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Squish!

August 23, 2013 3 comments

There have been a lot of blogs and chatter about squishing numbers, as we get higher levels. This week’s Community Blog question was does Blizzard need to squish abilities?

And I thought about this and all the healing buttons my tree has, and then I realized that Blizzard pretty much squishes abilities with every expansion, and even sometimes in new patches.

I started this game back in TBC, and in those days, many abilities had rankings to go with them. For example, on my holy paladin, there were about 5 or so “levels” of Holy Light and Flash of Light. (I don’t remember the exact number it was a long time ago so shaddup Mav). The lower levels of the spells weren’t very powerful in end game, but they were there. With every ding or so, we got a new level to our abilities. But then it became a mana conservatory. Healers began to downgrade their abilities to save mana. End of a fight and I was running low? We didn’t have no stinking Divine Plea! That came in Wrath. I had to down rank my healing spells to level 2 or so, since they cost lest mana to cast. Blizzard didn’t like this so they put the kibosh on the ability levels and squished them into one.

While we’re on the subject of pallies, we had a blessing for everything. 25-man raiding with 8 pallies in the group took a lot of coordination of who was blessing what. Someone cast might, someone cast kings, someone cast wisdom, someone cast light, etc. Now we have a bunch of hands and two blessings. That’s it. Squish! And we were flogged if we forgot our sacred candles! I still miss Divine Intervention and Righteous Defense.

In Wrath, I enjoyed dabbling on my affliction warlock. We had a LOT of dots and debuffs to manage back then. Agony was a curse that had to be juggled with other warlock curses. We had a fire dot that was a big part of our rotation (it was a long time ago and I can’t remember the name of it, shaddup Mav). When Cataclysm hit, affliction was squished into a much simpler rotation. Just when I got the rotation down /shakes fist.

In Cataclysm, I offspec’d kitty on two-heal fights in heroic Dragon Soul. Kitty rotation was a beast, and I had it down to a science. It was a fun rotation. When 5.0 hit, we were declawed into a simple rotation of shred spam and two dots.

Abilities are squished and taken away all the time. It’s part of the game, and making the game less intimidating to learn for new players. Some rotations are complex, and Blizzard takes some abilities away, and often adds new better ones. If abilities didn’t get squished, every expansion, every 5-10 levels when new abilities and talents are added, our bars would get so big they’d cover our screen.

If I had a choice as to what current abilities to lose, here’s my list of top 5:

1. Rockbiter Weapon. Seriously, why the hell is this still in the game? Maybe someday Shamans will tank again?

2. Not really an “ability squish” per se, but for the love of cheesecake make Harmony passive! I know it’s listed as passive, but it’s not truly passive when we have to use specific spells to activate it! We have enough hots and buffs to monitor. Just give us a flat passive throughput buff from Mastery and be done with it.

3. Mind Vision – Has any priest really used this?

4. Track Humanoids – I’ve PVP’d on my druid a lot, and I totally forgot this ability even existed.

5. Soothe – I’ve never used this, because we’ve always had a hunter with Tranq shot. The last time I even remember needing a Tranq shot was in T11.

And there you have it. Keep on squishing. My ADHD doesn’t like to remember too many buttons to push!

Categories: Community Blog Topics

A True Level Cap?

August 16, 2013 1 comment

One of the community bloggers asked an interesting question, which made it to the topic of the week. What if there was a hard level cap, and we didn’t get any more levels in future expansions? Would you be in favor of that?

(I know what Mav’s answer would be!)

I have a love/hate relationship with questing and leveling. When a new expansion hits, I’m thinking, UGH am I 80 yet? Am I 85 yet? Am I 90 yet? Enough with this leveling shit and get me into raids NOW! I’m impatient. When Wrath of the Lich King hit, I was at a crossroads in game. I didn’t have a real guild to call home. My paladin was on the Medivh server having transferred there from Uldaman only to get kicked out of the guild because my Kara gear wasn’t good enough for Sunwell. So, while I was on the 30 day transfer cooldown, I joined up another guild on Medivh called Attica (I don’t think they’re around anymore). I picked up Wrath on my way home from work on launch day, logged in, and 2 players were already level 80, and the rest of the guild was level 74+. Day 2, they had 10 players at 80 and started raiding Naxx. Day 2 I was level….71. By the time my transfer CD was up, I was level 74 and moved back to Uldaman where a new small guild waited for me to level to 80.

