Friday, October 30, 2009

A fun evening

Last night I had fun raiding in WoW and it felt exceptional. Why?

I realized, once again, I need to keep my raiding/grouping minimal. A few weeks earlier RL freed up some time for me and I jumped in headfirst into every raid I could find that would take me. But it didn't take long before becoming irritated by mistakes and delays in general. I found myself tapping my foot for the pulls and logging off immediately after the raid was over like I'd been freed from the Stockades.

Sure I'm able to get lots of emblems and potential upgrades this way, but it was at risk of enjoying myself. This week, I logged on if I felt like it, not because I needed to get X emblems per day.

(It was a little disconcerting how quickly I fell in to playing too much just because I had the extra time to do so. I'm glad my body sent emotional cues that reminded me why that wasn't a good pattern to drop back into.)

So instead of it being my 2nd or 3rd raid of the week, last night was 1st and I was eager to do so because I hadn't just gotten out of one the night before. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

It was a 10-man raid. Our group was not optimal. It wasn't optimal by class choice (we started out with 2 of the same 4 classes), we didn't have any of our main or off tanks in our raid, and one of our healers is still learning the ropes. And our normal raid leaders weren't there.

It ended up being a fun time. Instead of having the same person tell us all what to do, it was more of a group effort. We had to figure out ways to do certain things because we didn't have the normal X to do Y. Also everyone in the group seemed to be okay with wiping a few times until we got our strategies figured out.

I think this is what is fun about achievements and hard modes. They make you approach things differently and this spices up raiding the same ol' content a bit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Once Bitten, Twice Shy?

Have I finally learned my lesson with new MMOs? I haven't played Aion in weeks and I can't even bring myself to log on Champions Online even when I have friends to play with there.

Tobold directed me to a review of Alganon, so much a wow clone it copied WoW's key ring button ui even though it hasn't implemented any functionality for it. (So glad this game appears to really suck. Whew, no more confusing Alganon the game with Algalon the WoW raid. j/k

WoW clones think WoW is a tv, and that gamers are homeowners. They think, rightly so, homeowners like tvs, and even though you have one in your living room, you'll probably want to put one in the basement and in your bedroom too.

But WoW is more like a microwave. It's not an oven, but it fulfills my needs somewhat and I don't need a second microwave. And being a microwave, there really isn't much you can improve on that would make me want to buy a new one. At least that is what I'm discovering.

I thought about how I play WoW now. On my new horde character I spend 95% of my time in battlegrounds. On my older alliance character I spend 90% of my time in raids. I don't spend a lot of time killing 10 rats anymore. So I shouldn't be surprised that I'm not enjoying what WoW clones offer in the beginning, killing 10 rodents or 10 mice, because I guess I'm finally tired of it. When I saw the screen shot of Alganon showing the player killing, instead of rats, grass skitterers, and the quest over to the side marked as "The Skitter Threat" I grew ill.

Okay sure it's not that serious, but why make anymore games like that? I'm not a WoW basher, but I find myself agreeing with Syncaine. I only have myself to blame.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Second Time Around: World Events

I enjoy World Events in WoW. It changes the landscape a little and the world is a more active than usual. It causes some extra lag but I don't spend that much time in cities anyway.

What I really enjoy is the fact since I ran myself ragged last year, this time around I don't have to scramble to get a bunch of achievements done. I have my violet proto-drake and the few achievements I don't have aren't part of any other rewarded meta I know of, so I can say "meh" to doing them (Peddlefeet, Masks for All Occasions, Brewfest mount, etc.).

Of course Pilgrim's Bounty (Nov 8th-14th) was added later, so I have one last (?) event to spend extra time playing on.

I can't imagine they'll add too many more world events. If you're like me, they sometimes get overwhelming, for instance I don't think I did anything with Harvest Festival (Sept 27th - Oct 3rd )because it ran so close to Brewfest (Sept 20th - Oct 5th).

I like that they add a few new activities like BB King but I also like going into the event knowing I've done the bulk of it and I don't need to log on every day trying to get something done. And if I ever got the urge to do so I could just do it on an alt I've neglected. (That time won't come!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Looking in the wrong places

After seeing Hardcore Casual post about Aion, I'm wondering how I missed that part about it being a grind when I was surfing around reading comments.

Perhaps if someone had said Aion is like Lineage II or FFXI (games I haven't played but are known for their grinding) I would have been warned, but I didn't read anything like that anywhere.

I've yet had the desire to fire the game up again, because the last time I played it felt grindy to me and I hadn't even got out of the teens.

