SoO LFR Raid part one was ok

Sunday daytime a few weeks ago I had an unexpected few hours to waste online and I finally got the queue to pop for SoO part one, after a 1 hour 10 minute wait.

I am so very late to be just doing LFR Siege of Orgrimar, that it is sort of scary to think about how “behind” I am. It was Jan 19th when the Part One achievement ping’ed on my main character.

It gets me thinking that the concept of behind is funny in MMO terms. The folk who are setting or breaking records were done with this patch in Hard mode content months and months ago. The guild (Insidous Nagrand-US) has been doing hard modes for ages, and with two darn healthy 10-man raiding teams they are kicking Garrosh and his cronies in the groin on a regular basis.

As a section it is OK. I didn’t have my socks blown off by the strats or by the difficulty. I saw a heap of people die to the HUGE BLACK SWIRLY BEAM in whats-his-name-in-the-middle. I guess it was too tricky that it can go in one of two directions VERY VERY SLOWLY. I kept my well-fed buff through the entire run, which means that I’ve kind of let the noob-DK team down.

Anyway, I don’t mind being behind. I’d like some magic wand to make the queue times less than one hour, but I also feel like an absolute troll for even saying that. A player who logs in during the odd blue moon doesn’t like waiting one hour for an LFR? Cry a river rookie-boy. As a wise-crack, but altogether wise guildie suggested – or roll a Tank and man up!

I think the last thing the “LFR community” needs is my DK strafe tanking a Boss as a noob. I’m almost certain that after my Tanking an LFR run for the Lei-Shen fight a few players left WoW  in disgust. I could almost taste their tears and hear the breaking keyboards.

I love tanking, it’s not that it’s not fun at all, it’s that others don’t seem to love watching me learn. Grin.

Happy raiding, you dedicated folks. Very jealous. I’ll see it all eventually.

Freeloaders in SW ToR

Star Wars: The Old Republic

It’s old-ish news now that SW-ToR is going free to play, where a freeloader can get almost all the content, and the raiders pay our way. I started thinking about what it might mean. For me its a win-win that is very attractive – I plan to freeload on it.

As a positive the populations on the servers will increase, and that may assist with keeping a sense of community and an economy flowing. Having five times the players in a zone is a great thing when you are looking to “live” in a setting.

What I don’t understand is how the “all but raids” free play will generate revenue. Tobold posted a similar thought, and the comments seems to think this too. So what do the SWToR Devs know that we don’t?

My thought is perhaps the raid content will soon be the defining feature, and the next set of raids will be good enough to act as a revenue stream. If the devs can create compelling raids for raiders there is an angle. They might be so good that people play for fun for free, but pay for raids. That would be a big call. Raiding in WoW is considered good enough to generate revenue, and a segment of these serious raiders are likely to be targets for that strategy if it is right. An advantage is that money is no barrier to entry to the rest of the game right up to raids, so many people can have high level characters who are raid ready. A disadvantage is the raid history so far, so the content will need to be amazing, and then also well communicated to the wider community.

It does ignore though that there is an opportunity cost of a free game, where the time spent playing is not played elsewhere. Free is not enough for some players when they miss out on something that is valuable, even when it costs money (I’d rather eat good food that costs something, than free junk).

Or if not raids then what else? Vanity gear and pets? Rubbish. Sure they get money, but its still not enough to keep the game floating for 1-2 years.

Pay to win model where good gear is purchasable through a backhanded cash sale? Even worse, and would be a kick in the guts to the subscribers.

Playing many games, casually.

I’m in that happy state where I get to play many games. World of Warcraft has taken a significant backseat due to real life events, and along with that I’ve chosen to look into the MoP Beta and the Diablo 3 Beta. The odd distracting iphone game gets a look too.

Playing of the big three games very briefly and casually is actually more satisfying in the short term than trying to play one game solidly. Initially I would doubt that to be true. In a nutshell I think being moderate has pushed my expectations, and I now find the small elements of fun amongst a range of games. For now its working. I am looking forward to the official release of Diablo so that I can see the full content and play online with some friends that it is hard to hook up with in other games. I would still like to get SWToR loaded and play that in the future when my PC has been upgraded, as the content was impressive enough that I think it will be a fantastic distraction.

