcore gamer, in a lengthy and interesting discussion post“The real success of this game though, for me, was just that there was a real proliferation of women characters, even if some of the consistent tropes of corruption/betrayal/death seemed to follow.”
  • Big Bear Butt, meanwhile, has what must be an incredibly rare perspective – he somehow managed to avoid all spoilers before diving in completely unprepared“Understand, I could answer all of these questions with a 30 second web search. That’s not the point. The point is to have the joy of discovery all on my own, and that joy has to be balanced by my inevitable irritation when I’m ignorant, and can’t figure out a solution quickly.”
  • Stubborn at Sheep the Diamond is struggling to decide at what point optimising his character becomes cheating“So again we descend into a conversation about how to play the game. Half of me says, “Just have fun.” The other half says, “Why would the developer create a challenge that can be so easily overcome with auctions and options?” “
  • Spinks has been playing the game solidly, and presents the second of her interesting roundups on how she feels the game has developed“Meanwhile your narrator is on Act 2 of Nightmare Mode (that’s the next one up from normal) and has been playing a bit of co-op in Normal Mode with Arb. I’ve been enjoying it; Diablo 3 is a fun game, I am a sucker for the gothic grimdark Heaven and Hell themes, and there is a lot to like about it. “
  • Minstrel at Holy Word Delicious is taking a WoW perspective, too, but consider how WoW and Diablo 3 might fit together to become greater than their parts“I’m not literally saying that Blizzard should merge these two games. They’re both established and separate. Shoehorning the one into the other would probably not work. However, I can dream of a game that combined the best elements of both.”
  • And finally, Chris at Level Capped is finding that Hell is, in fact, great fun with other people“I have decided that I really like the benefits of “always on” Diablo 3″

What’s your perspective on the big D3, one week in?

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Why did Warlocks vanish in Cataclsym?

I’ve said in the past that I was going to wait until Cynwise’s current magnum opus was finished before featuring it, but it’s just too damn good – and I’m off for a week. So… Have you ever wondered where the Warlocks went in Cataclysm?

Some time ago, whilst going through a period of disenchantment with what was formerly his favourite class, well-known warlock blogger Cynwise wondered that question. And so he started doing some research, little knowing how deep the rabbit hole would go.

His attempt to answer a simple question has become a fascinating, statistic-rich journey into the very heart of MMORPG gaming – why people enjoy playing what they do, and what happens to make them stop

“What does Bring the Player, Not the Class have to do with the decline of Warlocks? Quite a bit.

The goal of Bring the Player is to equalize performance and utility across classes, in effect to remove the impact of class choice on common endgame activities. Raids shouldn’t be canceled or fail because you don’t have a certain class. DPS, tanks, and healers should all be relatively interchangeable.

So if all DPS classes are equal, what is the reward for mastering a complex class like the Warlock?

In many ways, this is the same question we ask when discussing pure and hybrid DPS classes, isn’t it? If all DPS specs are equal, what’s the advantage of rolling a pure over a hybrid? It’s the same concept at work, only dealing with spec complexity instead of role flexibility.

I think we need a new name for this idea that Warlocks are wrestling with. We already have the Hybrid Tax, the idea that hybrid DPS should do less damage than pure DPS because they have role flexibility. Perhaps we need a Simplicity Tax to capture this question: should complex rotations outperform simple ones?.”

It’ll surprise few regular readers when I say that Cynwise’s posts are pretty long – and there are three of them so far with more planned. Nonetheless, I’ve read every word of every one so far, and eagerly awaited the next one each time. This is really remarkable stuff – deep, insightful, data-led and research-driven writing that penetrates to the heart of far more than just why one class is less popular than others.

Did you know that the Paladin is one of the most likely classes for a player to stick with from 1-85, rather than giving up half-way? Or that warlocks are one of the few classes whose three specs are all balanced, mid-level damage dealers? Did you ever wonder how many separate factors go into a class’s popularity at maximum level? Cynwise covers a huge breadth of detail in his observations in this series, and he’s promising more to come.

