Archive for the “Meta” Category
When I get ranty, I tend to pound out around 2000-3000 words of pure snark and outrage, then spend several days tweaking and adjusting and, yes, most definitely, deleting. Because even though a good rant is a thing of beauty, my rants tend to lean in a hurtful direction initially, and I have to go back and trim out the potentially offensive stuff (well, if it’s not deserved …).
I mention this not to emphasize the fact that I have trollish tendencies, but to illustrate why, so many times, these sort of things get posted so late in the rant cycle. In fact, I’d say a good 60% or more never get posted at all, simply because I can’t de-toxify them fast enough to keep them relevant.
As it turns out, yesterday’s rant came in just under the wire, though I had no idea at the time that that would be the case. As a rant, it stands on its own, but as a meaningful comment on the current state of the Hunter, it’s already obsolete.
Late in the night last night, Lore posted a few changes to the class that directly address concerns in the post I lined in MMO-C.
Regarding Stampede: We’re happy with the damage it’s currently putting out in PvP. For PvE, we’re planning to buff its damage pretty heavily, so it becomes a substantially more potent DPS cooldown. We don’t want to give it any more utility than it has now, for reasons we’ve explained at length already.
So this emphasizes what GC was saying about the intended purpose of Stampede in the first place – it’s intended as a DPS cooldown, not a utility cooldown, and thus they’re upping the damage to make it “worth your while” My opinion, of course, is that any insta-cast ability that bring even a sliver of additional damage is worthwhile anyway. But more is always welcome.
Readiness is still under heavy discussion, and we haven’t made a final decision on what we’re going to do with it in 5.4. At the moment, we’re leaning towards just removing the ability entirely and giving the affected abilities shorter cooldowns or charges to compensate. If we end up taking that route, we will buff Hunter damage (most likely across the board, not just specific abilities), but as I mentioned, we’re still discussing.
I’m good with removing it, as it reduces the clutter of my startup anyway, and it never worked across the board for all abilities in a consistent way (e.g. Stampede). However, adding “charges” to abilities looks fraught with possibilities, mostly negative. There’s the potential for bugs that don’t get caught on the PTR, and there’s the potential for complicating an already complicated rotation.
Demonology warlocks, for example, will already know one of these pitfalls with Hand of Gul’dan; it has two charges, both available initially, and both with separate cooldown timers. Do you put both down immediately? Do you stagger them, and if so, how much? And so forth.
Ponder-worthy as we move forward.
Murder of Crows vs Blink strike is also still under heavy discussion. Our goal (with all talents) is that active abilities used properly will outperform passive ones. We haven’t decided yet what adjustments we’ll make to achieve that in 5.4.
Generally speaking, an explicit action when compared to a passive ability usually involves some sort of cast time, which is where a passive becomes so attractive for classes with very crowded rotations. In this case, there is no cast time involved, so the passive is actually less attractive if it doesn’t bring damage commensurate with the active ability. I think here they need to shoot for parity rather than supremacy.
I also like the phrase, “talents used properly.” That has to be a dig at someone – who, we may never know.
Scatter/Silencing Shot: We don’t consider interrupts to be mandatory in PvE.
Now, to clarify, what I am pretty sure Lore means here is that they don’t consider interrupts to be mandatory for hunters. Anyone that’s raided anything at all knows that interrupts of some sort are absolutely, positively, without any doubt, mandatory for the raid.
If a Hunter would rather not take the Glyph of Scattered Thoughts, there are plenty of other players in the raid who could take on the responsibility.
We like Silencing Shot as a Marksman perk overall, but we’re still discussing things. We may end up making a baseline Interrupting Shot that gets upgraded to Silencing Shot if you spec Marksman.
In fact, this has already shown up on the PTR – it’s called Counter Shot. Currently an NPC ability, but available to a PTR Hunter near you starting immediately.
Speaking of spec differences, we agree that Hunter rotations feel cooler when your signature shots do a lot more damage than other shots, and we’ll discuss that some more. That’s part of the reasoning behind the Arcane Shot changes – our hope is that saving up more Focus for a bigger hit will feel better than firing off smaller shots more regularly.
