19 November 2010 § 6 Comments
This post is probably going to be a “Dear Abby” style one, because something… unsettling happened to me and I need to write about it.
Some people may remember the incident Miss Medicina described in a post last February: to summarise it quickly, she was sending a whisper to a raid leader about a certain raid member being “borderline retarded”, and by mistake she sent the whisper to said raid member. MM’s post was (I thought) a very sweet reminder that even someone who is fundamentally good can say hurtful things without really meaning to.
Well, today I was the recipient of a whisper describing myself as “prickly” and “quick to criticise”. The whisper was clearly not intended for me, and came from someone whom I had, until that very moment, considered a good (WoW) friend. I am very aware of the difference between online friendship and RL ones, and while I know that one can turn into another, I also know that online friendships have this deceptive depth to them that can trick you into considering them much stronger than they really are – but that didn’t change the fact that, having raided and partied and shared stories and wipes with someone for the past year or so, I was very hurt to suddenly find out the image she had of me. To make matters worse, he went on to state that it’s because he could never understand what I thought of him, and I kept turning hot and cold with him, and so he did not know how to take anything I said (I had just whispered him about a remark he had made during the raid, which I had found sligthly offensive, but didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I thought a whisper to let him know would solve it). And yes, I am changing pronouns to indicate the person in question, to make it harder to identify him or her.
I did not have the coolness of MM’s “victim”. I just replied something along the lines of “nice mistell”, and when she kept explaining I tried to keep my replies to a minimum. I was, quite frankly, still reeling. I still don’t know what I will do.
I can do nothing, and just accept that he thinks I am this way. Honestly, that adds a whole new layer of tension which I am sure I want to carry over (because yes, this person is in my 10-man raid, and no, this was not the tension I had sort of alluded to in my last post, though the conclusion to that post about interpersonal relationships being more important than strategies reads kinda ironic now). Although the actual words in the message look fairly tame, now that I write about them, I am not sure I am ready to forget the blow they delivered to me when I first read them.
I can just quit the raid, but is that really going to solve the issue? I am still in the same guild (in fact, I have just become guild leader of that guild…) and she is still an important and active person of the same small guild. And quitting WoW over this seems… a bit overblown, to say the least. (And restarting on another server or faction is not exactly something I can look forward to – my roots into Feathermoon Horde are too deep). I am sure that the raid would survive (well, I *do* think I have an important social function in smoothing things over, but I don’t think that is invaluable or irreplaceable in any way).
I guess the only real, mature option is to talk to him about it all, and try to solve the issue. Frankly, I doubt I will ever get to trust her as much as I did until today – by nature, I tend to be a fairly trusting soul, I think, but once I feel that trust is betrayed I find it really hard to continue. I am hoping we can get to a level where we can work together, though, because it would suck majorly if this ruined Feathermoon for me.
For now? God it hurts.
15 November 2010 § 3 Comments
So, Heroic Lich King is dead – and it’s about time. We have been working on this encounter since May. In the meantime, we had to change one of our tanks multiple times, recruit a new dps, deal with holidays and business trips and frustration, and just as we got close to killing him, 4.0.1 dropped and changed just about everything. I have a strategy post that is almost ready – but that can wait: I am not sure how many people are still actually working on progression encounters, given we’re 3 raid lockouts away from Cataclysm (and Thanksgiving is bound to mess up raiding for most people). What I want to do today is to reflect on the frustrating 6 months, and see if I can take out some lessons which instead are going to still be useful in Cataclysm – about fighting on progression encounters, raiding with 10-man, strategising. Both Beru and Kae have used the death of LK heroic as an occasion to reflect on raiding more in general, and given I admire both ladies enormously for their blogging efforts, it is no surprise I am trying to do the same. Some of the stuff I’ll say will be a repeat of what they said, but I think enough of it is different to warrant a separate post.
The Finest Hour
So, let’s start with the good thing. HE’S DEAD! After plaguing our dreams and nightmares for all this time, the Lich King is dead: the reason we came to Northrend, the threat to the whole of Azeroth is no more. Outside of the lore excitement, the fight is so hard and so finely tuned that it is really a tribute to the skill of the group of people I raid with that we managed to get it down. The fact he’s the end boss of the whole expansion just adds a cherry to the cake: Tsark has now managed to complete the raid content of two expansions at level, although our completion of Burning Crusade is fully the merit of the big Sunwell nerf of Sep 08. In many ways, this time it is more satisfying, because I dare anyone to say that 4.0.1 made LK easier: while it did increase the dps of some classes and made some mechanics a lot easier to handle, other classes (and especially paladin healers and tanks, and in some ways Disc priests and Enh Shamans) got nerfed, which made OTHER mechanics a lot harder to deal with. The fact that we had to relearn the fight after 4.0.1 and for two weeks we could hardly get out of P1 says a lot to me about this.
