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Frak You Blizzard – Wisdom(Stupidity) of the Four Winds

As anyone who has followed this blog or read some of the archives knows travel and not wasting time traveling in World of Warcraft or any of the MMOs that I play is a main goal of mine.  On top of that this is yet another FU to alt-o-holics, that must yet again pay up obscene sums of in-game currency to make their characters effective at level cap yet again.

I honestly don’t know if I really want to even level characters in MoP now.

Oh and Wisdom of the Four Winds as per MMO-Champion – Once you reach level 90, which was unlocked in this patch, you are able to purchase Wisdom of the Four Winds from a flight trainer for 2,500 gold. This will allow you to use flying mounts in Pandaria!

Raiding – Not really changing same bull shit design that we have had for Cataclysm and the last half of Wrath.
Dungeons – Same basic design as Cata and really all of WoW, so no real improvements there.
Scenarios – Basically LotRO Skirmishes however only at level cap not open to levels 20+ like in LotRO where you can level by running them.
Pet Battles – Can’t Test but just a side mini game so while fun and a good distraction if I can’t battle while waiting for a boat or on a flight path just another time sync.
Farming – While cool idea and I plan on whoring it as much as possible if I do play MoP, not a reason to actually keep playing if everything else is uninteresting.

I already have a game I pay to not play, it is called EVE-Online, and I can at least progress my characters skill abilities while being offline so there is a reason to keep paying even if I don’t play in-game much.

We also have had most portals removed, for bogus bullshit reasons, we have flight removed while leveling so they can add another Gold Sink which is just a level up penalty because Flying is a MUST HAVE at level cap if you want any chance of doing any type of gathering.

We have them making travel more of a pain in the ass every expansion after Lagarath and Lagaran because they don’t want the entire player base concentrating in one part of the world.

News flash idiots at Blizzard, if you want the player base spread out so not to over load the server and cause lag, make it quick easy and convenient to travel not harder.

I have said so much on the subject I just don’t give a damn anymore, as it is now there is nothing really drawing me into MoP other than just to play with the IRL and in-game friends that I have made over the years.  But being bitter about the expansion will not help that situation.

** Edit **

Also I don’t know whether to be pissed or proud that I am blocked by @warcraft on Twitter, considering several of the people at blizzard that I follow on Twitter have not blocked me and I am still following Blizzcon, Starcraft, Diablo, BlizzardCS it is strange that only Warcraft is blocking me???

Posted in Game Mechanics, World of Warcraft


MoP – More General Feedback

Well for as negitive I may get in this post I want to state that I will be playing MoP and most likely just playing Pokemon and Farmville just the WoW versions thereof.

 

Flying Mounts!!!

Now in the long run I don’t mind leveling, I have 13 level 85s and 2 others above 50 that will be level cap by the time MoP comes out.  The one thing that has always been one of my sticking points with leveling is how annoying traveling becomes especially after the first time through the content.  Traveling is even maybe a little interesting the second time but not really many times after that.

Now with Beta I can fully understand no flying until level cap.  As they want to tightly control what areas we can access and when while testing.  However when the game goes live the ban on flying mounts should be lifted, and I don’t mean just at level cap.

But knowing Blizzard it will be so I will say this.  When 1 character on an account unlocks flying in Pandaria all other characters on a player’s account should have flying unlocked.  Then for the first time through the content characters are Railroaded through the content as Blizzard wants but then afterward we the players should then be free to explore where we want in what order we want.

The side effect if this limitation is not lifted then you will get the following to occur.

A few people or at least the first wave of people will level up straight as fast as they can.  Then some will get into dungeons at level cap to gear up for Heroics and Raiding, but others will take advantage of their new-found advantage over the other 10s and 100s of thousands still leveling up and start farming all the resource nodes in the new continent.   So while the average player is questing as Blizzard has Decreed and see a resource node in their questing path and go for it only to have a level 90 swoop down and take the node.  Gee thanks maybe if it was free for all pvp that would be ok because then we could at least snipe at the assholes on both factions but since we are not EVE-Online that will be nothing more than a pain in the ass.

 

Warrior Rage Mechanics

Up until this point in the game the warrior when filling either DPS or Tanking roles ends up being like a Dynamo, they are slow to start but build up and keep going and going, because with earlier rage mechanics they always had a constant stream of rage building.  With the new rage mechanics it always feels like the start of a fight or always in a rage starvation state.  I imagine that Bears  would feel the same way as both classes/specs use rage.

I really think this because they are a one resource based class.  One resource works if it is like Mana where you have a very large reserve and can choose to burn it all quickly for a lot of burst or do a slow burn.  All I know is that with current Rage gain tuning for DPS and most likely Tanking needs to change.  All I know is that my Warrior as they are at the moment will not be a class I choose to play often.  I will get it to level cap and then most likely let it collect dust other than for crafting.