This seems strangely disconnected from my experience as a Hunter, in that I rarely need to “save up” focus for anything, and I rarely lack focus to use my signature shot, thanks to appropriate use of Cobra Shot to keep focus above a certain point.
Besides, reducing the cost of Arcane Shot seems to be counter to encouraging the preferential use of OTHER abilities. Unless they mean that by reducing the cost here, they’re making focus available for other shots so that they get used more often. Again, I hardly ever delay the cast of my signature ability over focus costs, so I’m not sure where this is coming from.
What I WILL say is that I feel like “Arcane Shot” is a bizarre ability for Hunters, period, now that we don’t use mana.
As to overall Hunter performance and utility, we don’t think the issues are with the Hunter class specifically. Instead, we think that certain other classes are overperforming (in both) at the moment. Fixing those outliers will, in turn, make a good Hunter more attractive for their raid spot. You may have seen some (but not all) changes along those lines on the PTR already.
OH JUST PUT A “KICK ME” SIGN ON OUR BACKS.
Realize that every nerf from now on out will be blamed on Hunters.
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I know Hydra gets around, but this is a bit more than most people.
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Maybe you heard. Them busy datamining gnomes done went and found something interesting.
If what they found is to be believed, in 5.4 or at some point in the not too distant future, you will be able to buy a potion that will double your XP from killing mobs and doing quests.
Two things come to mind.
- If it costs a significant portion of your subscription fee (or more!) then it is not a microtransaction. Just stop calling $25 companions and mounts a "microtransaction", for Light’s sake. You just look like you have no idea what you’re talking about.
- Blizzard still has issues coming to grips with the problem.
That second thing needs a bit of explaining.
The entire goal of things like this supposed elixir are to bypass the leveling game. Other devices like the Scroll of Resurrection and so forth do this as well – by increasing your XP gain rate, they shorten the amount of time you spend leveling. They’ve also beefed up the XP gain rate for the content of entire expansions in order to achieve the same thing. Entire zones have been revamped to make it easier to level through them, more efficiently.
So what’s wrong with this is that there are plenty of people that like the leveling game. There is the original game and four expansions’ worth of content that can’t all be experienced organically by one character. Things like these potions don’t really impact it, but any time Blizz does something to marginalize an entire zone, it DOES impact people that enjoy the older / earlier zones.
But as long as Blizzard fails to acknowledge and act on the ultimate problem, they’ll keep doing this. It’s wasteful and annoying.
What they need to do is just sell pre-made level 90 characters.
Things like this elixir have that in mind, they just don’t go far enough.
What they’ll tell you is that they want to make things easier on people that want to bring a new class to raiding. Fair enough. So just short circuit the whole leveling game and give them a 90. Charge 25 bucks and the leetsauce raiders will just lap it up.
So, no, I don’t have a problem with you if you want to ignore 95% of the game content on your frantic climb to 90. I’d just prefer they spend fewer resources getting you there.
Leave the old zones alone. Stop selling elixirs. Stop treating the leveling game like it’s such a chore, and just give people what they want. You’ll be happier, I’ll be happier, and we’ll all have somebody new to lump in with "e-bayers".
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Along with the change to how we’re stocking the blogroll around here, I’m also making a change in what goes into the blogroll. This requires a slight peek behind the curtain to see the machinery.
Prior to this change, I had five reading folders for WoW. WoW blogs, Inactive WoW blogs, 404′d WoW blogs, WoW bloggers that had moved on, and private WoW blogs. I shared the first four in the blogroll, but not the latter.
Within that latter folder went the blogs that insisted on running gold ads, video ads, or in some other way offended my sense of propriety where bogging etiquette is concerned.
Rather than continue to police this sort of thing, I’m restoring these sites to visibility in the blogroll, though most of them will end up at the bottom of the page anyway. If you, dear reader, do see something offensive on one of those blogs that I don’t catch, please do drop me a line. I can always flip the "private" flag if they’re really offensive (i.e. porn ads, gold seller ads, etc).
A brief note to bloggers that run ads
You need to take personal responsibility for what appears on your site. I’ve been told by one popular blogger that he couldn’t POSSIBLY police the vast number of ads that are served on his site. Problem with that is: it’s always the same three gold sellers. You can review three ads, can’t you?