The fight is definitely a testament to our skills as raiders – and I’m sorry if this sounds as gloating, but I am in honest awe of everyone in my raid group. It really felt that hard, and we all should be proud of what we accomplished. Jarbel, Wormwart, Shukir, Killetheth, Geeza, Tildie, Jahag, Strongbox, Lyshai and Loshanas – thank you for showing me how hard people can push their respective classes. Kill, if you’re reading this – our first thought when we killed Arthas was about you, and we swear we will get you the achievement before Dec 7, as soon as you’re back from your trip: we all know that we could not have done this without you, and are sorry you could not have been there. A special shoutout to Geeza, who agreed to come as a replacement, learned the fight (exceedingly fast) on his hunter, then was asked to switch to his even worse geared druid because we tried out three-healing it, only in the end to switch again to his hunter. The crossbow and the staff are your just reward for being an absolute champ about it all, Geeza J
The second, probably even more important factor that contributed to our kill was our perseverance. I mean, seriously? Six months of wiping on one encounter, and the last 3 weeks of extending and doing nothing but Lich King, and we still ALL showed up as much as real life allowed us. Many, MANY guilds and groups would have imploded, but we somehow kept plodding along. I am sure I was not the only one who sometimes dreaded raid time, and yet we managed to keep grumbling to a minimum, at least during raid time – that basically meant it all remained manageable, instead of exploding into whinefests of frustration (which, sometimes, could well have been justified). There is a famous aphorism that innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – well, I think the same applies to raiding: 1% skill, 99% perspiration and just keeping at it.
Finally, I’d like to think that we’ve been helped by the way we encourage raiders to admit their mistakes, but then do not dwell on that, and move towards a more general “how can we make sure this does not happen again?”. I know that personally I get angrier when people try to find stupid excuses rather than admit to stupid mistakes – probably because I actually lead the “fail” charts, and we all know I am the slowest learner when it comes to those mechanics. Sometimes we probably slipped, but mostly, we managed to keep discussion on a constructive level, and this is something I always worked hard to build in the group, so I’m glad to see it working.
The Darkest Hour
Counterbalancing these three very positive traits of our raids, I think there’s two aspects that we need to become a lot better at.
The first one is flexibility. We had two big jumps up in our performance: the first one when we switched from three healers to two (and finally could consistently kill valkyrs in P2), and then this week, as we switched from soaking the Vile Spirits to killing them (and thus managed to survive P3 long enough to kill Arthas). Both times, the changes happened after weeks of butting our heads against the brick wall of our limits. We simply tried to work harder, instead of working smarter – and this is where our perseverance came back to bite us, because instead of looking for ways to get around the obstacles we just tried harder. Some of our raiders did suggest alternative strategies, but after a cursory consideration they were not adopted and fell by the wayside. This points to a difficult balance that we need to achieve: on one hand, we need to be able to say that no, a strategy really doesn’t sound promising; on the other, we need to be able to take a step back more and think out of the box. I probably am one of the people shooting down ideas as they are proposed – I think because I’m far too conscious of my limits I tend to think that if we fail in an attempt is simply because I have not tried hard enough (and by extension, the few times it’s clear it’s not my fault, because the raid has run into a hiccup that will not be present the following attempt). So, to improve this, here’s what I suggest:
- Use the forums more. Changing strategies, and evaluating the merits of different strategies, is something I personally find very difficult to do in the heat of the moment. Offline, when I’m not frustrated because I just jumped into the latest Shadoxtrap, I can give alternative strategies a fairer examination. I know people work differently, and I know some of our members have hardly visited the forums, but I think it may help me think about strategies, so I may just post long monologues ;-P
- Try not to dismiss ideas out of hand: it may sound weird now, but you never know when things will change enough that an idea you dismissed before becomes relevant. Case in point: we had briefly considered killing Vile Spirits when we were doing normal LK, but realised it was not working particularly well – fast forward to 6 months later, when, with patch 4.0.1, it is possible to do that on Heroic with one less ranged dps
- If you suggest an idea, and it’s shot down, please insist a bit – maybe not during the same raid, but certainly once the raid is over, in whispers or in conversations. I admit my inability to think about strategies during raid time: I just am too inflexible for that. But I think I can be pretty open minded if people approach me outside of raids.
The second one is an issue of atmosphere. We have done relatively well, considering we have not had toxic members or serious disagreements in a very long time, but I know there is some tension simmering below the surface, and though I am trying to bring it in the open to resolve it, and change the behaviours which seem to be causing this tension, it is just not happening. So, I would like to ask all of our raiders to do two things:
- Go easy on the sarcasm: we have an environment that is fairly open to criticism, but there are ways to criticise each other’s choices of talents/gems/gear/rotation without implying that the other person is an idiot or doesn’t know the class. Most of the times, these implications are not meant to be there, and just slip because of an attempt to be sarcastic and cutting: if you realise that something you said may be misinterpreted that way, just joke about it (“YES I DID MEAN THAT YOU ARE AN IDIOT ;-P” works wonders)
- On the flip side of that, please let’s all give each other the benefit of the doubt: if we look for excuses to think the others don’t like us, it’s not going to take long to find them, regardless of whether they are meant or not. So, always take whatever is written in the best possible way, and if anything try to clear the air after a raid.
