Monthly Archive: March 2018

I am Number Four : World of Warcraft

Weird gaming lately. Searching for a mindless, zen like state where I can log into someplace comfortable and advance and repeat tasks. Not really with a fun focus but just a time killing focus. Some may say “wasting”. I can’t disagree with that. I hit my fourth max character in World of Warcraft this morning.

You can see the Demon Hunter is not far behind. I think I am doing the Shaman next though, really tired of leveling leather wearing characters. They all end up looking the same by armor type. As you can see I have no cloth wearing classes at max level and that is also something I want to “fix”. Normally I don’t like playing DPS only classes as it takes out reasonable timeframes for getting into speechless groups and raids (any kind of group or raid, really. I mean, you are a tank or a healer and you have a one minute wait. As a DPS only class you have 20+ often. Sometimes it’s not so bad and you get lucky and get one that’s under 10 minutes.

The Hunter class was my first WoW class, back when everyone was a hunter back in Vanilla. That’s when I switched to Druid as my main and who is my emotional favorite. The Shaman was my other raiding class (from a heal perspective) and the Rogue is just a lot of fun to play. Hunters in Legion took on a new look – the Marksman (what I play) can get rid of their pet altogether. Heck, they even have a melee spec, which from what I understand isn’t that great. Still it was glad to see some changes to the standard in this expansion and since I had never levelled one to max I chose to this time.

I don’t think I am going to bother multi-speccing the class, however. If I want to Melee I will use my rogue, or my Shaman (Enhancement was a long time favorite class of mine). Nice to have the simplicity of one class, one spec for a change. The great thing about WoW is the maintenance mode it is in is very easy to play. Everything is simplified with flying. I log in, do the daily emissary quests with each (once they have 2+ saved up), get the loot, run follower missions for gold/rep, send everything to my bank alt, sell on the AH, rinse repeat. I am a creature of habit. I get up at 4:30 am every day, have a coffee, work out, make breakfast for my family, go to work, rinse, repeat. WoW works well on a schedule.

Great news is that I made enough this month to pay for my next two months so WoW is a F2P game for me. Makes it easy to spend my time there this way.  I am still confused why the sudden desire to have one of every class to level cap. I also want to unlock the new races (for alliance, anyway) but I have little to no desire to level a character from one. Not sure if you can race change or not but I’m leaning on that. Would be nice to get different races on my classes but  not going to level them up from scratch. I have a 70+ warrior on another server that I will transfer. Still, there are cloth wearer at very low levels so perhaps I could start a new race there?

I haven’t had any desire to play WoW and still not quite sure what the draw is here. Any content I now do has been done 4x over and if I do get all the classes to 110 all that means is that I have far too many choices when the expansion drops (which takes a lot more commitment and focus than what I am doing now). Kind of feels like I am playing while half asleep – zombie gaming? Where I am half in, not fully paying attention, but nevertheless pleased with result? It’s odd, but not a bad time. That isn’t really a super high endorsement now, is it?

The class halls, feels and story has been an interesting perspective at least.

This post is as clear as my mind is right now and my gaming.

Making a Generation of Bad Players : WoW

There is nothing like a Timewalking event to make you appreciate old school MMO players and feel bad that newer MMO players haven’t had to learn what used to be “core competencies” in MMOs. Now to be sure – these skills aren’t as important because they aren’t prevalent in today’s gaming but for anyone who grew up when MMOs had a modicum of challenge this will be very familiar territory.

Love the old, ugly, mish mash of levelling gear

The setting was a 5 man Timewalking Dungeon from the Cataclysm expansion – specifically Throne of the Tides. I am levelling my 4th and 5th characters to cap (more on that later) and my Shaman has a heal spec which I spent many years playing so into Timewalking dungeons I go.  Throne of the Tides has some large pack pulls (5+) and very specific mobs that cast greater heal. With the de-levelling and gearing you can’t just muscle through it. You need focus fire, and interrupts, and/or CC. The first run I did of this dungeon was with “newer” WoW players. They just kept full AOE, no interrupts, and we literally spent over 5 minutes bashing our heads against a single pack until we wiped. I, as a healer, was the only person trying to interrupt. Even when I Hex’ed a healer (hard CC) someone would hit it to bring it into AOE fest. I took the time and energy to try and explain.

