My Chars

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alliance in BGs

The following Peanuts cartoon describes exactly what happens to Alliance in BGs:


It would be funny if it weren't so sad and true...

Monday, July 27, 2009

WoW Not Conductive For Multiple Play Styles

This post I'd like to rant a bit about WoW's addon system and multiple play styles/chars.

Let's say that you have a player who likes to do both PvP and PvE. Furthermore, she also likes to play multiple characters, some are low level and need to level and some are high and raid. No problem, I hear you say. With duel-specs and a built-in equipment manager she can respec to a PvP spec when she wants, use PvP gear, and switch to another character via log-out and log-in. All dandy, right?


Thing is, WoW is really not the same without addons. Sure I realize they are not a must and some people even play without them, but they are really helpful once you get used to them. The problem is:

  1. There is poor support in the general addon screen for multiple characters. The character selection drop-down list feels clunky and annoying to use, you can only modify addons for a single character at a time. Worse, I've had it bug-out on me and change addon selections for all characters, even though I had a name selected in the pull-down list.
    As an example of where this is annoying, if I install a new addon it starts enabled by default for all characters. What if I don't want a, for example, BG addon on my priest who doesn't do BGs? Arrgg.

  2. You have to manually click on every addon line, but sometimes addons have multiple entries per addon, for example think DBM or X-Perl. In other words, the manager doesn't have the option of addon collections. This is especially bad when taken together with item (1). Want to disable DBM for all your low-level chars (who aren't going to need a raid addon soon)? Multiple-clicks FTL :(

  3. The manager runs outside the world - if you login and find a problem, or just want to make a dynamic change - e.g. go PvP with PvP addons but have them turned off rest of the time - you need to logout, make the change, and log back in to your char.

  4. There is no clear support (IMO, looking as a user) for separate settings of addons per character. Yes some addons do this themselves and do it well (X-Perl is a good one) but most don't. Sure you could claim this is the province of the addon author, but it just makes so much sense to have built-in the ability to change addon settings per character.
The upshot of all of the above is that if you have a single max-level character who only does one area of WoW (say PvE), you mostly won't feel this pain. But if you have multiple play styles and/or multiple characters, handling addons will soon become a chore and a pain, especially when switching roles/play-style in-game.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gnomish or Goblin Engineering?

I've been working hard on my Warlock's engineering, and am now a level 200 engineer. This means that I can specialize in either Goblin or Gnomish engineering.

From what I read, there is not really a huge difference, hence I tend to go with Gnomish, just because I am a Gnome :)

But, anyone have any specific recommendation?

Oh, and ding 43, yey :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Warlock Dings 40

Well I dinged 40, but it seems's Alex did the same thing (at nearly the same time) and his experiences mirror mine - his warlock is specced Affliction for leveling, he dinged 40 at Dustwallow Marsh and it the number wasn't as "magical" as it was the back in Vanilla WoW. That 60% mount sure looks sweet compared to running all over the place :)

So nothing much to report, except as before, still leveling very quickly and tons of quests left in my quest log. I've nearly skipped STV completely, that's how quick I made it from 35-40!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2 New Playable Races == Fail

For the record, I don't really believe that Goblins and Worgens will both be playable races in the upcoming expansion. But just as a "what if", let's say that is going to happen - why do I think it is fail?
Well very simply:

  1. Blizzard have resisted adding more character slots per server. Assuming they continue with this policy, this means for many players either deleting an existing char or rolling the new character on a different server (or getting another account but this is really not a valid option for most people). Big boo if this turns out to be the case!
  2. Leveling up yet another alt from 1 to 90?! ouch :( Don't get me wrong, I like alts, but I like leveling a new class - different talents, different way of leveling. Leveling another char 90 levels just to have a different looking char seems, well silly. I realize there are altoholics out there who would happily do this but I feel they are in the minority. With race differences being 99% cosmetic, I just don't see the point. Especially, when you consider the fact that these are 90 levels we will be talking about after the expansion...
  3. Spreading out of developer/artist resources for little benefit. As I said, 99% of racial differences are purely cosmetic. So adding new player races similar to how the Draenai/B-elves were added will mean adding two new level 1-20 areas, making new armor skins for these races for levels 1-90 and making all other changes required to support new races (their casting animations, etc.). All of this effort, to what end? At least the Draenai/B-elves added the Shaman/Palandin class for the Alliance/Horde (respectively), so they were not just a new race. Here we are talking about a new race for it's own sake...
I think if Blizzard do add 2 new playable races, it only makes sense if: (a) They come with a new hero class that you can only roll with the new races and this class starts at level 65. (b) The expansion adds another character slot per server to each account. (c) Not Goblins. Dear Blizzard, please not Goblins! :)

Warlock @35, Advancing Nicely

One nice thing about writing a blog, I can see stuff I would not have remembered otherwise. So I can see that 6 days ago I was level 28, and now I'm level 35, so slightly better than a level a day. Considering I didn't play every day, that's pretty good!

Of course it could have been faster, for example if I followed a leveling guide. However I enjoy questing and the process of leveling and while it will be nice to hit max-level with this char, I'm in no rush to do so (not like I'm going to raid with him).

Affliction continues to be a very nice leveling spec, in terms of DPS and little downtime. Well actually my DPS could be higher, I saw that when I was invited to an SM Armory run. I knew I was a little low-level but I figured I would give it a try. As it turned out I was the same level as most of the group (33), except a level 40 hunter. The others were a pala tank, a ret-pala and a priest acting as healer. Well the tanking changes made since WotLK was released have sure made their mark on low level tanks as well, out little paladin tank had almost no problems holding agro and we pretty much rushed through the mobs, almost with no problems (I died once) and no wipes, even though we pulled additional mobs from time to time when low-health mobs ran away. At the end of the run I was below not just the two other DPS but also below the tank in damage.

