Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seriously Getting Fed Up With Interrupt Effects.


Affliction, Balance, & Shadow. What do they have in common? One spell school worth a damn. They all three need interrupt reduction talents.

Healers have them. Because heals are all in one spell school. Healers gets locked out and they can't do their job. Martyrdom, Focused Mind, Aura Mastery/Improved Concentration Aura. Admittedly, Restoration Druids don't, though they can get by reasonably well with instants, thus not often exposing themselves to lockouts. Why don't similar talents for Affliction, Balance, and Shadow exist? All of the spells of any consequence for these specs are similarly all in the same spell schools. Shadow, Nature, and Shadow, respectively. Starfire? Searing Pain? The only one of the three with any practical use at all is PW:S, but even that doesn't justify being interrupted anywhere from 3 to 8 seconds (an effective silence).

Don't get me wrong, it's not a whole lot of better for Elemental either, but at least the Flame Shock + Lava Burst combo is still available and Astral Shift can help wait it out if it's a Silence + Interrupt like Counterspell or Wind Shear. Mages have multiple useful spell schools. Arcane Locked? Frost Nova or Iceblock. Fire Locked? Poly, Blink, Nova, or Iceblock. Frost locked? Sheep or Blink. Etc. Destro/Demo aren't quite so reliant on any one spell school. Fire get locked while nuking? Fear, Howl of Terror, pet summons, Shadowfury, demonic teleport. Shadow get locked? Keep on nuking and remaining a threat.

Juking? Yes, it CAN, work. But it doesn't always, and often enough you simply don't have time to juke less you or your arena partners take a dirt nap. These specs massively require some protection in this area, less interrupts continue to function as silences.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Belated Blizzcon Thoughts

I haven't posted in quite a while. Between looking for a job and playing the auction house game I haven't had much time/interest in updating anything on here. But I felt like dropping a line here on Blizzcon after having a few weeks to think on it. I'll present it as a brief pro/con of Cataclysm.

-Interesting story idea. I love the idea of going back to old school Azeroth/Kalimdor.
-Path of the Titans sounds like a lot of fun. It's like picking an auxiliary talent tree from a shared pool. I'm very curious to see the bonuses/abilities that are gained from the specific paths.
-The Mastery system seems like a slick way to re-package the talent trees and add more fun talents. If most of the damage/healing/mitigation throughput talents are consolidated into passive bonuses for simply putting points into each tree it will open up room for more fun/playstyle altering talents, which would seem to create more "true" choice for players when picking out talents. That being said I think the best feature of this system is the fact that the developers can easily tweak the mastery bonuses to fine tune balance much more easily than they could otherwise.
-Stat consolidation. I really like it. Int has never been a very desirable stat for most casters, attack power is redundant with Agi/Str, etc. Streamlined is good.

-Due to so much focus being spent on the 1-60 leveling up experience I'm worried that there won't be as much 80-85 content as there might be otherwise.
-No new tiers to the talent trees is somewhat disappointing. These have got to be one of my favorite aspects of new expansion is playing with the new talent derived abilities, adapting my playstyle to accomodate changes, etc.

I'll post more as I think of them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

People Are Morons

So I've been reading all the speculation on the forums lately about the Cataclysm info MMO-Champion leaked. While I neither believe nor disbelieve anything that's been said I can't help but take note of just how many morons keep dropping the same line in response to "None of the information below has been officially announced by Blizzard, this is only a compilation of information gathered from reliable sources." on the main MMO-Champ page.

"If Blizzard didn't release the info it's obviously just made up. The only reliable source is Blizzard. Durrrr. "

Okay, I'm not saying we should absolutely trust everything Boubouille posts (though he has an outstanding record of accuracy with similar such information leaks) but leaks from individuals within a company aren't an absolute impossibility. They're called leaks for a reason. If Blizzard announced something it wouldn't BE a leak. Leaks can be reliable if the source in question has routinely been reliable in funneling information to Boubouille, or any agent of the press for that matter. It's absolutely moronic to assume that just because information is gained through backchannels that's it's automatically untrue. I'm thinking a few options could be true, in decreasing likelyhood.

1) It's a leak. Simple as that. Boubouille says it's legit then it's legit.
2) Blizzard intentionally "leaked" it to build up hype. More pageviews for Boubouille, more subscriptions to the Blizzcon PPV.
3) It's counter-information leaked to cover up any rumors of the actual expansion.
4) It's a bad source.

Anyway, I'm just so tired of everyone thinking everything is so black and white. Just because it doesn't come with blue text doesn't make it untrue...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ranking The Classes

Completely random post here, but I've always liked making lists =P

Favorite to least favorite classes to play overall (class mechanics, lore, style, etc.)

1) Warlock (Duh)
2) Death Knight
3) Warrior
4) Priest
5) Druid*
6) Paladin
7) Hunter*
8) Mage
9) Rogue
10) Shaman*

*I'm leveling my Druid over my Priest, but only for Resto. Overall Priest is much cooler and I think would probably suit me better as a main. Discipline is OP and awesome at the same time. But Resto druid just have so many fun tools to use in BGs. HoTs (cmon I love DoTs, ya know I gotta love HoTs too), tree form is just cool, Stealth, and the overall different flavor of nature instead of holy. I still waffle between these two, but my brother is leveling his Priest on my account as we speak so I'll have a max level Priest at my disposal in time...