 

Active Tanking Model

Along the same vein as the Warrior Rage Mechanics I am completely disgusted by the Warrior Active Tanking Model and looking at the Guardian model it seems to be about the same.  I am sure the Monk and DK version works as they are being developed from the ground up with an active tanking model.  The Warrior, Bear, and Paladin feel like all they did was take some of the survivability that was normally there and removed it and added some buttons to press to give it back on a limited basis with massive resource requirements.  Great so now we suck more by default and have to spend all our time gathering resources just to get our previous survivability back.

On a similar note I don’t really know why we need to make our tanking more active, it is not like we don’t have enough to keep track of at the moment.

  1. Boss Positioning for Environmental Effects
  2. Boss Positioning for Melee not to stand in #1
  3. Keep Threat on the Boss
  4. Look for Adds
  5. Perform #1 & #2 with adds if Off Tank or Tank all the above and keep threat on them all.
  6. Any other special encounter mechanics that fall on the tank to perform, may include interrupt rotation.
  7. On top of 1-6 Tanks end up leading groups a lot of the time so have Group Management to perform some or most of the time.

Now we also have to keep track of a buff, debuff or other mechanics just to keep our mitigation and survivability on top of all the above.

Thanks a lot Blizzard, I can say in MoP I am done tanking, and I now have 4-5 Tanks.

 

Posted in Game Mechanics, World of Warcraft


MoP Beta – Active Tanking Changes Needed

I copied over a DK to the Beta Servers last night and I have looked at the tanking abilities of all 4 current tanking classes.  I don’t know if I will have a pre-made character copy available for a Monk as I already used 4 to create a Paladin, Druid, Mage, Warlock with base level gear and not the Hodgepodge I have on the live servers.

I have yet to tank with any of the 4 other than the instance run that I did the other day on the Druid.  I did however switch to the tanking spec on the others and looked at the abilities that were available and honestly I am not impressed.  The active tanking model has been in place for DKs since their initial implementation, and it was interesting because it was the only tank that used the model.  Now that all 4/5 will be using the similar model it is really weak on the other classes especially the single resource classes Warrior and Guardian Druids.

I mean weak as in an uninspired system, I am not saying that it would be ineffective, effectiveness can be forced by tweaking numbers.  I am talking about the interrelation between the abilities and resources or lack there of in the Warrior and Druid.  There is at least a little interactivity with the paladin abilities and I think that is because for an active tanking model like Blizzard is trying to implement only works when the class has a dual resource system.

  • Paladin : Mana/Holy Power
  • DK : Runes / Runic Power
  • Monk : Chi??  Can’t find enough information at the moment and don’t have one in Beta.
  • Warrior & Druid Guardian : Rage….

I think for the active tanking model to work well, especially in the case of Warrior and Druid Guardian, most abilities need to have 2 of the 3 basic concepts involved with tanking incorporated into them.  To quote my earlier blog post with this concept.

There are 3 main components to the one resource system that Warriors and Bears find themselves in.

  1. Resource Generation
  2. Factor 1
  3. Factor 2

In the case of Tanking the Factors become Threat and Mitigation, in a DPS role they become Damage and Debuffs.  In the case of the warrior class what is mitigation for tanks can be Debuffs for the DPS version I am thinking of a damage dealing decrease that some classes get, I can’t remember off the top of my head at the moment if there is such an ability at the moment.

So with 3 options and pick 2 we get 3 combinations.

1 & 2, 2 & 3 and 1 & 3, all abilities that have no cool down or a short cool down should do one of the 3 combinations.  The magnitude of the effect should be based upon the length of the cool down, GCD ignored of course.

Giving Us for Tanking:

  • Resource Generation & Threat – (A)
  • Resource Generation & Mitigation – (B)
  • Threat & Mitigation – (C)

Taken from this post.

As it was not the point of the post I got a little wordy and vague there the 3 factors upon further reflection can be found in any tanking system active or passive.  In the case of a passive tanking system most of them are outside of your control other than threat in earlier WoW expansions.

This model actually already exists with the DK and Paladin tanking implementation.  Some of their abilities generate one or both resources while doing something else.  Actually this is the main play feature that has made DKs able to work as an active tank and to a certain extent really to work at all.  Almost all if not all of their abilities while generating threat or activating a defensive ability produce Runic Power if the ability costs runes.  Freebies that do not cost runes do not generate runic power but can sometimes replenish Runes which then allows more runic power to be generated.

In the case of the Paladin this is less obvious because mana usually starts full and there are ways to get it back relatively quickly and Holy Power is constantly being acquired and used.

So with all of this taken into consideration a good working model would need to have the following decision pattern IMO.

