When I signed up for the yearly pass, part of the reason was to get the free D3. Not so much for me, but for my kid, who is the world’s biggest Diablo fan. Unfortunately, it turns out, you can’t transfer licenses1. So I was left with a working copy of D3 and no real desire to check it out.
But when opening night came, I decided to see if it was worth all the hype, so I installed it and started it up.
I started out with a wizard (my D2 character had been more vanilla). The male wizard looks like a cross between Tom Hiddleston and Skrillex – so of course, I called him Grillex. I’m hoping eventually to make his arcane blasts go wubWubWubWub as they glide across the room, but first things first.
What I will say of this game thus far: the best way I can describe my experience is that of a long walk on the beach with an old friend. There is practically nothing that I don’t like. It’s a time machine taking us back to when we were playing D1 and D2 in almost an identical way.
Sure, there are gameplay elements that have changed, but the fundamentals have not. And that makes all the difference. Blizzard have hit the ball out of the park on this one. The "X" factor that made D1 and D2 such runaway hits is still all there.
The only downside to this game is the mandatory online aspect. You can’t just fire up a session on your laptop to kill an hour or whatnot. There are procedures. You Must log in, you Must authenticate, ergo you Must have a working network connection at all times.
The other downside to this is that any time you lose the network, whatever instance you were in is completely reset. If it’s a special one with special bosses with special loot, it might disappear altogether! This is a harsh price to pay for server instability from a company that has not once managed to launch a game without server instability. Now that they are pals with Valve, maybe they can switch to Steam deployment, and have that "work offline" option. I mean, Valve CAN make it work, after all.
Within the game, the only thing that isn’t my cup of tea so far is the witch doctor. I don’t get this class. It doesn’t belong. Unless you consider the "jungle" area with the pygmies2 in D1/2 to be the source of such – hello, negative stereotypes! Thanks for reaffirming Blizzard’s tone-deafness in matters of diversity. And ooga-booga to you, too.
Over all, though, it’s a glorious incarnation of an already legendary game, and I suspect this one will surpass the previous two in popularity.
Of course, some of the biggest Diablo fans in the world are playing WoW. Or, were, rather. All around the ‘sphere we’re hearing of dead cities, silent chat channels, even the ANAL guys have bailed to go play D3. Nothing has had such an impact before. Aion? Nothing. Rift? A pip. STWOR? Shaken, but not stirred. But D3 … it’s done what none of the "WoW killers" could do. Granted, it’s in the pre-expansion doldrums, but still.
Which confirms what I’ve said all along. Blizzard’s worst enemy is Blizzard themselves.
See you in a few days.
You couldn’t even prepay from Blizz then transfer. For shame! [↩]
Which also make an appearance in Uldum in WoW. [↩]
Reportedly, I missed some sweet hunter gear as an indirect result of yesterday’s meta project.
Basically, our home PC just got moved from a little micro PC "LAN party" style case to an Antec Lanboy Air full tower case. This sucker can hold a half dozen hard drives on air suspended bungee mounts, multiple 2.5" SSDs, two externally mounted drives, and can take something like 16 120mm fans. It’s totally modular – not only ATX, not only ATX-B, but possible future board standards. I had the original Lanboy case, and it lasted me for many years. This one will likely last many more years to come.
To further futureproof things, Windows 7 Home edition was installed and Things Were Migrated.
The final task of the day was to repair my old Acer AL22W16 monitor and add it to the system as a second monitor. It helps to know how to rework SMD-tech circuit boards, as well as hybrids, and have a soldering station in storage. The monitor had started to fail incrementally, but the Internet had a solution1.
The procedure was a success, and we now have a proper dual-monitor system, which Alas will tell you is the only way to go2.
The final result is something that I’m sure will last for years outside of occasional upgrades (CPU, mobo, etc.). But a good foundation is needed, and we’re done with that now.
Yes, that’s the Enterprise-A in drydock. Did I ever once ever say I wasn’t a shameless fanboy?
