Posts Tagged ‘playstyle’

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Azeroth bite-sized

16.02.2011

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.

 

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Back in the saddle

18.01.2011

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.

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Save a ground mount!

31.12.2010

Cataclysm has a few by-names. I’m about to add another one: Death of the ground mount.

Actually, it was this post over at Art of Soloing WoW that added that title. And I find it kind of sad. After all, from level 20 to 60, our ground mounts got us everywhere we wanted. The wide flats of the old Barrens. The sheer endless trek up and down Stonetalon Mountains. The gauntlet that is the Redridge Highway. The scarred landscape of the Badlands and Searing Gorge. And of course, up to and through the Dark Portal.

Yes, I agree completely, flying is a lot more convenient. And faster. But I also feel a lot of missing out. The view is sometimes spectacular, but every zone seems to shrink, now that you don’t have to care about the safest or quickest route. You just fly up a bit and then straight towards the quest goal. Look down, think about the poor map designer who painstakingly laid out everything in such a way that someone on a horse would be able to get where he wants. The mobs finetuned so that the roads are relatively safe while the wilderness holds all the dangers.

Flying in cities is another thing. The view of the rooftops of Stormwind is spectacular. Okay, so my FPS drop to abysmal levels, but still. Flying from the mage tower to the auction house or the cathedral, the city seems to have lost the frantic spark of life that you got down on the streets.

So, as the new year approaches, I call out to everyone to celebrate one day of old school riding. Next Thursday (06.01.2011, also a holiday), no flying mounts if possible. Break out your old warlock Dreadsteeds, your rare drops, your hard-earned foreign racial mounts. Pass the word – on RP servers, make up something about dangerous crosswinds that make flying impossible for the day. For one day, let Azeroth tremble not with the fury of Deathwing, but the thunder of our hooves!

Also applicable to mount that don’t have hooves, just so our Gnomish and Elven friends don’t feel left out.

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Fort Livingston, I presume

01.12.2010

A week has passed since the Shattering, and coincidentally, I’m back from a week of much-needed vacation. So instead of blogging about every single change that I noticed, here is a collection of impressions from my shattered Azeroth.

 

Phased Zones

They said that they wanted to make heavy use of phasing, and they didn’t disappoint. I’ve only seen it now in the Plaguelands, but it is simply epic. Actually seeing a difference you make in the Battle for Andorhal, later the recapture of Tyr’s Hand – that is truly fantastic. The journey along Fiona’s Caravan isn’t too bad either, and serves quite well to keep the quests flowing.

It’s not quite on the level of interaction you get from single player game like the Fallouts, but it really keeps you immersed in the game.

 

Bugged Quests

Sadly, the new, phased zones seem to be plagued with a few bugs. Actually, the first quest bugs I’ve encountered so far.

One, the Battle for Darrowshire, seems to be now hotfixed – though I’ll have to try for myself later today.

Two, Into the Flames can be completed but not turned in – I’ve already opened a ticket and am awaiting a response.

Other than that, NPC’s in phased quests seem to behave strangely sometimes, especially when multiple players are doing the same quest.

 

Stormwind rebuilt

Deathwing almost destroyed Stormwind. But that’s okay, they rebuilt it, bigger and better than ever. Did you notice the subtly applied new textures? How the pavement changes between districts? The old park may be gone, but the new outskirts area is so much more open, and in my eye, even more beautiful than the old park.

Also,  the castle. It’s like the completely tore down the old one and build a new one instead. With a proper entrance and everything.

And if you were complaining about the lag in the marketplace and auction house – head on over to the Dwarven district – I like the bank and auction house there. Ideal for smelting and blacksmiths, and with almost nobody else there (yet).

 

Worgen now in!

Of course, with Worgen PCs coming in just a few short days, there are already Worgen NPCs around. And the nice touch: You can already gain Gilneas reputation! And don’t you just love the accent? Granted it’s a bit exaggerated, but which of the accents in the voice acting of WoW isn’t…

 

New music is kind of meh

Entering Stormwind the first thing you’ll notice is the changed music. But, sadly, like the old one, it gets annoying rather quickly. So listen to it once, then turn of in-game music and switch back to your favourite iTunes mix. But points for effort.

 

New flightpaths are sometimes overkill

In some zones, like the Wetlands, it’s nice to have a few more flightpaths scattered around. In other zones, it seems like overkill. If you can’t stomach a short 40 second ride (or shorter depending on your riding skill), maybe questing isn’t for you? But then, I probably shouldn’t talk – I’m lazy as hell myself and yes, if there is a flightpath, I take it. I may immediately smack my forehead for wasting 20 copper (25 years of living in Swabia will do that to you), but I ride the taxi nevertheless.