A little warning, I work a lot in C# and JavaScript and because of it my pseudocode has morphed into a bastard hybrid of the languages I work in and some form of written language. It was the fastest way I could think of getting the decision tree out there because I could spend hours going OCD on a flowchart if I let myself.

Start
Do I need to use a cooldown?
Yes
{
	Use the cooldown
	Go To Start
}
No
{
	Do I have enough Resource?
	Yes
	{
		Do I need Threat or Mitigation?
		Threat
		{
			Use High Cost Threat Ability
			Go To Start
		}
		Mitigation
		{
			Use High Cost Mitigation Ability
			Go To Start
		}
		Both
		{
			Use Threat and Mitigation Ability
			Go To Start
		}
	}
	No
	{
		Do I need a Large amount of Resources or just More?
		Large
		{
			Use Main resource Generation Ability
			//May have a little threat and or mitigation but not noteworthy.
			Go To Start
		}
		More
		{
			Do I need more Threat or More Mitigation
			Threat
			{
				Use Threat and Resource Generating Ability
				//May be main resource generation ability or maybe not.
				Go To Start
			}
			Mitigation
			{
				Use Mitigation and Resource Generating Ability
				Go To Start
			}
		}
	}
}

With the DK now the above decision path works for the most part, there may be a few options that do not exist at the moment but I think for the most complete and adaptable system this is the bare minimum that should be used. I did not get into Single versus Multi-target tanking because it seems from the abilities in the beta all tanks are going to use a Single Target rotation and throw the AoE abilities in there periodically but the are not really part of the Resource/Mitigation interplay the are purely threat abilities at the moment. It would be nice if they became at least Threat/Resource Generation but we will have to wait and see.

Posted in Game Mechanics, World of Warcraft


MoP Beta – Initial Tanking Thoughts

So I have to say that I am not happy with where tanking seems to be going in MoP.  Before I get ranting too much let me first state a few given points.

  • Yes I know it is Beta and abilities can and will change.
  • Yes I know that threat is screwed up for Bears, not even going to go there.
  • Yes they did talk a little about this in a Dev Blog Months Ago

So given this what should I complain about?  Well simply Active Tanking sucks as implemented for Bears.

In a post I made when the Active Tanking Dev Watercooler I gave my initial reaction and concerns about what they stated in the Watercooler post.  I just reposted it recently for reference since it was one of the posts that got lost in the void when there were server issues a couple of months ago.

Of the 3 models GC, and Blizzard, presented there the method they have implemented for MoP is option 3.  Which is the best of the 3 options.  So it really comes down to the core mechanics of the class and how they active style is implemented with them.  I have not tanked yet on my Warrior and will most likely need to do so now.  Because in general I am on the much more laid back casual side of the group of players I interact with regularly in game.  With the new model I have major concerns about the long-term effect the reaction, counter action and reaction to counter action to first reaction these mechanical changes will have on the player base.

There is one clear line to be drawn from the fiasco that was Cataclysm at release.  Blizzard in its infinite stupidity decided to make healing matter and healing game play tough.  So we went from an expansion Wrath where the only thing hard to find for LFG was a Tank because “tanking” was boring and had some stupid gearing requirements, yes I still remember defense stat Warrior and Paladin Tanks…..

Anyway the result of making healing a very Active and Intense activity was guess what?  NO ONE WANTED TO HEAL IN THE LFG!!!!

So guess what is going to happen, again mind you, when tanking is made even more of a pain in the ass than it is today?  NO ONE WILL WANT TO TANK IN THE LFG!!!!

//START RANT

So this then gets into another whole issue that I know is a major war with in the player base.  There are those players that enjoy what is challenging to them encounters and pushed to their limits all the time, and at the other extreme where they like to log in and have fun, be challenged occasionally if at all as they find the game a place to go and relax.  I am much more the later than the earlier, and given the difficulty and other issues early in Cataclysm… many of the player base are or at least were before leaving WoW.

Of course at preset, 3133 guilds on 25-man and 36283 guilds on 10-man have defeated Madness of Deathwing.

I went back to a post in Sept 2011 to get some of the ICC numbers as the number of guilds going back and doing old content for achievements and transmogrification gear has gone up greatly recently.  At that time 11567 guilds on 25-man and 48523 guilds on 10-man had competed ICC normal.  I do not look at hard modes because they are really nothing more than added difficulty to the same encounter for no reason other than bragging rights and the majority of the player-base never sees them when they are current content.

I think in addition to the added difficulty of encounters and healing mechanics in Cataclysm the largest reason that killed thousands and thousands of 25-man guilds was the change to the lock out system such that 10 and 25 man are on the same lock out.  This was a prediction made by many in the 25-man raiding scene pre-Cata.  Oh well the player base was right yet again and it took Blizzard damn near 2-years again to admin they MAY HAVE made a mistake.