Please note: my power supply board was a newer part than the one in the article. The capacitors required are different. So I suggest that before you embark a similar procedure, that you take the back off your device and verify the part numbers. I know enough about trons to fake my way out of it, but you might not be, so eliminate the element of chance. [↩]
Since Grimmtooth Actual’s system died, I haven’t set foot in a progression raid. Flora’s been working with the Bunnies on old content (about which you already know) but given how tight timing is with progression raiding1, I declined to subject myself or my guildies to that brand of failsauce.
Now that the ol’ tronbucket’s back in action, I’ve been looking forward with two parts excitement and one part horror to my first progression raid in weeks. Just before the system died, I had upgraded some gear and gotten some advice on increasing my DPS, which I had not implemented yet. Coming back, my advisor was nowhere to be found and I had to scramble to enchant and gem my gear.
We’ve gone with a new UI setup, based off of ElvUI. I chose it for simplicity and utility. For the most part it has worked out.
I’ve also given WeakAuras another try, this time having a lot more success, and it’s actually helped a lot to keep me on my toes. My DPS has improved somewhat, but is nowhere near where it should be for someone that’s got his T13 four-piece bonus already. More research into a respec is clearly needed.
When last I was in, we were still working on Blackhorn. Coming back, the effers have downed him twice. Fortunately, we were using the same strat as before, so after a few mis-steps I was able to get into it, just in time to be taken down by a lag spike in phase 2. But we downed him, and that’s all that matters.
The good news is that the GMs have been working hard on recruitment and brought in some new talent that appears to be working out nicely. Lots of new faces, it’ll take a while to get used to it.
Overall, though, it’s good to be back. Tomorrow we tackle Spine, and, Light willing, Madness.
(No, that isn’t a quote. I keep my quatloos this time around)
It’s amazing what you find out about UIs.
Since the laptop is a temporary waypoint, we’re experimenting with a few things, including prepackaged UIs. I have to say, ElvUI looks very nice. And if I ever figure out how to mod it, it might be what I need. But for the time being, it’s been put aside because there was an upcoming raid and maybe, just MAYBE we’d get Nef down with an 8-man crew – or more like 7.5 with the gimpy warlock.
We were short, so we went after Arthas instead – a guild first, if we managed. We didn’t, but I did find out something pretty cool.
In BWD, My frame rate often plummeted to 3FPS during fights, but otherwise it was servicable.
In ICC, I hovered around 5FPS most of the time, and boss fights were excruciating 1FPS ballets that were at times a cross between Kabuki and Sumo wrestling.
What this has exposed is an underlying lesson learned by the design team for the software. I don’t think anyone would claim that BWD was less sophisticated in construction than ICC, but what they did with BWD was make a raid instance that was far more efficient to render. Even for those with adequate machines, this means that you get smoother and more relevant mob animations and floor effects and all that good stuff. Timing can be crucial and they did all they could to remove the instance’s rendering from interfering.
Any time you think the creator of the software "just" did this or "just" did that, recall this. There’s more to a floor than you might think.
In every MMO I’ve played in, we eventually see the game population divide up into populations of unusual – some might say freakish – creatures. The exact nature of these sub-populations varies, but the point is, they exist, and they’re downright weird.
Let’s take raiders, as an example. Once we hit level cap, it’s all about the raiding. Everything we do is bent towards improving our performance in raiding. We practice on target dummies, grind for cash for enchants and gems and potions, hone our trade skills to feed those needs, farm mats for consumables, do dailies for tokens and cash, fish for buff food, and so forth. If any of us manages to get off and do something that is the least bit enjoyable – but not related to raiding – we feel guilty about it.
And look at that gear. Min/maxing is hardly adequate to describe what we do to our gear, and what sort of gear we look for. It’s like you took a battleship, and shrank everything down to the size of a destroyer – except the gun, which swelled to five times its normal size. That’s a typical DPSer in a nutshell. A typical tank is a brick with legs. A healer is best represented as either a giant bandaid, or a giant ball of cotton (Disco priests, yo!).
I mean, Hunters wear mail. And mail with higher armor values is – by any measure of common sense – better. Except for raiders. If it doesn’t make our gun bigger, we’re not interested.
Don’t get me started on PvPers. I mean, they have entire separate gear tiers from everybody else in the universe. I’ve seen periods of time where priests have been the terror of the battlefield. Arenas give rise to such perverted stat mixes that even the developers can’t sort out what they’re doing. Hey, Johnnie found a +50 to pillar-humping sword!