I read several people saying they didn't like it, but the comments from those that did like it swayed me. Not to mention I really did want to try it for myself.

I guess instead of reading beta reviews, I should wait a month after release and read those reviews instead to get a better opinion of what a game is like.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


There have been some complaints on the forum about the use of Gear Scores to choose who will attend a pug raids.

Gear Score is the sum of the item levels of your gear. Legendaries for instance have higher item levels than epics. Certain epics have higher levels than other epics. Tier 10 has a higher level than tier 9 and so on.

Places liek WoW Heroes and Wowhead profiles display gearscores.

Pugs are also requiring you to have an achievement for an instance to prove you already have experience doing it.

Basically pugs are moving toward guild runs. Players want assurances they'll have a good chance of completing what they set out to do.

I joined a pug where I had to show my achievement before I got invited. Needless to say when I checked others, I found at least one player who didn't have the achievement. Okay, whatever. When the raid leader asked if it would be okay for an undergeared player to come fill the last spot, the rest of us said no. You require people to hit some standard you set only to let someone else limbo under it?

People move from going solo to pug, pug to guild, from "friends and family" guild to progression guild, from progression guild to server transfer to even further progressed guild, because they level of fail they are willing to put up with drops lower and lower.

I joined a pug Molten Core group that couldn't kill a corehound, and once I got a taste of a guild ran MC I never looked back.

I remember a player leaving what was back then called Nihilum (the top guild in the world) to go to SK-Gaming (another top guild) because he felt Nihilum was failing (at the time I think they got a world 2nd or something).

We all have our own level of fail we can be satisfied with.

Gearscore is a tool that people are using because whether it said or not, people will try to make do with as little as possible if they are allowed.

Just hit 80? Maybe I can get in someones 25-man ToC and bypass the regular 5-man -> heroic 5-man -> Naxx25 -> Naxx10 -> Ulduar 25 -> Ulduar 10 -> 25 ToC. See how much time I saved by showing up and riding on other's backs?

For every person who says but I can be just as skilled in my quest greens/blues as the epic'd player, there are 50 who aren't but like to quote that possibility as a reason they should get to raid in a place they won't really contribute.

One of the CM's seems to think gearscore is a tool, and while it has the potential to be abused, it's alright to use. I'm not sure how they could stop people from using it at this point, and they certainly aren't going to remove the achievement system.

How many people really are elitist jerks?

This comment from one of the guild leaders of a worldwide top raid guild:

"im yet to see a rogue switch his agility gems for armor pen because of an encounter or their own thought process.

if they do change it, it's because some spreadsheet says it's now the best way to do it and it's completely pointless ... the actual number of people that properly understand the maths of stuff like armor pen is TINY"

I myself have wondered how many people on EJ actually have a clue, and how many are more like me "tell me what works".

As Tobold mentioned how restricting being able to choose any number of skills would be, we'd all just pick whatever the best choices are at the time.

I've also pondered how many guilds actually work out content on their own? And how many of us copy what we've seen done elsewhere?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stopping yourself

The reason why Keen's post (see my previous post) stood out to me is because I'm often guilty of finding ways to make what I'm doing in WoW fun, when it initially isn't.

It somehow reminded me of an old Simpsons episode where Bart and Principle Skinner had this exchange:

Principle Skinner: Oh, licking envelopes can be fun! All you have to do is make a game of it.

Bart: What kind of game?

Principle Skinner: Well, for example, you could see how many you could lick in an hour, then try to break that record.

Bart: Sounds like a pretty crappy game to me.

Principle Skinner: Yes, well... Get started.

Amazing Aion?

Go read about Keen's Amazing Aion experience and let me know if you think he really is enjoying Aion.

I'll wait.

Okay no I won't, after reading it I'm thinking the title shouldn't include the adjective Amazing. Comments have their meanings changed when they are taken out of context, would you think Keen is enjoying himself if you read this:

**Levels 22-25 aka “Hell levels”

**I won’t lie to you… these really were hell levels. Exp seemed to crawl and there weren’t enough quests available to me. I was dragging my feet and resisting something I had done for years: Grind.

**A switch needed to be thrown in my head to accept this form of grinding as nothing different, even though it felt different.

**Between the Morheim Ice Fort and the winding path that leads to the Fungus stuff there are tons of soft mobs — kill them ALL and don’t watch the exp bar.

**However, I do not find it to be as amazing as most people were saying.

**Okay, so this place is great exp but is it fun? There’s nothing really amazing to look at here and the content is rather straight forward: Pull, tank, spank.

**I was really getting tired of the drab looking spriggin area with washed out gray colors in the area after the boring snow.

