It is all about the time sink

The time sink game is all I’m playing at the moment. It has many levels and challenges.

I have three writing mini-projects going at once, a few games to try to play, and a family to look after. The three writing projects have deadlines which are looming so I really should be doing those with all my spare time, but I find them difficult to write them without spending large blocks of time. When I write I need a good 1-2 hours of time to get anything new written. I can review my own work in much smaller time blocks, but there is only so much review that can be done before it is called procrastination. New text needs thinking time.

A pc game however can be 30 minutes to 1 hour if I know what I’m doing (like WoW), or need a heap more (like 2-3 hours) if it is a game which is new to me like Elder Scrolls, EvE, Star Wars. I guess I could go play D3 too if I wanted some hack and slash fun, and D3 is the game I’ll fall back to when all else fails.

The writing is all based around pen and paper role-playing games (for a Deathwatch mini-module and a fan made Ars Magica supplement), and I’m enjoying the process of trying to create something for a critical audience. Writing for your own sake is easy, writing for an audience who will read, review, editorialise, and point out incongruity is much harder. That could be part of my hesitation too. The projects are not commercial things, so I’m not targeting a commercial level quality, but still thinking it has to be better than my typical notepad scrawl.

determined-space-marine

As far as computer games go, WoW is still interesting to me. I have some gripes which will come out below, but as I write this I’m really just mouthing off about an errant kid who I like, but pissed me off recently.

I think it is interesting that WoW Insider has announced cut-backs to their blog staff across all games, and wow is significantly affected. That would not happen if the revenue was flowing well, and that is telling about the users of these games, and the market in general. Even though the subscription rate is ok-ish the players themselves are not putting up with any kind of silly or boring content anymore. I think repetition will be the next thing that MMOs have to have less of to keep their audiences, and that will be a huge problem for almost all the theme park style games. Players want more content, more often, with no drop in quality or they go elsewhere. They might return when the new content drops, but almost all the players I speak to are not willing to wait. They go elsewhere. And they should too.

WoW and Guilds

Well there is a doozy here to tell. Many of our raiders either left for greener pastures, were removed for being painful, or left for life reasons. That then caused another round of departures, as others had to ponder leaving too. Then some of those greener pastures were not as good as advertised, so those people began looking around again. Because I’m fed up with being treated like a revolving door, and fed up with the whinging, a few were told they were not welcome back. I think most people would support a player making the “right” call for themselves, and forgive a lot of how that was communicated or made. We’re all human. I think a Guild has to also make the “right” choices too, and that means sometimes enough is enough.

This was not a great time for our guild, but also not unexpected at this stage in the game. The downtime between expansions is always crappy for guilds, with only the strongest ones staying focused. Add in some continued drama, a few people who think they are special snowflakes, and you’re left with very little to do. There is no lever by which a player can be controlled (such as an employment contract for compensation) so “managing” difficult people is next to impossible for any prolonged period.

That leaves us with a guild of social players and no “serious progression” raids happening. Frankly I’m glad that some of the pains-in-the-arse players are gone. I’m sad that we lost great people too, and even more so that it might lead to others leaving. At this point though it is not something to fight, but something to accept. I want players to be having fun, and that is far more important than rubbish about which guild you belong to, or she-said-he-said malarkey. I am glad it is “over”. I’m glad that the people who are staying will not have to wonder why such stupidity is tolerated. It is not tolerated anymore.

I can now login without having to think about somebody getting shitty about some illusory problem. Finally, no dramas from World of Warcraft. Yeehaw! I do not even understand why in hell some people require the input that they do; it is like they are not adults at all.

I’m even happy that the people who left are getting what they like from their game time. It is good to think that people can go somewhere and be happy, and it is very possible (and even a certainty in one case) that a problem only existed because of the people involved. Dissolve the problem relationship permanently, and the fun comes back. More power to them. I hope they’re all killing digital monsters, and looting wonderful pixels.

I’m really not having a go, just talking through what happened. I’m sure the choices were not perfect, nobody makes perfect choices all the time.

Bygones are bygones. – TyphoonAndrew.