* Hunter used to be my main for ~half of vanilla. I don't know why it's so low. Maybe because everything I like about pet classes I get with the Warlock. That's not to say Hunters are bad, but IMO Warhammer handled "Hunters" better overall with more interesting mechanics by splitting the archetype into 2 classes: White Lion (Glaive wielding melee DPS class built extremely heavily on master/pet synergy, flanking, etc) & Shadow Warrior (pure marksman with no pet, different stances for kiting, sniping, etc.) After playing Warhammer the Hunter of all classes in WoW feels like so much of a mishmash.

* I haven't played a Shaman at all since BC so maybe the 3.2 tweaks (ESPECIALLY the totem changes) + generic overall tweaks might bump it up to ~Mage levels of fun. Overall though Shaman mechanics just aren't interesting. Funny how opinions can change because when I first got WoW out of the box I made an Orc Shaman...boy am I glad my RL friends convinced me to go Alliance when the character was only level 6.

Friday, July 31, 2009

WoW's Biggest Flaw?

Browsing the forums I came upon a thread asking what the single biggest flaw is in WoW. I pondered on it. I started to say something about PvP class balance, but Blizzard does much better than other games. Then I started to say that raids have gotten too gimmicky, but that's TOO subjective. I thought about a bunch of minor inconsistencies I just didn't like, but they're... minor. But then I thought back to the primary thing I liked about Warhammer Online... the world PvP and that got me thinking on a longer train of thought...

My biggest gripe is probably the fact thatBlizzard has over-compartmentalized the game. Especially in Wrath.

You want to raid? Go into THIS portal.
PvP? Go into THIS portal.
Want world PvP? Wait until THIS time and go to THIS place for THIS many minutes. Otherwise we'll discourage you with a zerg of guards.

There needs to be random mob attacks on player cities where everyone bands together to kill a baddie like with Overlord Kruul. There needs to be more crossover between PvE and PvP like the old AV. There needs to be more perpetually contested world PvP content (This is the ONLY area I feel Mythic has trumped Blizzard. Warhammer Online kicked ass in this regard) Holding certain objectives should give players bonuses like in Hellfire Peninsula. World bosses need to make a comeback. More rare spawns. More difficult outdoor group content like the Silithus elemental lords. Instancing is a great technology, but when used too liberally you lose a certain sense of cohesion.

Blizz can do it right if they'd get out of this super-compartmentalized mindset.
The world as a whole needs more cohesion. They have good lore and great world, a smooth combat system, interesting classes, most everything works rather well. It just needs that extra little kick to take it away from the gold/gear grind and towards a more vibrant, world that feels like it might really exist in some alternate universe.

Again, more cohesion, less compartmentalization. I'm not saying BGs or raids need to go. They work fine. Just don't make everything important be packed into those little bite size boxes you call instances.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Generic DPS Caster PvP Tweaks

It's no secret that DPS casters as a whole are hurting in PvP as a whole. The forums have been abuzz the past few weeks on this issue and I'll take a moment to lay down two changes I think would help fix the problem. I have more ideas, but I feel these two are shoe-ins and should be implemented, and if further changes are necessary, then do so.

  1. Spell school lockout effects reduced to 2 seconds. Tooltips of Mind Freeze, Kick, Pummel, etc changed to state that lockout duration is doubled against healing spells to make it no effective change against heals, but a buff to DPS. *Healing spells being pure heals that aren't tied to another utility/damage spell. IE Drain Life, glyphed Evocation, Pennance if used offensively, etc. aren't considered healing spells in this sense.
  2. Facing checks at the end of spellcast are removed if the target is within 10 yards. Run-through interrupts are silly. Even the most skilled caster on a great connection can get screwed by this mechanic simply due to the ever-so-slight difference between where the melee class is on your screen and where the server thinks it is.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Objective Based Honor & Rated Battlegrounds

As seen here

Basic Honor Changes

These are intended to foster more objective oriented games. Numbers are of course tweakable to match our current honor income per game, but proportions seem quite fair.

    -20 honor per kill in midfield.
    -30 honor per kill near a neutral or enemy point/ flag/ boss. (Honorable Attacker buff)
    -50 honor per kill near a friendly point/ flag/ boss. (Honorable Defender buff)

    -200 honor for being within 50 yards of a flag being captured/returned, a point being captured, or a key BG NPC being killed.
    -2000 bonus honor at the end of the game, multiplied by your team's overall progress. So if you win with 2000 resources in AB you get +2000 honor. Lose with 1 flag cap in WSG? +667 honor. AV could be handled by giving the winning team 2000 and the losing team can have their bonus honor determined by number of points/graveyards controlled.