When Cataclysm hit, MT was already in full swing having been created about a year into the Wrath expansion (around TOC content). I was leveling up my priest, and I think Krur was the first to hit 85. It took me about a week or so to get to level 85, and we hit BWD shortly after that. At MOP launch, I was even more motivated and leveled in just about 7 days (without taking any time off work). But I have to say the leveling and grinding experience in MOP sucked. With a capital Suck. There was no way any of us wanted to level alts from 85-90 after that misery.

(but, as we know, you can’t keep an altoholic under the level cap forever)

So my first thought was YES!! Let’s make a real level cap (100 is a nice round number), and when a new expansion hits, we take a completely new progression path via gear ilvls by questing, in dungeons, scenarios, LFR, etc. This way, older raids still stay somewhat current for alts and newbies to progress through. Imagine if Kara was the entry raid for all new max level characters no matter what the expansion? That place will never get old. Toons who are geared from the last expansion go to the first raid in the new expansion. The older content will still end up soloable as players grossly outgear it. Keep the questing, but have quest rewards improve our characters. No more grinding alts 5 levels THEN gearing them to help out guild raids. Leveling is a huge time suck. Especially when  you had 10+ max characters last expansion. Get them all to the cap and be DONE with it! Yeah!

Yes, there are the masochists that actually like the leveling experience. But we should be able to keep the experience through quest and gear progression without adding more Dings. And for those that REALLY love to level? Go roll a new toon and experience Silverpine Forest all over again! There will always be the level 1-100 leveling experience. I personally love this idea (Sorry, Robin!).

Categories: Community Blog Topics

If Classes Could Have More Specs

August 9, 2013 2 comments

So, apparently it’s not fair that Druids get 4 specs while everyone else only has 3. Scott Andrews on WoWinsider had a totally weird idea about dual spec/dual class thingies that just made my head spin and scream “NOOOO FOR THE LOVE OF BABY THRALL NOOOOOO!!!!!”

Which brought on this week’s Community Blog Topic, the fourth spec. Sure, it can be fun to think about weird role hybrids such as healing mages or tanking warlocks, but that just further homogenizes classes into all being hybrid tank, heal and damage dealers. So here are my random thoughts about what potential 4th specs could be for each class. I’m leaving out Druids because, well, we already are awesome enough to have 4 specs. So HAH!

Mages

Mages are known for blowing things up. That’s what they’re good at. They use the powers of Fire, Frost and the Arcane to do what they do best. Therefore, their fourth spec should also call to their talents and also blow stuff up. I could almost see giving them an affliction-type spec. Mages should be allowed to curse things! They have magic powers. Curses are magic. Affliction mages. This spec would have an arsenal of curses and debuffs, such as armor sundering, increased damage by all players on the target, and channeling the shadows. Take the best parts of affliction locks and shadow priests and create the shadow mage spec.

Warlocks

This is another class of blowing things up or slow destruction. However, I could get on board with Robin’s suggestion of a drain life/AOE heal spec. It would be a utility heal spec which causes life stealing spells to heal nearby allies. However, I can’t see an entire spec built out of this, but it would be an awesome talent or glyph! I would more prefer a “ranged tanking” spec for warlocks. Bosses that only deal magical damage can also be tanked by a warlock specced for it. The spec would include armor increases, health increases and defensive cooldowns. Call this spec shadow defender.

Priests

Priests have a lot of utility already. They use the light to heal and they use shadow energies to deal damage. I could suggest a melee priest, but those are called monks. This is a tough one, I can’t justify a priest tank spec, because by design these are a supporting cast type class. For a fourth spec, I could see channeling the light to deal damage (oh wait, that’s discipline), or channeling the shadows to heal. Healing allies will deal shadow damage to nearby enemies. The reverse atonement spec. We could call this spec the shadow mender.