Well this turned a bit more negative than I was initially intended.

//END RANT

Ok now after jumping the shark time to get back to Bears.

Having ONE ability that generates Rage when used is stupid and is not about managing a resource.  It is all about spamming that ONE button every time it is off cool down to active one or 2 powers that use the equivalent of 2 uses worth of rage and have 1/4 the cool down, WTF????

This will also apply to Warriors so I will go general and not bear specific.  There is also a 4th option or a refinement to the 3rd option that GC described in the watercooler post.

The 4th option is a combination of the 2nd and 3rd options and I will describe what I think the model would look like.

There are 3 main components to the one resource system that Warriors and Bears find themselves in.

  1. Resource Generation
  2. Factor 1
  3. Factor 2

In the case of Tanking the Factors become Threat and Mitigation, in a DPS role they become Damage and Debuffs.  In the case of the warrior class what is mitigation for tanks can be Debuffs for the DPS version I am thinking of a damage dealing decrease that some classes get, I can’t remember off the top of my head at the moment if there is such an ability at the moment.

So with 3 options and pick 2 we get 3 combinations.

1 & 2, 2 & 3 and 1 & 3, all abilities that have no cool down or a short cool down should do one of the 3 combinations.  The magnitude of the effect should be based upon the length of the cool down, GCD ignored of course.

Giving Us for Tanking:

  • Resource Generation & Threat – (A)
  • Resource Generation & Mitigation – (B)
  • Threat & Mitigation – (C)

Now there could be a few abilities that only do 1 of the three but if they do it they should do it spectacularly and be on a good longer cool down.  If resources are consumed then the effect should be even greater.

So in a normal 1 target tanking scenario, if empty on resources you would most likely have a pattern like the following.

A … B … C … A … B … A … B

I used … because there should be room between cool downs, GCDs and buff duration to working in other abilities that are either AoE, the rarer longer cool down single effect abilities or more powerful longer cool down versions of A, B or C.

Now for AoE tanking there would need to be at least an AoE equivalent of A so that you can keep regular threat up on multiple targets.

On the positive, I like how Arms for Warrior is feeling a the moment, I still think it could use refinement and an extra rage generation ability like what I talk about here but over all the DPS version of the paradigm works better than the tanking version for Warriors.

After I copy over a DK pre-made to the Beta Server and Tank the opening instance on all 4 tanking classes I will have more to say.  At this point there is no way in hell I am leveling a Monk up to Tank on it as I do not have that amount of time.

 

Posted in Game Mechanics, World of Warcraft


Repost : Tanking, Threat, and Fun

I am re-posting this blog article from September of last year out of my Google Reader Cache since the original was lost when the server went kaput.

Tanking, Threat, and Fun

from Malchome’s Mind on Gaming by Malchome

So I finished reading the Dev Water Cooler about threat http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3300854#blog, I must say that most of the concepts I agree with and I am hopeful that they will turn out well.

Before I get into Tanking and Threat, let me bring up one change I found out about last night that had me swearing a bit in a random I was running.  There are very few things that I find “fun” in the game at the moment.  I find many thing entertaining and can hold my attention but most I would not consider just fun.  One of the really pure fun in a devious sort of way was a trick I learned in The Vortex Pinnacle.  You see these really annoying mobs called Minister’s of Air that can knock you back and over the edge depending upon placement and then will stand there and spam lightning bolts every about .5 seconds for what seems 10 seconds, they are a real annoying pain in the ass.  Well when I was leveling and gearing my Priest, I would have laughing fits when I would Mind Control them and run them over the side of the walkways, thus killing them and getting rid of them.  This no longer works, they now re-spawn with full health.  Now I do not see what is so game breaking with actually using your class abilities to defeat an encounter.  I have long said that if you want use to play the game a certain way Blizzard to tell us the strategy we should use.  If you just nerf this type of play and make our abilities worthless then why are they still in the fucking game.

So since you refuse to let us use Mind Control effectively then just remove it.  The alternative would be to make it like fear/enslave demon so that the priest has a pet to use for a short time.  But as a channeled CC it is bullshit.

Ok back to the tanking.

Ya tanking is not fun in Cataclysm due to the threat problems and it is even worse when you have a new fresh tank and are grouped up with a bunch of characters in T11/12 gear, when the tank has an average iLvl of 330.  But then this was a foreseeable issue because as you say it is just a numbers issue.  Many of us would like to see an expansion where the game does not have to be redesigned every content patch, at least for the issues that are just numbers.  Honestly I would rather see threat stay the same and have boss mechanics simplified but your elite and very vocal minority in the game will bitch and moan too much.