More ugly gear, my tanking set. Gross. Love it. Orange and Purple should match better.

Not only did they not get it, the Mage didn’t even have Polymorph on her hotbar. I kid you not. Of course, makes sense, because if you never have to use a spell/skill why bother? I remember those pulls “back in the day” and we would do a SAP, POLY, HEX, FREEZE TRAP and prioritize the others, rotating interrupts. When done it was a wonderful coordination and really made you feel like a team. Now it is just gather up as much as you can and AOE it all down. The beauty and intricacies of the genre are completely watered down.

But there is hope.

That group fell apart because people refused to communicate, mark mobs, and try something different. So I requeued up and decided to try again. This time I got a group that cleary was from the Cataclysm era. The tank marked mobs. BLue square was hunter trap. X was Polymorph. Was explained once, and everyone excuted throughout the whole 5 man. It was still the same old, same old WoW experience because no one said a word after the “rules” were set until the final piece of loot dropped (“ty all”, was the crux of it.) but it was a well oiled, experienced machine.

The Shaman class hall, on the edge of the Maelstrom is frightening and beautiful. Waves crash up and spray. I haven’t tried jumping in. Yet.

Rest of the runs were a mixed bag of both which was when I realized that a lot of players either just don’t know any better, or don’t care to put in the effort. All of this means that there is probably less complexity on it’s way in future games and they will continue to be questing snore-fests.

No wonder why nothing really new is coming out in the space “for the masses”, and hopefully the niche titles will try to recapture at least some of the personal responsibility along with personal loot boxes.

Backtracking : Paladins

When I last wrote in depth about Paladins in this article I was shocked and dismayed that they were ignoring everything that EA just went through with BAttlefield 2 and was launching a new “Cards Unbound” system that was clearly and obviously designed as pay 2 win mechanics. It was a sad hail mary from a really good game – one I used to believe was better than Overwatch – albeit having a more niche following. Greed, it seems, is more important than having a stable and solid revenue base. The community rallied against it heavily – I have never seen a community so united against a change – but the developers made excuses and stuck to the plan. They were going all in on it.

It worked out exactly as expected, from a player base perspective.

Cards unbound was launched December 18th. People had already been leaving the game pretty upset by then, since the announcement in November. Many people came back to try it out in January as there was a small uptick in players – only to have their fears fully realized, and a huge drop in February – their lowest ever. What is a developer supposed to do? What happens when their vision of money doesn’t line up with the vision of the game the players have adopted and loved about them?

Backtrack of course.

Here is the main snippet:

We know this system has angered many of our most loyal fans and become a point of continuous contention in the Paladins community (and even inside of Hi-Rez). Your voice has been heard loud and clear.

Our team will be working over the next major release cycle to remove Cards Unbound from the game. We will be replacing it with a new system that I believe the community will be really excited about — including the re-introduction of the deck building point system, and a method for obtaining cards that will be way less grindy.

We want the focal point of the card system in Paladins to be about fun ways to customize your champion to your favored playstyle.  We also want to unify the COMPETITIVE and CASUAL experiences with the card system so that we use the same system for both (no more separation of bound vs unbound).

We are still working out the details of the new system, but the rough outline of our current thinking is as follows (NOTE: Subject to some change, but hopefully this communicates the general direction we want to head):

  • Legendary Cards will now be called Talents.
  • Talents will only have a single level.
  • Talents will be unlocked for free by earning XP and gaining Champion levels (for example; level 1,5,10,15).
  • All Champion Cards will now be free (No cost or grind).
  • Deck creation will return to a point system where players can distribute 15 points across the five cards they select for their loadout. Each Champion Card will have five ranks to choose from.
  • Talents will not have ranks, and are not included in the loadout point cap.
  • Talents and Decks will continue to be chosen at match start to allow players to tailor their playstyles based on their opponents.
  • New Talents will be added over time and give further varied playstyles.
  • Champion Mastery will no longer be capped at level 25. Instead, it will work similarly to Player Account leveling (which has no cap).
  • Card chests will be removed from the game.
  • We are evaluating the best options to compensate players for their previously earned cards, and hope to share details soon.