I know this second issue will look strange, and I don’t want to blow it out of proportion: so far, the tension is still kept at a manageable level. I just want to make sure we don’t let this blow into any full scale drama before we have a chance to fight Deathwing ;-P
This started as a generic post about raid dynamics, and turned out to be a far more specific discussion of my own raid’s situation than I expected. I still think it may be valuable for other raids: too often we post screenshots where everyone is happy, and spend a lot of time thinking about strategies, but I’ll contend that the biggest killer of raids are not the game mechanics, but the interpersonal dynamics of the raid members. I think our raid can be considered pretty successful, and we certainly have a better rapport amongst ourselves than a lot of raids I’ve seen – but this is not, unfortunately, something that stays that way. Like any friendship, you need to keep working at it, which is exactly what I’m trying to do here J
2 November 2010 § 1 Comment
Apparently, my discovery happened at about the same time that lots of other people discovered the same blue post. To make matters worse, there was another blue post on the EU forums calling it a bug that would be fixed, adding to the confusion. Add to this the lack of information from news sites, and of course you had all sorts of panicky e-mail and posts.
Today, Bashiok clarified it all:
Prior to the December 7 launch of Cataclysm, all current World of Warcraft players will receive the Cataclysm intro cinematic as part of an upcoming patch. In addition, all other in-game cinematics (including previous ones such as the Wrathgate movie) will be available for download to players who have not previously installed them. These cinematics will be automatically downloaded in the background while you play the game, after other critical game data has been received. (Source)
So, everything solved? Definitely, on the Blizzard side: though it would be nice if blue posters were a bit more coordinated, I think Blizzard has reached the size (and geographical spread) where these errors of communication will happen, and the only thing to do is to post some more to clarify.
However, I want to spend a couple of lines on something else that rubbed me the wrong way in the whole deal, and that’s Boubouille’s patronising tone. He posted something on the matter yesterday, and then something more today to announce Bashiok’s clarification, and both times he used a tone that implied people worrying about this matter were little kids whining. I don’t want to belittle Boubouille’s contribution to the community, which are much larger than anything I could ever hope to achieve. I also understand that he probably received myriads of e-mails, and I have no doubt some of those were hysterical (of the “OMG GONNA QUIT NAO” kind). But his position as a news reporter for the whole community should have trained him that these panic waves happen – and I still find the tone unjustified.
Maybe I’m being over sensitive over this, even though I don’t think my post was particularly whiny (and I did not send MMO Champ any e-mail) – but the fact he repeats the tone twice is really serious, because it means it’s not so much a slip (which can happen, given the amount of news posts he needs to write), but an intended snub to a part of his readership.The ironic part is that if he had reported the original blue post about the cinematics missing in the Wrath digital download, much of the panic could well have evaporated there and then, or at least we could have got an update from Blizzard much earlier.
13 July 2010 § 1 Comment
In the last week, Blizzard has caused much unrest in the fan community by announcing that, come Cataclysm, everyone would be required to post in the official forums using their real name. The official thread ran at 2500 pages (read again – pages, not posts), and most blogs ran negative comments about it, citing privacy issues, possible harassment, and the lack of any real advantage. After a very vocal week, Blizzard’s CEO Mike Morhaime issued a statement, retracting the earlier position.
This is a case where the management student in me comes to the fore, and would dearly love to know more about the company’s internal processes. In general, Blizzard needs to play a very difficult balancing act: on one hand, listening to the customers is as essential as in any other business; on the other hand, Blizzard’s customers tend to drown any signal with noise, and are notoriously bad at taking a step back and making suggestions that are good for the whole game, and not for their favourite class/spec/role. So, much more than a simple listening job, Blizzard employees need to develop sensitive filters, to find out the good feedback they can use to improve the game while standing firm on the simple qq-ness of most posts.
Blizzard’s attitude to the forums has changed a lot with Wrath – and the arrival of Ghostcrawler was probably a big part of it. The presence of a friendly crab who knew how to keep his cool even in the face of the most virulent flames, and always offered some friendly advice, information and clarification means that the forums suddenly became a much more active, more two-way form of communication. I’m not saying the trolls went away – simply that GC (and the rest of the blues active on the forums, from Nethaera to all the others) helped clarify what people could expect as information coming from them, and this created some more structured posts.
The thing that struck me the most about the whole thing is that, from the announcement onwards, Blizzard never stopped listening. It would have been easy to lock any thread that started to complain about it, or to ban everyone. Quite the opposite, Blizzard made an active effort to keep the thread up: 2500 pages is a LOT of time over the thread limit on the forums, so I’m sure they increased the limit manually multiple times on that one. They banned people that went out of bounds, of course, and made sure the feedback was consolidated in one thread as opposed to spread over multiple ones. They also refrained from intervening often (which probably would have derailed the debate), but did let us know a couple of times (through Neth, if memory serves) that they were listening and reading all the posts.
