More From the Mine

Not of Moira. Sorry LOTRO fans.

I hope Zardoz doesn’t end up getting sick of me linking to his posts, but data gets me all hot and heavy. WoW data is always fun, and a couple weeks ago he posted his Minority Report outlining level 80 class allocation at 3.1.1. His sampling methods are reasonable so let’s look at who is playing what.


Class Popularity
Death Knights 15.0%
Paladin 14.2%
Druid 10.3%
Warrior 9.7%
Mage 9.6%
Priest 9.5%
Hunter 9.3%
Shaman 7.6%
Rogue 7.3%
Warlock 7.3%


It’s actually not a bad spread, when you take out the top 2 and bottom 3. I would suppose the goal, with 10 classes, is to have each around 10% of the playerbase. That would be a great indication of balanced and interesting classes. 4 of the 10 are +/- .5% from that equal mark, with a couple glaringly high and 3 glaringly low. 

If you were a developer I wonder how they would take that info to adjust the classes (if they even thought it was needed) – Would you try to Jaxx up the Shaman/Rogue/Lock to pull from DK’s and Pallys specifically, or just work harder to make sure those classes are more fun, interesting, and useful on their own merits?

Not going to dig too far into it today, perhaps if discussion arises – just putting it out there as fun information to look at.

Skills Baby

Suzina over at KTR posts about a couple recent gaming experiences in LOTRO. It’s a good read for several reasons, but mostly because it captures the essence of what is great about MMO’s – success and failure. I shared a snazzy yet true golf analogy in the comments section about “hooks”. MMO’s live on hooks. 

Psychochild made a comment in the thread about the beauty of Suz’s post (we are tight like that where I can nickname her unashamedly.) and that those are experiences you can’t have in single player games – and my first reaction was that he was right, followed up with a “wait, is he?” The answer is yes and no. Suspense suspended after the cut.


Tuesday Smorgasboard

It really doesnt.
It really doesn’t.

Lots of little gaming going on. Will touch upon them.

1) LOTRO revisted: While I am trying to organize friends to go through the trial, nothing concrete is set up although a little interest and a couply people hopping on Brandywine. I said this before and I will say it again – the fact that LOTRO doesn’t allow you to play their two new classes WITHOUT buying MoM is a terrible design decision and puts me in a bad mood immediately at the character creation screen. I wanted to test drive the Warden for the trial again – it made my list of favorite fantasy classes although I only got to level 10. My beef with this is that the characters start at the exact same spot as the previous character classes so not having them available upon start is just a silly money grab. I am trialling the game to see if I am going to resubscribe – let me choose the character I want to play. The high end zones included in MoM have no impact on the class selection – it will be months before I even get to MoM – so let me play them dammit! To be fair, they do  have a 10 day trial for MoM – but on the welcome back weekend I can use my old box (that I paid for). Maybe I do want to resub, and maybe the game is fun enough to buy the expansion (when I get there) – but it will be awhile before I get there, and I want to do it as one of the new classes. We are off to a poor start, me and LOTRO. So I rolled a Champion, and if all goes well I am going to have to drop $40 bucks on an expansion and reroll to a character class I want to play. Shame on you, Turbine.

More random stuff after the break.


Why Can’t We Be Friends?

I have been away for a week for work – and the inevitable happened. I ran into an old friend, conversation ensues, and WoW comes up. He plays it too. We chat about raiding, levelling, guilds, etc and the topic shifts to gaming together on the ultimate cruise ship.

Things are starting to sound fun, when he pulls ultra geek on me and proudly shows me his WoW tshirt underneath his sweatshirt.

For the Horde!

Damn, I play Alliance. Dreams are shattered. Mood turns negative. I secretly envy the shirt.

Then I think – why not?

In the facebookesque MMO, which discourages meaningful choice, insists on bringing the player and not the class , encourages most classes to have two role options, allows name, sex, appearance and server customizatiom, AND trounces it’s own lore in the name of fun and convenience (all the while producing a pretty fun game) – are we really that far away from bringing the player and not the race?

Horde and Alliance notables already work together in cutscenes. Main cities can still be off limits as there is an “uneasy” truce – battlegrounds are explained as efforts for the most ardent of same side supporters and opposite race haters.

The sympathizers from each faction can form guilds and defeat enemies side by side, while political figures and notable npc’s can choose to support the merge or rally against it.

A little programming to ensure cross faction chat doesn’t work in Arenas and Battlegrounds will do the trick.

Really, why not?

Breaking News, here, FIRST!

Okay, that’s a lie. I always prefer to be fashionably late.

