Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Unholy. My Go-to spec.

So, where am I these days, I hear you ask. Hypothetically. What’s up, Skurmish? How’s it hanging, broski?

Well, our ultra-casual guild is still working on Arthas 10man. It’s slow going as usual. People are burning out like the wickermen doused in high-octane.  Still soldiering along though, hoping to get Kingslayer for myself and a bump up the ladder for the guild. Been doing a fair bit of tanking in ICC actually, particularly on Arthas himself. Short factoid of the day, we are awesome offtanks for this encounter. Being able to simply drop that Death and decay at Arthas’ feet and pick up all those ghouls is quite something. After seeing our warriors and even paladins struggle with this aspect of the fight, I was somewhat chuffed at being able to handle it so easily. Score 1 DK tanks, woot.

I’m back to being Unholy. Frost was a fun experiment but it was becoming a little too bipolar. Either you’re doing incredible tank-n-spank dps, or you’re doing mediocre mobile dps. Unholy shines in both roles, so I chose to go with what I enjoyed most, was comfortable with and with what happened to offer the most overall raid utility. Warlocks are rare like hens teeth but shamans, a dime a dozen. Getting one of the resto or elementals to drop Windfury is far easier than getting a lock to keep that Curse of Whatever up all the time and on all the mobs.

Specifically, I’m 0/17/54 specced, and running around 700-ish armor penetration (gemmed all for strength mind you) with Shadow’s Edge and Deathbringer’s Will (woot!). Oddly enough, simming with AskMrRobot gave me a better sustained DPS score than a blood subspec, where everyone on teh forums and even EJ said otherwise. Huh. Interesting. So much for conventional wisdom. Frost subspec really seems to scale better in virtually every way and with virtually every stat weight.

In other news my warrior is coming along nicely, and I really do enjoy tanking the lowbie instances with him.  One thing I did realise is that Wrath of the Lich Kings’ content really isnt all that easy. We’re just horribly overgeared for it. Even with a good chunk of heirlooms, running easy (ie UK, Nexus) normal pug 5mans at level 70 can be nerve-wracking. When I hit 80 and start tanking heroics in noob gear I forsee many deaths in my scrub warriors’ future. I think if it weren’t for all the overgeared dps and healers out there that will no doubt carry me along, I’d be quite intimidated at the prospect.

Can you guys remember back to early Wrath, and chainwiping on Skadi in Utgarde Pinnacle, among others? When tanks running around in 25k HP gear was quite a lot, and healers actually went oom now and then? Crazy times eh? Also, it was fun. I realised that challenging 5man content is a breath of fresh air this late in the game, and the only way I’m getting some is to reroll. I hope to hell Cataclysm brings back some of that. It will be a real drag to have all us ICC geared clowns blitz through the early endgame content in a couple of weeks.

Dark Knights

E3 highlights

It’s been a blockbuster of an E3.So many games to ook forward to. New Dead Space 2 trailer – lookin awesome! And some other stuff about the 3DS or something, ho hum consoles snore.

The 2 biggies in my book were The Old Republic, which had a sweet new CGI rendered trailer, and Warhammer 40K. Specifically 40K, which now has a title : Dark Millenium, and showed some actual gameplay footage, unlike ToR. 40K looks very WoW-ish. Very, very WoWish. But release date? Sometine 2013. That’s a long, long way off. It’s unlikely we’ll be quittin WoW anytime soon. The Old Republic is arriving a little sooner, somewhere in the second quarter next year at most optimistic estimate. But, I’m wondering if it’s going to be the game that kills WoW. Having looked at some actual gameplay footage? The game looks a little…well…dated.

Of course I’ll be giving the game a shot when it releases. I mean c’mon! It’s Star Wars! I love Star Wars. I’m a Star Wars slut. But, if WAR taught me anything, being a fan of the IP doesn’t matter if the game isn’t fun and compelling. 40K’s gameplay, what little was shown of it, looked compelling. ToR’s…..doesn’t.

Either way, lots to look forward to.

You know who he is. The one that, for whatever reason, decides he doesn’t like you, and that he’s going to find issue with whatever you do, and say, as long as you’re a member of Guild X.

I’m not sure why this is. I think, sometimes, it’s a case of competitiveness gone one step too far. Or an offhand joke that rubbed some guy off the wrong way resulting in a lifelong vendetta.

