Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's a hard life

by Copra

During the last four levels of my shadow priest Pupunen I got my experience mainly from questing. That's what I started to do with the toon in the first place and I decided that that would be the way she would become of age.

However, the lure of the LFD was too much for me, so I gave in a couple of times. Most notably the last Culling of Stratholme, when Pupunen dinged the final ding in this expansion. After which she moved on directly to heroics.

And that was the moment I made the horrible discovery.

PUG in levelling is more horrible in all aspects than PUG in level cap.

Really, the levelling PUGs are a cesspool of badly behaving primadonnas trying to shine with their level capped, Lich King slaughtering mains. Most of the time I felt sick with the bragging and/or bad playing in there. The worst ones were the runs where the tank stated that he was in the instance first time ever and got laughed at. In the end, the dps DK laughing called some names and left the group due to 'noob tank' and 'healer suxx'. (Sidenote here: it was for the best of the run. The replacement DK was excellent professional, who told the group after the instance that it was his first time there, too.)

Then I hit the cap and switched directly to heroics. What a bliss! Smooth runs, no-one was evaluating you and as ranged dps everything was luxury: keep the dps up, always keep casting and stay out of goo. It's way much easier than playing a tank, really. And even more easier than playing a healer!

There is nothing to tell the other players that you are screwing your rotations. Other than dps meter, which everyone is trying to avoid not to show how they are slacking, too.

Playing a tank or a healer is much more straining, that is for sure, and I had had my thoughts on how much easier playing a ranged dps is compared to those positions.

Now I know.

But I also know that the levelling PUGs are awful when compared to heroics at the cap. I don't think it's the water of Northrend that makes the levelling PUG players so bad: it's the air of most exp in least time which these games have taught us to min-max.

It's the idea of playing the game instead of playing a RPG and enjoying the ride.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hat off for support

 by Copra

Just a short note.

For some peculiar reason or another I have gotten quite a lot of incoming traffic from Werit's blog. I call it peculiar because of the reason that Werit has been blogging about Warhammer Online for some time now, and still I've gotten the same amount of incoming traffic from there.

Thank you Werit for having my blog in your blogroll. This has been long over due.

Thank you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I never thought...

by Copra

Another weekend gone. Instead of taking the Midsummer festivities seriously I found myself plunging into the longer story arcs in Zul'Drak and Grizzly Hills with my shadow priest Pupunen.

And I never thought I would make another level capped toon in the game. Let alone play hours on end without even noticing it anymore.

This happened, though.

First of all, it took a good, solid story chain in Zul'Drak area to launch the craze. As if that wasn't enough, the next chain I plunged into was actually prequel to the one I had completed, which made the whole even more interesting.

The one I'm talking about is the chain involving Drakuru. The first part of the chain begins in the Grizzly Hills, where you capture an ice troll. This captured one asks you to help him to retrieve a legendary weapon and this story leads you to Drak'Tharon Keep, a 5-man instance.

The second part of the chain takes place in Zul'Drak, where you get a mission from the local representative of the Knights of the Ebon Blade.

As I mentioned, I did the chains in wrong order: the conclusion in Zul'Drak first and the beginning later in Grizzly Hills.

Mental note: if you are about to experience the games longer quest chains in any sort of chronological or logical sequence, please work one area at a time. The story arc will tell you when to move on.

In Zul'Drak there is another troll centered storyline, that of the ancient animal gods of the local trolls. If you haven't done this chain, I urge you to go and do it! It's well worth the effort, as it really shows that it's possible to build up emotionally involving chains within the game. Well, as long as you can toss the "kill 10 rats" syndrome aside.

In Drakuru's case, I found myself wishing every now and then how I would rather change sides and side with this troll ruler. I would have liked to have the option to turn from the railroaded path, and take the a sidestep. For once at least.