Well this is turning into a post of tangents.

On to the topics of Warrior and Druid Tanking and Active Defensive abilities.

If the tanking classes are going to get a bit of an overhaul and new abilities are going to be added or existing modified, mayhap we should also look at removing some.  I have always considered some classes, Druid, Rogue, DK as having too many abilities, and I really started to think about it more seriously after the post on WoWInsider about the 5×2 initiative, http://wow.joystiq.com/tag/5×2/.  I really think this is something all classes could use a working over on in the next expansion.  Essentially review abilities and make it such that they would fit this model.  I will say this much if you want to use your full range of abilities as a druid, priest, DK, warrior, rogue it is not really possible unless you do some extensive game modding and/or macros.

Anyway the changes that GC mentions in the Dev Water Cooler blog post for Warrior and Druid worry me.  Theactive mechanics for DK work for 1 reason they are a 2 resource tank.  Paladins are a 1.5 at the moment because they really only have 1 reliable way to stack holy points.  For it to really work for the rage based classes as rage being something to be managed, there needs to be a way to reliably generate rage.  This is achievable if you divide all the Warrior/Feral abilities into 2 or 3 categories.  The simpler Rage Negative/Rage Positive breakdown or the slightly more expanded Rage Negative/Rage Positive/Rage Neutral abilities.  Rage Neutral just means that the abilities use rage to activate and in general generate the same amount of rage that they consume, crits could affect this depending upon design.  This is important because the most frustrating thing with my Warrior and Feral Druid is the beginning of the fight being rage starved and then having to work the entire fight to attempt to keep threat because I can not generate it enough when not being hit and or dodging or parrying.

I can’t really say more on the subject until more details are released but I know they will make things work, I am just not certain it will be fun.

Posted in Game Mechanics, World of Warcraft


MoP Beta Data First Thoughts

Well first segment of data about what is coming soon in MoP and the Beta has hit the webs this week.  While being really busy for various reasons this past week or so here are a few of my first reactions.

Raiding

No real changes which is unfortunate because raiding in Cataclysm sucked and sucked hard for the majority of the player base.  The most recent raid Dragon Soul was better designed in many ways than Firelands especially for the LFR version however was a failure for normal and heroic difficulty.  I am not talking about encounters here I am talking about raid design and how the LFR was 2 separate raid instances and the normal/heroic were only 1.

Tier 11 if it was not for the encounter difficult for the entry raid Tier of an expansion was the best overall raid Tier design that Blizzard has done since T5 & T6.  It looks like the entry Tier will be similar in set up to T11.  So the only thing that will screw up this entry tier is if the encounter difficulty is set too high for the bosses, since we will have static difficulty within a mode setting, i.e. LFR, 10N, 10H, 25N, 25H.  I do not have a link to the quote and if I find it later I will link to it later.

However about this issue it is still not too late.  If Blizzard really wants to make raiding good again there is only 1 option and it will suck initially for everyone but it is the best thing they could do.

MAKE ALL RAIDS 1 SIZE – 15 Man Raids FTW!!!

Otherwise

MAKE 10 AND 25 Man Raids on

DIFFERENT BLOODY LOCKOUT IDs!!!

 

Traveling & Groups

This has been an issue that I have harped on for a very, very long time.  I even went so far to as to make Flight Point Node Graphs in Wrath when bitching about it and got a mostly Finished Alliance one before Cata Beta ended.  I know Blizzard employees play other games but have they actually looked at what players in the other games are bitching about most of the time.

There are 2 Features that Warcraft has right now that the majority of the SW:ToR player base is begging and asking for.

  1. LFG – Because spamming trade is so Vanilla WoW and EQ
  2. HAVE GROUP WILL FUCKING TRAVEL

I don’t really understand this decision, I rank it up there in epic stupidity like cutting about 600 support employees right before launching 4 major fucking releases in a year.  It was completely and totally fucking short-sighted.

If you want players to get out into the world and see it then incentive us to do it and or make it worth our time.  Maybe also extend the global channels that are tied to cities to be truly global will help.  But if all the major services you need are only in Cities then you will only stay in Cities because it is the most convenient place to be.

Maybe open up, Auction House, Bank, Guild Bank, Trainers Class and Profession in more places so that the player base can spread themselves out with out the pain in the ass travel in between.

And while we are on the subject, it is time for Blizzard to change the Hearth stone system to be like the similar service in SW:ToR and not hearthing to one location let us choose from all of the available points we have already synced with on at least a continental level.

 

Everything Else

Given Beta has now just started all of the class and other stuff will change rapidly as tons of players start to tinker with them.  I will save talking about them at a later time.