This suggests that their position was a lot less clear and definite than their initial statement led us to believe. There probably were some doubts or conflicting opinion within the decision making team as well, and the fan reaction gave one side additional arguments to block the change. I’ve heard many theories that this was all part of an Activision ploy to turn Battle.net into a social network site – but while I can agree that the goal indeed seemed to capitalise on social networking, attributing it to Activision over Blizzard seems, at the very least, unproven, if not outright convenient for a “heroic game publisher Blizzard” vs “big corporate giant Activision” narrative that seems a bit simplistic.
There is one other thing that struck me: most of the blogs I follow had a restrained response to the change. No-one threatened to cancel their subscription or worse: most remarked that, if the change went live, they would stop posting on the forums, and limit themselves to the actual game. Maybe I was just lucky, and I know that some blogs DID actually stop over this (and I know of at least one person who decided to take a break from the game in part as an answer to the RealID change), but for the most part I did not see a “this is the end” (at most I found comments about “it would be ironic if Blizzard killed their own game with a change they themselves made”, which is a legitimate concern, imho). So the inner troll in me that rages at people raging actually had to be pleasantly surprised and go back to his cage.
As always, it’s not clear what the long term effects of this controversy will be. Many people are saying that they lost their trust in Blizzard (like Panzercow), while others are proud that Blizzard had the courage to change their mind so publicly (like Miss Medicina). I think it is too early to say which side is right: I am probably more in Medicina’s camp than Linedan’s, but this is much more due to a general attitude in life than any hard data. What I think is clear is that Blizzard is made of human people: they can make mistakes, and they can change their mind, and we, the fans, can help them if we argue our case coherently and clearly, instead of raging and trolling.
Also – damn, I would love to study Blizzard’s inner organisational workings more closely. Looking for anyone in a management position, Blizzard? ;-P
23 March 2010 § 1 Comment
I have a couple of long posts in the making, but I spent a lot of time today already posting over on our new guild forums (which are awesome, and all thank to Irons), so I really don’t have the time or the patience to work on the long posts here. So, you get treated to some quick updates on what I’ve been doing (I know, you all can’t wait, right?).
The raid is hitting a bit of a brick wall. A combination of attendance issues, with some low morale, has caused pretty poor perfomance, which has started a bad vicious circle, so we stalled this past couple of weeks (as I partly posted last Wednesday). However, I’m pretty confident we will solve all this soon, mostly because for the first time in ages I really don’t think we have a “problem raider” in the group, neither in terms of skills nor in terms of personality (and yes, we’ve had both – several times).
Gearwise, Torjin, my mage, got his T10 gloves from vault, the 264 version. I managed to get enough badges to get the T10 robes from the vendor (the 251 version of course), so now he has 2T9 and 2T10 – the fourth of my characters to do so. He also completed Loremaster, which took a bit of search for the right quests, but hey, it’s done. Tsark is finally getting his 4T10 this week – too bad I’m unlikely to use it unless I get into a 25man raid, given that the set bonus really is geared towards shield spamming (and the 2T9 set bonus for mending is too good to give up). The gearing up on my other alts has slowed down, mostly because I’ve been focusing on levelling my Alliance space-goat lightning-shooter.
Yep, as I breifly mentioned before, I rolled a draenei elemental shaman on Argent Dawn, as part of the Single Abstract Noun social experiment. The shaman is now level 29, on the verge of getting Reincarnation – and enjoying the quests in Ashenvale and the PUGs through Gnomeragan. It’s been actually nice to be able to level with a good community around myself, and the fact I got to lvl 30 so quickly bodes well. The biggest perk has been having a very active guild chat window (I had to change the size of it, to be able to follow it without having to scroll up constantly), and discovering a lot of interesting small blogs out there, which are small and quirky and a bit off the trodden path, but quite interesting. It’s like being used to the Hollywood blockbusters of the blogs, and being treated to the French Nouvelle Vague movies: sometimes you don’t understand what these blogs say, sometimes you think they are full of crap, but most often they just wow you, and you’re not sure why. I will have to change my links soon to reflect that – and it’s getting to the point where I will also have to reorganise them, because there’s just too many.
The guild itself has grown exponentially, beyond all expectations of its founders. I think the US chapter has more than 800 members now, with lots of being lowbie. It’s kinda nice to explore Alliance that way, and it’s funny to see people taking long afks to go read each other’s blogs (they are in the guild notes). My readership has shot up this last week, and I’m sure this has something to do with it. On the flip side, I think I died at least twice because I started following links and forgot to move my character to a safe spot…
SAN has had its share of drama, both real and fake. The real drama is, I think, an exercise in miscommunication and misunderstanding. Lots of the players in SAN are new to the whole concept of RP, and Argent Dawn is an RP server. Most people ask in guilds about the RP expectations in such a server. Others just stumbled into Goldshire and were… surprised. So they just gawked and pointed and laughed at the “fail RP”. The veteran RPers then pointed out that doing this is dangerous and counterproductive – and tempers flared. Anyway, the incident seems closed, but I think it will have some big consequences. For one, Crazyhealer has closed her blog as a result of this, which is a shame – not because I was such a huge fan of hers (I had discovered her literally the day before), but simply because “any man’s death diminishes me”, to quote John Dunne. But also, this incident, coming so early in the history of the guild, may tarnish its image in the eye of the bloggers and readers who were thinking about trying it out – and thus make SAN lose out on potential people, discussions and links, which is really the main wealth of this guild.