Ranked Battlegrounds & "Glory Points"
The basic idea, coming from the idea that Blizz is adding ranked BGs, is that Glory points are earned based on your personal contribution to a BG. Arena points would then be consolidated into the same system of glory points and they would have a combined maximum pool that can be earned per week.
Glory points per BG are determined by your relative honor gains, with a multiplier in there if your team wins. Each BG has a total amount of glory points that are distributed amongst all the players based on their relative performances, with an exponential distribution divided between 4 quartiles. Bottom quartile gets x. 2nd quartile get 2x. 3rd quartile gets 4x. Top quartile gets 8x. Take this "70's Show" themed 4v4 "battleground" the Alliance just won as an example. Honor/glory amounts are completely arbitrary and irrelevant other than to display the proportions. Actual amounts tweaked as necessary

    Total Honor
    Donna (Alliance): 90
    Eric (Alliance): 80
    Fez (Alliance): 70
    Kitty: (Alliance): 50

    Red: (Horde): 100
    Stephen (Horde): 90
    Michael (Horde): 30
    Jacki (Horde): 10

    Adjusted Honor For Glory Calculation (*1.2 for the winning team)
    Donna (Alliance): 108
    Eric (Alliance): 96
    Fez (Alliance): 84
    Kitty (Alliance): 60

    Red (Horde): 100
    Stephen (Horde): 90
    Michael (Horde): 30
    Jacki (Horde): 10

    Glory Points Received (based on 100 points total given out for this battleground. 100 is arbitrary and used only as an example)
    Donna: 26.4
    Red: 26.4
    Eric: 13.2
    Stephen: 13.2
    Fez: 6.6
    Kitty: 6.6
    Michael: 3.3
    Jacki: 3.3

A different distribution could of course be used, but doubling everything was easy enough and it supports the gearing philosophy outlined below well enough. Do take note that the most strongly performing players get x8 more glory pts per battleground than "the baddies"

Glory Point Rewards
The idea here is to combine aspects of "the honor grind" and "purely skilled based rewards" into one fluid system where anyone can buy a piece of gear, but the costs would be so incredibly high and disparity in potential points earned so huge that terrible players might spend a whole season of fervent BG grinding just to receive very few current season items. Great players would be able to accrue points so quickly that they could have a full set well before a season is over. A few notes...

    -Max glory per week from BGs would be 1500, likewise for arenas(as current). Absolute max glory per week from a player in the top 5v5 in their battlegroup and who maxes out their BG glory, would be 3000.
    -Glory (arena) points cap raised to 12,000.
    -Deadly and Furious gear would cost 2x its current arena(glory) pt cost.
    -Hateful gear would remain unchanged and simply bought with honor.

Let's take a quick look at Furious Gladiator's Claymore(2350 weapon): costs 8500 glory. The most expensive/rating intensive item.

Examples of gear accrual via player ability/playstyle:

    -Amazing hardcore playerA in top 3000 rated 5v5 takes 1500 arena glory. He kicks ass in BGs and hit the 1500 cap after not too much time due to being in the top percentile. For a combined glory of 3000 a week, and buys his Claymore after the third week, with 500 in change to spend later.

    -Meanwhile, the moron with zero life, playerB, grinds out the BGs, making roughly 1/8 the glory per BG that amazing playerA makes. Playing day and night he maxes out his BG honor at 1500, but is so bad he doesn't want to get humiliated in the arena. End of the week he has 1500 BG glory. 6 weeks later he gets his Claymore and 500 in change.

    -Casual playerC doesn't get as much game time as B, and isn't quite as good as A, but manages his time well and is pretty skilled. He plays smart, focuses on objectives, peels for his teammates, etc and regularly places in the 75% quartile. He gets the same BG glory in 1/4 the time as B, but only gets 1/3 the play time. He gets 1125 BG glory per week. He then goes and plays in his 1900 rated 3v3 team and gets 804 arena glory for the week. Totaling 1929 glory for the week his gets his claymore after 5 weeks, with 1100 glory in change.

What about arenas you ask? Won't people ignore them? Absolutely not =D

    -Arenas would absolutely be the best glory per hour.
    -They comprise half of the potential glory points per week. Doing well in the arena greatly influences your maximum glory per week.
    -Top arena teams would still have exclusive titles/mounts.

Further Suggestions

    -Contribution in each BG could be tracked behind the scenes. At the end of a season the top 5% BG achievers (via average placement) would be privy to unique mounts/titles, similar to, but different than gladiator titles/mounts.
    -BG glory points could be redeemable for battleground-specific flasks (+Resilience/HP), high quality gems, etc. Getting near the cap and the week isn't over? Buy a couple flasks, gem your gear, or sell gems to buy potions, etc. on the AH.

Overall I feel this system would be an excellent addition to World of Warcraft as it combines the best of both the worlds of the arena and the BG system. Suggestions are welcome!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Simple World PvP Zone Idea

So I was thinking that Venture Bay really seems like a waste of potential world PvP action. Just to brainstorm here I was thinking of something similar to Southshore/Tarren Mill with the constant back and forth being rather fun- especially if it were a perpetual event that you can always go and do, unlike Wintergrasp, but consuming far less server resources. So what if Venture Bay were revamped to have a sort of tug-of-war capture-able point system similar to the symmetrical TF2 control point maps?

One tower north of the respective horde/alliance bases already present (1), one AB style capture-able point near the start of each dock (2) and the main point where the Venture Bay Vendor is (3) In order to capture any point you must control a connecting point. So, if the horde want to take 2a they must hold 3, if they want to tank 3 they must already control 2h. If they want to take 2h they have to control 1h. 1h, if not controlled, can be taken at any time by the horde. Etc. Likewise for the alliance but vice-versa.

