Patch 6 around the corner

Aside

Well well, the new “shake it up and see how it flies” patch hits this week – and me still unsubscribed to WoW. Darn if home life isn’t getting in the way of a bit of fun. In previous expansions the pre-patch for the main event has always been fun. New special content for those still hanging around, and all new stats and powers to play with as combinations. I’m in no rush as yet, and even on release I think I’ll stroll rather than run into the world, take my time to have a look. Without the pressure of a raid team every game is entertainment in my preferred time. I like it. Somewhere in my Blizzard subscription is an unplayed D3 expansion too, perhaps I’ll smash a few Templar levels before deciding which character needs to be rushed to level 100.

I am looking forward to it though. A few nights a week of wow really sounds good at the moment.

What to play, what to play, what?

“What class do I play?” It is one of those questions you see on forums a lot. Through-out every game the class choice is important, and in mmo games it determines a lot of what you will do in game. Now that I’m contemplating a return to WoW and have access to a free level 90 character I’m asking myself the same question.

I fear asking in forums without pondering some basic questions, and here goes…

Mortigen, Raze, nagarj, Arkham, Aurac and Yeirah head shots

So, what do I like doing in WoW?

  • Leveling. Sometimes getting distracted by exploring. And I often read quest text and like to understand why what my character is doing is furthering an aspect of the story. I don’t roleplay in game.
  • Collecting Legendary items. Also sometimes collecting rare drops & mounts in a few old 5 mans. I don’t care if leveling takes ages, as I won’t be rushing to raid this time.
  • Often DPS in scenarios, 5 mans, and raids, but I won’t be raiding regularly at all in a “proper” team. Having a viable Dps spec & gear that I know how to play is important.
  • After all the Dps styles I’ve played over the years I think range dps have an overall advantage in fight mechanics, so I’m pondering a range dps capacity more than melee dps. Melee is great fun though, especially two weapon Frost for DKs.
  • Often Tanking in scenarios and 5-mans, more so because I’d prefer to not wait ages for the queue timer.
  • Sometimes Tanking in raids, less so in LFR because the experience is mostly horrible for Tanks.
  • I’ll be doing LFR and Dungeons, and whatever else is needed to gear up and to get the legendary item(s). Please Blizzard do not have a pvp quest in the middle of the quest line, as I think that sucked for everyone involved in those battlegrounds.
  • Never healing.
  • Almost never doing PvP.
  • I’m going to be a casual, and probably time poor. I doubt I’ll have a main and many alts, more likely it will be just one character for a very long time.
  • If a profession gives me a gear boost then I’ll complete it. If it only gives vanity items or quality of life junk, then I’ll do it very slowly.

What classes have I played? What are my options?

  • With a free level 90 anything is possible. I’ve a 90 DK, Warlock, Warrior, and Druid.
  • Death Knights still have some of the best lore and flavor in the game. Along with my Paladin and Warlock they are my three most played classes.
  • Then a Balance Druid and Priest as /played, then down to a Warrior.
  • Elemental Shaman are awesome, but I’ve never raided or end-gamed with one.
  • I have an 85 Hunter, but I only use him to mailbox dance. Great class to level, not sure how I like them at end game.
  • Never played a Rogue or Mage past level 50. I like how the Frost mages get a pet, as that makes leveling easier, but I’m yet to understand Mages enough to understand how they might vary from Warlocks at end game. Mages sure do get some nifty powers.
  • Never played a Monk past 20. I probably should.

What abilities and other odd things appeal?

  • Death Knight’s survivability in Blood spec, same for Prot Paladins, Bear Druids, and Prot Warriors. I like to survive and like to pull a few mobs at a time.
  • I love the aesthetic of a Priest’s Shadow form, but do not want to ever heal. I think this means not playing a Priest regularly.
  • Balance Druid’s Moonkin form appeals to me, but I really hate Cat form. It is the same reason I find combo-points on Rogues to be hellish and frustrating.
  • Warrior’s charge and leap are great.
  • Warlock’s funky flavor all round is appealing.
  • Sometimes I miss classes with an overtly simple rotation, because less thinking is sometimes enjoyable. Back in tBC the Warlock used Shadowbolt almost all the time and I was ok with that.
  • If one of my previously played classes was going to have a special focus in this expansion that might help decide that. I’ve not seen another Rogue dagger quest – kinda thing suggested yet.