There is also a set of play-by-post tabletop RPG games that distract me, and between them, the healthy posts from the players, and the rest of life short stint gaming is still working. So for now a quick 15 to 30 minute session will do, with much gnashing, power-ups, and gear to be swindled from the nefarious foes.

Happy gaming folks.

No more casual vs hardcore?

I think we need a better set of terms for players than Casual vs Hardcore. The two terms cause constant arguments and are about as subjective as calling somebody out for not being ethical.Your ethics are not mine, just like your version of Hardcore will be different from mine.Is it time spent, completion-ism, performance, consistency, background knowledge, or what..? Well its all those things and more.

Once its (obviously) recognised as being subjective, the problem then becomes that the same vague interpretation and personalisation that affects the terms Casual and Hardcore also apply to almost every other set of words you’d use. Viewing any of the options as definitive extremes poor and it becomes an absolute disaster when you try to use one word to surmise a person’s goals.

There is also the problem of viewing the terms in isolation within a single game like World of Warcraft, or broader to all MMO’s, or even to open as wide as possible to any type/style of gamer. For this measurement I’m sticking to Warcraft. The reason is that a measurement of games is too wide, and the same person might play 12 different games, and play each in a different manner. By way of example I play WoW, a few iPhone games, and some basic strategy and card games. I cannot think of a way that the play styles and dedication could be rationalised in a cohesive manner. Solitaire is too different from Warcraft; its comparing Apples to Spacecraft.

Basically its a huge mess, so as a solution I’m offering this post into the already overly populated sea of opinions; in the hope that it somewhat floats.

Joystick had a very logical summary last year, which covered the basics as far as WoW was concerned. If you’re hunting for a reasonable compilation of the basic issues, or a perspective of what the wider community was thinking around the mid-Lich-King days, then its a darn handy resource. Also check out some of these other links, which all cover the types of gamers in the Casual vs hardcore debate in some way. Even a post from the official forums. They’re all good. These linked posts also identify that many of the community fell outside the range of classifications in these posts too. Commenters offered up new types such as “Serious Hobbyists”, or “Definitely Time Crunched”, and so on. The posts, terms, and comments were all fine, but still missed the mark.

I also commented and linked a post many years ago (whoa – in 2008 no less) by a mate of mine who also had a perspective, mainly born from the conflicts found within a guild for the more casual members vs the more dedicated players. My take at the time was based around the amount of time it takes to explain to somebody else:

  • If you have to explain why you’re not hardcore in more than one sentence; you’re talking to a softcore or hardcore.
  • If it starts an argument or takes 15 minutes, you’re talking to a hardcore.
  • If you grief somebody for non-attendance you are hardcore (and a wanker).
  • If you have sacrificed a good time out of game for WoW, then you’re at least softcore. If you didn’t view it as a sacrifice, then you’re hardcore.
  • And if fun is more important than any of these questions; then you’re casual. In which case I’d like you to consider finding a great casual (not softcore) guild on your sever, or join ours.

Three years of time has only slightly changed my perspective, and generally I still hold those comments as true. They are though as lacking as the other posts.

For this alternate definition I’m mainly thinking of World of Warcraft, but I think that some of the logic should apply very widely. What I was thinking was changing from having two binary options to chose from, to creating more a Myers-Briggs personality type play-style measurement, which details what a person is using a short acronym (AELOSF – see below). A few of the pages above offered stylistic templates rather than binary choices too, much like a horoscope; where a player could read the description and pick one that matched them the closest. I guess I’m trying this as I fell through the definitions of both those approaches.

The Myers-Briggs style picks a set of paired terms that are fairly ambiguous, that can also be placed diametrically opposed to each other with a fair degree of logic – and then has the reader pick which they match better to. In effect they pick between the two extremes in the same manner as the Casual vs Hardcore, but where they sit is expanded due to the range of options in the definition.