As for the fake drama? Medicina is a bossy meany – just try to ask her about the guild bank, and you’ll see what she answers.
19 January 2010 § 3 Comments
This is a difficult post, because I will have to criticise people I like and respect. So I want to preface it with a big warning: if I’m linking to your blog in this post, and I’m actually criticising what you’re saying, it is mostly because I was surprised and you elicited a reaction. I still think you’re awesome and all. Now that that’s out of the way…
If you know a Protection Warrior, chances are he or she is full of RAGE – and not in the sense of the nice red bar that lets them do stuff like tanking and dps’ing. No, I’m talking about foam-from-the-mouth, KHAAAAAAN! sort of behaviour. The reason? Why, a disgrace! Quite simply, Protection Warrior tanks do less dps than the other classes (DKs, druids and paladins).
No, really – you read well, and I haven’t mistyped it or anything. TANKS are complaining about their DPS. I think next in line we will have warlocks complaining that they cannot compete with ret paladins for healing. I mean, seriously: if a raid leader had to choose between a warlock and a ret paladin, and they both did the same dps, they will CLEARLY choose the paladin because the pally has a much higher healing through JoL, Art of War and what have you, right?
I’m gonna try to split this post in two. I will first offer some thoughts about the current issue – admittedly, an outsider’s perspective given I only played my warrior until lvl 3o and not even as Prot. I will then become more ambitious and mumble about nerd rages in general – and why they seem so frequent in the WoW community.
The Prot Wars
(Har har har! See what I did there?)
Warriors are getting hit with the nerf bat because, quite frankly, they are off the scale in PvP. Their toolbox of silences, stuns, snare escapes, and sheer survivability makes killing a warrior almost impossible. This is not “unauthorised pwnings of their better – y’know mages, hunters, etc – in arenas”, as Linedan writes. This is in BGs (which are much more lenient in regards to class balance) and against just about everyone, so much so that even a PvP noob like me noticed. To address this, Blizzard is reducing their Shield Slam damage and taking away from them a snare-escape tool. The snare escape seems relatively uncontroversial – most of the negative reaction comes from the Shield Slam change.
Ghostcrawler and the other blues have said they aim to keep threat generation unchanged, so what they take away from sheer damage, they will add back as threat coefficients. This is still on the PTR, of course, so I’d expect the numbers to be massaged and changed still, to make sure they reach this goal.
The negative reaction has two parts:
1. Prot warriors already have the lowest dps of the tanking classes: they risk their raid slots in tight dps races (like Festergut) if that dps dips any further. Honestly, I really, really cannot see this happening at all. I will accept the “warriors have the lowest tanking dps”, although a guildie who tanks on paladin, warrior and DK tells me that his warrior dps is higher than his paladin – but again, I don’t have hard data to back this hunch up, so I’ll accept the data Warwench compiled and Linedan comments. So, warriors are behind by 500 to 1000 dps to other tanks. Let’s say we’re in a 25-man raiding situation, with 3 warrior tanks: our raid is thus 3k dps behind a raid with DK tanks. That’s huge, right? Well, it sounds huge, until you realise that the same top guilds are producing in excess of 120k dps on Marrowgar, 140 on Saurfang, 115 on Deathstrike. Festergut, the famous dps race, has data recorded for more than 160k damage. In fights that last between 300 and 500 secs, the lack of 3k dps is adding about 10 secs to the fight. Will there be cases where those 10 secs will make the difference? Yes, of course – which is why all good raiders try to get even minimal increases to their dps. Will it be often? No, I don’t think so. Will it make anyone bench a warrior tank? Well, human stupidity has no limit – really. So I won’t say it won’t happen. I will also say that tanks were benched (or tank players rerolled to a different class) before, during Wrath – but because their tanking was more appropriate/more effective, especially on some encounters (Vezax and Sarth 3D being the two obvious cases, with Anub adds counterbalancing that). I find it hard to believe that guilds are going to bench their ICC-capable tanks, because of a 2% raid DPS difference. All raiders are investments for a guild – and tanks more so than most. I’d like to meet a raid leader who is happy to throw that investment away for a 10 sec gain.
2. Threat modifiers are a thing of the past: they scale badly, and most importantly, we were promised threat-through-damage in Wrath. Honestly, the promise part of this is not something I hold in much weight. Even assuming that Blizzard “promised” anything (and they are very cautious about that, because they know the fanbase will hold them to anything they *do* promise), I think their first job is to deliver a game that functions. Part of that functionality is, according to the current paradigm, some semblance of class balance which makes PvP viable and ensures enough variety in classes played to make PvE viable. So, if to deliver their main promise they have to break a lesser one, so be it – Asimov’s laws of robotics teach us that lesser laws can be broken in the name of higher ones.