An aside – Wow characters can only belong to a single guild at a time, and therefore changing guilds is also inevitable. Why can’t WoW have more than one formal method to organise players. Cal them battle units, corps, whatever, but allow a way that players can stay in a guild they like, but also advance and be managed in another set of organisations. It might help players who have dual loyalties. We can cross-server raid all sorts of junk, but cannot organise characters in the same way in-game. I think that is a functional gap.

walking-frozen-township

ESO Beta

This weekend I was given a ticket into Elder Scrolls Online Beta (thanks T!) and it looks like a reasonable game. As my friend told me “think of it as a good single player story, not as an MMO” and its a great game. There was an NDA which I briefly skimmed while downloading the game so rather than say anything questionable, I’ll just say that it is similar enough that I knew what to do, but was a little different. Graphically it will challenge some computers. This is not a game which will run well on a low spec machine.

Where is the value?

If I were to think about value for money when playing time sinks I not subscribe to Wow, Eve, ESO, or any other subscription game. I’d get back into Star Wars, or something like it. It’s free and has plenty of content I’ve not played. Or many of the other games out there that are free to play. I do like the idea of not having a wow subscription for a while to save up for something else. Perhaps it is time to pause my membership for a few months.

I’ve also got a 7 day trial of EvE sitting waiting, but I cannot bring myself to login just yet. It looks fantastic, and honestly I’d be playing more just to look at the pretty space pictures than actually want to do space battles. I don’t think that alone is worth a subscription cost. In fact a video of beautiful space scenes rolling in the background would almost be as appealing.

That’s not weird. Is it? Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

Halo_Wars__shield_world_Matte_by_JJasso2

Who should pay for Guild Vent and Website?

I’m angry about a guild issue, and venting on this blog seems appropriate. Normally I don’t publish guild stuff because it keeps the morale higher and most people don’t need to know. However this scenario is guild wide and I suspect something that other guilds face frequently too.

Basically who should pay for a Guild’s out-of-game services?

e.g. Ventrillo, or whatever voice chat, or the website, or hosting, or whatever.

For our guild the cost of these services has been paid for primarily by the guild officers, with a few donations from some players along the way. I took up the Vent costs a while back from another Officer who had been paying them for years. Another officer has paid for almost all our other web hosting services for many years. Recently I decided that paying for a service that I almost never used was pointless, so I asked for donations and/or other solutions.

I think there has been three donations since then. Not even close to enough to cover any one service, let alone Web and Vent.

A few players stepped up to discuss it, and a few made donations. I really appreciate the time, effort and donations of those people.

The other 12-15+ people in the guild who raid 3x nights a week and use Vent all the time have given nothing. They turn up, raid, and go.

The vent server will stop working any day now because I’ve stopped the account. We are discussing options, but without donations the costs just pass to another of the officers who is being too generous with his money. The silent majority of our raiders who use the service have not helped at all.

I’m angry that others have not donated.

I’m disappointed that other raiders don’t care enough to help.

It would take about a cup of coffee a month from each raider to pay for all our services easily. In fact we’d probably have huge amounts of cash left over. It could be one coffee every three months from each of them and we’d still be fine.

e.g. 20 raiders x $3.50 per quarter =  $280. Even if I exclude the few folk who have already donated or already paid up regularly we could still have just less than $200 to pay for this stuff.

So I have to ask – who should pay? I guess I expect raiders to contribute, but most do not.

Is that view unreasonable?

It is reasonable to be in a guild and never contribute to any of the out-of-game costs?

Should the officers or GM alone pay for all the extra services?

My advice to others is to think about what you are using, who is paying, and what you get out of it.I’m done paying for others to raid on my dime.

Kill everything and loot the corpses, TyphoonAndrew.

 

Quick Impressions on Warlords of Draenor

Aside

Quick little re-post of my thoughts when asked on the Guild’s forums. Overall there is a lot of material in WoW Warlords of Draenor which could be wonderful (WoD is about as great as MoP for an expansion abbreviation).

Likes:

  • I’m pleased with the item stat squish, and the associated HP value changes, etc.
  • separate raid lockouts
  • added flex style to normal mode
  • stat / gear use simplification. Pally Plate’s often DE needs to stop, this addresses that issue.
  • reduced gear-sets. The gear model means that one item may serve multiple roles. Brilliant. The negative on this system is not as large as the negatives we already have in game with the current system.
  • removal of reforge, etc. It was a way to “fix” shitty complex itemisation, or the wrong stats on gear. It was also a gold sink. I won’t miss it at all. i.e. I think I reforged manually about three times in the expansion, otherwise I used a mod. If I am seeking to automate a function then why bloody have it. Just fix the itemisation.
  • free level 90 toon. Cool, more powerful bank alts.

