Archive for the ‘A Matter Of Style’ Category


Azeroth bite-sized


A lot of people seem to equate MMOs with time-sinks – if you start playing, you don’t do anything else and playing for just a short amount of time each day isn’t really worth it. I admit, that’s what I’d prefer – a good, long session where I can really get into the mood.

However, currently there is a lot going on in real-life, so my gametime has been significantly reduced. Questing through half a zone? Nope. Soloing near level-appropriate instances? Nope. Grinding Archaeology? Well, I think I could make time for that…

But what do you do if you only got half an hour or an hour tops? Dailies!

Even better: Do the world event dailies! Getting enough lovely charms for the present should also progress your current zone nicely and turn in a few ‘real’ quests along the way. Fishing and cooking dailies are also quite relaxing and offer some sense of accomplishments while you draw nearer to the various associated achievements.

That said, if I do have my usual amount of time, I usually don’t do dailies. It’s funny, but I really feel like they’re not really playing the game but more a stop-gap measure while you wait for something. But as that, they work perfectly.



Kong – king of casual UI mods


A while ago I came across a post on WoWInsider highlighting an add-on called ‘Kong‘. Back then, it didn’t seem worth the trouble of setting up. But since I’ve started doing to Stormwind cooking and fishing dailies, I also started thinking: “Do I really need all this useless UI elements when I’m sitting on a bench on the shore of Olivias Pond?”

The answer, of course, is “No, I don’t”. But then, Alt-Z’ing the UI hides some information I do want. Like, how many more fish do I need to catch? Alright, so the sounds of QuestGuru help with that, but still. Or a glimpse of the minimap would be nice – the least intrusive UI element there is.

So, I finally headed back to Kong and installed and configured it. Really, a video would be best to explain how it works, but instead, I made a few screenshots showing it in action.

Click to enlarge!



Travel mode - most of the UI is hidden




Mouseover the QuestGuru frames




Casting mode - Unit frames unhidden and action bars partially visible




Combat mode - all bars and frames visible




Back to travel mode - note that all popups open with 100% alpha



One thing to note is that you have to set it up completely yourself, but it’s very easy to do so. All you need is the frames you want to edit open on your screen – the rest is done with a few clicks.


Back in the saddle


What, I ask you, is always the greatest difference when switching from a high level alt to a low level one? The gear? The abilities? The gold? Access to reputation gear or crafting recipes?

Travel speed?

Yes, definitely that last one. It already hit me back when I started out on going from a character that had riding back to one travelling by foot. More recently, from 100% ground speed back to a paltry 60%. And now, from a level 70 flying Paladin back to a level 43 Hunter.

The interesting thing is, though, I miss flying. No wait, that’s not surprising. It’s that most of the time I don’t miss flying. Except when I want to get to an auction house. Or to a class trainer. Or go do the fishing dailies in Stormwind. See, I’m questing in Thousand Needles (a completely revamped zone that’s well worth a visit, by the way). Before that I was in Feralas. Have a look at the flight path connection to, oh, Darnassus. Okay, you say, you don’t have to go to Darnassus, the dailies are in Stormwind anyway. That ship sails off at Ruth’eran Village. See? That’s two minutes less travel time!

Of course, you could also go to Theramore, cross to Menethil Harbour, then Ironforge – and if you want the dailies, take the tram to Stormwind. Or Ratchet, Booty Bay, Stormwind. Common to all these travel plans is that the flight paths take extreme detours – getting from the Speedbarge to Theramore by taxi takes approximately five times longer than necessary, simply because you travel via Feralas.

So yes, I bloody do miss flying. When I just want to sell stuff at the auction house, get training or do dailies. Or dig up old stuff.

But during questing? Riding is so much more immersive. No more “get quest, take off, land at the precise spot, kill NPC, take off, land, turn in”. That kind of thing really was a bit of an immersion breaker. A time saver, yes, but it wasn’t so much fun any more. Now, riding, figuring out if I can sneak by those mobs or if I should fight them, trying to find my way to a hard to reach spot or resource node – that’s fun.

Granted, learning the flying skill is a huge milestone, even more so artisan flying and beyond. It’s a symbol for the career of the character. But even so, my ground mounts won’t rot forgotten in the stable.


Of glass cannons


Glass cannons are glass cannons. However, it appears that there are considerably differences in calibre and sturdiness.


My only previous experience with PvP were battlegrounds playing my rogue in the 20-29 bracket. I’d regard my combat rogue as not particularly designed for PvP, but it was a lot of fun – capping some flags in Arathi Basin, occasionally sneaking into the enemy base in Warsong Gulch and generally surprising the hell out of careless mages and warriors. Since WoW doesn’t offer a sniper class (I’m a dedicated sniper in all FPS games), this was as close as I could get. Instead of hanging back, sneak invisibly and essentially take an enemy out of the fight with a single hit.


Now I tried the same with my mage, this time in the 30-39 bracket. And boy, was that a shock. Sure, interrupting and silencing enemy spellcasters is fun, but everybody, and I mean everybody makes a beeline for the mage in the background. And my spells don’t seem to do any significant damage at all. I don’t even want to get into the ratio HK/Deaths, it’s just too depressing.