Please don’t use unwillingness to review as an excuse. It’s your blog, and ultimately you are responsible. Plenty of sites serve up ads without resorting to gold or video ads. Maybe you should get advice from them.
For sites that run unoffensive ads, I always turn off the ad blocker.
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A few months ago, Google announced that it was discontinuing Google Reader. A mad scramble has ensued to find replacement readers. This post is not about that.
This post is about a hidden asset that Google Reader provided, namely web clips. What this was was a way to organize your RSS feeds in Reader, then create links to those folders that would allow you to display a reading list on your blog consisting of the feeds in those folders. Viola! Instant blogrolls! There was peace in the valley and joy amongst the peasants.
Even now, less than a week before Reader bows out, this still works, but time is running out. I have no idea what will happen to these links when Reader goes dark, but it can’t be good for your blog.
Now is the time to get busy moving your blogroll from this nicely automated format to something else. I personally redid the site using WorPress’s own internal link database. It was clunky as hell but at least I got it loaded. Bonus: the site loads a lot faster now! It seems Google was a bit slow on inter-site responses (huge surprise there).
So check out your blog, if you blog, and make sure you’re not relying on Google’s soon to be broken machinery for your blogroll.
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Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus.
I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.
– Ferris Bueller
It is often considered fairly lame to quote movie stars or characters to make a point. But that often misses the point. A lot of times, people are quoted because what they say is actually good, and the above example includes not one but two examples of that.
Isms remove the essential power of any argument and package it into a meta package that you have to be knowledgeable of in order to defend your own opinion, or leave the field to your adversary.
Isms rely on shorthand and inside knowledge of the topic to hammer a point home without actually explaining the thought process behind the point.
Isms rely on labels that may or may not be slanderous, but who can tell if one doesn’t understand it? Quite often, the person using the labels relies on that befuddlement to win a cheap victory.
It doesn’t matter what the ism is – conservatism, liberalism, feminism, Catholicism, atheism, nationalism, etc – when you rely on the ism to form your opinions for you, you cease to matter as a spokesperson for it.
When engaging in an argument about something you care about, TREAT it like something you care about and give it its full measure.
If you don’t, then don’t expect it from your adversary, either.
You surely won’t deserve it.
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So, back in August I posted a little piece about the latest addition to casa de Grimmtooth, a little kitten that we named Jaina, who had been diagnosed with a deadly disease and yet persisted in living la vida loca long past the projected, um, deadline. Here’s a little update.
We’ve had her to our regular vet to be spayed, and there was no evidence of FIP from the vet. Still, we worried. She still has a rather chunky bod, and she was so active that I just didn’t think it was due to overeating. So I kept researching.
One day I found this looking back at me.
It was as if I was looking at a picture of our little lady, but it wasn’t a Tonkinese – it was a Birman. As I read up on the Birman breed, I mentally checked off all the boxes but one – the little gloves that a Birman is supposed to have, but Jaina does not.
The most important trait from my perspective is the body shape. While tonks tend to be slender, Birmans are not. They have what is described largely as "a square body shape." Another was the voice. She has a sweet, mellow voice, not a brassy Siamese twang, which Tonks are said to have.
So what gives me hope is that Jaina is actually a Birman cross, not a Tonk cross, and her size and shape is perfectly normal for a cat of her lineage.
She continues to be healthy and active and keeps us on our toes. She’s also developing a more affectionate demeanor as she matures. When she wants attention she still goes and gets her favorite toy and starts to sing. She loves the long hallway in he new place and will spend a lot of time zooming up and down it, often behind some unfortunate other cat that was just ambushed.
So, we’re feeling very hopeful.
Oh, one correction from the original post – I’m calling it Fire with Arcane offspec, not the other way around.
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Bobby Kotick, not my favorite person but CEO of Activision / Blizzard, comments on subscriber numbers and the strategy to remediate that.
To address this, we’re working to release new content more frequently to keep our players engaged longer and make it easier for lapsed players to come back into the game.
We’ve already heard this, of course, from closer to home, and we’ve also seen this in the 5.0 – 5.1 – 5.2 – 5.3 release cycle. More frequent updates are par for the course, now.