I don’t think it’s an exaggaration to say that if you’re interested in how WoW works and why it works, “Where did all the Warlocks go?” is a must-read series.

Enjoyed Cynwise’s writing? Please consider sharing it!

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In which costumes are admired, digital items take up mental space, and Johnnie buys a pretty dress

Hugh is still on a break, touring exotic foreign cities and eating fancy food, so Johnnie is stirring the Pot once again.

Despite the fact that I’m a huge Tolkien geek, I’ve only ever really paddled around in the shallow end of Lord of the Rings Online. Recently, though, I’ve been playing a lot more, and I’m starting to get attached to my characters. One of the things I love about LOTRO is the costume system, which allows you to display one item whilst retaining the stats for another (similar to WoW’s transmogrification system, but better). The cosmetic appearance of my MMO characters is very important to me – it was only last week that I uttered the now-legendary phrase “Ooh! I can buy a pretty dress! I love this game!”, which caused Hugh and Rebecca no end of amusement – but I’m obviously not the only one. There are a lot of LOTRO blogs out there dedicated solely to cosmetic outfit design, and the best of them are really very good indeed. Take a look at LOTRO Savvy’s recent Scarlet Soldier design, for example. Absolutely top notch stuff.

The LOTRO Stylist has gone even further, and is actively redesigning her wardrobe during a raid :

As my Kin progressed through the different wings in Orthanc I often felt like my Rune-Keeper was not dressed appropriately. I usually switched between her casual dress outfit and her Draigoch armour. I personally don’t care too much for most of the Draigoch armour, especially the big emblems on the chest pieces. For Saruman, though, I finally put together a worthy battle ready outfit.

It might seem strange to attach so much importance to what is, after all, just a collection of pixels. For those of us who play MMOs and love our characters, though, it’s perfectly understandable. Perhaps Cynwise’s latest post goes some way to explaining why. Cyn’s trying to clean up some ‘digital detritus’, and has found some things harder to discard than they should be:

Characters weigh on my mind. Leveling characters, especially, but character in general. They take up mental space. They have … presence, even when they’re not doing things. I like having them around, I like having them available, I like trying out new things, but …

Digital things can take up space.

The Reluctant Raider certainly agrees with that assessment. She’s recently made the transition to a new server – a process which was surprisingly traumatic. Cynwise’s post hit home :

So. Now I’m in a new place, with new people. I’m hopeful and I’m generally happy. I miss people but that is normal. There will be new people. I need to remind myself that I don’t have a set number of people I can be friends with. I can be friends with more. It’s not like Blizz’s ignore list. I can befriend more then 50 people!

I spent some time reading Cynwise’s lastest post. And I loved it. This is exactly it. Cynwise GETS it. … My brain is filled with my characters. Each of them are unique and I feel different when I play them. My druid is the most comfortable but if I’m feeling sassy, I log my priest on. Who I’m playing says a lot about my mental space. It is like a canary in a mine. You can look at it and be ‘ah, she’s feeling alone or sad or anxious or happy or sexy’. I love that.

How do you identify with your characters? Do you have a particular item you just can’t bear to get rid of? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Dragon Soul and Patch 4.3 – triumph or disaster?

The debate on Patch 4.3 and specifically Dragon Soul, continues to rage, and it’s captivating. I don’t think I’ve seen so many varied opinions about a WoW patch – or such complex ones – since the Pot started.

The raid’s clearly easy, yes – but it’s also very fun. And whilst early bosses are simple, the difficulty ramps up. And then there’s the rest of 4.3 – the lore, the features, and more.

I found reading through the various opinions coming out of the blogosphere over the weekend fascinating, and I suspect you will too!