My point here is that the endgame, be it PvP or PvE, warps perceptions of whatever game you’re playing. Somebody spent a lot of time and effort putting together a game world that has NOTHING to do with either of those things, and most normal people actually get out there and enjoy them. While we’re QQing about cooldowns and OP rogues, the larger population is taking its time and enjoying the game they paid good money for.
It’s true – Blizz kind of stacked the deck against itself with the inexplicably high XP rates during leveling (Most zones, you can’t even complete all the quests before they go gray). But outside of that, there are a number of interesting and compelling stories out there that the power-leveling supa-raider has never seen. I wonder how many people right now are scratching their heads over the entire "Fangs of the Father" questline, wondering where this black dragon came from.
The "normal" people out there know.
Right now I’m seeing a bumper crop of this syndrome from STWOR players. "I’m level 50, now what?" The usual answer is "grind, dailies, raid." Right now, a lot of people are finding out they paid sixty clams only to do the same thing all over again. All the work that Bioware put into other parts of the game, totally unappreciated and likely unsampled. As much as they wanted to break the mold, they simply failed to take the herd mentality of your average raider/pvper into consideration.
I have to give kudos to Blizzard on this. The average bored raider has no idea what to do outside of get ready for more raiding. So Blizz has provided a means to measure one’s progress in, for example, experiencing the stories told in each of the zones – i.e. the various Loremaster achievements.
Within the Raider / PvP / Roleplaying echochaimers, our plaintive bleats are loud and distinct. But from outside, all people care about is what is that annoying buzz and how do I stop it?It isn’t any wonder that you often experience resentment from those outside of your special little tribe. They’re enjoying all the new content while some group of shmoes have already beaten the end boss and are crying about how the game’s all over for them.
The ongoing challenge for MMO creators is to create content for all the normal people and all the mutants like us. We haven’t seen it yet, and nothing looks to have a solution forthcoming, so we’ll keep watching and hoping.
A couple of weeks ago, Saga blogged on the topic of honesty … specifically, being honest with one’s GM and/or guild about one’s intent with regards to other games, and one’s dedication to one’s guild when raiding. It’s a good, though-provoking read on the uncomfortable spot that not-quite-defectors leave a guild in at times like these – the times in question being times when there is something really popular – STWOR in this case – that people are trying out, but not yet ready to commit fully to.
Anyhoo, the upshot is some people weren’t being honest about this sort of thing, making up excuses about why they weren’t showing up to raid, so they would should they deign to return, still be assured a spot on the raid. They weren’t really able to commit, either way.
Thinking of this, I noticed another, similar, trend.
A lot of people are going out of their way to not have a strong opinion, one way or the other, on the whole STWOR-WoW1 thing. Time and time again I see people griping about either a STWOR or WoW feature or lack thereof, followed by more disclaimers than you can shake a stick at. In some cases the disclaimers are longer than the actual opinion.
Consider the lack of LFD in STWOR, for an example. That topic’s been popping up a lot recently, in posts that more or less almost approach thinking about almost committing to a possible opinion that STWOR might possibly under some conditions slightly benefit from such a thing, but NOT SAYING IT’S BAD WE DON’T HAVE IT Y’ALL and OF COURSE THE WOW ONE STILL MOSTLY ALMOST SUCKS EXCEPT IT PRETTY MUCH DOESN’T EITHER. SORTA.
Okay, the point I’m dancing around2 is that a lot of gamers are playing both sides of the street today, are happy with that, and want to blog about that new thing, but there appears to be a problem with doing that.
Being part of a large blogging community in WoW, we have all made many friends. Many of those friends3 have no interest in the new shiny, but still read the blog because, hey, still friends!
On the other side of the coin, they are also painfully aware of many of their peers (let’s assume STWOR peers for the moment) have far less "give" in their opinions, and are likely to have little to no tolerance of pro-WoW attitudes – or in some cases, apparently, tolerance.
What seems to be happening as a result is a lot of beating around the bush instead of getting right to the point of things one likes, dislikes, for fear of offending either camp. One wishes to remain in good stead with the New Order, but feels like being too positive for STWOR or negative on WoW might burn bridges one does not wish to burn.
