The balance that a few strange days brings

These are strange days (and a post not really much about wow, but all about gaming life). My gaming took a dive on the week end when we went away briefly for a break over the weekend. Its by-the-by that is was family focused and also very much fun. I loved the fact we got away for a bit, saw some family, and was also looking forward to the Sunday and Monday night gaming. New level 90s have so much to do in Warcraft. Sunday came around and I played till late and crawled into bed just in time to rest before the working week. We had a slight hiccup on Saturday with the newborn’s health, but didn’t think much of it by Sunday night. It was great.

Monday started as normal and then my 5 month old was hospitalised and everything melted away to stress. You get a new perspective when your kid is in a hospital resuscitation room with a few doctors and nurses around, they all looked concerned, and the outcome was not clear. I’m not used to being powerless to help and the most useless person in the room, and when the doctors start saying those long sentences which mean “I don’t know yet”, you get stressed. I get it now; the stress about late reports, staff issues at work, or even playing an addictive video game is meaningless to the stress of a sick baby. It was a new experience for me as a new parent. Frankly I was telling the world to **** off until I knew more.

Now that she is home again my stress is far lower, and all the things I missed seem largely still irrelevant. A late report? Big deal. Missed a few meetings? Get over it. Nobody bloody died. I saw families in that hospital who have real issues to grapple and the trials which hit the average office worker are just silly by comparison.

What I hope is that I can maintain the apathy for how important these things actually are, as I noticed that I was communicating clearly and sharply when I was really stressed, and that communication got results. Being outside the detail granted a perspective and authority that I liked, and all that changed was me in my reaction to the stress of the events. I’ve always advocated a healthy work and life balance, and extended that to gaming too. Nobody should ever feel pressure to play when they have serious stress to deal with (duh). I did in fact play online on Monday for a short period, but all I thought about was family and it was to get to somewhere which was an escape. My brain needed to be distracted from what was going on.

I tonight is another game night where a week ago I was planning to play a lot. Now I’ll play it by ear, see how sick, stressed, etc the family is, and then perhaps login. What is odd is that before the weekend I would have also worked all night to complete a set of reports for my job, and now it really does seem immaterial. In terms of work, life, and game balance I think I’ve changed views a little. There will be weekends soon where I get to work overtime and give a lot of effort for my job, but for now relaxation is the order of the day.

Happy gaming, and good health.

The most balanced it’s ever been

Another Blog Azeroth topic which reacts to the idea of the game being balanced. What a squirming can of worms for a topic. Nice idea really.

Ghostcrawler recently said that, in his estimation, the game is the most balanced it’s ever been. Agree? Disagree? And if it’s the most balanced, does that mean it’s enjoyable for you at the moment — have there, in other words, been more enjoyable, if less balanced, moments in the past?

Balance is a tough thing to define as it is totally subjective. One view is often shouted down by others, with only a hodge-podge of data and experiences to back them up.

My perspective is that we will always have something worth bitching about. Always – and that is good for design. It is not a reason to have a deliberate gap, but a small gap is always going to be present, and that gap will be perceived differently by different players. Continue reading

Class balance changes for DKs in 4.2? Balderash!

GhostCrawler has posted some thoughts on class balance, as implemented in 4.2. It’s great that he is sharing, fantastic to see some of the thought processes, and disappointing that the processes he is sharing indicates that the game is continuing to focus away from where my focus is.

This is somewhat self serving post to give feedback into the community-ether, based upon the 4.2 changes as affecting Death Knights. Specifically to ask the question: Why in hell are PvP balancing items changing the PvE game?

Quoted from the Blue Post…

Death Knights

  • We added the cast time to Hungering Cold for PvP reasons. It is one of the most powerful forms of crowd control in the game, especially in Battlegrounds, and yet was impossible to prevent.
  • The nerfs to Obliterate and Howling Blast were made because Frost damage was too high in both PvP and PvE. Note that these values were hotfixed — you shouldn’t see damage drop further when 4.2 goes live.
  • The Glyph of Dark Succor change was to keep Death Strike from providing so much healing in PvP.
  • The Might of the Frozen Wastes change was a small tweak to help keep one-handed Frost relatively competitive with two-handed style.
  • The Unholy Might buff was to help catch Unholy up to Frost in PvE. Interestingly, we didn’t nerf Unholy damage at all in 4.1, but you can still see a small drop in their DPS because so many talented DKs went Frost. I’d love to have the discussion some time about how close two similar specs need to be before players will play the one that is most fun for them and not the one that does theoretical higher damage. Is it 5%? 1%? 0%?

So you see its stated plainly from the man with the nurfbat himself; DKs are being changed in their flexibility in PvE due to a PvP imbalance.

Take aside the straight damage tweaks and consider the introduction of a cast time for Hungering Cold: this is a key ability I use in almost every raid for controlling the mobs. For example the Nefarian fight requires add control, and a DK is a key choice for this. With a 1.5 second cast time (or 2 sec, I’m not sure) I’ll be standing still getting smashed in the face while I try to kite the adds. Totally counter-productive to PvE content.

Now in 4.2 I won’t be fighting Nef any more, I’ll be in Firelands, but the utility that Hungering Cold brings to the raid can be applied in a wide variety of ways, and to take this away removes a utility from the class. I love having utility, it means I assist the raid while doing my dps role. A dps loss is trivial when you are on add-control duty, but 1.5 seconds of damage while you get hit and potentially also suffer casting time push back…is poor. By counter example – are mages having their Frost freeze ability changed to a cast time?

I can live with the other changes, as I think they are part of the see-saw of balance that will always continue. So don’t take this as a blinding rave, its not. My point is that we continue to see changes in one area of the game which impact the other. An MMO Champion poster made a comment along the same path:

That Hungering Cold nerf, just because of PVP. Yet another example of why blizz should add a PVP only talent spec so the PVE players don’t get screwed.

Why is it so hard to have different affects in PvP to PvE? We already have different cool-downs, and some abilities not active in PvP, wouldn’t it make sense to continue this separation?

I’ll go a step further and ask what the value of Hungering Cold is when it has a 1.5 second cast time? After that duration a PvP player will move away from the DK and the affect is totally wasted. In PvP the enemy is constantly moving away from the DK anyway, and HC was a way to keep them close. So by adding this the use of the ability will become less in PvP, and therefore less overall in the game. So the nurf applies a change which makes pvp control harder, and pve harder.

Lets not even start to chat about the affect of being interrupted while casting now, or what happens when you’re locked out of the spell school…

Enough of this malarky, I’m off to the pub. Happy Killing.

Hunter just need Healing

Reading the upcomming changes, it seems all classes are getting adjusted. As you’d expect. However there is one class that seems to be getting a heck of a lot of love, and very little in the way of downward adjustment. Hunters.

Dps when solo, dps in arena, dps in raids, battlegrounds, etc. Crowd control in many ways, and one of the best aggro dumps in the game, which doubles as a free “oh shit” button when a wipe is occuring. Mana return, so minimal down time, stuns, the list goes on. Continue reading