I fully admit that I’m currently not very PvP oriented. It’s just a nice diversion from killing Trolls in Stranglethorn – not that troll-killing ever gets old. But is this really such a difference between those two classes? Especially how enemy players react? Now that I think about it, as rogue, I also was always picking mages as my target while the heavies clashed in the middle of the field. Maybe I’m just too used to having a nice layer of human ablatives in front of me while staring through my crosshairs while crouched somewhere out of reach on a church tower.


What is your experience? Is it really the class that is much different? Or does level bracket play a larger role in regards to available specs and gear?


Thanks for all the fish!


I spend some time yesterday updating my statistics page. Nothing fancy or surprising there. I’m a bit short on gold, but I went on several Glyph shopping-sprees that drained my account.

What is surprising, or interesting at least, are some of the derived statistics from my more detailed spreadsheet. For example: On average, I need two hours (1h 58m) to level up. The quickest is my druid at just 48 minutes per level – clearly, I simply don’t enjoy playing him and want it done as soon as possible. The slowest would be my warlock at two hours, 23 minutes. Granted, soloing instances that give no experience by the time but take a lot of time plays a role in that, but I just enjoy playing the ‘lock.

For the new level cap in Cataclysm – and it’s a very, very safe bet to say I won’t reach the old level cap before that – I still have 419 levels to go for all eight characters. That would mean another 829 hours of play, assuming levelling doesn’t gradually become quicker over the board. To bring just my currently leading character to level 85, I’m missing 43 levels or roughly 85 hours of playtime.

Of course, I want to start two new characters, a death-knight and a priest – so add another 227 hours for 115 levels to that. Or, total, 1056 hours. Which, conversely, is four and a half days ‘/played’ per character. Probably. And stated like that, I think I’m actually a bit faster than the current average for a casual, non-guilded player.

Another forecast based on that values is that with an average time spent playing WoW each week of 25 hours (over the course of a year – there are weeks with considerably less time and weekends when I play a lot more), it will take me 42 weeks. With any luck, that means level cap before the next expansion is released.

And any prediction with a value of ’42’ is just too cool to ignore.


Fun in 4.0.1


I got to finally enjoy the new patch. And since I haven’t had a screenshot post in a long time, here it is – minigames in 4.0.1!

There is a Gnome warlock in this picture. Really, there is. Big hat, glowing staff and all.

(click to zoom)


And here we have a main road. Honestly.

(click to zoom)

The GearScore fallacy


Vacation time means catching up with one thing. Gaming, and sleeping. Two things. Vacation time means catching up with two things: Gaming, sleeping and blogging. Three. Three things…

Before this ventures too far into the surreal world of Monty Python, something completely different.

I read Gevlon’s blog. Most of the time I don’t agree with him, for the simple reason that I don’t think he ‘gets’ why people play games and his poor understanding of what ‘being social’ means. But that is not the point at hand. Occasionally, I come across a post that I do agree with. In this case, a rather old post, titled GearScore Failure.

He proposes that, in a casual environment (pugging, in his example), GearScore is actually inversely proportional to player skill. The reasoning – in my own words – is thus.

Acquiring gear is mostly a function of time spent. While time spent also equals experience (as a player) gained, this ratio varies wildly. A skilled player is someone with a high ratio of time spent to skill gained. An unskilled, carried player is someone whose ratio nears zero. Both type of player, though, acquire roughly the same amount of gear.

Now for context. In a casual environment, what type of player is more likely to apply for a pug? A skilled player that is himself more likely to be in an actual raiding guild? Or a player whose applications get turned down again and again because of a lack of actual playing skill? You can’t see the skill. But you can see the GearScore. And since time spent equals gear, skill equals time spent to skill gain and skill gain means higher probability of raiding guild membership – high GearScore in pugs means probably not much playing skill.

Probably. Of course there are a ton of exceptions. It also depends on how high you set the bar for being a skilled player. Or an okay player at the least. But factoring in other outside elements, such as character name and general demeanour in chat, you should be quickly able to discern into which category the player falls.

Why am I posting about this, anyway?

Enter the casual player.

Time spent means gear. Or rather, time spent raiding means gear. Time spent questing means less gear. But time spent no matter what means skill gained. Granted, the ratio is potentially higher when raiding, but still. Skill gained, in this case means nothing at all for guild membership. To get that gear, though, a casual has to spend more time questing and soloing instances. Whether soloing instances is still casual is open for debate, I say yes. More time spent means a higher potential skill gain. Soloing can be quite stressful, and a good training ground for improvisation and quickly adapting to new situations.

So, since a skilled raiding player won’t apply to pugs (he will, but for the sake of argument, he’ll be the exception), we have two players applying for the pug run: One with a high GearScore and dubious guild membership and one with a medium to low GearScore and no guild membership. Unless both have the same dismal outside factors in chat, the low-GearScore casual is not only much more pleasant to run with, but also probably more skilled. Go with the casual. You’re doing yourself and everybody else a big favour.