(hang on… I think there may be a pattern emerging…)

Rogues

I promise I won’t suggest using any type of shadow energies to give a rogue a 4th spec. Rogues should have an invincible spec. Oh wait….. (backstabbing little bastards…). A tank spec wouldn’t work, because you would be forcing them to attack in front when we all know they do it best from behind. Switching them out of their role would just be dumb altogether, so let’s look at other ways they could make use of their damage dealing abilities. A poisons spec would be the best idea here imo. This would either be the only spec to use poisons, or their poisons would be a lot more powerful. Make them do more with poison. Nods. Call it the shadow poison spec.

Monks

I admit I’m not familiar with monks at all, having not jumped on the monk bandwagon. My monk is level 13-ish. She’ll be leveled eventually. So I don’t even really have any good ideas for a 4th monk spec. Ranged wouldn’t really work because they’re known for punching shit in the face. I can only really see a 4th spec being a buff spec or something similar to discipline priests. Call it the cloudsurfer spec. I don’t know why. It just sounds right.

Hunters

Give these fools a melee or spear throwing spec.

Shaman

Shamans have a huge identity crisis going on. This is really the only class I could truly see a 4th spec for, as a tank spec. Call it the rockbiter spec. There has to be a reason for Rockbiter Weapon to still exist. This spec should also have access to Earth Shield.

Warrior

I know about as much about warriors as I do about Monks. But I don’t see a feasible 4th spec here. Ranged? No way, plate wearers are designed to smash into things. A ranged warrior may as well be a hunter.

Paladins

The only thing I could really see for paladins is a different type of healing style. Holy paladins for years have been pure tank/single target healers. Now blizzard is giving them hots, AOE heals, etc. I’d like to see them go back to having that single-target burst niche with some mitigation, with another spec dedicated to AOE and HOT healing. If priests can have 2 healing specs, give them to paladins too! Call the new spec redemption.

Death Knights

I’m torn here. I’m trying not to go with anything shadow related. We’ve already covered affliction/debuffs. You know what? Eff them. Nerf DKs. Take away a spec and only give them 2. That’s all they need.

So do I really think all classes should get a fourth spec? Hell no. A lot of these had my tongue implanted firmly in my cheek. It just doesn’t make any sense for some of them. I would love to see the ability to tri-spec. Everyone needs a PVP spec! And my druid could be a treebearcat. I WANT A TREEBEARCAT!

Categories: Community Blog Topics

The In-Game Store

July 15, 2013 3 comments

If I’m understanding this right, with 5.4 Blizzard is bringing a version of the Blizzard store in-game. This definitely makes it more convenient to purchase items from the store without having to tab out. The question is, what would I buy?

Those of us who are altoholics are going to love the 100% XP boost. Those of us who must COLLECT ALL THE PETS will love the pet/mount store. But I’d be a little conservative in saying what I would buy until I know how much this stuff is actually going to cost. I mean I’ve already given Blizzard too much money in my two wow subscriptions, the constant shuttling of my alliance alts (which may be coming back to horde), how many bloody pets and mounts I’ve already bought from the store (that reminds me I must get the tree pet), and the $30 I’ll never see again from buying the game and all the expansions during the discount week for my kid brother’s birthday because Fedex sucks (Now I have to find a new present for him and Blizzard won’t get a new subscription out of it).

Anyway! Some things I’d love to see in the in-game store:

Extra Character Slots

I doubt this would happen, because Blizzard would lose money on the deal from those of us with a 2nd subscription to hold all these rassafriggin’ alts. But they could make more money with players that didn’t buy another subscription but need more slots anyway. The way many players get around not having to buy a 2nd account is just having alts on other servers. With extra slots, Blizzard would make money on the per slot fee, as well as the character transfer fees (provided that the alts are not on the same Virtual Realm).