I know the Jeff Kaplan interview at GDC is very old news. While I had a lot of thought about it at the time, it was mostly the rehash of the same old stuff already out there, and not until I made it into WOTLK with my Shaman re-roll did I really start to re think – and re think about writing about it. I am doing the same quests he designed. Now that we have settled that I am not FOX or CNN with breaking news, let’s discuss.


Cwofee Twolk

I feel so verklempt.

“Let’s go for a coffee” is part of our society. Typically you pick either a greasy spoon, or some fancy overpriced brand variety, and go, sit, drink coffee, and chit chat with a friend (or friends) for a few hours. It could be a date, or just a catch up session with an old pal. Most people do this, most people enjoy this, and the details are in the simplicity of the activity. Hot drinks, good people, and an open ended conversation. It is as American as apple pie, and as Canadian as hockey. It is probably also as French as smoking. More Coffee Talk after the break.


A New Favorite Data Blog

While navigating the great interwebs of blogs and fansites I came accross this little gem. Simply put, it is a data mining site for WoW. I love data, and in our grand world of MMO secrecy, more data is always good. Since it is straight from the Armory you would have to believe it carries with it some statistical accuracy, and the author typically points out on his various posts where shortcomings may be.

Data makes me drool. More drooling after the break.


UI Add-ons are bad?

Vacation was nice, thank you for asking. Coming home from vacation is always a bad experience. The plane feels a bit more cramped and the voicemail and email inboxes are a lot more full. I actually tried working through my vacation, dilligently keeping up on my inbox every morning. IHASLAW #1 – for every email you send you get five back. Lesson learned.

Blizzard recently announced a big change to their UI/Addon policy, banning people from making money off off of their hard work created upon Blizzard’s hard work. While hardly a surprise, WoW has a gigantic Mod community. That community, for all intensive purposes, has made and shaped the game – usually for the better. “Must have” community mods become part of the vanilla UI over time. I have long been of the thought that mods shouldn’t exist in an MMO space – players shouldn’t have the ability or the right to change the basic UI (apart from cosmetic). It creates extra work for the typical player who “needs” those mods to be competitive (hello, Arena mods) or even beat unbalanced and rediculous encounters (hello, Decursive pre-Burning Crusade). Simply put – if your game requires players to provide changes to your code to make the game playable – or more enjoyable – then it is a failure of code. More after the break.


What’s With the BoP?

I hope that image didn’t burn your eyes out. I am wearing sunglasses.

As mentioned I am back playing WoW. My year long hiatus from the game (despite a brief respite to check out the DK starting area) while mucking around in various other MMO’s and SP games wasn’t ended because I missed the game all that much – but because I missed the people. We had (have, as I am quickly re-learning) such a great group of adult folk dedicated to each other and the game in WoW – and that was seriously missing from other ventures I tried. I decided to relevel a shaman (so starting fresh) despite having a mini arsenal of existing level 70’s. The Shaman was the class I ended with, and loved the mechanics, but as mentioned the account wasn’t mine. With my Shaman friend still playing it was time for a fresh start. After being away for so long, I noticed a lot of things. After the break.


Six Shooter Screenshots are Serious Business

Tagged by good friend Tesh over at Tish Tosh Tesh, us periphery folks are now part of the fun. Like Tesh, I’m not going to follow the format as directly. Unlike Tesh, I don’t keep a lot of my screenshots so finding any was quite the effort. I have two problems with screenshots – I uninstall a lot of games when I am done (despite having enough storage capacity) to keep things tidy and organized on my PC (something I am sure my wife would appreciate me doing in real life org skills, you should see my desk) and usually when I take a screenshot it is quite by accident. This would have made for some great screenshots if only I had saved them. So, after digging through old files, here is what I managed to find.

Pics after the break.


This was my old WoW Raid UI as a shaman. I *think* it is clean compared to many I have seen out there, but of course I haven’t seen any new ones in a long, long time. Healing is serious business in raids, as we all know.

Ah, DAOC! Waiting for some stinking Albs to leave the comfort of their little Emain Macha fort to taste my giant 2 hander. Of course, I could just be “scouting” for my team, relaying enemy troop movements and such, because of course that is serious business.

I must have taken this out to flex my almighty serious business ePeen – yes, I’, #1! I’m #1! I may blow that up and frame it and hang it above my desk.

Ah, Eve. I have never subbed to it but have done many trials. It is such a sweet looking game! Pity I never had the chance to screw anybody over in it. I guess that’s where the real fun is in that one. Conversely, I have never been screwed either. In Eve.