**Grinding is still prevalent at this level and I find that I end up killing stupid amounts of mobs to get the quest drop and work my way to mobs that I need (lots of wading through aggro mobs)

**I never reached the point of not liking the game, but I did become indifferent to it for a few days as I was struggling to find time to invest into the 18-23 span.

**Yeah, it’s a themepark-like “end-game” mentality oriented goal but it’s a goal nonetheless and it’s something I really needed in Aion.

**For anyone struggling out there to feel Aion’s soul, to feel what this game has to offer and what it’s all about, reach level 25. I know, I know, you shouldn’t have to play a game to level 25 to feel this and I’m not going to justify it at all (trust me, in hindsight I didn’t like 1-23 either) but it changes for the better.

As someone commented to Keen "...even with you now framing your Aion experience in a positive light, it sounds pretty dire to me."

First off he describes “Hell levels” and he agreed they were!

Friday, October 16, 2009


It became evident to me last evening, that our guild will never progress very far if we continue to accept other guilds' alts as main raiders.

There are some skilled players who can switch characters on a dime and perform well. We don't usually get these players.

These players show up on their alt death knight or hunter, because everyone has a dk or hunter alt.

They aren't gemmed and enchanted the best because they "save that gold for their main".

Instead we get players searching through their spellbook looking for spells and asking who to use what spell on (this actually happened in a heroic, needless to say we wiped a few times and called it a night).

My plan is to figure out what it is I want on my own main and then take another break from raiding again. I shouldn't feel like I'm running 80s through Stockades.

Why don't we all have 214,748 gold?

The other day I started pining for a chopper. I suddenly realized how gold poor I am when I think about purchasing the mats necessary to get my motor running.

Greedy Goblin says there are easy ways to make tons of gold. I realized something else. I don't believe him.

If I believed him I'd be doing it. What is stopping me from at least trying one of his or any other savvy player suggestions?

My usual response is I don't think I'd have fun playing the market to the lengths necessary to turn a profit. But I also I have this odd feeling I'd do something stupid and lose my gold and probably end up as one of GG's morons of the week. Have you heard of old people who hid money in their mattress because its "safe"? Yeah, I think in a past life I lived through the Great Depression because I can relate*. I'm risk averse.

Either I take the plunge and try one of their suggestions, or continue to put around on my boring mount.

*This doesn't even have to date back to the depression, recently, June 2009 and Israeli woman threw out a mattress only to find her mother had stowed away her life savings of $1mil in it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Less is less

As I mentioned earlier about not being as much in the loop as I used to be about WoW...I didn't realize they haven't added "Less is more" achievements to Ulduar and ToC.

This was a good choice on someone's, whoever makes these type of decisions, part. While attempting to complete an instance with less than the usual amount of people is challenging for those who do it, it really defeats the purpose of raiding - where a larger group of people get together to complete something.

A few times I was part of a less is more attempt because it was unplanned or someone didn't show up. But if a guild decides to 8-man something ahead of time, who gets left out? Of course you can plan around doing it over and over again swapping out people, but that's a headache and I have yet to be involved in a "let's do it for everyone" scheme from start to finish. The person who plans it, usually gets their achievement or mount and the next week comes down with a cold.

And then there are these "dps it down" achievements that run with fewer tanks and fewer healers. I guess that's the payback for having a easier time finding 5-mans.

There is a thread over at the Raid and Dungeons forum about removing the uber cloak drop from the perfect heroic run (no wipes I believe from start to finish of the whole instance). Even the top guilds complain that since their are connectivity issues they shouldn't be punished.

Then there's the issue of cohesiveness again. Do you sit out the guy on Comcast every attempt because you don't want to risk screwing up just one attempt?

For 10 man regular runs we try to get as many teams going (usually 2) as possible. But for heroics we end up being choosier, because we know it takes a little bit more. You should be "punished" for lack of dps or lack of situational awareness, not a crappy computer connection.

More is more, because when you have to compete for a raid spot you tend to do better. I remember playing with very competitive people who still didn't really up their game until they joined a further progressed guilds and realized they actually could put out more dps. What was stopping them before? A guaranteed raid slot.

So there are things that promote success in a raid and things that can undermine it. I still haven't recovered from Undying and Immortal attempts. And it sad to admit the reason we got undying is because we didn't include some players we normally raid with.