The top echelon of consumers, those that burn through it with only one goal – the endgame raiding experience – can keep up with this.
People that have less time to spend or want a more complete experience of each patch, however, are going to have a hard time keeping up. The so-called "lapsed players" will have a choice between being behind the curve as they play catch-up, or will have to skip entire swathes of material to catch up with their friends / guilds.
Will this virtual firehose have the desired effect of bringing people back, or will it discourage them even further? I don’t know.
What I do know is how it affects me. Having "lapsed" for close to two months, I have the choice between being way behind my guild, or skipping content. At this point, Shieldwall and Isle of Thunder are getting shoved to the back. Flora will hit the latter to get the book for her green fire quest, but that’s about it, until content slows down a bit.
So, is there no way out of this vicious circle for Blizz? Which side of the "more frequent" line shows more subscribers? Do they lose no matter what?
Unlike some, I don’t see the death of WoW or even the grinding to a halt of it – it’s a money machine, plain and simple. Even at a million subscribers, that’s fifteen MILLION dollars of guaranteed income PER MONTH. I doubt OpEx costs come even close to that, so consider that there’s a big profit to be had for quite some time.
But, regardless of their ownership of every byte of data that hits the servers, the analysis tools that we mere mortals do not have, and an allegedly deep understanding of subscribers’ habits, Blizz keeps hitting one off note after another. There are times that it seems that they succeed in spite of themselves.
One can’t help but wonder.
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After close to two months off the grid, this is what I returned to
This is the downside of using mailboxes to keep your stuff organized between you and various mules; anything not in bags evaporated into the Twisted Nether.
On the bright side, my nemesis appears to have disappeared again, and glyph prices are up from where they were when I left. I’m guessing that the number of glyph mongers have decreased faster than the server population as a whole.
Well, off to rebuild. Has anyone seen the ‘Open’ sign? It’s under this stuff somewhere …
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We’re online again, though we had to wait until payday before we could actually re-enable our account. Blast and damn, not offline long enough for a Scroll of Rez, so no freebies for me or mine.
So what to do in between loads of freight? Looking around the F2P playground, I remembered that Neverwinter was in motion, so I’ve rolled up as Floramel-like a toon as possible, a control wizard that I hope to bend to warlock-like habits.
Character creation allows for a lot of individuality. It even allows for chunky body types, adjustment of individual face and body attributes (there are like seven nose adjustments!). My model is one of the more slender ones, so as you can see, no Barbie dolls here. Overall, very good.
Outfits are somewhat less flamboyant than one is used to in endgame WoW. However, I would point out that I actually like the models of the lower-level stuff in WoW better, as well, meaning that the higher level stuff in NW might suffer from the same ridiculous effects. Time will tell.
It’s also possible that the outfit models are limited at this time to a select set of looks. Through level 20, all outfits looked pretty much the same. Mogging, however, is baked in to the basic interface.
Armor dye is also supported, though from the looks of it you will have to cough up some cash to get it, since it requires the "Zen" currency, and best I can tell, that’s a cashy money thing.
Some of the NPC character models suffer from what I would call "mannequin syndrome". So realistic, they look plastic. This is a Cryptic Studios product, so it probably shares a lot of DNA with City of Heroes and Star Trek Online – the former looks very similar to this game from a character and model perspective, including the character model creation process.
Graphics and visuals
Graphical details are sharp and clear, maybe too much so. WoW catches a lot of crap for its looks, but one thing that it has a lot of practice at is making things stick out in obvious ways. It’s not too difficult to find a mail box, or a vendor, even in a crowded room. And while I give Blizz hell for abolishing Night from the worlds, realistic and dark shadowing makes everything kind of bland and difficult to deal with.
It’s real easy to walk into a mob, too – no little nameplates over their heads!
The controls take getting used to. Part of that is just the usual "this is a different game" thing, but there are elements that just stink of "let’s do something different just to be different." You are seriously constrained on what you can have on your action bar, too – unlike the ten or so action bars with ten buttons each that you get with WoW, you get one action-bar-like interface in this game, and it’s very small as well.