 

Zone specific quest achievements

Not much of a change for those of you coming from Northrend, but the new achievements mean a lot less bookkeeping for potential loremasters. They also provide some sort of progress bar when questing through a zone. I’m German. I like statistics and forecasts and whatnot. So yay for a more detailed breakdown of questing achievements.

 

New questlines – epic!

Really. I don’t think anything else needs to be said. The new, remade questlines are well written, gripping and generally much more involved and character driven than the old ones. Instead of the old “Kill ten Defias thugs”, followed inevitably by “You’re back? Oh well… go and kill ten Defias muggers, then.” you get to know the questgivers, the reference you to others who then have already heard of your exploits and maybe you can help with this much more pressing problem they’ve got.

 

A new leveling experience

This is a combination of the phased zones and redone questlines, really. But leveling feels much smoother, much less grindy, much more story-oriented than previously. It also feels a lot faster, which in some ways I regret. I’m a big fan of the “there are much more powerful enemies and dangerous areas out there” feeling. The smaller zones mean that in many cases the mobs are more tailored to your level – changing it up sometimes with a couple of rare but powerful mobs would be nice.

Of course, most of the time you’re so deep in the storylines that it doesn’t matter. Questing through the Plaguelands was the first time that I didn’t want to stop playing not because of “just a couple more mobs and maybe I get a cool quest reward” but “I won’t stop playing until I know what happens to this character”.

I just hope that when I outlevel Azeroth and move on to Outland and later Northrend that the quests there hold up to the new standard.

 

 

The world lies in shambles. But what a world it is!

Well done, Blizzard!

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Ding!

27.10.2010

Yesterday – well, technically today – I dinged 40 on my warlock. She’s the first alt to reach that level, so it was an occasion for much celebration. You may smile or laugh, but that is actually a huge step for me.

  • Level 40 achievement
  • New mounts, including the Dreadsteed
  • Dual Spec, not that I need it, but what the hell, gold isn’t worth anything if you don’t spend it

And, most importantly: It took me essentially one weekend and a bit to level my warlock from 30 to 40. Compare that to the time it took for me druid to get from 20 to 30, it’s a world apart. And it was a blast. The Felguard I got from the new talent trees helped a lot, sometimes I was amazed at the masses of mobs that we survived when a pull went wrong.

Seriously, I think I’ll keep playing my druid, just so my other characters will be even more fun when I get back to them.

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The GearScore fallacy

01.10.2010

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.

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If I had one hour as Blizzard WoW class designer

22.09.2010

This week’s shared topic is “Design Your Class“. Funny, that’s what I wanted to write about anyway.

While the stage two chunk of 4.0.1 (a whopping 4.5 GB) is downloading, I’m thinking a bit about what my ideal class would look like. Not what the best possible, or most efficient or most overpowered class looked like, but the class that I’d take a look at and say “yup, that’s what I want”.

Since there are obviously too many ways to go absolutely nuts with this idea, I’ll just choose three talent trees and associated skills – that still leaves a lot of options, but possibly maintains a shred of sanity and balancing.

Primary Tree: Hunter – Marksman

Easy choice. I like ranged DPS and the marksman tree and skills grant a higher mobility than the mage pendant with the long casting times. It deals direct DPS mostly, but the stings aren’t too bad either. Unlike the mage tree, which is all skill dependent, marksmen can still revel in searching for the ultimate ranged weapon, be they guns or bows or Goblin punting.

Secondary Tree: Warlock – Affliction

In my opinion, affliction would complement marksman quite well. Pile on the DoTs, then keep the enemy at range while happily sniping away without the need to wait for casting times. The curses and stings together could possibly take down bigger, badder mobs to a manageable level, but you still need the DPS from your primary tree to take advantage of that.

Alternate Tree: Rogue – Combat

This tree is mostly there for dual speccing and switching roles a bit during instances. Combined with marksman, it may be a bit weak – either you’re at range dealing damage, or you’re in melee dealing damage. Still, could be a valid choice for soloing content where you can’t always keep mobs at range or for PvP where you may have similar problems. At any rate, a combat marksman would be quite versatile.

The other possibility, speccing combat / affliction, would yield similar results to marksman / affliction – only instead of running away you close in and hack away at your opponent. Both combinations, by the way, should play very differently from an affliction ‘lock – or at least very differently from the way I play my ‘lock.

One interesting thing about this is: My favourite class, the mage, doesn’t feature at all. Why? Cast time. Yes, playing a mage is spectacular, but for the bread and butter questing and soloing instances, I’ve had much better results with my hunter and rogue. I think a class with the skills of these three talent trees would offer a whole lot of interesting choices, especially with the new 31-point system. And let’s be honest, if I want to play a mage, I play a pure mage. Anything else, derivative, would be inferior. You can’t improve on perfection.