We like to joke around on vent/teamspeak, on guild chat and in our guild forums but the reality is, there are a lot of people out there who take things the wrong way. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

I’m not very ‘chatty’ much these days, primarily as a result of this. My one weakness is forum trolling, primarily because I’m left with a fair amount of free time in the day as a result of my job. Ingame, I’m too busy doing stuff like raiding or farming to get too involved in guild politics, but I can’t help find myself becoming embroiled in the stuff on the guild’s forums. I wish I could just walk away instead.

I’m really looking forward to 10 man raiding in Cataclysm. I don’t think I’ll raid any 25man content, and it’s not because 10man is easier (it’s not, really) or simpler to organise. It’s because I’ll have more of an opportunity to pick who I play with, and hopefully avoid those difficult personalities.

Although it seems that, even in 10man raiding, you can’t help but get into some kind of rivalry with That One Guy.

PVP Rage Post

Man, there’s so much that bugs me about this game sometimes. Particularly about PVP.

Like how we can’t win Wintergrasp on our realm due to the 2.5:1 lead in numbers Alliance has over Horde.
Like how a hunter, yesterday, basically killed me in under 3 seconds, with me running 1300 resilience.
Like how retarded Horde has become, at least on the EU side and in my Battlegroup. Some days winning a single BG for the daily random becomes basically outright impossible. I don’t know why this is, but it seems that, over time, the influx of essentially terrible players has increased within the Horde. It used to be that Horde was the ‘hardcore’ faction, where all the PVPers rolled their toons. Since the introduction of Blood Elves – not coincidentally the most populous Blood Elf race in the entire game – the overall quality of the average Horde pug team in a BG has simply plummeted, to where we’re a joke faction now. To hwere I’m honestly contemplating rolling an Alliance alt for the first time in my WoW life.

I think my short PVP kick has ended, again. I crafted my Shadow’s Edge, respecced back to PVE tank&dps, and gave up bothering on my DK. Going to retire my frost mage, as well. After the past few weeks of trying to make a go at PVP and repeatedly smashing into seemingly insurmountable walls… no more. I’ll work on my warrior alt a bit while I wait for Cataclysm, because the past few weeks has, again, reminded me why I ragequit WoW for WAR last year during my PVP kick.

PVP in this game is a twitchy abortive mess of burst damage and indestructible healers that can never oom. If it wasn’t for the raid experience, I honestly don’t think I’d have lasted anywhere enarly as long as I have. If WoW had relied on PVP for it’s endgame, it wouldn’t have lasted a year.

I miss the days when we were all still relatively new to this game, when we were still figuring a lot out, when there was room for error and not every single person was running around in badge epics  and honor welfare loot obliterating each other in microseconds. Cataclysm can’t come soon enough. We’ve been stuck in this expansion for far too long now. 6 months of 1 raid?

Ugh. Seriously, the next big mmo, the one that kills WoW, only needs one real thing to beat it.

Regular. Content. Updates.

Big news recently : Lord of the Rings Online goes Free To Play.

The question on everyone’s mind is, will this make it more popular. As probably the second most popular fantasy DIKU MMORPG, removing the pay to play barrier to entry immediately makes it look like LotrO might suddenly bust out in a big way and steal some major market share from the Blizzard Behemoth.

But, having played a bit of LotrO before it was free, I don’t think it’ll happen. Why?