These are some of the ideas I had for the juxtaposed measurements:

  • Professional vs Amateur – where a Professional is being paid money to participate, and an Amateur is unpaid. There is a very clear difference, although not overly useful to most of the community as I’d bet most people are not paid to play games. I’m not sure if this has practical application or not, and if it was applied, if it should be applied to a game on a case by case basis.
  • Experienced vs Newbie – where a Experienced player is one who is very familiar with the game, and a Newbie is learning the basic concepts. Now this is a far more subjective range, where there is a much greater range between the two ends. As terms they’ll create debate unto themselves, but I hope when added to the rest of the mix the terms themselves will become more descriptive of the player’s goals.
  • Unlimited time vs Limited time – where the unlimited person has high availability to play, and the limited person has almost none. This could also contain a sub-range of people who have interruption free vs constant interruption, but I’m not sure yet if that level of granularity is needed.
  • Optimal vs Relaxed – as to their use of their time and their resources. This is an interesting one, as the style of use of resources is the focus of many blogs and websites, and they themselves are often focused on maximum efficiency. The gold per hour type measurement, kills per raid, and if the player cares how long it takes to get a dungeon done. Some players are very relaxed and are not overly fussed if a dungeon completion takes 20 extra minutes, but others are excited by the prospect of beating a record, or even frustrated by 30 seconds of dead time after a boss kill.
  • Social vs Hidden – is a measure of how important the interaction with others plays is for their valuable gameplay. There are players who raid (which obviously requires other players) but would not otherwise interact with anyone. There are also the players who only play due to the social aspects, and there are players who may as well be playing a solo game, as they talk to nobody.
  • Focused vs Wide range of focus – are you a player who seeks to complete all your chosen activities? Professions, archaeology, or participate in both pvp and pve content, or have a range of alts vs. just one character.

So we end up with a set of choices, still somewhat binary, but not as restrictive as a single word.

I would be: (A)ELOSF.

This is because I’m an unpaid Amateur but Experienced WoW player, with very Limited time, who always plays Optimally. I highly value the Social aspects of the game, but tend to Focus on pve for a few characters only. The Brackets are there as I think almost everyone will be an “A” as far as World of Warcraft is concerned.

So what are you? What type of gamers are out there?

ps – The Dead Good Tanking Guide as a great comment:

I know, I know – why would you bother reading yet another diatribe about who falls into what category? But I’m working from the knowledge that the same could be applied to EVERYTHING I write, so I’ll continue safe in the knowledge this piece is no better or worse than my usual offerings. :)

He’s spot on, and added to my feed reader.

Easy mode raiding, why not?

Blessing of Kings has a nice post about a way to have more transient raiding – its a good read, and worth considering.The post is well thought out, comprehensive, and clear.

If not found in wow, it could be a feature of other MMOs that seek to entertain a more casual play style, which would be a draw card in my opinion. World of Warcraft has most of what would be needed already, or is coming soon in patch 4.3. Odd eh?

As an extension of BoK’s ideas – it would not be too much of a stretch to add Easy mode raids (let the hate fly!).

I know that people might hate the idea of dumbing down the content for casuals (just read the forums), and many raiders would be darn pissy with the idea. But think, if the rewards were less, achievements different, and the lockouts different – the easy mode raids would allow for learning, some side-grades, and a sense of theme and plot without a monumental increase in effort. Where is the difference between Easy mode, vs the Normal and Hard modes when the lockouts were separate for 10s and 25s. Some players thought 10 man fight on Normal were already easy mode. Same people probably hate this idea too – with potentially valid reasons from their perspective.

There would be no direct negative impact on the Normal and Hardmode raiders, except the nudge to their ego. To them the kids in the sandpit playing at war (and eating dirt) are happy, as they are playing a separate game. Yes, it would require tuning to make sure that easy was not trivial, but it would not impact the Normal and the Hard raiders.