It’s a shame this is happening, because it tends to marginalize all three camps. The STWOR partisans become more extreme in aggregate, as do the WoW partisans, and those in between end up tying their own hands and miss many great opportunities to discuss the merits – and pitfalls – of both games in an honest and frank manner.
Hopefully, as things settle out over the next few months, and we can manage to have honest opinions on the things that really matter, such as Pandas versus Ewoks.4
Or WoW-STWOR for those wavering the other way. [↩]
On January 18, 2012, a lot of sites are going dark (more or less) to protest a pair of bills1 that are trying real hard to become a law in the United States that will give the US government unparalleled power over the content that appears on the internet. In a show of solidarity, I should be taking this site down in the same way. Unfortunately, I’m a bit busy and haven’t had a chance to set that up or get whatever plugin I need to do it, etc.
This does not mean that I am not sympathetic to the cause. I am. So, tomorrow, if you are inconvenienced in the process of doing whatever it is that you are doing, please have a little patience and respect for whatever website it is. They are trying to make a point, and your frustration is part of that point. If SOPA / PIPA passes and becomes the law of the land, sites could go down by Federal mandate, diddled at the DNS level.
How long do you think WikiLeaks would last before they were taken down due to "piracy" charges, for example? What about Wikipedia? WoWPedia? Ars Technica? BoingBoing? Slashdot? All of them have, at some point, probably published something that could, without hearing or possibility of rebuttal, have them blacklisted in the DNS tables that are used in the US.
And if you feel that a temporary inconvenience is worthwhile to ensure content providers get paid, might I mention that the US government does not thus far have a stellar record of clearing people from its own "No-Fly list". Pretty much, once you get on it, you’re toast. I don’t trust these people to floss their own teeth, much less admit to a mistake and clear things up. This is the US government! Justice is not relevant!
Here are some links that may be helpful and/or educational.
Stop American Censorship hooks you up with your congresscritter so that you may express your displeasure at the concept of SOPA/PIPA. You get a canned message to send, or you may craft your own. Maintain level tones!
Hey, WikiMedia has a few words to say, such as "this totally impacts our ability to do our thing." Love Wikipedia or loathe it, one thing is certain: it represents something that most people consider a good thing. Imagine if it were gone. Oh, wait – tomorrow2, you won’t have to imagine.
Okay, it probably took longer to write this than to find and install the plugin to blackout my own site, but I never have been one of few words when many words would suffice. But now I’m really tired, and suffering from a head cold virus that we have dubbed "Murglesnout", because, brothers and sisters, that is exactly how it feels.
I don’t often blog about the world outside of WoW, since this is, yah, a WoW blog. But I do watch other games closely. And yes, that includes STWOR. I guess it’s assumed that the main reason I don’t want to play it is because I have never heard of George Lucas and his progeny. That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Director James Ohlen isn’t surprised that the game’s received the flak it has from a segment of reviews and fans. In a candid interview with Eurogamer, Ohlen addresses both the issues of being a "big target" for critics and the claims that SWTOR’s lacking innovation.
For the most part, players and critics have praised the game, Ohlen shares, and BioWare is seeing an "exceptionally high" desire among its playerbase for continued subscriptions. But was BioWare prepared for the backlash as well? Ohlen says it was: "We knew that there was going to be people who wanted us to fail. But that’s just the nature of the game. If you’re going to build a huge game and try to go out to a lot of people, you’re going to have people who just react poorly."
Basically, he seems to say, if you have something bad to say about the game, you’re a hater.
In one fell swoop, he attempts to reduce any criticism – legit or not – to just plain "haters gonna hate, bro" and thus, in his mind at least, can move forward about talking about how wonderful the embroidery is on the next tier of armor or whatever.
I’m not going to address the concerns expressed elsewhere either collectively or individually. Not my concern. But when I see a video game company handle legitimate criticisms in such a cavalier fashion, it really annoys me. It’s a sleazeball move and it just paints the whole development team in a bad light – and usally they don’t deserve that.