What Role and Class combo do you like best?

  • Tank: DK and Warrior.
  • Melee Dps: DK
  • Range Dps: I can’t pick between Elemental Shaman, Balance Druid, Warlock, Shadow Priest. Each is way cool.
  • Healing: Nope (I think I used a wool bandage in Gruul’s Lair on the poor Warrior tank at the time, but didn’t like it).

So the winner is?

Well I’m open to suggestions, but I think a Druid might be the way to go. Bear + Boomkin gives me range Dps and Tanking, plus the option to stealth when I need it. It is a pitty my Druid’s professions are skinning and leatherworking, because as professions they’ve always been a little meh to me. I’ll have to start reading the EJ forums to see how Balance rotation is stacking up in terms of complexity and rotation…

Arrrg, still not sure.

Aside – I found it again recently and while it was a little mean, I don’t regret it. I really hope the beggars are not around as much anymore.

Another idiot named Hartlessq on Nagrand begs for gold. What did he think would happen?

 

WoD’s great cinematic

Aside

The WoD cinematic is really good. As a semi-retired lore nerd I love seeing this stuff, just as much as I love seeing the Mage cast a Sheep spell in the first trailer, or Arthas summon an undead dragon. The MoP trailer did what it had to do (show us the Pandaren) and did it in a way which was fun. It certainly makes me think this is Orcs vs Humans … of Warcraft.

Non-serious aside – It does feel like a story set to make us like killing Orcs, and as an Alliance player I don’t really care if that is the wrong view. Orcs have proven themselves weak willed, power hungry, and generally the bad guys in the lore. Guldan gets his historic plans thrown asunder, but we’re still facing Orcs as the foes. These Warlords just reenforce the point. Thrall was the exception, and only that because some silly human made an effort to civilize him instead of kill him.

Now wonder he liked Jana. I’m happy to kill orcs, wargs, goblins, any sort of green or brown skinned filth.

(edit: truthfully that trailer makes the idea of playing an orc seem very appealing)

Is it as good as the others in terms of placing the players “in the world” and throwing down a challenge? Probably not, but then the excitement from an expansion is only partly attributed to the pretty non-gameplay video. There is not much that would top “you are not prepared“. As a video to continue the hype and announce a release date it was fine; great in fact.

Bring on more cinematic media for players, add more online comics, give us preview pages, lore updates, stat blocks to drool over. Complete the character models (I know, I know) and a few decent armor sets and it’s finished isn’t it? All of it. Build the hype with many strings of your bow Blizzard.

Should mmo have difficulty settings?

Aside

Single player games tend to give players the choice of a difficulty setting, which they can do because the impact of that choice isn’t shared amongst anyone else. D3 on easy is darn easy, and I think there is nothing wrong with playing a game for silly easy fun. We don’t always need to be raiding Hard modes, just like you can’t eat pizza every night. In an MMO all the players tend to be in the same “game” so the game’s difficulty tends to be controlled in strictly controlled ways. Instances, special quests, achievements, collections, and special creatures are around for the folks who like a challenge, but generally speaking most players are playing the same game.

If you can kill 3x monsters in the starter zone at the same time without dying then you are at a certain level of game skill. If you need help, or get *repeatedly unlucky* then you become very accustom to running back to your corpse.

What if the game had a difficulty slider, which changed some options?

  • Rewards could be recognised (achievements) at different levels. We have this in raid modes, why not elsewhere?
  • Instances wouldn’t need to change, but perhaps a player using the lower setting is forgiven more in terms of damage taken, dps, healing, so that the other players don’t suffer because somebody is playing on easy.
  • A lazy player might always play on Easy mode, because they value easy fun over challenges. Perhaps they get slightly less rewards? Less cash to a casual probably isn’t an issue.
  • A dedicated player might be rewarded with more gold or increased special drop rates because of doing it the hard way.
  • The UI slider could apply for different reasons, so that even XP reward, death penalties, gold loss, and such are all configurable by the player. Perhaps even cofigurable per character and changeable in UI at anytime.
  • It would make Ironman style challenges supported as part of the game backbone.
  • It would add more bragging rights, which isn’t always a good thing, but depends on how it is used (gearscore & achievement linking?).
  • It might help farmers of special stuff.
  • Let learners learn. Let kids be kids.