While it may not always be possible, I want to succeed in spite of whatever drawbacks our guild may have. Not end up trying to run things when Player Y isn't online.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In the dark

Over and near the end of the summer I was playing less WoW. As a result, I was reading less about it as well. Now that I've started playing again I realize I'm playing in the dark. Since I haven't been kept abreast of WoW goings-on, I'm coming across things by accident. Some things I wish I hadn't missed, like lots of easy xp in battlegrounds (they've since nerfed it), but others have been nice surprises, like a small new area of land added. I won't say where so it may be a surprise to you too!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Yes, compared to RL, wow *is* my downtime. But I'm speaking about a different kind of downtime - the downtime that is between pulls, corpse runs, etc. As I've commented about commenting this is my least favorite group behavior.

Recently I've had a chance to play more than usual. One evening I had a ton of fun, the next evening, not so much. And the one thing I can point to as being the difference was downtime. There's really no resolution, because things were out of our control. The first night everyone was on, we had even more people than we had room for. We buffed, we killed, we buffed, we wiped, we ran back, we killed, wash, rinse, repeat, good night, cya next time.

The next raid session, half the people didn't show up like they said they would. We had to find replacements, we had to figure out who was going to do what. We wiped several times before trying something easier. Since the something easier was old content, people swapped out to alts. We waited awhile longer to see if the no-shows would show. ZzzzzZzzzzz.

The night eventually turned out to be successful given what we had, but I didn't really have that great of a time. Because waiting around is torture. A top 100 (top 20?) guild, Fusion, realizes this and devotes time to speed runs. Well I think for them its more about testing their limits, but I'm sure its also about keeping everyone engaged.

I've been thinking alot about Greedy Goblin's coined (no pun intended) "worse than grind" phrase. (I typed up something about it but didn't post it, maybe later.). It describes when the majority of a guild knows the fights, knows what they need to do individually, but the failures of a few cause just enough problems that they never progress. Or they progress really slowly (usually just enough to keep them satisfied with being in the middle of a "worse than grind".

I think this can apply, in a way, to people who suffer from delays. There are players who have signed up and show up on time, make sure to have everything repaired, stocked on reagents/food, head to the instance early to help summon or show up right on time, are fast on their corpse runs, eat up or bandage, when necessary afk makes them quick. Those who don't take care to try to do all of these things, cause everyone else to suffer "worse than grind" or maybe it is better describe as "worse than wait".

But all of this is the nature of the MMORPG beast. You group, you find yourself bobbing in the waves caused by the group.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tier 10

The WoW blogosphere is abuzz with Tier 10. (okay maybe just the druid blogs because the helms are so weird looking).

For some reason at first I thought everyone was talking about tiers in a new 10 man dungeon.

Yeah, somewhere along the way I lost track of tiers.

I knew Tier 0.5 would start nothing but trouble.

Monday, October 5, 2009

And Aion...

Aion will not hold me past my initial subscription purchase. For some reason, I keep feeling the need to say "It's not Aion's fault." I think its a great looking game, the beasts and humanoids are imaginative. It's easy to play if you've played any other WoW-similar MMO.

At a few points during my play session over the weekend, I found myself checking my xp bar. I typed up a big long post about it, but I can sum it up in a few words: "That is not a good thing."

Pugs Revisited

Speaking of going solo, and I was in my previous post. I wandered into that dark, scary forest of pugs over the weekend. Given what low expectations I have, they went exceedingly well.

My irritations, as I commented over at Big Bear Butt's blog, didn't come up as much. Though we still had a delay for getting everyone to Heroic Violet Hold (yes the one right smack dab in the middle of Dalaran).

Everyone is trying to get emblems, so finding a group hasn't been very hard. The old instances have been out for a while, and the new ToC one is weirdly short and easy. ToC is truly a gimme instance. So far I've done one boss without a weapon (lance equip ftw), a run with the odd make up of only rogues and death knights (who needs buffs?), One with someone who just hit 80 a few hours beforehand (they couldn't outdps the tank). Easy gear and emblems, no complaints.

But this is coming from someone who hardly ever does heroics. How fun is it to do day after day? I'm not going to try to find out.

When WoW becomes casual for everyone

A friend of mine tried in vain to get something going with a bunch of friends and family (some in different time zones) in WoW Sunday.

All of us can be considered casual now, with only a few raiding here and there. The problem was unwittingly expecting we'd all be free to do something right then and there.

My friend logged off exasperated, and a bit overblown in my book, commenting about quitting WoW completely.

Yet I think it explains how WoW has become for me perfectly. I want to play casually, when, where and for how long I want to. I thought this only affected raiding. You can't progress very far if everyone in the guild has my attitude. (Keep in mind if you're down two person that's actually an achievement.) So if more and more people have my attitude and decide not to show up that doesn't fare well for the raids.