In the case of Ancient Gods I would have wanted to kill all the scourge and scourge infested trolls in the area. Thankfully there was a quest chain in Grizzly Hills (to which the first Drakuru chain ushered) in which you get to help the Drakkari Troll ghosts to get their much deserved rest. One of the highlights of the Northern experience as itself, not only as a part of a bigger chain. Oh, with added bonus of Harrison Jones, the famed archeologist... and saving him!

All in all, I'm a bit sad that it's over again: Pupunen capped (and do I have stories about my observations...) and the story is over. Then again, I learned one crucial thing during the last few levels (or four... I started from 76 and ended capped...):

The stories within the quests are best served when you overlevel the content: you have the chance to see the stories unfold rather than worry whether you survive and how you can cope with the mobs.

Levelling quest content isn't the best form of storytelling, really. The mess of quests you are involved with constantly blurs the actual chains, and you will not remember what connects to what in the end. Faulty in design, really.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What to do when NOT playing WoW?

by Azariel

Ok, I admit it, the title sounds a bit strange, but it has proven to be a very valid question for me the past few weeks.

Due to severe pain spikes in hand and arm I decided to put WoW (and all home-computer activity) on a pause. So I went from raiding 3-4 times a week, to no WoW at all. And I can tell you, it leaves quite a gap.

Maybe it would have been easier to stop playing WoW all together, throw away the account and don't look back. But thats not what I want. After a suitable period of rest, I want to start playing again, so it continues to linger in the back of my head.

In the mean time I have found some other things to do, but pretty often during the day (while at work) I get the thought "I really feel like playing some WoW tonight". Now at first I thought it was just my addiction kicking in, but when I think about it, it's not that. WoW is a place for me to relax. Eventhough it can be a stressful place, it is still a place where I can completely get my mind of things, more than I've been able to achieve thus far with other activities.

So, the grinding, the pugging, the ' oh bugger, Blizz F-ed up again' appears to be all worth it...This, for some reason was quite a revelation to me...

So, what would you be doing, which would achieve the same effect as your WoW-ing, if you stopped playing WoW right now?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Not up to it

It seems that time has become the most restricting thing with this blog. I do have ideas I would like to write about, but I don't have the time to do it.

Completely separate issue is the fact that I don't have the slightest appetite to write my thoughts just for the heck of it.

So... the blog will be updated every now and then. Don't expect any sort of schedule or even weekly posts.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bored before launch

I wonder what would have been the result if Blizzard would have dropped Cataclysm in without giving out all the information first?

I mean, we are swamped with information about the Cataclysm expansion to WoW. The character class changes, skill changes, races, mechanics... What remains is to go and see how they work in real.

I'm sick and tired of this already. 

I would much rather take an expansion with proper foreshadowing and the changes as -slight or major- surprises as such. Change the world progressively and subtly rather than expose the major change through 'information leaks' and 'discussions'.

The mechanics have been chewed to perfection before the expansion lands, and the people who are bound to consume the content faster others anyhow are doing it faster than ever and will be burned out even faster than they were with earlier expansions. The only thing we cannot be sure of is the actual content and quality of the quests, instances and raids.

The way I see it... Blizzard gave out the facts and figures which could have kept the 'community' buzzing for a long time with the expansion way before the expansion comes live. To make sure that everyone reading the information would surely use it and burn out as fast as possible.

I wonder...


Friday, June 11, 2010

feeling dead

Just as I have said, I cannot stay up late during the week. Now I feel like my eyes have swollen to sizeable tennis balls, my brain resists all attempts to get a decent thought out of there (twenty typos corrected from the last 7 words) and all in all I'd much rather be sleeping than working.

The culprit to this was last nights Three Stooges session: the three went where ever they could to be undergeared, underpowered and undermanned. In short, where ever the challenge lies to three casual newbies.

We had thought about taking on the Old World raid instances before they are made void: this is a project we will follow through before Cataclysm. I'm sure of that. But yesterday a devil whispered to us. Take on the ICC 5-mans...