Too soon to tell:

  • How much sense does Garrosh escaping into the time machine really make?
  • Garrisons might be cool, or might be the “farm” of MoP. Great at first, a grind, and then pointless.
  • 20 man Epic mode. Might cause issues. Might be the same problem we have now but a different number as the target. Moot.
  • character models. Increased polygon complexity is fine and good, hopefully we see more. What about a thin human male model which has actual fingers?
  • followers akin to Star Wars. Good system.
  • craft from your bank mats. Great.

Not fussed:

  • +10 levels vs 5
  • Orc vs ?? Lore. Frankly the lore is never going to be cohesive and congruent to what came before.
  • no flying. It was ok when we could, it was ok when we couldn’t.
  • time travel stories

Dislike:

  • the renaming of the raid types is confusing at the moment because of the re-use of the same words. It’ll be fine later.
  • why scrap “the blood” corruption of the orcs totally? It was a cool lore.
  • the trailer was meh, but I’m thinking we’ll get a better one when the launch the actual expansion.

I want:

  • more/better Archy information, & Profession changes to suit actual raid benefits

A few more thoughts on WoW p5.4

Now that I’ve seen more and read more about how people are using the new content and features in patch 5.4 for WoW; I’m impressed.

The standout items are the raid encounters and the proving grounds. Both I’ve not really stepped into much of either yet but both have created such an effective response from the players that they seem to be the aspects that will be remembered the most. The new raid benefits from the way the lore of the Destruction of the Vale cannot be ignored in the game. A straight up clever and direct call to players.

vale2 Continue reading

Those who must be left behind, on purpose.

A long time ago in my guild there was a player who needed to be removed. The story around why was typical in an online game, an ego was out of check and was disruptive to many of the other guild members.

He wasn’t special, wasn’t an officer, and was certainly one of the rudest people I’d had the displeasure of talking to closely. What made is worrisome was how many months later the same person was still out in /Tradechat bad mouthing the guild, the characters involved, and still sending rude whispers. A truly enlightened bastard who appeared to get his enjoyment from the game by bothering others.

Recently in the guild we also had to tell a few people tone it back. They did, and everything seems to be ticking along without issues now. When the Officers and I were talking through the situation with the recent guys the enlightened bastard’s character name came up as a point of reference. The recent guys were not even close to the E.B in the long past, but EB is still out there playing.

It got me thinking… about not wanting to ever see the EB again. Not under any circumstances.

Now my ignore list solves that problem for me, but I also have a responsibility to my guild. I think MMO games like World of Warcraft could do with a Guild based parma-ban feature.

When set the PLAYER’s account is stopped from being a member of that guild. This stops somebody from alt switching, it makes removing somebody who is really vitriolic easy, and means the other guild members who might have invite ability will not and cannot be pressured into letting the person rejoin.

Block them permanently. Anyway, just a thought.

TyphoonAndrew

Yuriv's_Tombstone

A good time to return

Art-ToTIf the banter around flex raids is true, then patch 5.4 will be a good time for players to return to WoW, particularly if they are members of a guild like ours.

I know, that sounds like a recruitment post. It’s not especially one, but more players and characters are welcome.

What I mean is our guild is one which has a very dedicated raid team who sometimes used to have trouble with numbers. We now also have slightly more darn good raiders than we can fit in an ideal x10 man composition, and an additional growing number of more casual members who love to raid but also play wow in a less serious way. Or they might play hard, but less often.

For us (and potentially a large number of other guilds) Flex-Raids that means we are in an ideal spot. Whichever way we go in terms of using the flex systems, it can only be to our advantage. That said we (the officers) haven’t chatted through the implications as yet, but I fairly confident that we’ll get to a good place with a minimum of fuss.

Now all I need is to get through the 11x remaining kills of Lei-Shen for the uber-rare widgets of awesome, so I can catch up on the legendary quest chain. Fun times ahead watching folks stand in the bad.

Art-MC

A bloody good night Tanking

Our Wednesday raiders typically smash Mogu’shan Vaults in a reliable and solid way. Much of the gear now goes to offsets or to DE and frustratingly a few of the team still await those few gear drops that will snugly fit them out. Last night I joined them for the MV clear, but due to the silly season we were a few characters/roles short. That meant some characters needed to switch roles around, which adds risk and can frustrate.

elegon-discs

To facilitate the first 3x boss kills before one of our regular tanks could join us – I became the off-Tank for the first three fights. I was bloody nervous being Blood spec. Now that I can look back some cool things happened:

(a) It was challenging and fun. Fun because I saw these fights in a totally new light, and didn’t feel that I made more than a few silly mistakes which cost us. I love seeing new content, and changing roles really does change the fights significantly.