Aim matters. You don’t click on a mob and then start beating / shooting him, you have to aim and then whatever you are aiming at is hit. Fortunately, there’s no friendly fire outside of PvP. Right-click actually defaults to an attack, so for a former WoW player, ‘F’ to interact is a bit awkward.
In combat, activity is pretty lively. I’d love to have some countdown timers visible at eye level, but on the plus side you can move your action bar – which does have countdown timers – to wherever you want.
Similar to CoH, a sparkly trail of lights appears to direct you to the next point of interest in your current quest. This is highly intelligent and also a rebuttal to the trope that Blizz has nerfed the game too much. Others are way ahead of them in some ways.
Lootable items are very clearly denoted, including caches you might find in your travels.
Interaction between the map and the world is pretty wretched. You can’t click a location and see the trail light up for it. And it’s a highly accurate replica of the real world, meaning it’s gloomy and low-contrast and difficult to read. Again, others win in this area.
Combat is very like any other game I’ve played – there is a strong emphasis on "don’t stand in fire" and button pushing and stacking debuffs and such. The big bads also have a very in your face element to them, and sometimes the graphics engine can’t keep up (though that may be my system more than the engine). Good example is the "treasure trapper" creature.
Other than in interaction with my companion, I really didn’t see much in the way of aggro mechanics, but what I saw was unsurprising and familiar.
Crafting includes the gathering of resources, and the creation of items from them, much like other games. Where this differs is interesting.
Gathering is done from caches. Caches are coded to skills that are native to specific classes; dungeoneering is tied to fighter types, arcane to wizards, religious to clerics, thieving to rogues, and so forth. You can buy kits to enable looting of caches outside of your class, and the kits drop from mobs as well.
Creating items is done by proxy. You hire a craftsman to go do things, and gather the results when they’re done. This can be administered from the web page for the game as well.
The gathering game seems to be more in service to itself than anything. "Oh here’s a random cache, oh, it contains a random pile of stuff."
Neither the crafting or gathering experience feel organic. But you could get used to it.
One difference in this game is that of companions. If you’ve played other Sword Coast games in the past, you’re probably familiar with the concept of companions. You get your first at 16, and it can be from one of the main classes. I chose a cleric because that seemed wise.
The best unintended benefit of having a healer companion is that you start learning aggro management right away – or rather, how to keep aggro off of her. A dead healer heals no damage.
It appears that in each zone there is an ultimate dungeon / instance activity with five party members, and you don’t get the final lore payoff or zone closure if you don’t do them. Very WoW-like. I would have thought that they’d've noticed how many people would be thrilled to see instance scaling so that one to five people could share the experience rather than be stuck at five.
I didn’t participate as such so no further comment would be useful.
Well, this is where WoW is falling short, according to what I keep reading in the blogospheric echo chamber. Our "community" is becoming populated by a bunch of spoiled, lazy, racist, sexist, haters, is what I hear.
I am not going to delve into details, but I will say that until you have seen general chat in Neverwinter, you have no idea how bad it could be.
The community per se is no better or worse. What the big difference is that we’ve become pampered by the Blizzard Nanny State; any aberrations tend to stick out.
Sometimes you have to swim in the sewers to remember what shit really smells like.
It really does "feel" like Neverwinter. It also, however, feels a bit chaotic and frenetic. A lot of this, I’m sure, is due to the beta nature of the game at this time. Heck, I’m not even sure if the appearance of the armor in the game is due to design or because we’re still in beta and they haven’t completed all the models. I’m leaning towards the former because money.
And that brings me to the elephant in the room for this sort of game – how hard are they pushing to sell you cash shop items. Right now, for example, it looks like the only way to change your armor color is to buy "Zen" and then spend it on dyes. "Fine," you say, "cosmetic isn’t a big deal." Problem is, the kind of player that gives a game a soul tends to invest in a character, and care about appearances, and something like this could be discouraging to them.
The other items I saw were such as mounts and companion items, but no game-changing armor or weapons. So pay-to-win, not so much at the moment.
Overall, I like this game. It’s not yet complete, so time will tell if it has legs, and endgame content will drive a certain kind of player’s expectations. Disregarding that, the game is solid, and the leveling game thus far has been fun.
My time in Neverwinter is at an end; the WoW account is up and running, and we have some picking up to do.
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