Well, sure, he works at EA, and we all lower our expectations whenever we talk, shake hands with, or generally share space with someone at EA these days1. But that does not excuse the practice, any more than if it were someone at Blizzard2.
If I ever have a critique of a game, it will be based on the game and not on nature of the players within or the nature of the content. The fact is that the "franchise" does not interest me, but that is not a critique of the game itself. What I’ve heard of the game itself has been largely positive. I’ve heard more negative about the community around the game than the game itself. That doesn’t make the game a bad game, any more than LFR makes puggers into bad people. They are mechanisms only, and should be judged on that basis.
When you try to insinuate bias without proof, you come across as a sleaze, plain and simple, and when you do that, you inch closer to losing a sale from those that care about that sort of thing.
Now, do I actually believe this guy meant things that way? At the moment, I’m on the fence. As usual, reading the full article embellishes things a bit. But this is the bit getting the widest exposure, and it so far hasn’t been walked back too briskly, so I don’t know what to think about this guy.
What I DO know is that this is a practice I have seen over and over again, from game makers at all levels (including Zynga, ew). So if it’s gonna quack and walk like a duck, I’m going to lay down the duck-like attributes on it.
The practice itself is just not cool, it shouldn’t be pandered to, and "reporters" on the scene should call it out when it happens instead of nodding and smiling and holding on to that free pass for one more quarter.
More’s the pity, I remember when EA was a known mark of quality and excellence. [↩]
Has that happened? I’m sure it has, and there’s still no excuse for it. [↩]
Go boldly amidst the noise and haste of LFD, and enjoy what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without grinding, be on good terms with all factions. Speak your strats quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the l33tsauce and the preeners; they too can serve as examples.
Avoid loud and spammy persons, they are vexations to /Y. If you compare yourself with others players, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser gearscore than yours.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your gear plans. Keep interested in your main, however boring dailies may be; this is a real asset in the changing endgame raid tier.
Exercise caution in on the AH; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what deals there are; many persons strive for undercuts; and everywhere life is full of profit.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about your guild; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as constant as the stars.
Take kindly the counsel of experience, gracefully surrendering the gear of youth. Nurture PvP gear to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many wipes are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the Titans, no less than the Gnomes and the Dwarves; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt lore is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with Metzen, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your Transmog set. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful virtual world. Be cheerful.
There is a scene in one of my favorite sci-fi series of all time in which one of the main characters is expressing his frustration with the daily flow of little deaths that define the life of a bureaucrat. It is of course a take-off of our Earthly expression "Being pecked to death by ducks", an expression of how thousands of little pinpricks can add up to some serious damage over time. Each may be a mere annoyance, but taken together, they can topple empires.
In this case, cats did not topple the Centauri Republic. That required B5′s version of an Old God. But that’s another show.
Where we do find parallels, however, is in how we as citizens of Azeroth deal with little annoyances that have no seeming impact in the immediate sense. You see things every day that you decide aren’t worth getting excited about, until that day comes that everybody’s doing it because nobody raised voice to object.
It is good to know in our little universe that some people recognize this and work actively against it. While some will see a tiny injustice and shrug, "that’s the way the world works", there are others that step forward and state flatly, "that was wrong, and I’m calling you on it."
The former like to portray themselves as laid-back realists and the opposition as strident nitpickers. This is how it’s always been. "Don’t rock the boat" wasn’t invented by hipsters in 2007. Establishment types will hold the line as viciously as any attacker, all the while working hard to make it seem like a chilled-out real-world response.
So we hopeless idealists often find ourselves somewhat overwhelmed by an army of trolls at the anonymous beck and call of kindly patriarchs (or matriarchs, it’s happened). There’s not much you can do about it besides stick to your convictions in the knowledge that you are right to call people on their bullshit. You may take damage in the process, but a core group of good people will think better of you for it.
The world IS out to get you if you aren’t just going along for the ride. If you challenge convention and the old world order, you will be savaged and drug through the mud. Your worldview will be challenged by an endless stream of "trivial" things that mean practically nothing by themselves, but in aggregate represent a larger evil that has to end.
If your cause is just and your reasoning sound, however, you will have company in your travels. A herd of nibbling cats, spread out over a wider sample, can be withstood.