Overall I’m not sure, but perhaps there is room for this.

* Repeatedly unlucky – ahem, meaning a fire stander? I used to rant in a furious way when folks said they were unlucky.

Just amid you are less skilled and get on with playing for fun. I did. The freedom of a noob is worth something.

Casually playing Adventure Era

A nifty little game called Adventura Era by Game Insight & Krivorukoff has me a little distracted (thanks to Tobold’s post). I’m playing enough that my wife first asked “what is that you’re doing” and then “put that down”. It’s a good game, and playing it on my mobile means that I always have it around when I want to, but I can also ignore it I choose.

Nothing really bad happens if you don’t play. Well, ahem, it is frustrating to come back to the game after 3-4 hours and ALWAYS find three monsters attempting to ravish my humble village, but paying off the monsters is part of the resource sink mechanics. It happens every damn time! So now I’ve decided to move almost all of my important buildings away from the areas with the monsters, so that I’m almost unaffected by them. That will take some additional effort and a bit more grinding that I like, but afterward I’ll rarely pay the 15 food, 50 lumber, or 100 stone resources that they need to be shushed and sent away when my cyclops-for-hire yells at them.

Apart from the basic build, expand, research cycle which repeats as your village increases in size and resources there are aspects of the game which I think are clever. The game is all about expanding your resource pool, and deciding when to spend your resources in the various resource sinks. All of the progressive choices are forgone conclusions, where you have to do X to get to Y, so start saving, building, or expanding. I don’t mind that the game is extensibility on rails, as I’m not looking for life changing gameplay. I’m looking for overly simplified entertainment. It allows small choices with almost no side effects, so for me the game’s fun is about efficiently. What worked, what do I need to plan for now, so that I’m not resource locked for too long later.

I also like the way that money really isn’t being begged for at every turn. The game is free and thankfully you can avoid the nag-ware style of other mobile/social games. My Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other followers have no bloody interest in how many pets or lumber yards I have; just as I don’t give a damn about theirs.This is a casual distraction, not a thing to brag about on social media (but then isn’t most of social media a free casual distraction seeking to commercialise your attention?).

Each advance takes time, and during that time you can be clicking to earn your coins, rather than spending real money. It does not have a long life though, as I’m already seeing the increase in the repetition for grinding money, which is expected but undesirable for me. I can just as easily be entertained by my rss feed, so something that feels like work will have an expiration date.

For now, as the village’s ruler…I kind of pity those small virtual pixel-folk. They’re lucky I’m not give the option for human sacrifice to increase build time. Hmm, maybe something to recommended for v2.

adventure_era_screenshotHappy clicking, TyphoonAndrew

Well D3 was darn popular

Well it seems Blizzard has more than one cash cow after all, as Diablo 3 made a fair crop of cash for the studio (Polygon article). 20 million sales of the game. The subscribers numbers for WoW have lead some folk to say that WoW is in trouble, and perhaps even the concept of an MMO is in trouble too (MMO’s are dying). I don’t buy into that because frankly I think MMOs are another arrow in the quiver of game styles that gamers like myself enjoy. D3 was popular, as was D1&D2; they’re not the same as WoW, but they represent that games are still able to make a tidy profit and that the audience for games hasn’t evaporated as much as some of the end of the world style blog titles imply. These games don’t signal the end of anything except the short period while one game has it’s pinnacle of popularity. I’ll wait for D4 happily, or a variant clone from another source happily.

The games will transform, might shudder a bit, but multiplayer games have been around for a darn long time, and we’re only seeing better and better graphics and gameplay as the decades roll along. A good game is worth paying for. A great game is worth following, and any studio which can release a solid product often will garner loyalty from wallets. As much as I sometimes dislike small parts of Blizzard’s approach, they do keep creatig things I find fun. I don’t kickstart/crowdfund much at all because I think I could use my money on other things, and the risk is not worth it. That might mean that I’m not on the cutting edge of new games, but I’m also not dropping US$80 every three or four months on the same set of tripe shooter, mmo clone, or games that never get completed.

I would spend something on a single player, turn based, strategy game set either in misc fantasy land or space … if it was a revamped and upgraded Master of Orion 2. MoO3 was awful, and MoO2 hit that sweet spot of fun that I still think about. What happened to the popularity of the turn based games? I guess I’ll wait for them to come back into favor.

d3-angel