-The 1s would have a flight point on top of a tower, but would take much longer to capture/recapture. If captured by the opposing faction you lose that flight point.

-The 2s wouldn't give you anything special unless you control both 2s, at which point a graveyard between the two opens up for your faction.

-3 is the primary focus. Whoever holds the 3 gains a server wide buff for their faction, increasing honor gains by 10% and increasing daily quest gold rewards by some amount as well. Also, when 3 is captured a few moderate strength elite NPCs to guard the area. Nothing wimpy- strong enough to be feared, but not so strong as to need tanks/healers to take them down.

Tenacity could be added in, and flying mounts disabled over this region. IMO it could be really fun. Just an idea!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Random (Semi)Creative Moment

So you guys remember the Voidwalkers around the big white stone in Nagrand? Remember that ability they use called "Pain Spike"? I always thought it was a pretty interesting ability and figured it could do rather well (with some tweaks) as a new Warlock ability next expansion.

Void Strike. Instant cast. 30s cooldown. Deals X shadow damage and instantly heals the Warlock for Y% of the damage done. The target regains health lost from this ability after 10 seconds.

* X = a relatively large number for an instant nuke.
* Y= 50% ish of X?

The interesting aspect of this ability is it has a little something every spec can appreciate and improve upon for solo/PvP play, though it admittedly is lacking for raiding except for Demonology. The second trained ability would definitely need to be raid oriented. I digress...

-Affliction would have a new talent to increase the healing done by Void Strike by a pretty significant amount. +100/200% healing from the ability. (Fits the self healing theme of Affliction)

-Demonology would have a talent to outright eliminate the drawback of the ability. -50/100% damage healed back. (Removes the temporary damage aspect and simply turns it into a hard hitting instant nuke. IE turns a situational ability into a more useful one, much like how Decimation makes Soul Fire pretty sexy.)

-Destruction would have a talent to reduce the cooldown by several seconds. 5/10 second shorter cooldown. (Gives Destro more opportunities to finish targets off with burst chains)

Overall I think it would be a very interesting spell, especially since it could have such unique attributes depending on what talent tree you're specced into. It's a shame something like this wasn't done for Shadowflame...


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back, But In A Different Way

As you probably noticed there was a severe lack of updating on here for a while during May/June. That was due to finals, looking for a job(still no luck on that...), plus a general disinterest in WoW raiding, being stuck to an obligation for 3 hours, wiping repeatedly to Yogg, especially with an incredibly dull phase 1... ugh. I just couldn't take much more of it. Not reguarly at least...

But then a few weeks back I started playing the game more again. Alts/dailies/etc at first but then upon reading some of the 3.2 patch notes (notably the Resilience tweaks and pet scaling) I fired up a Haunt/Soul Link spec (which I had not yet tried as I havent spent more than a few hours PvPing since the Wrath beta) and gave it a try in the battlegrounds. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall style and tempo of it. It seemed to strike the right balance between the two PvP specs I ran in Burning Crusade: UA/Shadowburn and SL/SL. It's not quite so hard hitting as the former, and not as tanky as the latter, but has a nice balance between the two and definitely more buttons than SL/SL *snooze*. It's a lot of fun!

So after running BGs and Wintergrasp pretty hardcore for a week or so to gear up and generally get back in the groove of things I started looking around for 3v3 arena comps that looked fun and doable for Affliction. Unholy Deathknight definitely seemed like a strong pair for Affliction due to Ebon Plaguebringer, and good control/peels, but wasn't quite sure what healer to add to the mix. The choice, for me, was between Holy Paladin and Resto Druid. They both naturally have their strengths with the Paly having much better "oh shit" buttons and the Druid sporting strong HoTs and CC. After asking around for opinions between the two it seemed like a wash so I figured either one could work well so I asked one of the best healadins I know, Bruenorr to fill out the healer slot, and oddly enough he was itchin' for some PvP too after being out of the loop since BC as well. Holy DoTs Batman became our creation (Aff/Holy/Unholy). We're doing reasonably well considering we're running mostly raid gear, but I'm not expecting much to happen this season. I look at it as more of a catch up round to work on our gear and teamwork, with the real fun starting next season.

So yeah, that's a lowdown on WoW for me lately. You'll probably see much more content on here about my PvP exploits and PvP balance commentary, and less so on PvE related issues. Certainly not a terrible change of pace ;)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Speculating On Upcoming Soul Shard Change

Figured I'd brainstorm/speculate on the changes in development...

    To start off with general changes:

    -Warlocks limited to X Soul Shards maximum. (10?)
    -Soul Shards stack.
    -No abilities directly use soul shards any longer.

New ability "Soul Infusion" consumes 1 Soul Shard to provide a 10 second buff, Soul Infusion. 1 minute cooldown. Many commonly used abilities will be given a secondary effect if you're under the effects of Soul Infusion.

    -Incinerate/Shadowbolt: Increased critical strike chance by X%.
    -Drain Life: Reduces damage taken by X%.
    -Curses: Adds X% Dispel protection for debuff curses and X% more damage for Agony/Doom.
    -Any summon/conjure spell: Cast time and mana cost reduced by 50%.
    -Conflagrate: Cooldown for next Conflagrate reduced by 2 seconds.
    -Haunt: Instant cast.
    -Demonic Empowerment: Resets your pets cooldowns.
    -Shadowfury: Adds 1 second to the stun.
    -Metamorphosis: Lasts 5 more seconds.