The scaling issue is, potentially, more serious. Both in Vanilla and in BC, tanks had some trouble towards the end of the expansion cycle because their threat was not keeping up with dps. This was because threat came as fixed threat values associated with moves – and they were scaled to the starting gear for the expansion, not for the last tier of gear. The change towards “threat as damage” was supposed to solve this particular problem (which is, afaik, one of the reasons druids and paladins started winning out over warriors in BT and Sunwell – their threat scaled a bit better than warriors’). However, I don’t think we should worry too much about this issue either, simply because we are on the last patch of the expansion, so there will be very little (if any) further scaling before the major overhaul that is Cataclysm. Thus, assuming Blizzard does its job right and properly assigns threat modifiers to the various moves, we will see very little change because there will be little gear variation for dps to take into account.
So, in conclusion, I really don’t think we need to worry about scaling (because the next expansion is not too far off, and thus scaling cannot); I don’t really care about minor promises Blizzard needs to break to deliver a good game; and if anyone benches a warrior tank because a DK does more damage… well… let’s just say that doesn’t sound like a raid I’d like to join – and it’s also a bit premature to think about consequences that may happen in the future in reaction to a change, especially if that change actually solves a clear problem. Note that a) I’m not saying that the changes proposed will solve the “Prot are OP” problem of PvP (I don’t know enough about the mechanics of the class to judge that); b) I cannot in clear conscience exclude that some idiots will not force their tanks to reroll – but then again, some people were forcing Disc priests to gem spirit because “that’s what priests gem”, so….
This is the second time I find myself writing a blog post in reaction to another blogger, because their virulence surprised me (the first time was a reaction to Seri’s post about ICC gating). So, am I too much of a brown-noser, Panglossian type, always thinking that what Blizzard does is the best action in the best game there could be? I doubt that, and I think I’ve criticised Blizzard’s more than once in my blog, most often about their handling of 10-man raiding (great idea, needs to go deeper). I do however frown on extreme reaction – which is kind of ironic, because IRL I tend to have a true Mediterranean character, getting very involved in discussions with friends and heating up whenever I need to argue a point (which has brought me, more than once, into some embarassing situations when my discussion partners were not hailing from my neck of the woods and mistook my particular discussion style with animosity towards them).
I doubt Blizzard reads more than a few of the blogs out there – and I’m pretty sure no-one at Irvine reads my blog, for that matter (not that I can be compared to either Panzercow or Snarkcraft, of course). But I really don’t think we do the community any service by getting so caught up in our love for the game and our avatars to become irrational in our argumentations. Blizzard has shown before the ability to change their decisions, when faced with arguments and data that showed unintended consequences of their decisions. In fact, thanks mostly to Ghostcrawler’s efforts, we, the fans, have been much more part of the development cycle throughout Wrath than ever before. The result? A game that has gotten a lot better – and we’re not talking incremental improvements here, we’re talking orders of magnitude. Simply the idea of having 4 equally viable tank classes, and to have hybrid specs be competitive, is mindboggling to someone who went into Molten Core and was told to heal, even though I was, at the time, specced deep shadow. But hey, I was a priest, right? And priests cannot do anything but healing….
So, consider this my modest plea: let’s not give in to the temptation of the forum troll, who threatens and yells. If we have something to say, let’s use reason and arguments – my suspicion is, we will have a much higher chance to be heard.
20 November 2009 § 7 Comments
I bet Blizzard didn’t foresee this. It seems the whole raiding community is up in arms, ever since Blizz announced their plans for gating Icecrown Citadel. It seems most people are taking offence at Blizzard patronizingly telling us the pace at which we can discover the new instance, and the limited attempts being VERY limited, which makes wasting attempts due to connection issues a bit of a nightmare. Here’s my (very personal) on the issue and the controversy.
Blizz is combining the gating we’ve seen in Sunwell and Trial of the Crusader, with the limited attempts we’ve seen for Algalon and Trial of the Grand Crusader. To cap things off, we will have a buff of increasing strength as weeks go by, increasing our health/damage/healing.
Gating is, in my ever-so-humble opinion, a very bad idea – at least, in the implementation we’ve seen in ToC, which is the same as they plan for ICC, apparently. I already said that gating is one of the reason most everyone started hating ToC early on: the problem is the combination of gating bosses in normal with gating ALL heroic bosses until Arthas is down. In essence, we get a double gating mechanism: I need to get to Arthas to enable Heroics, but I cannot get to Arthas until a set number of weeks. There’s a third gating mechanism, preventing the engagement of Arthas until the final boss of the previous wings are down, similar to the original design of Naxxramas – this however is a minor concern, and only becomes relevant in the context of limited attempts, which we will discuss below.