But actually it works the same for smaller instances too. If a group of friends all have the attitude of logging on when they want to, the odds of them actually accomplishing something together are low as well. What each of us are doing is asking our friends to keep their schedules free on the chance we want to do something together. You might do that for a movie, or a night out for wings, but it doesn't feel right anymore to do so for WoW.

I think casual WoW really means going solo. If you log on and want to do something with a group, it will probably end up being a pug. Because if you and all your friends play casually and no one wants to adhere to a schedule, its just not going to happen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Endgame betas

Is it just me or does it seem odd no one seems to mind that they never get to beta test the endgame of their MMOs. (I say never, what do I know?)

We beta test levels 1-10, or whoo 20! We make our predictions, we decide to buy or pass based on the short time we've beta'd. And then are angry when, let's not even mention getting to endgame, level 21 sucks.

I guess testing things on PTRs count but that's after we've purchased the game.

An MMO lasts on average what 6 mos to 7 years (I made that up) and yet we're okay to beta a month or so of that time (or follow the reviews of someone who did) and make final decisions on something.

I guess Age of Conan is the best example, how in the world did Tortage turn out so well (so I've heard), yet no one mentioned the fun ended there?

Maybe everyone is like me after all, only expecting to have a month or so of fun, until they go back to whatever they were doing before the new game was released.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

No Aion update

I was expecting to play Aion a little more and have a little more to post about it. But I haven't felt like logging on.

I think I'll end up playing Aion in long sessions maybe on the weekends instead of frequent short bursts throughout the week. Playing longer sessions lets me feel like I can take my time and explore instead of get X amount done before the evening's over.

Death and Taxes and Loot disagreements

I was going to post this yesterday, but felt I hadn't reached a conclusion, so I just left it to die a slow death in draft form. Instead after seeing Elnia's post over at Larisa's Pink Pigtail Inn, Defining 'Fair' in Loot Distribution I decided to put it out there in the ether of the internet, unfinished but topical.

I think I'm more curious why Rohan started this topic over at Blessing of Kings than the topic itself. Did Rohan miss out on some loot recently?

Rohan posits when Player A passes to friend Player B, loot distribution is still fair to Player C because Player C's chance at the loot has neither lowered or increased Player A's decision.

But I'm lead to ask why Player A is rolling to begin with if they are just going to pass. If player A just dropped out before the roll, Player C's chance is now greater.

And as some have commented there is the issue of perception. I remember playing in a guild with a husband and wife. The husband would roll along with the wife and if he won would pass it on to his wife. His win, his decision right? Rightly so, some disagreed. Two chances at loot are better than one.

And that is what Rohan discusses. As long as you still get your one chance, should it matter that others get two?

Ultimately we all want to feel like we are getting rewarded for what we put in almost to a equal degree. Many of us probably want to get rewarded for more than we we actually do.

If you try to make it black and white, fair and unfair, someone being friends shouldn't enter into the equation. You shouldn't be allowed to pass to someone.

That's why no dkp system, loot rules, work perfectly. Because no matter what is set before us, we all come into it with our own varied experiences.

I made a post on WoW forums that everyone should have equal access to the Tankard of Terror. My reasoning was it's boe and able to be sold at auction and make the same amount of gold for everyone. Of course when I finally did some Direbrew runs, it dropped (twice so far) and I didn't even roll. Logically I felt I could roll on it like everyone else. But deep down in side, it felt greedy on my part. Greedy Goblin would have a field day with me, but I digress.

I've never had a problem with main tanks getting geared up earlier than the rest. But what about the secondary tank, what about the off-tanks. What about the tanks that sub in when all of the above aren't available? And what about the classes that share tokens with tanks?

I've been in several different raid groups, and every main tank I've ever raided with no matter what personality they have, at some point says "I really, really could use that" and which point inevitably whoever else is rolling against them says "I'll pass to you then". Do loot rules take guilt into account?

And forget about tanks, healers they are important too, should they get geared up second? And melee dps are at more risk than ranged, should they get geared up sooner?

My issue with alts getting gear against mains is a subject I could make its own post. A main still has the same chance at loot, but watching alt after alt come in and win and be on their way can be disheartening.

Any time I read about loot council (all loot decisions made by a small number in the raid), those in charge of the loot council always say it works well. You usually don't hear the same from those not on the council.

Even though I mentioned not giving in to greedy feeling above, overall I have become a more greedy player. In fact our guild's system promotes it in a way. If you pass on things to other players they get it at no cost. I got burned by that once, and have learned to be "greedier".

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