The release plan is to start testing this new system as soon as we can on PTS (hopefully, next week).  Your analysis and participation will be very important over the next few weeks as we work the kinks out of this design and deliver the best possible product to you in the next update.

You can read the full announcement here, if you want.

I am torn on this. I like to support companies that make good moves. Anyone who was listening and had half a brain knew it would turn out this way. It was made clear to them. This forced me to consider that the move itself was desperation – that they HAD to do it or shut down the game – why would you ruin such a good thing? Still, they did it, and made it worse, and are now trying to fix it. So the optimist in me wants to load it up and play again once they relaunch the game with the new, older rules. The other part of me knows that I quit the game before that terrible decision, because the matchmaking imbalance wasn’t fun – they weren’t spending their time and energy on the important parts of the game.

I will probably go try it again, only to show that their steam numbers get a small uptick for doing the right thing – but it is probably too late for Paladins. They have already announced a Battle Royale mode and my guess is that this game goes the route of Fortnite and all resources are funneled into that project – where the “easy money” is at. Problem is by then that space will be even more crowded. You don’t have to “win” to be the best.

Being the second most popular small team shooter would have been okay, you know.

Content Catch Up : WoW

Well, that didn’t take long. As of this morning I have completed all the Broken Isles content I had planned too (LFR once through all, got the new flying form, have completed all the main quests). I am also done all of Argus except the LFR raid (and will probably finish that off tonight). It took me three days to go from 7.2 to 7.35. To be fair, I was running pretty good content when I left (Mythic +9, etc.) but wasn’t raiding outside of LFR. My ilvl is 891 and that is a far cry away from the easy to reach 910 from grinding out Argus, so there is a goal at least. I also need to grind out enough material to upgrade all of my legendary items to 1000 but almost have enough for my first just through the leveling process. It’s good to have goals but outside of daily Emissary quests I think I am already out of things to do. So, I started doing my main two alts (Rogue and Paladin) through the Daily Emissary quests for catch up and get them headed to the Broken Shore.  I then started planning out three other characters I want to get to max level (Shaman 94, Monk 56 , Hunter 101 – in that order) when it occurred to me – here I am again, hook line and sinker repeating the content I just completed in a whopping three days to climb in ilvl for no specific purpose. What’s that quote about doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different outcome? Although hard to judge because it was a super fun and comfortable three days. This is how games suck you in.

Really? Maximum of 50 characters across all realms? Who does that?

I’m not a big fan of the new flight form for the Druid. The old one, looks like a scrappy young druid ready for battle. Maybe a bit like a “still able to fly version” of a Dark Crystal Skeksis.

The new version is a grandpa like, “get off my lawn you pesky kids” version.

The bad mustache style feathers and upright neck make it also look uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I will be keeping it, but will give it a chance to grow on my a bit. We’ll see if Grandpa Owl has all the tangible benefits of a real grandparent.

The flying quest had an instance where you had to go support Thisalee Crow to get the Relic back from a big bad Legion guy.  The fun part for this is that I already had Thisalee Crow accompanying me in my adventures in the Broken Isles. So there was a weird moment where her and her clone and I were all hanging out.  Can you say awkward?

Will the real Thisalee Crow please stand up?

Outside of that continuity error – of which I don’t suspect Blizzard really cares – the experience has been WoW through and through. Although I did stop to pause to wonder if “old Blizzard” would have cared of the duplicity there. I know they aren’t into immersion as importance but they have done a lot of good cutscene work and surely someone would have noticed that this was a very distinct probability for a druid character. Of which, a production manager of some sort would have realized that there would be no real outcry, so why bother investing programming time and dollars to find a fix for something that wasn’t going to be noticed or written about by anyone of substance? There was one Argus cutscene moment where I actually said “Wow, that was cool!” and I don’t want to put this post into spoiler territory (guessing I am the last in the world to see it anyway) but take a guess in the comments if you think you know which I am talking about.

Ilvls to grind and alts to level. For now. I have enough for a token for my first 30 days and I made 30,000 on the first day in the Auction house, so the game is free for me for as long as I want to play it. Will see how long it can capture my attention for for now.  The big question is if I will drag my alts through the same experience or if I can stick to just one character.