  • Jinxed Thoughts has a boss-by-boss write-up of the whole Dragon Soul raid, which really captures the feel of the encounters“It was a fun fight, I’ll say that at once. Real fun. But it wasn’t an epic end-of-the-expansion-finally-killing-that-bastard-Deathwing kind of fight. In that sense it was actually a disappointment. “
  • Ebon Plaguebringer has another writeup of the first six bosses – this one’s full of useful tips, and worth reading if you’re about to face any of these bosses too“Next up was Hagara the Stormbinder. This is basically the Alysrazor of this tier, though I feel there’s less going on. It’s still an execution/stay alive and win type of fight.”
  • Paragon are getting their graph on again with an interesting summary of the state of Dragon Soul kills worldwide after the weekend .
  • And Stormy at Scribblings on the Asylum Wall posts a excellent review of the patch so far, picking out emotional investment and a return to simplicity as key aspects of 4.3 – “Everyone’s hitting up Wowhead and all the various model viewers and transmogging sites to pick out their transmog sets, planning gear and rotation changes, updating guides and generally getting themselves ready for the patch. I’ve seen a sense of excitement that’s been missing from WoW for a long time now”

What do you think of Patch 4.3 so far?

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Weekend Bits And Pieces – SWTOR, WoW, and a manifesto

It’s been another bumper weekend for MMO blog writing, so once again I can’t confine myself to just a few blog posts to feature today.

Here’s some of the most interesting posts from Friday to today that didn’t fit under a single theme:

  • Tobold has a great summary and analysis of SWTOR’s crafting system – I’d heard bits and pieces, but this is a fascinating summary“I do think this is a very good system. Yes, it will annoy some people who want instant gratification. But it will allow others to actually craft items of value. And it will make crafting an important part of your main character, instead of being a task outsourced to an alt.”
  • Gazimoff writes a thought-provoking checklist of features for an ideal MMO – this is the kind of post that makes me want time to write a response myself! – “Once I finalised the list I realised something – I subconsciously judge each new MMO against this list. Some games do well in some areas but are poor in others, making the discussion difficult about which one is “better”.”
  • Cynwise is waxing passionate about a tiny-but-fascinating new game element in WoW- mailing transmogrified heirlooms“I told my friends about it, and they found it to be a lot of fun too. A LOT of fun. Simple things like character appearance matter. Looking put together makes you feel better about yourself, and it’s no different for our characters, too. “

Are you looking forward to SWTOR crafting? Subconciously running your own MMO checklist? Or just looking forward to decking out your alts?

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4 early views on Patch 4.3’s raid, “Dragon Soul”

Patch 4.3’s dropped. Dragon Soul – or at least, the first part of it – is ready and waiting to be bashed upon. And as such, reports are starting to flood in.

Initial impressions are that the Raid Finder’s working surprisingly smoothly, and Dragon Soul normal mode is so far not challenging people too much. But let’s dig in some more:

  • Paragon’s blog has an interesting analysis of both general Dragon Soul stats and why the top guilds aren’t clearing Dragon Soul yet“We saw a dramatic spike from about 2000 guilds killing Morchok on the first US-server only day, to around 13000 guilds on the second day.”
  • The Grumpy Elf is rather surprised at just how quickly LFR bosses went down“Raid content is supposed to last. Raid content should not be cleared the first day it comes out in any form, even an easy form, unless you are a hard core raid team.”
  • Arioch at Clearcasting has a personal experience post up along with a few very helpful tips“So this fight makes use of a BUTTON. A button that is not part of your standard button bar, this isn’t a vehicle fight, you get a new button in the middle of your screen, just below your feet. Unless you’re using a bar mod. Then… your button might not be there.”
  • Morynne at Marks-365 is very worried that the content is just too easy“ Having already completed those bosses from the previous evening, I knew the strategies, so I was expecting it to be easier just from a familiarity perspective. I was pretty shocked at how easy the Raid Finder bosses have been turned down in difficulty. In my opinion, too much.”

Do you think that Blizzard have made the Dragon Soul raid too darn easy?