I loved the Petrify mechanic in the Three Puppies Fight and think it is a very clever idea. I hate it as a Melee dps as the mobs move around, but I love it as a Tank as the fight becomes about correct taunting, positioning the bosses, awareness of bad on the floor, and control of cool-downs. It is better as Tank than melee dps.

Trash in MV is “be aware” and “use common sense” rather than disastrously punishing and that makes sense. Yes, some hit hard/often (especially if you’re missing significant amounts of requisite Tank stats because you’re using high level Dps gear) but use of cool-downs and not being an ass made this viable.

I didn’t understand the tricky-button-thing for Feng and likely didn’t use it properly ever. It smells like a gimmick to me, or rather a good idea executed using a gimmick button, anyway I need to see and do that fight more to learn what/how.

The poncy dress wearing Troll Shaman Boss was cool, switching based upon being pulled into the Spirit realm means we have a reason to be there – and the task of smashing the special Tank mob is plain enough to be straight forward. Much more than that it seemed I was just hitting and swinging. I’m OK with that.

(b) While actually Tanking nothing really awesome dropped, but some Tank gear did drop when I was back in Dps mode, which I snaffled for my Tank set (a great 489 Ring, and a dps Helm I can re-purpose for Tanking). Offspec gearing looks to be a higher need if I Tank again, so I’ll amp up the priority.

(c) I’d like to see the later 3 bosses in Tank mode too. Elegon’s taunt-switch sounds like something I think I’ve done before and having the positioning and stacking buffs keeps us honest.

I have no idea how to execute the Emperor’s New Dance mechanic for the Will of the Emperor fight, but will be willing to learn (link)

ps. We did have a few funny screw-ups along the way, but I have not yet made character assassination demands from the Priest involved yet; just waiting while I ponder how much gold those screenshots are worth to stay hidden. Your secret is safe Sir, for now.

Happy Killing

Garalon 10 Man Normal Guild Kill

I had the pleasure of smashing Garalon last night in Heart of Fear, playing 10 man Normal mode with the guild. Here is the kill screenie I took with the other Insidious folks.

garalon-guild-kill-mini

The wonderful thing about last night was the fact that we stayed at it, and it was one of the classic kills.

We all survived to kill him, and then all died just after the boss (he enraged, but we killed him in 7:05m), we kept at it beyond the official end time of the raid (which caused much aggro and enraging offline), and many folks were tempted to change strat after each attempt (which evoked in me the “shut up and pull” twitch).

Our top DPS did 105k dps (this particular Warrior is a dps bamix, just insert squishies), with the next three characters doing 90k or higher as well; with all dps having 97-98% up time on the boss. For a fight where you switch targets that is pretty healthy!

On a DK note – my self healing abilities did about 2% healing (or approx 1,526,635 health) which shows just how important self healing abilities are in that fight. On the early attempts I was not self healing as much, as it is a Dps loss to use some of the more efficient heals, but in combination with damage resistance cool-downs (Icebound Fort, you’re a wonderful toy) I think the extra effort really helps keep everyone alive. The less healing I need the more healing that somebody else takes.

The counter to that was the 7.1 million Health healing that I needed over the fight, which was about average across the team (massive crush in the logs fusks the ratios, so has to be ignored)

For Raid Progression it makes us MV 6/6, and 3/6 in HoF – and 20th on the server (although 18th if you go 10 man strict – how ever the bloody hell logic). Apparently the next boss is far easier, or so the raid lead promises.

When he’s not dead due to how awesome our raiders are the big fat bug looks like something out of a sci-fi film.

garalon

Happy Killing

Ps. The comment about changing stats wasn’t a snarky shot at anyone in the team, it’s my own OCD.

Head Down Bump Up

I’m DHBU at the moment covering for one of my PMs who is on two weeks leave, and my wife started working again this week, and all sorts of real life junk…which gets in the way of a good gaming session.

In Warcraft the absolute highlight of the month so far was last night getting a new sword upgrade (finally) from Elegon, which replaced my crappy item level 463 weapon – Starshatter. It’s a great looking toy. It might get transmogged to an older style Death Knight weapon soon, as they look even better.

Screenshots and happy rants will follow soon, for now though – I’m a happy lad.

I cannot help but love an almost 1200 raw dps upgrade, plus the additional stats.


Happy Killing.