Naturally, these can all be rather powerful effects. The idea wouldn't be for this to make Warlocks more powerful, there would definitely have to be some toning down done for when Soul Infusion isn't active, but overall it would create a much more interesting gameplay experience.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Revamping The Warlock Curse System

(Be forewarned: This is by no means an incredibly unique idea, but rather an application of a concept from another game that would work quite well)

So there has been a decent amount of discussion lately on the forums on the uniqueness/usefulness of the Warlock curse system as a whole. The whole system could definitely be made more interesting. While this idea is definitely "out there" it would be quite interesting to see the curse system totally revamped next expansion and made similar to Vanguard's bard song system.

What it essentially consists of is a small little interface that allowed you to combine various aspects of a song (melody, chorus, verse, bridge, lyric, etc) all with their own effects, to create a very customizable buff. IE you might have a "kiting song" that increases movement speed, reduces the effect of slowing debuffs on you, and increases your damage. You could have any number of bardsongs all with specific uses. For example: http://www.vgbards.com/joomla/index.php?Itemid=32&option=com_wrapper

While that system was a little more in-depth than WoW might require, it's a really good idea.
It could expand on the number of debuffing type abilities available to the Warlock and add a lot more choice into Warlocking. You might, for example, have "curse components" consisting of 3 different aspects of the class.

-Afflicting components (debuffing effects): Elements, Exhaustion, Tongues, Weakness.
-Demonic components (affects the characteristics of the curse itself): Quickening*, Spreading*, Eternal*, Potency*.
-Destructive components (damaging effects): Agony, Doom, Punishing*

*Quickening = 20% shorter duration curse.
*Spreading = (hits all enemy targets within 20 yards of your target but has a shared X minute cooldown amongst all curses with the spreading component)
*Eternal = 20% longer duration curse.
*Potency = 10% stronger effect.
*Punishing = Thorns type effect.

So, say you want a pure damaging curse? Create a "Curse of Quickened Elemental Agony". Or Curse of Potent Elemental Doom.

What if you want an anti-melee curse? Curse of Eternal Punishing Weakness. Or Curse of Potent Exhausting Agony.

Anti-caster? Curse of Potent Agonizing Tongues (kinky!)

How about a "fuck up a large groups of enemies in a BG" curse? Curse of Spreading Exhausting Agony. Etc.

Each Warlock could have, say, 5 curse slots which to customize. To make changes to your curses you might have to visit the Warlock trainer. Amplify Curse could be changed to give +1 curse slot. Other talents could add a new component to a curse, new expansions could add a new component, difficult solo quests could reward a choice of a few components, etc. This whole idea could go a long way towards making curses much more fun, customizable, and potent. Would it be a mess to balance and implement? Probably. But it would create a dynamic in the Warlock class that we currently don't have and I, for one, would love to see something like this implemented.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

AMG I Got A Ghostcrawler Reply!


But seriously, good to get that clarification. Really, it was what I expecting, but I have a habit of seeking clarification where I'm 90% sure, but just want to be certain.

Either way, I'll take a brief moment to rehash the more minor tweaks I'd like to see.

-Dark Pact: Tweak it to make it more useful. Honestly, with the high amount of self healing Affliction has this might be better served as some form of a dps timer rather than another "more mana" solution that honestly only sees much use in PvP. I'd make it an off the GCD 10 second self buff on a 1 minute cooldown that increases the damage of Affliction spells cast by X% and makes lifetap cost no health. I'll admit I also just want another button to press. I miss Immolate/Siphon Life. Making DP worth casting again is +1 fun factor for me. Doesn't so much matter why I cast it more so long as I have another button.

-Demonic Circle Summon: Make dropping the circle instant. Obviously requiring you be on the ground as to prevent abuse. This would simply make the ability feel more fluid.

-Drain Soul: 1 second tick intervals rather than 3 second intervals. If you play a lock it's pretty obvious why more continuous ticks are preferable to more discrete ticks.

-Fix the "Reach" talents to make them more accessible since all Warlock specs use all spell schools. Either make both effect all spells (and not stack) or remove them and consolidate them into a tier 1 Demo talent that effects all spells.

-Deathcoil: It's trying to be too many things on too long of a cooldown. Remove the damage and healing. Give it a 45s cooldown. Now it's a GTFO move on a reasonable cooldown.

-Shadowflame: Still pretty crappy without the glyph. Have it heal the Warlock for whatever damage it does.

-Infernal. Nerf his DPS but don't make him replace the normal pets. Too often this guy just doesn't get used because of the trade-off. I'd much rather have a less clunky version that you simply use when you need some more DPS.

-Eradication: Pure flavor request here, but I'd love to see this mirror the old Improved Shadow Bolt effect instead of the current Haste proc. On Shadowbolt/Haunt crits it gives the Eradication buff which increases shadow damage done by X% for Y seconds.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Perfect MMO?