One last thought on the wave invite process.  I hope that they do not go solely by start date.  If someone started at day one and took 12 months off over the course of the game they should not get in before someone who joined 6 months in with no account lapse time.

 

Posted in Game Mechanics, World of Warcraft


Vision of a new Encounter Paradigm – Repost/Update

Since this blog was about as heavily effected by the server FUBAR that occurred when www.restokin.com had issues most of my posts lost the pictures associated with them.  This was unfortunate and given my limited readership restoring or messing with any of the posts I was able to salvage was not a high priority.  Making sure Lissanna’s blog was up and running well was first priority.

With the WoW-Insider linkage about the Pandaren mount I have decided to go and update the images to I think one of my better posts.

Visions of a new Encounter Paradigm

I am in some ways a hardcore player as in I dive into the mechanics of the game and many of the systems.  I am also casual because I find most raiding environments to be annoying, because reflex and dancing challenges I don’t find interesting.  These 2 encounter components are the major way that game designers have decided to make encounter complex and difficult.  So I find my self running dungeons most of the time and or leveling alts.

Anyway I hope some may find he Paradigm described in my prior post interesting.  I know parts of it have been bubbling around the blog-o-sphere for a long time now.

Posted in Game Mechanics, System Mechanics, World of Warcraft


Remove Int Leather, Mail, Plate and Spirit Gear

I saw the below thread on MMO-Champion’s Blue Tracker and it I something I have thought about for a long time, especially with the addition of Monks in MoP.

http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/216395-blizzard-ever-gonna-make-int-plates-useful/

I was honestly stumped on the issue until recently.  What changed you ask?  I started to play Star Wars and concepts I had thought were set in stone were changed, different and worked in The Old Republic.

What is different for those that don’t play ToR?   Well simply there is only 1 healing class that uses anything like Mana, that is the Jedi Sage healing spec, with mana being Force.  I will state now that I think one of the biggest design mistakes still in World of Warcraft given what has been said is coming in MoP is the reliance on Mana as a resource system.  Hell look at Diablo 3 even and yes we have Mana/Arcane Power like systems but then they get modified to be a little different from each other.

In ToR the Smuggler healing spec heals and has mechanics like a Rogue it was when I was healing my companion with a smuggler that I saw the realm of possibilities open up and how Blizzard has been gimping themselves for so long being tied to Mana, Mana, Mana like EQ.  I realize with how behind every project at Blizzard seems to be at the moment that this change will most likely not occur until the expansion after MoP if ever but there are many other and some better ways that Blizzard could do core mechanics and stats.

Additionally I think a new base stat would need to be added to the mix but maybe not at first.

We would then have the following for Primary stats.

Strength Plate – Warrior, Death Knight, Paladin

Agility Mail – Hunter, Shaman

Agility Leather – Rogue, Druid, Monk

Int Cloth – Mage, Warlock, Priest

The shared slots like Rings, Necks, Cloaks and Trinkets would then only have secondary stats on them and could then be more role specific not class specific.

By making the gear system simpler it also allows greater control over tuning of each spec and over all power balance across classes within a role.  Resto Druids a little behind on the overall Healing output, just tune the Agility to Healing Power Ratio slightly.  The same would be for any of the other healing classes in the Primary Ability to Spell/Healing Power conversion Ratios.  Additionally like melee classes have primary -> Attack Power everything in the end should be based on the Healing, Spell, Melee, Ranged Power and not to the Primary Stats on the character or Weapon.

I have already ranted a bit about my annoyance of using weapon damage ranges and not the universal DPS figure that already takes swing speed into account.

Posted in Game Mechanics, System Mechanics, World of Warcraft


The Vision of a new MMO Encounter Paradigm

I was debating about having a further play on words by attempting to create an acronym that would spell Escaflowne or change the title to be something like Record of Lodoss War but in the end the acronyms would be so contrived that it was not worth the play on words.  This is all because I have watched a lot of Anime lately while leveling alts, I did that to keep from wanting to claw my eyes out doing the same quests for the 6th, 7th, 8th + time, I am now up to 8 85s.

I like the new stories and how the quests are tied to a story in Cataclysm more than they were in Wrath I just wish they were a little less connected so we would have more yet small stories.   This way more quests hubs are available to pick and choose from.  Anyway this is side tangent is not what I want to bring up in this post.

So this is going to be one long post which will be essentially 2 parts.  The first part on content difficulty and the second part will use existing binary encounters and show ways that they could have been designed for greater granularity and teaching of mechanics.

Part 1 – General Theory on Content Difficulty:

Realm of Infinite Possibilities

For this lets use this blue-red gradient image represent the infinite solution space that is all encounters with varying mechanics and hp/damage scaling also taking into consideration number of players.