An easier mode is different from the “Buff of Nerfage” that Icecrown had. That was an end of expansion way to ensure that everyone could play through content, and it was good too. The buff applied across all, whereas a Easy mode would allow more people time to fight and learn the bosses before the rush at the end. Some guilds may even just complete Easy mode and be happy – that content might be enough for some. For others it will be a step ladder into the content. It would also remove the need to add a “Buff of Nerfage” at the end of the content patches – why bother. If all you want to do is kill the boss, then switch to Easy mode and see the content’s theatrical style. No way in hell you’d be considered a Hardcore raider, but you’d still see it.

Even as I write this I have doubts too though. Who would use it? Would the achievement of Easy mode be considered more a brand of failure than none at all? Would enough people use it instead of Normal and Hard to justify the time investment?

The casualisation of wow has had an affect on a lot of players, and there are as many perspectives as there are players on what the right choice is. facts about subscriber numbers may influence the choices made in the coming patches and expansions too. We’ve already seen a change to threat that some folks don’t like, but others (such as myself) think are excellent. Is this casualisation? Probably, and it helps keep me paying my subscription every month.

One limiting factor that I don’t think was good in the end in Cata was the shared lockout for 10s and 25s. There were ways in Wrath to pug those odd 10s and 25s so that you had extra opportunities to gear. When the shared lockout was first described I thought it might have benefits, but I’ve come around to the opinion that having a wide range of options is actually better than having a strictly defined path. Perhaps the Easy offers a similar option, a separate lockout for Easy mode. This way a low geared toon (all those alts) would run the Easy mode to get basic rewards and confirm their literacy for their role, and then be able to migrate into Normals when they were ready.

For easy mode gear rewards it would make sense to me that the gear drops should not be any higher than the current 5 mans which are considered “hard”. As we’re in p4.2 that means 353 rewards if it existed now. The idea is not to use the gear as a reason to raid, but to offer alternatives to the basic 5 mans that expose the content. Training wheels? Yes, for sure.

I would also expect that Bind on Equip gear would not drop so as to not flood the market. And the gold rewards would be significantly reduced so that farming was not attractive at all. Likewise the quests that were needed for special story paths would not complete in easy mode either.

I would have also liked a Normal and Heroic mode for the ZA/ZG 5 mans too, but I guess the same time in tuning and scaling would have been needed – with a low potential audience. A scaled approach such as  ZA/ZG Normal offering 346 and Heroic with 353 is not a terrible idea. It changes nothing about the step up, but makes the ZA/ZG part of the runs that a PvE player uses to get geared.

So Easy mode raids…way off base, or something that you’d use? Let me know.

Whats news lately?

Well it has been a slow few weeks in blogging, until Blizzard started drip feeding information about the expansion to the community at which time everything exploded. Overall meh! I’m waiting to see what the cohesive picture is. Random information with no real detail has limited value.

In other news my alt-ism has taken off in a very solid way. As I thought, the prospect of playing one toon when getting into regular runs is difficult is a game-breaker, so much so that Ive pondered pugging those ICC runs. If I can get a group without having the LK-Dead achievement. Grr.

Mortigen my main is now just doing the daily when I play, the weekly sometimes, and otherwise odd runs. Basically this means I doubt I’ll see much more of the end-game content now, and kind of resigned to enjoying runs when they happen.

Keeping a light and fluffy attitude will help me not go insane and like the process of playing a well geared toon in 5 man runs. And so onto the alts update after the break.

Happy gaming.

Continue reading

Best use of Frost Emblems for casual players?

Emblem of Frost iconIf you are a casual, or leveling and gearing alts – then you’re probably not going to have 400 Emblems of Frost to purchase 264+ ilevel items for all gear locations. Instead you’ll probably run the heroic daily, get 30-60 badges, and look at what is your best purchase.

It begs the question of what is the best use of Frost Emblems for casual players?

My list in order of priority would be:

  1. One Trinket. Without question. These are often the most difficult to get, and will last you the longest. I’d say that get your first trinket, and then maybe another slot, rather than buying two trinkets. However if you are a dual-role class, maybe get a trinket for each spec if you’ll use them.
  2. Belts & Cloaks. They are cheaper than the rest, and often harder slots to upgrade than the Feet, Hand, Chest, Shoulders, and Head.
  3. Then your Class Tier gear.

Happy killing.