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Quick-read tactics for Hour of Twilight 5-man – Arcurion, Asira Dawnslayer, Archbishop Benedictus – with no-effort copy-to-party-chat code

In WoW Patch 4.3’s Hour of Twilight, we’re doing something we’ve done quite a bit before – escorting Thrall. Again. This time, there’s an actual bonus for us, though – we’re helping him be on time for our next raid! Yep, in the final 5-man dungeon in Patch 4.3, we escort Thrall past Random Demon Arcurion, Random Assassin Asira Dawnslayer, and Has A Lot Of Plot You May Have Missed Twilight Prophet Archbishop Benedictus to the Wyrmrest Temple. Sound familiar? It should do, because where we leave off in the 5-man is where we’ll be meeting up with him again in the Dragon Soul raid to take down Deathwing. So knowing the tactics for this bit’s kinda important!

And so, here are the quick-read tactics for the three bosses in Hour of Twilight. If you don’t want detailed descriptions of all their abilities – just info on how not to wipe – this will tell you everything you need to know, quick, so you can Alt-tab back before the damn rogue pulls again.

If there’s someone else in your group who isn’t certain about the tactics either, click in the text box below each boss to auto-select a single line of tactics, checked so it’ll fit into party chat. CTRL+C or Cmd+C on a Mac to copy it, go back into WoW, start Party Chat, and CTRL+V or Cmd+V to paste all the tactics your group needs!

Dungeon Info

Don’t run too far ahead of Thrall in this dungeon – monsters spawn at several points.

[copypasta]Don’t run too far ahead of Thrall in this dungeon – monsters spawn at several points. [/copypasta]

Arcurion

  • Don’t stand in the frost circles.
  • Interrupt Hand of Frost.
  • DPSers get people out of Ice Tombs.

[copypasta]Don’t stand in the frost circles. Interrupt Hand of Frost. Dpsers get people out of Ice Tombs. [/copypasta]

Asira Dawnslayer

  • Tank: Get her out of smoke clouds ASAP. Stand between her and the healer.
  • Ranged: Stand with the tank between you and her to avoid daggers.
  • Try and stay in Thrall’s light circles.

[copypasta]Tank: Get her out of smoke clouds asap. Stand between her and the healer. Ranged: Stand with the tank between you and her to avoid daggers. Try and stay in Thrall’s light circles. [/copypasta]

Archbishop Benedictus

  • Spread out.
  • Interrupt Smite and Twilight Blast.
  • Dodge waves (easy to do).
  • Dispel Righteous Shear and Twilight Shear.

[copypasta]Spread out. Interrupt Smite and Twilight Blast. Dodge waves (easy to do). Dispel Righteous Shear and Twilight Shear. [/copypasta]

And that’s it!

Did you find this post useful? If so, please consider sharing it!

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Controversy Edition – Get Rid of Global Channels, Do Women Do All The WoW Work, and more

In the second of our massive round-up posts today, we’ve had some awesomely controversy-stirring posts over the last two days. From Beru invoking the sisterhood to Root and Branch with a modest proposal involving getting rid of all global chat, this is a damn fine bunch of thought food!

  • Beruthiel of Falling Leaves and Wings wonders if it’s true that women are the worker bees of WoW“If something needs to be done, and no one else is doing it, women tend to step up and say “well, someone has to do it”. “
  • Lara of Root and Branch isn’t messing around – she thinks that Blizzard should remove every last global chat channel in the game“These channels do not promote the social aspect of the game—if anything, they work against it, to the extent that they promote unstructured social interaction without any connection whatsoever to the wider game.”
  • And in a counter-point to the arguments that you shouldn’t play with RL friends, Gazmioff presents a heart-warming ode to playing MMOs with his wife“Why do men feel that falling in love or getting married has to mean giving up gaming? I didn’t have to hang up the D-pad. Instead I gained a Player 2 to share my games with. “

So, what do you think? Women doing all the work? No global chat? MMOs with your SO? Have your say below!