10 and 25 Equal – only Normal/Hardmode

Now lets just say for argument’s sake that 10 and 25 man are of equal difficulty and the only difference is in the logistics of forming said group.  Further lets say there are only 2 encounters of the same boss, an easy and a heroic version.  This leaves us with the following image/gradient or gradient with no grading.

 

10 and 25 with Normal/Hardmode

Again to make it a little more complicated lets now assume 10 and 25 are not equal.  I know Blizzard tries to make them equal but in some encounters 25-man raids have a little more give and take than the 10-man versions.  On the other hand sometimes 25 players running around end up causing more problems for one another than 10 players.  This will leave us with the next image.

 

I am not labeling which section represents what mode of content because that is hard to say and it varies between encounters.

The great Divide

Now the discussion gets complicated there are some that view all content on 1 scale of difficulty while others separate the 5, 10 and 25 man content.

For example a commenter on Lissanna’s blog post at Restokin.com named Galashin posted in reply to one of my comments and who I had a bit of a conversation with through the comments posted the following.

Easy: Solo content.
Normal: Normal 5mans.
Hard: (First tier) Heroics.
Heroic: (Second tier) Heroics.
Nightmare: Raids.
(Insanity: Heroic raids.)

Alternatively,
Easy: Normal 5mans.
Normal: (First tier) Heroics.
Hard: (Second tier) Heroics.
Heroic: Raids.
Nightmare: Heroic raids.

My reply and the conversation in general brought me to write this post and just spell out exactly how I hope/wish/would like to see content in MMOs in the future.  I hope World of Warcraft but I won’t hold my breath.

My actual opinion on the great divide is who needs to divide they are both valid points of view and each are a subset of a greater solution space.  I am more interested in the greater solution space.  Additionally both seem to overlook the need for progressive solo play.

The last part about progressive solo play is actually a surprisingly volatile topic when discussing MMOs.  For some reason many get up in arms when someone suggests that the solo play part of the game is important.   The thing is as the solo play improves so do the total number of subscribers.  I will also take it a step further and say that as long as there is some way for a player to improve their avatar(s) their attention to the game will be kept, mostly.  After that point it gets into the Risk versus Reward versus Time Investment equation balancing.  The thing about the infinite solution space is that there is something for everyone.  However this solution space is just theoretical and impossible to implement.  The more money and resources you throw at the problem the more likely you are to approximate said solution but you will only approximate it.

Now back to pictures.

 

10 and 25 man content with multiple levels of difficulty on some bosses others just Normal/Heroic

Now based upon the number of bosses in a tier of content and the number of said bosses that have more than just a Normal/Heroic mode you get 2 gradients, one with 8 shades and one with 16 shades or levels of difficulty.  Admittedly there would hopefully be more bosses than 8 or 16 if you count the different levels of encounter difficulty as a “new” boss.  Also there would be some bosses/encounters that are of equal difficulty.  The point is that as long as the alternative difficulties are not locked out it would allow all guilds and players to take on defeat content at the pace that works for them hopefully without stagnating for weeks or months.  That is the guild/raid group killer, stagnation.

What worked in the past such as the pace of content in Vanilla wow will only work for some and those seem to be a very small minority of the MMO player-base anymore.  I am glad I got into WoW at the end of Vanilla and did not raid before Burning Crusade, if I had, I most likely would have quit wow and never looked back.  I thought some of the requirements on encounters in EQ when I heard about them were insane, no 10-24 hour camping a boss for me, screw that, I have more important/fun things to do with my time.

 

10/25 man Content with all bosses having multiple levels of difficulty

At the very least I hope World of Warcraft can get to this point in future raid tiers.  This would mean that all boss encounters in Raids will have multiple or more than 2 levels of difficulty.   I do not think all fights need to have 4-5 different levels of difficulty but most should.  There would need to be several systems updated and changed to accommodate this but I think in the end it would be a drastic improvement to the game.

I used the 32 slice and 64 slice for this representation.  For example lets take the 7 boss Firelands Raid coming in 4.2, which will have by all indications the SoS set up that BoT,BDW,4W and ICC had where the heroic/hard modes are locked by the end boss of the instance.  At 7 bosses with 3 modes of difficulty we would have 21 slices but hopefully some would have 4-5 so an average of 4 per boss would leave us with 28.  Where as if the opening tier of 12-13 bosses had 4-5 levels of difficulty we would be looking at 48-65 levels of granularity.

I will continue with the levels of granularity segment before I get into breaking down a few existing fights into a more granular mode of progression and finally the reward structure for such granularity.

 

Extending the multiple levels of difficulty to dungeon bosses

Essentially here just take the discussion for 10 and 25 man content and now apply it to 5 man and small group encounters.  This would then give you something like 128 to 256 levels of granularity, just throwing powers of 2 out there to make the numbers relatively simple and uniform.