After the SM Armory run I did a nice Warlock chain quest, mostly involving a lot of flying about and sending stuff from my bank alt to my Warlock. The hardest thing I had to do was kill a few mobs 3-4 levels about me (fire elementals in Arathi), which was not too hard. In the end I got a very nice blue chest, so I'm happy :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Playing a Warlock

Since I have not raided last few days I have some free time when I finally login to WoW late at night. Last night for example I only logged in when the raid was actually almost done, so I guess on second thought it's not so much free time, it's more that I'm not worn out from raiding and want to go to sleep but I login and want to play even if it is pretty late.

Doing dailies for rep and gold is nice and all but I wanted to do something else and doing PuGs late at night when all I want is a short and fun game session is out of the question. Hmm what to do? Level an alt of course :)

Now I could have gone to one of my level 70 alts but on a whim I decided to forget about Northrend for a while and logged into one of my low-level alts, a level 22-ish Warlock. Now I have not played him much, got to level 22 over a very long period of time and in the past whenever I did play it was not much fun, seemed to be just another underpowered clothie caster. This time I decided it would be different, so I bought every Bind-on-Account item I could get my hands on using my priest's stock of badges and Stone Shards and sent them to the Warlock. I got the shoulders (+10% xp, yey :)), Staff of Jordan (great 2H stave) and 2 trinkets with both an equip stat boost and a proc every time a mob dies (+health and +mana, great for leveling and perfect for a Warlock).
I also sent the little guy (he's a gnome) 200g and splurged in the AH, getting some nice green gear for all other slots. Some of his previous gear was from level 15 or even 12, sheesh!

Well what can I say, the new gear sure made a difference, plus getting new abilities as I dinged levels. I'm now level 28 and feel like a real bad-ass, DoT-ing and Fearing my way to victory. With my big blue bodyguard by my side I'm consistently taking down groups of 2-3 mobs my level and even higher (1-2 levels higher usually).

My best kill so far was of an elite one level higher than me who had a caster add, it was a really tough fight as the caster banished me right at the start. Luckily I'm Demonology specced so my Void Walker managed to last till the banish was over and I could stream some health to him. I finished the fight with both me and the VW almost dead and me OOM, but eventually we won.

It is definitely a huge difference from my mage - of course I leveled him during Vanilla WoW, very different game then. But still, as a mage I was always dying (or afraid of it), almost never attacked multiple mobs and my down-time was significantly longer. I find that in comparison a Warlock is tons of fun :)

I understand from reading forums that until level 52, Affliction is the preferred spec for leveling. However I personally prefer Demonology even if it is a bit slower, as I feel safer that my pet can tank several mobs at a time without dying, and it is not so easy to get agro from him. I'm also not following any leveling guide, instead I'm just doing quests as they happen, whatever is in my log and seems interesting, even if it involves a lot of running / flying on griphons. Still I'm looking forward for level 30 and a mount.

Traditionally I've always found levels 30-40 the hardest to level (most boring), with 40-50 being not much better. In addition, the current work pressure will ease off eventually and I'll go back to raiding so not sure I will have time for more leveling. So I'm not sure I will get the Warlock much higher. But we will see :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Social MMOs

Keen has an interesting post about Bringing the Social Game Back. I had some comments but they became too long, hence this post :)

There are two main ways for players to interact with each other in an MMO: either by competing or by cooperating. Note that these don't map directly to PvP and PvE since you still have cooperation in PvP (your side's team) and competition in PvE (no direct example comes to mind but I could imagine a scenario or two).
There are also more minor forms of interaction, such as trade, crafting and chat.

I don't think Keen is right that the way to make MMOs more social are things like forced groupings, harsher death penalties or more "meaningful quests". The first only relates to PvE content and in any case anything which forces players to do something will end up alienating some part of the player base. The second is too negative - too much stick, not enough carrot. The third has nothing to do with social - you can have epic solo quests as easily as grouped ones. One suggestion I especially didn't like is the "No map / crude map" one. I'm sorry but it is never a good idea to make a technically worse game in order to force your players to work around those limitations. Some will. Most will leave for greener pastures, and with good reason.

But I agree that more social MMOs would be a good thing. How to achieve that?

* Provide strong incentives for player cooperation, without making it too much "stick" or too much "carrot". Examples could include better XP while grouped for leveling; easier game mechanisms (than WoW's - I don't know what other games have) for forming groups for group quests/instances/raids; a strong guild system with benefits for players the longer they stay in the guild; etc.

* Provide equally strong and interesting game features for players who prefer competition. This can take the form of PvP, RvR, PvPvE, or even competition-based PvE.

* Trade, crafting and chat (as well as other social tools such as ingame voice) can all enhance the social aspect without having artificial limitations (e.g. no auction house as Keen suggested). In a game focused more on PvE and PvP these will probably be minor, but there is plenty you could do even in such a game: special crafting mats which require groups to get; recipes which require active (same-time, no alts) cooperation between players with different professions to produce; The "carrot" to offset these limitation would be that the items produced from such cooperative efforts would be better than average.

I think a game which would combine all the above in a strong and polished way would be even more successful than WoW :)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Forced Break

Raiding has been very good since joining the new guild, just yesterday we cleared Ulduar25 up to and including Thorim and I won a very nice pair of boots, finally replacing my very old Naxx10 boots. We've gotten Yogg in 2nd phase down to 60% so only another 30% to go and we will be able to enter 3rd phase.

However, due to work pressure I have decided I don't have any choice but to put in some extra work time in the evenings, which means I need to give up raiding for a while :(

Friday, July 03, 2009

A List of Useful WoW Sites

Now here's a nice list of useful WoW sites:

It's a wiki too, so anyone can help edit it and add more sites. Very handy.