This is what happens when you try to Revive an enemy in BF2142. Notice the lifeless body, limbs limp to the sides. That isn’t just from poor animation or graphics techniques either. Tip: use a gun. Much easier than a first aid device.

My first real raiding main in WoW, the resto druid. This was taken recently after I did a nostalgic tour of WoW on my old favorite character. This is the entrance to UBRS (no longer locked) which was the first “guild run” I did while looking to join the guild I ended up being a GM of for BC (we were Grey Rangers in Vanilla WoW). I am amazed at how WoW, for all of it’s simplicity and low requirements, still has such great environments.

Sadly, that’s IT. That is basically all of the screenshots I have on my new PC after 10 years of hardcore MMO gaming. I have thousands of pictures of family and friends (due to my wife) – I have never been a big picture person to begin with. In keeping with the spirit of screenshots I am going to tag Pope and GTB since both haven’t updated their blogs in a while, and I am especially curious what Pope’s Law School friends will say if he follows through and makes a gaming post. Besides, everyone else I read has already no doubtedly been tagged.

Thanks for the push Tesh!


Image Motivation

I was reading an interesting article called “Doing good or doing well? Image motivation and monetary incentives in behaving prosocially”, which is basically a study by some prominent economists to understand what motivates people to invest time or money in charity work. The basic premise is that people do it to improve their image  – and the hypothesis is that paying someone to do charity work (ie: donating blood for dollars) can actually be a barrier if other people are aware a payment was being made for the gesture. An interesting read, especially if you like economics and how economists think (and always need to understand behavioural economics). The most interesting part of the study for me was that people gave more when they knew people would know the amount donated.

Of course, I have to go take perfectly good economic reasoning and apply it to MMO’s. Shame on me.


Numbers Can Fool Us

Is WoW really a cultural phenomenon? Many people think so, spurting the “11.5 million subscriber mark“. Where does that number come from? I found it interesting that Blizzard stopped releasing where the subscribers came from in that press release.

When Blizzard announced they hit 10 million, they clearly stated 2M from Europe, 2.5M from North America, and 5.5 Million from Asia. When they announced 11M, they just did the total. Are they hiding the fact that numbers dropped in NA/Europe and picked up in Asia? Who knows. Now, from 10 – 11.5 million let’s extrapolate where that extra million came from, and take the guess it was even accross the board (even though I suspect the numbers are skewed more towards Asia). With the new 11M sub: 6.325M from Asia, 2.875M from NA, and 2.3M from Europe.

Let’s look at North America.

“2.875M” play WoW at top subscriber peaks during 2008.

41 Million Attended a Hockey Game.

Around 20 Million people watch Dancing with the Stars on any given week.

2 Million people eat at McDonald’s everyday in the UK only (I can just imagine what the NA stats are).

Cultural Phenomenon? Hardly. MMO Phenomenon? Absolutely!


Non-Epic Fail, Content, and RMT – Oh My!

Last post I talked about having a peek at LOTRO again, the current darling of blognation. I was drawn to give it a shot because of the handy dandy free trial after their new expansion, Mines of Moira. I had no delusions of grandeur of seeing the new content, but rather was curious of the trickle down effect to what changes this game has gone through since it’s release. I was especially excited to try out their new Warden class – reminded me very much of the 300 spartans – shield and spear. I dl’ed the trial, signed up, and off I went.


LOTRO – Worth a Second Look?

I had purchased the game when first released and played up to level 10ish but was immediately sucked back into WoW with the Burning Crusade expansion (I was a GM of a progression guild at the time. No time for two games!). Going through some old emails I found an old buddy key I had – that was never used, so thinking of firing it up for the 10 day trial and seeing how things are. Intersting thought there, Wow:BC coincided with LOTRO, WoW:WOTLK with WAR, so I am going to suppose that the next WoW expansion will be released some time around the Bioware KOTOR MMO launch. Anyway – getting off topic.

I have been bouncing around blogs not in my regular reading rotation and have read a lot of positive reports about how the game is carrying along. Curious if anyone out there (who reads this) is currently playing, and can recommend a server and some LOTRO tips to improve the (no doubt) 10 day solo experience while the rest of you run around the Mines of Moira. If you don’t mind giving me your in game name, so I can bother you with noobish questions along the way (and have someone to chat with in general, you know, MMO and all that) it would be greatly appreciated.

I’ll Take an Effexor Cocktail to Go Please.