So...having my new machine built I've spent a good deal of time the past 2 weeks trying out a lot of the games I've previously played and in doing so revisited other MMOs/RPGs. While none of them are perfect there are definitely strong points to each and every one. I am by no means a MMO expert, having only played a handful, but nevertheless here is my cherrypicked list of features I'd love to see in the "perfect" MMO.

The following would be organized into a hardcore small group PvE game. Hardcore != large groups, small groups != casual, and no PvP means more interesting and powerful abilities due to no PvP balance concerns.

WoW: In one word? Quality. What stands out above all else with WoW is its overall level of polish. Forget class/raid design. Forget art. Forget the world itself. WoW is an incredibly smooth, relatively bug free, "polished" feeling game on all levels. This no doubt stems from the dedication to perfection that Blizzard holds as across all their games, and not to mention their rather large bankroll. This seems like a given, but I feel Blizzard does such a great job here that it deserves recognition. Regardless of how many merits other games might have that make them look good on paper, or in nostalgia, WoW keeps drawing players back from other MMOs simply due to the overall quality and a huge player base (no doubt due to said quality) so finding people to group with is rarely a problem compared to other games. Also, somewhat related to quality, the smoothness of overall combat, movement, and ability use is top notch.

Items/Stats: Another aspect of WoW, while unrelated specifically to quality, is the item/stat system. While I can't say I'd want to see something *exactly* like WoW I like how there is a large variety of stats that perform distinct functions (Spellpower, Strength, hit rating, defense, etc). I would definitely streamline/clarify mechanics a bit, especially the hit stat (83% for casters to hit bosses? A different amount for melee? Strange increments? Make it 100% chance for everyone to hit mobs 3 levels or lower, 95% chance to hit mobs -2 through +2, and 90% to hit mobs 2 levels or greater), and add a built in Ratingsbuster type mod built into the game, etc. Encourage min/maxxing but make things less obscure so it's easier for the new player to pick up and for the veteran player to remember. The set bonus system is also rather nice as well, giving extra incentive to use certain pieces even if they aren't the best otherwise.

Quests: Pretty top notch here as well. I won't comment a whole lot as I've never been much of a quest kind of guy (it's all about the thrill of combat and character progression for me) however WoW does have much better quest writers than I've seen elsewhere. Sure, there might be a few too many fed-ex quests, but overall they're well written and diverse enough to keep even someone like me who isn't super interested in the story engaged enough in questing side of things.

Vanguard: In one word? Depth. Vanguard was a monumental concept that ultimately fell flat on its face as implementation (IE funding and time) screwed the pooch. Despite its shortcomings it most certainly sports a few aspects that go way deeper than other MMOs (that I have played) have attempted.

Crafting/Diplomacy: I won't go into an incredible amount of detail here as they are both fairly difficult to describe, but Vanguard has very deep "civilian" type activities. Crafting is a mini-game onto itself where you go through the process that would actually be involved in making said item. You must weigh making a higher quality product against breaking an item into uselessness if you try to go into too much detail. You have to deal with unexpected circumstance such as a flaw in the wood you're working to burning your hand on the forge. Diplomacy, similarly is a sort of tug of war type of card game. You work with four types of expression, Demand, Inspiration, Flattery and Insight to go through the process of parlay, as well as collecting cards to add to your arsenal of opening arguments, rebuttals, etc to convince your parlay opponent that you're in the right and they're in the wrong. It is used from something as simple as convincing an NPC to open a door for you (creating a shortcut through a dungeon to avoid trash) to something as far-reaching as unraveling a conspiracy to assassinate a sultan. In fact, crafting and diplomacy are so much their own aspects of your character they have their own gear sets as well.

The World: Quite simply the world of Vanguard is amazing. Both in size and scope it feels like how one would think a real fantasy world to feel. The cities are realistic in population, size, and layout. The zones aren't all muddled together in something of an unrealistic manner as WoW. There is a definite progression from area to area as to make it seem like a more natural flow of terrain. The three continents are essentially modeled after fantasy/medieval versions of Europe, North Africa/Arabia, and the far east, which creates rather distinct cultural themes and landscapes. Areas can seem a little desolate of life, or completely teeming with it, but it is as one might expect. Another aspect of the world if just how damn far you can see. In Qalia (the Arabian themed continent) if you're on high ground you can literally see for miles. Little things like this that make everything feel so much grander I greatly appreciate and would have to include.

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion: In one word? Openendedness. While it's not an MMO it is pretty similar as single player games go. Quite simply I adore the "class" system in the game, IE there aren't classes in the purest sense. When you create your character you choose a set of skills to outfit your template with. I, for example, very much enjoy playing what I call a "Scout" which is something of a mix between a Hunter and a Rogue minus the stabbing and pet pandering. I chose Acrobatics, Alchemy, Athletics, Illusion Magic, Light Armor, Marksmanship, and Sneaking to reach this end. I essentially design a "Scout" class to play exactly as I want. An archer with great mobility as to reach high vantage points or run away as needed plus limited magical support to enhance my stealth, paralyze melee mobs who corner me, and create potions to boost my stats. Oblivion certainly isn't perfect with glaring balance and depth issues, but the general skill (rather than class based) system is refreshing in a world of classes that never play quite like how you'd like them to.