I didn't have to lure my brothers to it. As our mains are all capped now, it should have been pretty straightforward thing to do. But there is always this "but" when we are considered. The "but" in this case was that none of us was too familiar with the instance. Förgelös had never even visited ICC, I had run Forge of Souls and Pit of Saron twice, never got to Halls of Reflection, and Bishop had been there once on a run which had been a disaster.

So the bosses and encounters were completely unknown to us as a group. Add to that the Mutilate-build of Förgelös, who still wears more or less blue/green gear, and you have the soup we were swimming in.

I had high hopes that we could down Brohnjahm, not much more due to our lacking dps. And situational awareness of a shortsighted procupine would prevent us from achieving anything more.

The trash proved that we had the potential: no problems to keep the aggro and downing them in succession. The biggest problem was for the rogue (Förgelös) to stay out of the harms way and stay alive: I think he got himself killed once or twice before we got to Brohnjahm.

Ah, king of souls... First of all, we had to figure out how the encounter works. We spent at least the first 5 minutes to figure out that I had to kite him away from the shattered souls and the others could do their best to kill them while I was backing away from the boss along the rim of the disco ballroom. The Soulstorm proved to be even worse due to the fears cast, causing us lose unnecessary amounts of health while running through the storm, twice each time.

But... Rest in pieces, Brohnjam! We did it on the first try, and quite frankly I didn't believe it at first. One of the most exhilarating experiences at level cap I've taken part to.

After that boss, the trash becomes even easier, and we found our way to the Devourer of Souls. I remembered that this boss was tricky, but I didn't remember why.

First of all, Bishopgeorge, our resident healer, announced he was out of drinks and potions... so no mana refreshes within the combat. "Just try to stay alive when I go OOM" was all he could give us.

Second, Förgelös doesn't seem to have any kind of DBM type assist, so he misses most of the cues of the harm, like the pools on the ground and the soul light which really kills if you stand in it.

"Don't look into the light!" was the best advice I could give.

The first one was a wipe, clear, sound and solid wipe. Out of bad planning and not knowing the encounter. Something started to stirr in my mind as I was thinking what happened, but nothing tangible. Second try was another wipe, this time we got considerably farther, even though our healer decided to take a sunbath... And third was because both the healer and dps decided to make closer acquaintance with the dead.

Fourth was the epitaph of our running against unmeasurable odds. In the heat of the fight, Bishop DC'd and... announced that the battery in his mouse had just ran out. Both Förgelös and I were laughing silly due to this, causing...

Wipe four.

Obviously we got all pumped up by this, because we did it on the fifth try!

Out the bad air, in with the good.

Pit of Saron was another kind of beast. Forgemaster Garfrost went down on the second try, even though Bishop tried to even out the situation by DCing again. He didn't succeed.

Ick and Krick is an optional encounter which really measures -or as in our case, teaches- the value of movement and situational awareness to the newly dinged solo levelling beasts. Or it should at least do that. I decided it was time to bang our heads against that wall, as there was a certain lack in the quality of following the cues on the ground among our threesome.

I cut the long story short by these recaps:
- Förgelös dies in Toxic Waste. Bishop slips and we wipe.
- Bishop dies in the explosions. We wipe.
- Förgelös gets chased by Ick. He runs to Ick and keeps on beating him. We wipe.
- I get chased and run too far. The encounter resets even though Bishop lands several Holy Smites on Ick.
- I charge on Ick, Förgelös starts to whack Ick... and Bishop DC's just before the charge. Wipe.

Our (Laiskajaakko and Förgelös) gear was already red, the clock was around midnight and we had already exceeded our expectations for the evening so we called it a night.

Where Gevlon runs his Undergeared, we run Undermanned!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Collateral excitement

I was thinking of the most exciting experiences in my EVE experiment the other day, and to my surprise the one incident which really stuck to my mind was such that I wasn't even there.