Sheesh, where did the week go? It CAN’T be Friday already. I haven’t even started my week yet. I barely gamed all week, dabbling a bit in WoW, spent some good time in L4D, and attempted to workaround my Bioshock/Vista issue. Bioshock 2 – you will not be purchased. There are over 3000 replies on various threads on the 2K forums regarding the same problems I am having. You can blame FMOD, you can blame Vista, but I bought *your* product and it can’t be fixed without a patch. You are still selling the game, still support it. It was my first ever 2K game, and it will be my last if you don’t fix it (hell, at least tell me you are working on a fix instead of leaving my specific thread unanswered on your official Tech support boards for a week.) Just tell me you care. That is what customer support is.

Le Sigh. More depression after the break.


Monday Mourning – Nov 17, 2008

To be honest I don’t get what most people hate about Monday mornings. I tend to work weekends, so there is definitely no rest for the wicked at ihaspc. My to-do list on Mondays is as long as any other day but I tend to ease into everyone else’s typical work week – check blogs, prioritize tasks (I know, the irony, considering that comes second) and catch up on emails. Usually Multitasked. I decided Mondays will be my little themed post where I ramble off a bunch of randoms. What better way to “start” the week?

RIP – Burning Crusade: Much how mauve is the new pink, Burning Crusade is the new Azeroth. Empty. Of every class except Death Knights. If you play by your tune and have a healer alt in the 60’s now is the optimum time to level that toon up – there are hundreds of Death Knights begging – and paying – for healers to work with them through instances. One group offered 100 gold for a basic Ramparts run. Of course, his name was Chucknorus so you might hold out for 200 gold. With everyone in the mad dash to be the first 80 (most classes/races have already hit that mark on server firsts on Whisperwind) I wonder if destroying old content areas such as Azeroth and BC gives Blizzard cost savings on server loads, etc. – that resources normally held to hold high populations in those zones. Perhaps abandoning that content is as much a business as a stupid move? On a side note, how in the hell is the Wow Armory service STILL in beta?

More after the break.


Epic Win, Epic Fail.

Alternative title: So close yet so far.

I finally got by the WoW queue on my server and was able to experience the Death Knight class. The hour and a half quest chain in the Death Knight area was without a doubt one of the best Blizzard gaming I have ever enjoyed. The quests were fun, the storyline and lore were well done, heck, I was reading books on the ground in Ebon Hold. So how does Blizzard follow up the best hour and a half of gaming they have produced in a long time? With Epic Fail, of course! More after the break.


WoW has Two Tier Health Care

You need treatment. You can wait two hours for a doctor to see you, or move to a low population hospital for free, where you were certainly see a doctor and get treated much faster on a more regular basis. 

The free ambulance ride to the other hospital takes 24 hours. If you pay us $25 bucks we will get you there in less than half the time.

Guess it’s true, you really get what you pay for.

Blizzard to get Bailout Package!

Sorry, working on my Fox News type headlines.

With all the fun stuff going on in the markets, it’s nice to see the US banks getting a 700 Billion bailout package while continuing to freeze credit lines and stop lending credit altogether. It’s a good thing these guys didn’t help create their own situation with terrible lending practices, or that would be a kick in the nuts to the average citizen. (I did my major in Economics, so before you call me a complete noob, I do understand how it works. It is the perception that is going to piss off the average person.) The no strings attach approach is very short sighted though. Next up? The big 3! I wonder if the unions will go on strike if they don’t get a pay raise once Ford, GM, and Chrysler get their loans from the US government. (At least they are loans. Hey, it made the US people 300 million when they loaned out to almost bankrupt airlines, so this one has a chance of being sensisble. *chance*.)

In completely unrelated news, Blizzard got their 555 million dollar bailout package today, cleverly codenamed ‘Wrath of the Lich King’. Those financial folks crack me up with their fun little names. Let’s see if the servers hold.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I am enjoying WAR. It hasn’t quite turned out the way I had supposed originally (or even beta tested) but it has enough good to stick around for a while to see how it all turns out. This little piece is going to comment on where I think WAR went wrong, but not in any micro or specific ways. More of the general attitude and design decisions from the top down which has put the game in a precarious position. A position they put themselves in but am glad to see they are making the move. MMO developers have a giant elephant in the room that they ‘don’t want to compete with’, but rather expand on the space that WoW has made mainstream. The MMO development cycle isn’t much of a mystery – see who is in the market, see what they do, and build from both their successes and mistakes. The mistake that WAR made was confusing what made WoW a success and what makes WoW a failure. They got it all backwards. They developed WAR with the good of WoW for the players, and the good of WoW for the company. These two things are competing resources and a delicate balance is much needed. What is often good for the company isn’t always good for the players – players want change with their new MMO’s. Let me further explain, after the break.