Guild Wars: In one word? Style. Also, another "not quite an MMO." Guild Wars is a pretty two faced game if you ask me. It has some absolutely incredible aspects about it, as well as some downright terrible flaws that far outshine the good. Oddly enough I would probably borrow the most from this game than any other, despite the fact that I generally can't stomach it for more than a couple hours a month.

Art: While it certainly does sport some dated looking low-res textures, the overall look is, IMO, the perfect compromise between the cartoony look of WoW vs. the excessive vying for realism you see in games like Vanguard and the cutting edge world of FPS games. It has a very glossy/dreamy, heavy post-processed look to it that works quite well while running great framerates even on terrible computers several years ago. Particle effects and animations are top notch as well. The UI is also very slick and minimalistic, which I very much prefer. Overall an amazing look that I would love to see updated using higher quality art assets and newer tech.

Screenshot #1 (landscape)
Screenshot #2 (closeup)
Screenshot #3 (combat)
Screenshot #4 (UI)

Aggro/Dungeon Mechanics: Guild Wars PvE is very much more like Diablo than WoW. There is no aggro. Mobs will attack at random or whoever seems to be the greatest threat. But there is no "aggro" system in the sense WoWers are accustomed to. While you might have a tank type character you try to wedge between the healer and the mobs it's much more of a fend for yourself type experience, similar to the "arena" fight in Magister's Terrace. Buffs/Debuffs are also incredibly powerful. WoW raid bosses are generally about doing XYZ when the boss does ABC. I'd much prefer a situation similar to 5-mans where intelligent skill usage can influence what happens in a big way, rather than doing *exactly* what the developers want you to do to ultimately defeat an arbitrary gimmick rather than doing what feels like actually fighting and defeating a boss with magic and weaponry.

Missions: This is absolutely one of the high points of Guild Wars. A mission is something of an outdoor instance, although it's much more fast paced, heavily script driven, large battle oriented than your standard instance. Think of the style/pacing of CoT: Strathholme in an area like Alterac Valley where you're with a large amount of NPC troops going from boss to boss with mini objectives/cut scenes along the way. It's an amazing type of group experience compared to your average dungeon crawl. While I certainly don't want to see dungeons replaced bu missions they would make an excellent supplement to them.

Most Importantly: Do NOT release an unfinished product. Far too often in the MMO world games are shoved out the door that need a minimum of 6 month more work. WoW needed it, Vanguard needed it, Warhammer needed it, need I go on? As MMOs are concerned the release dates should not be dictated by the marketing/finance people. Hell, I'm finance people but being a gamer I absolutely understand that to get anyone to stick around beyond a small core niche market is to create an initial product that works. Warcraft was quite fortunate in its pre-existing brand image, excellent timing, and targeting of the casual market in that it got away with the initial issues. If other games can't manage to create an initial product that can grab players (and ultimately hold onto them) then MMO market will continue to be effectively monopolized by Blizzard, resulting in stunted creativity and funding for new games. Bigwigs: Give your people time to work their magic if you want a sustainable cash flow.

Most, obviously, will disagree with all of my specifics, but there you go. Maybe we'll see something along these lines with Blizzard's new MMO, Elder Scrolls Online, or Guild Wars 2. Who knows =D

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's Been A While!

Figured I'd drop a line here seeing as how it's been nearly 2 months. This will be a 2i-part post.

1) (Skip if tech talk makes your eyes bleed) It's great to be back on my desktop as I can only deal with my 6 year old laptop for so long. A little over two weeks ago my PC suddenly started having issues. It would start up then shut down after a couple minutes and after that wouldn't even post BIOS unless I'd wait 30 minutes or so for everything to cool off. Repeat. After looking inside while it was running I noticed the power supply fan wasn't on. Figured that must be the problem.

Nearly a week later I get my new PSU, install it and the same shit keeps happening. I look further and the mobo's northbridge fan isn't running either. So time to order a new mobo, but if I'm going to spend money I'm going to upgrade from my POS socket 939, 2.2hgz cingle core cpu+ w/ DDR400 setup. So I take my time reading reviews, etc and decide to lay out $155 for an AM2 board, dualcore 2.7ghz, and 4g of DDR800. I had a sweet setup on my newegg wishlist for a AM2+ board, relatively nice AM2+ chip, and DDR1066 ram, but when I went to order the mobo was out of stock (must have been a good deal!) So I went with what I've got now.

So a couple days ago I get everything running again, and DAMN, my 8800gt card really was getting bottlenecked out the ass. My framerates have at least tripled pretty much everywhere. I've been on a gaming binge. WoW, Oblivion, Vanguard, you name it I've been playing it with jacked up settings, or in the case of Vanguard, an actual playable FPS.

2) PTR. I'll keep this brief. I don't so much mind the Siphon Life change. No huge deal. The Immolate change, however, I don't much like at all as it livened up the rotation, but at the same time didn't require too much difficulty as it meshes perfectly with the UA timer. I'm afraid I'll be bored out of my skull with Affliction raiding come 3.1. Really, would it kill Blizzard to implement a non-shitty debuff frame in their base UI? Something as simple as a separate row for your debuffs only and sort it by time remaining. I don't like to point fingers but gutting Affliction of it's DoT-centric playstyle to fix, what I see as a UI issue, is incredibly lazy on Blizzard's part.