Bind on Account Scrolls

Buy a scroll, make one of your soulbound items BOA. So when your main is done with an item, slap a BOA scroll on it and send it to your alt! This would make gearing alts much easier, and allow guilds more flexibility on raid fill-ins. We have the technology for this with heirlooms. Let’s do it!!

Rep Tabards

Bring them back! Aly doesn’t do dailies!

Guild Perks

We haven’t had any new guild perks this expansion. Maybe we can buy back the Have Group, Will Travel perk? Upgrade the Cash Flow perk?

Transmog/Cosmetic Items

This has already been mentioned, but worth repeating. Give RP’ers some more cosmetic items to have fun with. Give us some replica gear that we don’t have to grind Darkmoon tickets for, or maybe some transmog patterns that we can craft in-game…pretty clothes with no stats that help crafters level their professions.

Finally, and I might get rotten fruit thrown at me for this, but make everything (or almost everything) in the Blizzard store tradeable in game. This could wreak some havoc on the economy (but Virtual Realms will do that anyway), but it’s a legit way of “buying” gold without actually buying gold. Blizzard did this with the Guardian Cub, and it seemed to work out.

/cheers

Is Leveling Too Easy?

July 8, 2013 3 comments

Recently, a former Blizzard developer claimed that WoW is now too easy. And he has a point – everyone is racing to end-game and not stopping to smell the flowers that are now growing in Desolace. And this is somewhat true.

As an experienced WoW player and altoholic extraordinaire, I don’t think of the leveling game so much as too easy, as it is more convenient. When I leveled baby alts through Cataclysm, I was shocked to see all the starting zone mobs were now passive. I can now kill zombies at my leisure, instead of running for my life. As I leveled through zones such Silverpine Forest and the Hinterlands pre-Cataclysm,, Pyrewood Village in Silverpine and the troll area Jintha’Alor in Hinterlands was now solo-able, as the worgen and trolls were no longer elite. Though I have to admit, I miss the challenges a bit. Stealthing through Pyrewood on my druid just made those quests seem a little too easy even then!

Cataclysm nerfed content a bit more – all but eliminating group quests – especially those big guys in Dragonblight. Forming groups to kill elite mobs gave questing an epic feel to it that we no longer have, and new players will never get to experience. The expansion also gave us heirloom items for our alts. This of course made leveling much more convenient for those of us that just wanted to get more toons to max level.

Looking at it from a newbie standpoint, a player brand new to WoW wouldn’t have access to heirlooms. They may not even have access to a guild right away. As they’re learning the game, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for the starting zones to have passive mobs. It definitely takes the panic out of figuring out what the foo your buttons do as you’re being chased by a trogg.

Some other conveniences added to the leveling experience are pets. All pet classes now have pets at level 1. Hunters no longer feel the pain of having to wait until level 10 to learn how to tame a pet, while pretending to be a rogue as mobs got too close for you to shoot them. Of course, as a hunter you are designed to shoot so your stabbing skills weren’t necessarily any good. You almost had to dual wield as a hunter before level 10, since whacking mobs with a stick just didn’t do any good. Yes, leveling a hunter without a pet was painful back in the day.

Another convenience was mounts. Prior to Wrath of the Lich King, we had to huffpuff our way to level 40. Then, if we were rich, we could plop down ALL our gold for our first ground mount. If we were really lucky, our guild would front the money for that first mount. At leavel 60 we were able to train the fast ground mount, but that was an expensive luxury. Allowing mounts at level 20 definitely made life a lot easier, as it was much more convenient to get around. And finding a group for the Paladin or Warlock epic mount quest was an exercise in futility if you did not have a good supportive guild. But at the same time, it was a shame those quests have been removed. Again, it felt really epic to have accomplished those quest lines.

The biggest convenience to the leveling experience was the introduction of the Dungeon finder. Spamming trade for a tank for Zul’Farrak WITH the mallet was just not an efficient use of time. My paladin tanked and healed (without a dual spec) those places, sometimes simultaneously, because tanks and healers just didn’t exist. That brings me to dual spec – another huge convenience. Healers around Azeroth rejoiced. We no longer had to run back to our trainer, respec to dps to quest, then respec again to run a dungeon, then respec again to quest. That got expensive, and really really annoying. There’s a reason why I leveled 30-80 as holy. It sucked, but I couldn’t afford not to.