We could even extent these design methods to also apply to solo content through class challenges but that in and of itself can be an entire topic unto itself so I will save that for another post, again. I say again because I have described it partly in other posts in the past.

Part 2 – Encounter Breakdowns

I will describe the break down of 4 different encounters to show how I would add layers of difficulty to existing content to show how I hope future counters are designed in WoW or any other MMO. The 4 fights will be Omnitron Defence Council, Conclave of Wind, Atramedes, and Cho’gall.

Omnitron Defence Council

Level 1: In this mode the Trons only have their shield effect when at or below 50 energy.  This would be a long fight as you don’t get the damage buffs from the pools or clouds.

Level 2: In this mode the Trons gain 1 of their 2 abilities.

  • Arcanotron – Power Generator
  • Electron – Lightning Conductor
  • Magmatron – Acquiring Target
  • Toxitron – Poison Protocol

Level 3: Like the current Normal mode.

Level 4: Take the current Heroic mode, but 1/2 the effect of the new mechanic.

Level 5: Same as current Heroic mode.

 

Conclave of Wind
All levels of difficulty will have the resurrection timers on each when they hit 0/1% since this is one of the main tricks of the fight.

Level 1: At this level the Full energy abilities and the all alone debuff are not in play.

  • Anshal- Nurture (Add summoning)
  • Nezir – Wind Chill (Stacking Damage Debuff) to for Tank swapping another key mechanic.
  • Rohash- Slicing Gale

Level 2:

  • Anshal- Soothing Winds
  • Nezir – Permafrost
  • Rohash- Tornado

Level 3: Add the all alone debuff.

  • Anshal- Toxic Spores
  • Nezir – Ice Patch
  • Rohash- Slicing Gale

Level 4: Same as current normal mode.

Level 5: Same as current heroic mode.

 

Atramedes

Level 1:

  • Ground – Searing Flame, Modulation
  • Air – Roaring Flame Breath

Level 2:

  • Ground -Roaring Flame
  • Air – Roaring Flame

Level 3:

  • Ground – Sonic Breath
  • Air – Sonar Bomb

Level 4: Same as current normal mode.

Level 5: Same as current heroic mode.

 

Cho’gall

Level 1:

  • Phase 1 – Conversion, Twisted Devotion, Summon Corruption Adherent, Fester Blood
  • Corrupting Adherents – Depravity, Festering Blood
  • Phase 2 – Fury of Cho’gall

Level 2:

  • Phase 1 – Conversion, Summon Corruption Adherent
  • Corrupting Adherents – Corrupting Crash
  • Phase 2 – Corruption of the Old Gods

Level 3:

  • Phase 1 – Conversion, Summon Corruption Adherent
  • Corrupting Adherents – Sprayed Corruption
  • Phase 2 -Darkened Creations 4/10 – 83,000 HP (1/2 of normal)

Level 4: Same as current normal mode.

Level 5: Same as current heroic mode.

 

Why this is a better paradigm?

If you look how I broke down the abilities each mode adds at least 1 new mechanic per boss/add/phase.  This allows new raiders and guild to enter the content at what ever level they are ready to take on.  Because lets face it, WoWs player base and the player base of any MMO has a lot of Churn between players leaving or taking a break or friends recruiting new friends into the game.  There need to be an introductory mode at all levels of content since WoW and most new MMOs break the initial EQ/FFIX raiding paradigm already.  That being where to be geared for new content you still need to run raids that are years old to get the good stuff, with insane attunement/unlocking requirements.

This takes the simpler scheme that World of Warcraft now uses and makes it both simpler and more complicated at the same time.  This therefore gives the player base more options and my gaming outlook is giving more options to the players is almost always better.  I say almost because sometime options can become overwhelming but that is more in the case of table tops and not the usually rigid structure that are most computer/video games.

Part 3 –  Rewards for different levels of Difficulty

The interesting part is at no time in the past has World of Warcraft been in a better place for the rewarding of different levels of difficulty for the same encounter as they are now.

[table id=9 /]

As shown in the table the key to being able to reward multiple levels of difficulty for a boss is the due to the granularity in the VP/JP reward along with the # of actual loot items.  When it was just loot and a badge or 2 it was difficult to balance across more than 2 or 3 different states.  Now that the tokens are point based and each boss now give between 70 and 90 points, these values can be changed based upon the difficulty of the boss.  The real key is where to set the normal or standard level of difficulty.  I place it at Heroic-1 but there is no reason that it has to be there as I showed in the 6 level reward part of the table.

There is still another issue of how do you gear up alts or new players to jump into content after the first tier of an expansion.  However that is a topic unto itself.

Posted in Game Mechanics, System Mechanics, World of Warcraft


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