As for the other changes...I very much dislike the gutting of ISB. Makes the 2pc t7 set bonus significantly less attractive, something many of us Affys have gone out of our way to get, avoiding best in slot pieces to achieve. Dark Pact is still crap. Drain Soul still ticks every 3 seconds rather than every one. I will admit, I do very much like the change to Suppression, although the same needs to be done for Grim/Destructive Reach. Pandemic change is pretty nice as well as it will allow for scaling off crit debuffs on the mob.

Overall I'd call this a pretty bad patch. Regardless of DPS going up/down it's just a kick in the teeth flavor-wise for Affliction. I very much hope they at least fix Dark Pact, Drain Soul & the reach talents. I'd call it a wash then. Though testing isn't over. We'll see...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quality of Life Tweaks

As posted here

All of the below are intended to make gameplay more fluid, aspects of the class make more sense, be more convenient, fix minor problems etc. These are not "buff my DPS or arena rating" requests so much as "clean things up a bit" so everything will be smoother in general.

-Dark Pact: Simply put, this ability doesn't offer anything that Lifetap doesn't do better. Sure, it doesn't take health, but that's not exactly a huge concern in most situations. I would love to see this reverted to how it was briefly functioning in beta, returning 200% of the mana it takes from our demon. This would make it superior to Lifetap as it should be. If that isn't a desirable solution simply taking it off the GCD would be nice as well and also would place it above Lifetap.

-Demonic Circle Summon: Change this to be instant cast. It's generally not that big of a deal functionally to stop and cast the circle, but I must say it's a pain when you're running anyway, stop to cast a .5 second spell, and start running again. It doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but it would make this spell so much less aggravating to use.

-Drain Soul: Change this to tick every second. Both from a soloing perspective as well as using it sub-25% in raids it's very frustrating at times to have this spell tick every 3. Keeping our DoT rotations going while waiting for a 3 second channeled spell to tick, especially when we may not even see the tick actually pop up is very difficult. Sure, Shadowbolt is 2.5 seconds, but it's much easier to manage that as cast-time spells are much more discrete, allows you to queue up spells after it, etc. Drain Soul is fairly unique in this regard and changing the tick timing to every second would help make it play much more fluidly.

-Infernal: While it may be slightly worth it to use this guy near the end of a boss encounter I can't help but simply be annoyed by how it functions. It would be so much better to simply nerf the damage on the Infernal and make him spawn as a guardian type mob, not a pet. IE he would attack what you attack and other than that you would have no more control over him. I would definitely consider this ability to be worth using, regardless of how little damage it deals as long as it doesn't tread into the territory of replacing my normal pet.

-Shadow Embrace: With all the talk of simplifying the Affliction rotation the duration of this effect comes up quite often. I'm starting to believe that for at least a large portion of those complaining about the rotation that this is one of the core issues. This would do well to be increased to a 15-20 second duration.

-Consolidating Range/Threat/Pushback/Hit talents: This is somewhat of a deeper change than the others, requiring some talents be altered, and a couple deleted, but it's something about that class that simply seems incredibly wrong. Warlocks, unlike most other classes have to use spells from every spell line to be successful in raiding. IE what use is getting Destruction Reach if you can't also get Grim Reach? Likewise for the other respective talents. It's either impossible for Demonology or requires extremely cookie-cutterish talent builds to reach all of these talents. As such I'd like to suggestion a consolidation of a few talents. This might cause them to go "over budget" but I feel for the overall good of the class it would be worth breaking a few internal rules for.

    -Suppression: This talent would remain as-is other than affecting all spell schools. (Hit)

    -Demonic Reach: New talent in tier 1 Demonology. Increases the Range of all spells by 3/6 yards. (Range)

    -Intensity: Moved to tier 2 Destruction in place of Cataclysm (since everyone gets Bane anyway) Reduces pushback of all spells by 23/46/70% and threat generated by 3/6/10% (Threat/Pushback)

    -Grim Reach/Destructive Reach/Cataclysm/Fel Concentration: All removed. Replaced as necessary or not at all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

3.1 Warlock Patch Notes

(Fake, of course, but with the purpose of giving several small PvP buffs when put together that should increase overall survivability and some PvE problems/inconsistencies tweaked)

-Backdraft: Reworked. Now gives a 33/66/100% chance for Conflagrate to refresh Immolate rather than consume it.
-Death Coil: Cooldown reduced to 1 minute.
-Demon Armor: Bonus armor removed. Now additionally reduces all damage taken by 10%.
-Demonic Circle Summon: Now instant cast.
-Demonic Circle Teleport: Now removes root and slow effects.
-Demonic Empathy: Effect increased to 2% per point (up from 1%)
-Destructive Reach and Aftermath talents have now switched places.
-Fel Domination: Cooldown reduced to 5 minutes.
-Grim Reach and Soul Siphon talents have now switched places.
-Shadowflame: DoT portion of this spell removed. Now applies "Tainted Soul" effect, reducing damage dealt by 30% for 5 seconds.
-Siphon Life: Now applied whenever Corruption is applied, similar to Shadow Embrace.
-Shadow Embrace: Bug relating to multiple Warlocks using this ability has been fixed.
-Summoned Demons now receive a larger portion of their master's spellpower as attack power/spell power as well as receive 50% of their master's Resilience.