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HOWTO: build a transmogrification set

With transmogging around the corner now, more and more WoW players are waking up and realising that we need answers to questions we didn’t need before – answers like “does this axe go with blue?”, “where can I find a shield that matches my hair?” and “does this robe make my toon’s butt look big?”.

In all seriousness, for the next little while advice on What Not To Wear In WoW is going to be valuable. Thus, today, I was particularly cheered to run across an excellent piece from a blog I’ve only just started following, Dreams of Isorath, with Aeliel discussing exactly how to go about choosing a transmogrification outfit

“What looks good on one character might not necessarily look good on another, even if they’re the same class. There are factors such as gender, skin color, hair color and race to consider. Because of this, I always use WoW Model Viewer to build my sets. If for some reason you can’t or don’t want to use WMV – well, there are other ways to build a set, such as using Wowhead’s item comparison tool to view the items you’re picking on a 3D model. Whatever way you use, always try out the set in game using the dressing room once you’re done with it, just in case.

… Unless you plan on scrapping your set when you get a weapon upgrade of a different type than the weapon you were using when you built the set, you should try and find matching weapons for every single type of weapon your character is likely to end up wielding.”

This post is mostly fairly simple advice, but it’s also solid, and not all of it had occurred to me – in particular, the idea of checking for other appropriate weapon types, so that you don’t end up wrong-footed when an upgrade drops, and also the suggestions about basing the entire outfit around a single piece. The latter’s very sensible – although there are other ways to do it, such as basing your outfit on a colour palette or a real-world equivalent, building from a single piece is easier to start on, visually, and will create some pretty awesome looks for your character.

Do you have any other advice on how to start building your transmogrification set?

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Why does your iLevel need to be THIS high to get into Looking for Raid?

GearScore.

It came. It was widely reviled. Blizzard made fun of it.

And then they implemented it as a standard mechanic in WoW.

Sacred Duty, whom I’ve just started following, are on an absolute blinder at the moment, looking at the upcoming WoW Patch 4.3 and coming up with intelligent critique and alternatives. Today, writer Meloree is looking at the minimum iLevel requirement in the Raid Finder . But rather than simply point out the flaws in the system – namely that it’s a bad idea with more problems than Dan Savage’s email inbox – he proceeds to quickly and intelligently sketch out a far better system

“I propose this: set up solo “scenarios” in 5.0. If you pass it, then you qualify for LFD. If you don’t, gear up some more, and try again. Give us a performance-based metric for qualifying, rather than a grind-based metric. Anyone can step up and overgear it – with relevant gear only. It’s solo, so you can’t be carried – you progress at the rate of your skill.

A system like this allows the designers to offer some actual feedback to players. You’re either succeeding or failing at your task. If you’re failing, the game can offer you some tips or feedback. You can even add a few mobs to act like party members – the tech already exists from the Ursoc Quest in Grizzly Hills.

Why would I prefer a system like this? Obviously it benefits me, I can circumvent some of the grind, because I expect to be able to pass any check relatively early. It benefits LFD and LFR as a whole, in my opinion, by guaranteeing a performance threshold from the people participating. By actually creating a system that offers a gate to the content which is relevant to succeeding at the content, it encourages players to consider their own performance – something the game is sorely lacking right now.”

This idea’s spot-on. It would be more fun than iLevel grinding, and more immersive to boot – rather than an error message saying “because of GAME MECHANIC X, you can’t play”, you actually have to challenge and defeat an in-game foe to gain access to a new level of content. It teaches and requires skill, not gear. It’s already totally doable within the game – Blizzard are already using gating fights in both Patch 4.2 and 4.3’s Legendary quest chains, to ensure that you need a certain level of skill before you wield a Legendary.

Read, enjoy, and hope to hell that Blizzard’s system designers are following blogosphere links today.

Do you think this idea would work? If not, why not?

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