So to answer the question, is leveling really too easy? For alts, it’s great. For new players, it’s still great. I don’t really think it’s too easy. Leveling pre-Wrath sucked. With a capital suck. With all the conveniences added to the leveling game, bringing up alts, as well as new players is a much more enjoyable experience.

As for end game difficulty, well that’s another post!

Categories: Community Blog Topics

One Big Happy… Oh Wait….

June 7, 2013 1 comment

We’ve seen this on our own forums. I’m sure similar topics have cropped up on other small servers. With the drop in subscribers, and the ease of transferring characters and guilds, sparsely populated servers are becoming more sparse. So the question is, to merge or not to merge servers?

Let’s take a look at some of the larger issues that our communities are facing with medium/low pop servers becoming low pop/desolate.

  • Grouping. PUGs for normal content don’t exist.
  • Recruitment. With the pool so thin, guilds are forced to recruit off-server, and have to convince players why they should help breathe new life into their server.
  • Too many guilds, not enough people.

One of the “solutions” that’s been brought up was let’s just merge everyone into one big fat oversized server. Makes sense, right? Let’s look at the Pros and Cons to this.

Pros

  1. Solves the pesky low-pop issues
  2. Solves some recruitment issues
  3. Players don’t have to spend a fortune to transfer characters or guilds

Cons

Technical limitations. If we merged every realm into one big fat physical server, think of all the technical issues and forum qq explosions that will arise:

    • Login ques during prime time. You thought your high-pop ques were bad? HAH.
    • Lag. You thought 3 groups of 40 players killing Oondasta caused lag and slowed down performance? HAH.
    • Space. That would require a LOT of drive space. And it would require expandable drive space.
    • Maintenance/Rolling restarts. Byebye rolling restarts. hello one big fat restart and 8 million people whining together.
    • If a server goes down for whatever reason, that’s 8+million people blowing up the forums, and not just a few thousand if a realm gets knocked offline. That will knock the entire battle.net site offline if it gets that kind of traffic.
    • Not a lot of room to expand a physical server if subscriber base increases.

Naming Issues. There would have to be some VERY unique names out there. All of you 213 tauren paladins out there named “Holycow” (plus the many variations thereof), guess what? Only one of you gets to keep it. That goes for the 89  guilds named <Awesome>, the 144 guilds named <Insomnia> and the 161 guilds named <Invictus>.

Trolling/Harassment. You know how you can just leave a server if someone is trolling/harassing you? Or if there is drama you need to get away from? And don’t even get me started on trade chat! Where are you going to go now? Rift?

More Griefers. Trying to get that quest mob, but there are 900 other players there going for the same quest mob? Good luck!

Different Styles. Realistically, we’d have to have one big PVE server, one big PVP server, one big RPPVE server and one big RPPVP server. Otherwise we’ve just alienated 3 player bases. And the Goldshire Inn may get VERY interesting to some unsuspecting players! Is that something you’d want your kids to stumble into?

Economy. This would completely change the face of the economy. For better or worse, who knows? But it will be a lot different, that’s for sure.

So what are some other solutions?

Blizzard attempted to populate some areas by cross-realm zoning. There are some ways that this can improve. I would love to see Cross-Realm guilds. Allow players to join guilds on other servers without physically being on that server. Consolidating some of the lower populated servers by auto-transferring everyone from 1-2 low pop servers into one maybe another solution. But what if… ?

Virtual Consolidation

Physically, players are on different servers. However, there should be a way to make these servers virtually transparent. On the back end. spreading the resources among many servers will solve enormous login ques, drive space issues and other performance issues. But on the front end, make it seem that everyone is on the same server. This would give us:

  • Cross-realm Guilds – the ability to join a guild physically located on another realm without having to transfer characters.
  • One AH for each faction (yes, it would change the economy as we know it, but the AH interface needs a makeover anyway).
  • Cross realm grouping for ALL content without necessarily having to go through the battletag system.
  • The ability to mail items across realms to other toons.
  • The ability to send tells to players not on your battletag or in your group by typing the name-realm.