  • It’s a gigantic pain in the butt to download, patch and create an account. Turbine/Warner needs to work on this. Warcraft is far simpler to get up and running and playing, creating a new account is quick and easy and downloading the trial is a cinch, although it’s still a huge download. WoW has ‘Trial’ DVD’s for sale for a couple bucks in many major stores which helps alleviate this, and its’ also quite easy to get a copy from a friend, as easy as simply copying the folder over to your PC. Can you do this with LotrO? I don’t know. As fast as the ‘net is in most first world homes, there are still large numbers of people out there who don’t have access to fast, cheap internet.
  • I’m not sure of the existing LotrO community will welcome a horde of new, immature, young and/or annoying/selfish breed of gamer. New players might feel a little overwhelmed. The game also doesn’t quite reward people as instantly as WoW does. I’m not sure it’ll keep newbies interests long enough.
  • It lacks WoW’s stylization. Make no mistake the game world is beautiful, but character and set design follows a more ‘realistic’ look, as opposed to WoW’s ‘cartoony’ design. Fact is, cartoony works. It scratches the childlike part of our brain, the one fascinated by bright colours and overemphasized caricaturistic design. In some ways, the game feels ‘wooden’, down to the way your character walks and interacts with the world.
  • Paying a subscription actually isn’t that big a deal. Most gamers have money to burn. What matters is how easy it is to pay. Getting a subscription set up in WoW is a piece of cake, better yet game cards are available on almost any gaming store shelf. Accessibility is, in my opinion, far more important than getting a free ride.
  • It doesn’t offer the variety that WoW does. WoW has solo pve, small group pve, instanced large group/raid pve, small group arena/gladiatorial instanced pvp, large group instanced pvp, and world pvp. LotrO on the other hand mostly offers solo and small group pve.
  • Lastly, does it have as much staying power? Does it have that same ‘one more quest, one more dungeon run for one more piece of loot or emblem’ that WoW does? Does it dangle that carrot? From what I can see, LotrO attracts more of the roleplayer and explorer and less of the powergamer and ‘munchkin’, to use a term I picked up today. The thing is, powergamers and hardcore epeen players tend to attract casuals. For better or worse, Gearscore mentality in WoW enforces a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ feeling within WoW, a gravy train of trying to impress others that we all invariably end up boarding. Because that’s human nature. WoW is huge because it’s not really all that much like Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a lot more like Facebook, or in fact a lot more like Real Life.

Ultimately I think LotrO will attract a number of additional people, but I don’t see it upsetting the resident gorilla’s perch at the top.  WoW creates this desire to be the best, to have the best gear, to be the highest rated arena player, to be in a top guild. It’s a competitive game. LotrO, on the other hand, is a friendlier, more co-operative game. And when it comes down to it, we’re all sharks, we’re all looking out for number one. It’s a dog eat dog world…of warcraft.

Reading this article found on Massively, I was drawn to the following words:

  • In fact, BioWare isn’t afraid to ruffle the feathers of competing MMOs by claiming that they sacrifice fun, story and interesting content while training players to rush through it all to the end game. Despite studios and players resisting change, Lead Writer Daniel Erickson claims that it’s time for MMOs to challenge traditional conventions and return to their RPG roots: “The thing that has been a challenge for us on Old Republic is that people tried to convince us these limitations were canon – that they were to be respected, you know? That you could not, in fact, put interesting bits in an MMO because that was now sacrilege.”

I think that’s absolutely right. We forget that when World of Warcraft launched, it was in fact a pretty damn grindy, slow game. It took me months of dedicated playing to get to level 60. Which only changed somewhat recently. And I think, were Blizzard to release another MMO today, it would start off just as grindy.

See, a slow ‘grind’ to cap is actually fine (as long as it’s not too punishing, the trick is making early content compelling enough and keeping progression slow but steady rather than hitting a ‘wall’). That’s where we learned all about WoW. That’s when we read quest text, and where every block of XP was precious, every new green item upgrade exciting, every new instance a breath of fresh air. When doing a few quests a night was an accomplishment rather than merely a source of income or necessary reputation. When the game was new, the grind was fine. So to fear grind in your MMO and make it too easy to rush to the level cap only to find no content (I’m looking at you, Champions Online) is a surefire way to ruin the long term aspirations and potential of your game.

Instead, look at heirlooms in WoW, and consider something similar for ToR. The first time you play the game should be magical, and exciting, and fun. Months of learning, exploring, discovering. But by the third or fourth play through, it starts getting old. So you could help smooth things along for players on their fourth or fifth character by utilising something like Account Bound heirlooms, XP pots only purchasable at the level cap, etc.

At any rate I’m looking forward to meaningful story in an MMO again. WoW definitely has story, people tend to make that mistake. It’s just that we’ve seen this story all too many times already. As any WoW fan about Culling of Stratholme pre-‘shortcut’. Story’s important and grinding and pacing are useful tools to prolonging the content and value of the game. Just don’t focus on them to the exclusion of everything else (I’m looking at you, Aion).

P.S this post heralds the beginning of my hype and coverage of The Old Republic, which I’m hoping will be the MMO to finally shake me of my WoW fixation. Boy am I looking forward to playing my Sith Warrior, Darth Skurmish!