As you may know, EVE has a very good voice chat system in the game. Thus the corporation I'm in uses it almost solely to communicate within the game, with just few lines in the chat box really. So there were some 30-40 of us online that evening (for me, morning for some) as one of our system scanners found a wormhole in our home system. The recon team was there within few minutes, as well as our resident miner, and they were communicating the whole thing over the voice.

Recon in, checking the system, scanner in, scanning for anomalies. Some muscles in to take the rats out and finally the miner with the required hauler. Mind you, this wasn't a small wormhole, as the amount of ships can tell!

To their surprise, there was another wormhole in the system!

As the recon and scanner were working on the new wormhole, one of the muscle team had to come back to get some ammo. He warped through the wormhole and...

"Oh my god! The wormhole isn't there anymore!"
"Don't say it collapsed on us!"
"Just checked, we have about 273 jumps to home from here, all through nullspace."
Some groaning and cries of disbelief.

"Sorry guys. Sorry, the wormhole is intact. I was looking to the wrong direction."

The whole voice chat exploded with laughter. Really, it was like 5 minutes of cackling, myself laughing with tears in my eyes.

The rest of the wormhole incident went pretty well, one ship was lost due to a sentry gun the muscle squad 'accidentally left there'. And the other wormhole lead to a system in which there was already another team: peacefully our people withdrew from there.

Now I can't remember similar incident from WoW. The thing is that the whole group was in the same fleet, which equals raid in WoW. Raids, however, are very much directed to one aim only and are thus confined within their own chat, be it /raid or Vent/TS channel of their own. You never get to hear the panic, joy or other emotions unless you are there. The chat box is even worse, as it cannot convey any emotions, or at least not as strongly as voice.

Can you remember any collateral excitement or incident in which you weren't yourself in, but experienced the same thrill as those who really experienced it? And in which game was it?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wondering on Friday

Why are there separate gear sets, skills and mechanics for PvP and PvE? Why cannot it be one set for everything: sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked?

Why there is a separation between PvP and PvE in WoW? Sure, I understand that ganking is prominent if there is no such thing, but... still, why they have been made separate?

The other thing is that there seldom are any punishment for ganking or player killing. In real world you commit a homicide you get cops after you. You kill someone in the less civilized parts of the world and you get the victims family, clan, neighbours after you. You know you will be avenged. In MMO's with PvP... seldom, if not rarely at best.

The bottom line is...

What drives players kill other player characters even when there is no challenge involved (less experienced, less geared, lower level)?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fun, work and reward

This is a quote which I took from the comment thread in Buzz to my yesterday's post
The question is if the in-game activity isn't fun in itself, and the reward is only the cherry on top, or whether we are actually doing stuff we hate just for the reward. - Tobold Stoutfood
 Worth a thought. Really.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Random quote

I can't help but post this excellent quote I found the other day.

Don't feel entitled to anything you don't sweat and struggle for.” 
Marian Wright Edelman (1939 – ) American activist
Founder of the Children's Defense Fund 
This is something we have forgotten in our MMO experiences, something that has changed the face of the MMO's from a challenge to entertainment.

Because the current trend in MMO's is to make them appeal to everyone and grant the instant gratification to the player whatever s/he does. This doesn't involve sweat nor struggle, but everyone is entitled to this because they pay for their play time. It's more like a RMT shop rather than a game with a challenge.

Where everyone with a credit card can have a sparkling pony and half of the empire, the works.

EDIT (Thanks Spinks for pulling my sleeve): The question really is, what are we entitled to by paying for the month of game time? To use the virtual world the way we can and are ready to work for, or to the whole show?

By purchasing something like Dragon Age or Oblivion, you are entitled to the contents of the game, but you are also required to work for the possibility to get to the end. You are not immediately handed out the whole story, that would be a click a story solution.

No MMO will be like that. At least I sincerely hope so.