Gating worked relatively well in Sunwell, because:
- very few guilds were in Sunwell, anyway – and the ones that were, were pretty hardcore and thus didn’t give up (well, some of them did at M’uru, but that’s not because of the gates)
- the bosses were hard enough that even amongst the guilds in Sunwell, a lot of them were not downing the available bosses before the next gate would open.
Blizzard clearly doesn’t want to make bosses as hard as Kalecgos, Brutallus, Eredar Twins or M’uru – and (although I had a lot of fun fighting them), I cannot blame them. Gates are their way to make sure Arthas is not as hard as Kil’Jaeden was (or C’thun, or Nefarian, or Kael’Thas, or Vashj), but at the same time doesn’t die the day the patch is released. And to this I say – why is it a bad thing that Arthas dies the day of the patch? (Let’s assume he dies – I should say “the Arthas encounter is defeated, given we really don’t know yet if Arthas will die or merely have a setback, but that’s too unwieldy. So just assume that he dies for the rest of this rant).
Blizzard’s response to such questions is never clear. They may be worried about people spending too much time in the game (and the ensuing bad press), but I find it hard to believe that’s the case. Most importantly, while I’m certainly not a Libertarian, I really don’t think Blizzard should be worried about that. More likely, they are worried about raiders being frustrated and leaving the game because after you kill Arthas, and maybe farm him for a while, there will be nothing left to do. The sad thing, though, is that gates are more likely to frustrate raiders – and have them leave the game, either just after killing Arthas, or, even worse for Blizz, before even getting there. Everyone knows loot is not a big deal with the last instance of the expansion, anyway, as the lvl 85 Heroic loot is quite likely to be better in all ways, so there’s really no incentive in farming ICC either way.
Now if only we had an instance where the final boss didn’t die on the day of release – oh wait! We do! Algalon died quite a few weeks after Ulduar was released, and even quite a few weeks after he was unlocked. I’m not saying Ulduar was perfect – but it seemed to satisfy the “regular” raids (who could chug along and progress towards Yogg-Saron at their own pace), and the “hardcore” ones (who WTFPWNED Yoggie, and starting working on Firefighter and Algalon). Some of the hard modes were tweaked and hotfixed after release, as the hardcore guild proved once again to be masters at finding any way they could get the kill (the Holy paladin healing inside the brain for Yogg-Saron no keeper was particularly fun). Still, Algalon was defeated on 3rd June by Ensidia – Ulduar was released on 14th April. Is a six weeks cycle acceptable to Blizzard?
The other mechanism Blizz is using is limited attempts. I have mixed feelings about that. I am VERY happy that there won’t be a “no wipe” extra loot (the frustration of missing out on cloaks because of one stupid mistake is reducing my already-limited enjoyment of ToGC). I wouldn’t have minded some extra loot for good performance (comparable to the Skills and Mad Skills tributes) – but that’s not fundamental. Larisa has a good point – it’s not clear why Blizzard is penalising the people who prefer to learn their encounters while playing, instead of spending time “offline” looking at strats and videos. All in all, I think I am mildly negative about limited attempts, but not to any important degree. It’s also probably better to do limited attempts rather than limited time: not being the fastest kid in the west, I need 5 mins after each pull to figure out what happened, why we wiped, etc, and I admit in Algalon there was a strong trade-off between doing that or getting more practice in. I also appreciate that some bosses won’t be included in the attempt counter, which means you won’t get penalised for stupid wipes on early bosses.
The third and final mechanism of ICC is the Ashen Verdict buff, which will increase the raiders’ power as time goes by and the good guys increase the pressure on the Scourge. I unabashedly love this. I think it’s a nice, elegant solution to allowing more people the chance to experience the raid, while allowing the top guild to try their hand at harder encounter. The fact they provide an in-game explanation is, to me, even better.
Apparently, I am more or less in the mainstream with my analysis. Most people seem to like the buff mechanism: it’s certainly a lot nicer than having to nerf encounters after a while, and it probably saves development time too. The opinions on limited attempts are equally lukewarm, while the gating idea is not well liked at all. What struck me is the rabidness of some of the posts I’ve seen: even bloggers who’re normally fairly well balanced are predicting the end of the world, cats sleeping with dogs, fiery apocalypses and similar disasters.
Seri over at World of Snarkcraft appears particularly aggravated, “bashing [her] head repeatedly against [her] desk”, and forewarning of a Big Blizzard Brother deciding how long we can play the game. I’ve appreciated Seri’s posts before, so her tone is very surprising to me – I can only assume she was having a bad day or something, or maybe I’m just too naive to realise that, indeed, this is the beginning of the end for raiding and World of Warcraft. Quite possibly, from the point of view of a raid leader of a 25 man, anything that may cause even a few people to become frustrated and leave does become a big issue.
Similarly cataclysmatic comments (no pun intended) from StratFu – but that’s a bit more understandable, as that’s a hardcore strategy website of the type that is most likely to feel the pain of the gating. Accusing Blizz of being like the Chinese government is probably not going to make them listen to any suggestion, though.