This is already the direction Blizzard has been moving in with the use of the Battletag/RealID system. We are already able to form cross-realm groups via the battletag system. We are already able to see players on other realms while we’re leveling baby toons through deserted content. The functionality is there. We just need to build on it.

Categories: Community Blog Topics

If Ghostcrawler was a Genie….

May 31, 2013 3 comments

…..and granted you three wishes, what would you wish for?

(and as the Genie in Aladdin said “ix-nay on the wishing for more wishes! You get three.)

I’ve thought back to all the times I’ve said to myself “I wish Blizzard would add….” Then we got our flying mounts in Azeroth. And we got to be able to chat with friends on other servers and factions. Then we got to actually PLAY with them! I don’t know, but Blizzard made quite a few wishes come true. But there are still a few things that I would love to see.

1. Guild UI Overhauls

The UI was tweaked a little bit when Cataclysm was launched, but seriously it needs a makeover. Pronto. Some things I’d love to see in the guild UI are:

  • Some connection between all a player’s toons. So if they log in a toon, we can see all their other toons on that account that are in the guild.
  • A prettier guild UI
  • Instanced “housing”. A place for the guild to show off its trophies. Screenshots of kills frozen in time. A place for the Guild Vendor to hang his hat. The possibilities are endless.
  • Something has to be done about the Guild Bank. It’s outdated. The logs are too limited. I’d love a feature where guildies can buy from the GB and sell items to the GB. Allow guild leaders to assign a price to certain items in the GB and open up a payment window when someone wants that item. Give players the option to sell or donate an item to the GB. Call it the “Guild Store”.
  • Ooooh! A Guild Store!! Add it to the GB or make it its own store. You know where a great place for a guild store would be? Ahem….
  • Do something with the useless LFG tool. It was a nice idea but, ugh. It needs a lot of help. More space for the guild description would be nice. the ability to send an in-game mail to someone interested in the guild just by clicking their name. Or even a browser to browse players who are actually looking for a guild.
  • Guild-bound items. Anything bought from a guild vendor stays with the guild. If players leave the guild, they lose the guild-bound item. We want to discourage guild hoppers.

Blizzard unlocked so much potential with Guild Leveling and Perks in Cataclysm. My biggest wish is for them to build on this.

2. Upgrades to the Blizzard Forums/Website

So this isn’t an in-game wish. This is a “someone please fix the forums” wish. In particular, the Guild Recruitment forum. Instead of a forum, build something like what wowmatcher.com did back in the day. It’s a shame that site hasn’t been updated since the beginning of Cataclysm.

The Guild Recruitment system should have:

  • An area for guilds looking for members. The area should allow Guild Profiles, which include a description, progression widgets, what they are recruiting, etc.
  • An area for players looking for guilds. The area should allow Player Profiles (pretty much what the current armory does), with a place for players to describe what they’re looking for.
  • Sortable! Filters! Help us find what we’re looking for!

I would love the blizzard website to include an area for Raiding Guild rankings, basically what wowprogress does. The rankings wouldn’t be just for raiding guilds. They could have RBG Team rankings, Achievement Rankings, etc. Imagine one place where you can see everything you wanted to know? Awesome.

3. Achievement Points

Make them actually MEAN something! Sure, we all love gathering up worthless nerdpoints. But some rewards for these points would be nice. Turn them into a form of currency. Unlock something once we have a certain number of points. Otherwise they’re just… numbers. You can do this Blizzard, I know you can. You already give us rewards for specific achievements (Long, Strange Trip mount, anyone?). Give these points some meaning!

So those are my 3 wishes. No, Ghostcrawler, I don’t want a pony. I have a pony. And it’s made of stars. Stars of awesome. Now let’s make this game more awesome.

/cheers

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