The Mediocre Perspective
So my personal take? Yeah gating is gonna suck a bit – but mostly, that’s gonna go away in a relatively short time: the ToC gates lasted five weeks, the Sunwell ones about four if memory serves. Honestly, I would think that Blizzard will pace the gates every 2 weeks at most – and that means that, assuming the patch is released on the 1st December (which honestly looks increasingly likely) that would mean seeing Arthas around mid-January. Given the Christmas break in the middle, I really don’t think that’s too big of a deal. It would be nice if Blizz gave us an idea of how often they will release the new gate, but I doubt they will (they didn’t for Sunwell, and all indications are that they want to play it by ear this time too).
Critical QQ suggests that this model will mean less raiding time, and more time devoted to other aspects of the game. That certainly seems to be a goal for Blizzard, to have players try out different things to do in the game. I do have some alts that still need attention: my warlock is almost 80, my DK is still stuck at 70 (cannot really bring myself to like the DK mechanics), and my hunter on Gurubashi is just so much fun to play… I’m pretty sure I’ll find things to do – if nothing else, it will be the time I finally get some more PvP achievements on Tsark!
14 September 2009 § Leave a Comment
Or – The joys of raid leading.
Let me make one thing clear: I don’t think of myself as a raid leader anymore. In fact, one of the reason I stopped even doing 25-man raiding is precisely because I have this weird personality where I hate seeing bad leadership, and at the same time I get tired doing it myself. Leaving aside any comments about my sanity or congruity, when we formed our 10-man I made it clear to everyone (I think) that I wasn’t the raid leader, that I wanted all of us to take equal responsibility in (and equal commitment to) the raid’s success.
In general, this has worked very well. In fact, I’ve completely abdicated any responsibility about raid strategy to the main tank, and we had a fantastic mage dps (who sadly left us recently) who was great at calling out various things during the fights – from Mimiron frost bombs to Hodir’s freezes to Vezax’ crashes… This is great, because it means during a fight I’m free to focus on healing and moving out of the void zone du jour (something I seriously still need to work on, as my raid-mates can attest).
However, I still think of myself as raid leader for most of the stuff that happens before and after the raid. Finding replacements, organizing consumables, selling BoEs – that’s stuff I do with pleasure, and I think I am actually fairly good at it. I have been playing on Feathermoon Horde since March 2005, and on average I have a fairly good, friendly personality, so I tend to have an extensive social network on the server. I’m also obsessive compulsive about some things, so I organise and reorganise guild banks trying to make them more user-friendly, I collect trade goods, I max all my trade skills and then hunt for rare recipes all over the place. You get the picture: a regular Monica personality.
Problem is, our raid has recently been experiencing a lot of turnover. Since May, we lost:
- A ret paladin, who was our replenishment (server transfer to be with his brother)
- A tank (/ragequit because he felt we were not listening to him enough)
- A healer/dps (couldn’t handle the pressure)
- A mage, the one mentioned above (time constraints/loot complaints/pressure complaints)
- The tank we had found to replace our original one (Hello Ezma – but we knew she was only available throughout the summer, and she may be back)
- A Dps warrior (went on holiday, never came back…)
- The healer/dps we brought in to replace the one from # 3 (school duties)
- A healer (got banned for botting – don’t get me started on this one)
- A survival hunter, who was the replacement replenishment for #1 (personality clashes with the whole raid)
That’s 9 people in less than 4 months – or more than a person every 2 raid lockouts. Also, that doesn’t include people going on holiday (myself included) and not being able to come for a raid or two because of RL commitments – which still requires that we find someone in the pool of people online at 2am. The other raid members help out, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I still find most of the replacements. Now, let me add a couple of things about the raid, to make things harder:
- We raid at 2am server (we’re on a PST server, but we started out as mostly Oceania based players, so that was the best time – we now mostly have graveyard shift US players)
- We like doing hard modes: we’re currently working on Algalon and Anub’Arak Heroic. That means we cannot really take people with Naxx gear, so every time we replace someone, we spend a week or two throwing gear at the new guy/gal to get him/her in a position to actually contribute to the fights.
- We tend to be a very critical raid: because we like doing hard modes, we always try to improve, and we dissect our performance every time to know what went wrong. Although we do this with the best intentions in mind, I realise that this attitude sometimes comes across as finger-pointing. This means that, for someone who is not thick-skinned, our raid may turn into a fairly high-pressure environment – which, once again, may not be what people look for in a game.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. I put word out I was looking for a healer/dps, and I had three people apply – and they at least pass the “time zone” test. They still need to survive through a whole raid without bursting in tears, but it’s a start. I’m actually very hopeful about one of them, as he knows us relatively well, so on one hand he knows how we play, and on the other we know that he can perform satisfactorily. If we get two out of the three on-board, we’re back to having a full 10-man roster, which will be a relief. This time I may not stop there, though, and actually go ahead and build some redundancy into the system, so that the next time someone leaves, we don’t have to scramble for people. So, if you like to raid at 2am PST, have an 80 character, and want to see some hard modes, feel free to contact me – with faction and server transfers, you never know where the next recruit may come from!