Archive for the Observations Category

Further Magus v. Engineer Discoveries

Posted in Observations on January 10, 2009 by dahras

I think I have found it. For a while I wondered just what the Magus had to make up for the lack of ranged Auto-Attack damage and armor of the Engineer, but I think I have found it. The Magus doesn’t have a minimum range. That’s the biggest change. It makes their 1v1 abillity so much better its unbelievable.

The biggest example of this is Baleful Transmogrification versus Incendiary Rounds. While Incendiary Rounds only have use when the enemy is far away (a rare occurrence in 1v1 PvP, as well as PvE), Baleful Transmogrification can be used constantly, in all situations. I have easily been able to take down Witch Hunters 1v1 by DoTing them up, snaring them, and running around, using my instant damage spell whenever possible. As an Engineer, I would have never been able to do that, as so much damage would be lost due to my inability to cast Incendiary Rounds up close.

On a side note, why the hell do the Engineer and Magus get Redeploy and Resummon so late. Those spells make demons worth summoning in solo PvE/PvP, and yet we get them at level 22! Its not like they couldn’t sneak them in earlier!

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The Importance of Failure

Posted in Design Thoughts, Observations on November 26, 2008 by dahras

failure1I think a concept that a lot of developers don’t seem to understand is that failure is important.

I have been playing WotLK for a few weeks, and its fun. My main is almost 75, and after powerleveling mining my alt is progressing through Borean Tundra at level 70. Its been fun, the lore of the quests is excellent, and the areas are diverse and interesting. In fact, much of Northrend has great theme, just like WAR does.

The instance set and monster design is especially good, with the Nexus and Azjol’Nerub being the best (yeah, when I went down the hole, I pressed levitate too X_X … thats one long fall). Unfortunately, the general design of the instances isn’t as good. The bosses are well designed stratagy wise from what I can tell, but the challenge just isn’t set right. My guild, with moderate coordination and Kara level gear can blow through every enemy, every boss without even looking at stratagies, without even trying.

And from what I can tell, the endgame is similar. A member of my guild who bolted to 80 was picked up for 25 man Naxxramus by one of the hardcore guild on our server, and they did a full clear on what was apperently their second try with only 4 wipes. Yeah, thats pretty easy. Blizzard had said that they wanted to tone raiding down for this expansion because the raids in Burning Crusade had required a level of gear, stratagy, and potion chugging so great that only the absolute pinnicle of hardcore raiders could complete the highest tier of content. In general, I agree with their analysis, and the general direction they were going, but I think they over shot… by a lot.

You see, although Burning Crusade raiding had been gruelling, even at the first steps (kara… ugh), there was a satisfaction that completing it got you. I remember the night my guild finally got Moroes down. We were yelling on vent and guild chat and general chat, and we we went on to get both Maiden of Virtue and Opera down that night because we were so pumped up. I’m afraid that Blizzard has made Wrath so easy, that there won’t be as many moments of pure joy, like the one of getting Moroes down.

You see, in the end, the true satisfaction of raiding, and for that matter anything in MMO’s, isn’t getting the phat epixx. If it was about that, the best way for MMO developers to make people happy would be to but a huge chest in the middle of the world, easily accessable by anyone, containing a full set of the best gear in the game. You see, the reason that getting epixx is satisfying is that you sacrificed to get them and now you are one of the chosen few who can say that you completed this task. You put in the hours, you had to work as a team, you read all the stratagies, you failed, but you eventually triuphed, and now there are only a small percentage of all people who have played your game who can stand above or equal to you. Without sacrificing, without stratagy and teamwork, and yes, without failure,  epixxs are just groups of 1’s and 0’s.

That’s what worries me about Wrath. My guild can finally progress to the pinnicle of the WoW raiding scene. Hell, we can probly down Arthas eventually! Blizzard has finally come to the full realization of what they started realizing when they released BC, requiring large numbers of people to raid excludes many people from raiding. But with the good comes the bad. Though I may be able to kill Arthas, that may not be a great accomplishment because its been made too easy. The pendulum has swong too far in one direction! And what if Blizzard, aware of their mistake, turns the pendulum aroung again and over shoots once more!

Worries…

Well, I guess I’ll keep playing until I stop having fun, that the best I can do. Worrying about undetermined future only stops you from enjoying the present.

The Call

Posted in Adventure Log, Observations on November 12, 2008 by dahras

confusedSo… hard… to resist… addiction!

Its WoW. Its calling, with all of its WotLK goodness. I have to go back, even though i know in my heart of hearts that it will end up being the same. I guess its because I’m in a leveling rut. You see, my character is 18 (don’t laugh, I’m a really slow leveler) and I am done with all of Dwarf chapter 9 and I just want to move on and be 20, or 40 for that matter. I’m sooooooo close, but I just can’t put myself over.

This happened to me in WoW on my first character that I seriously tried to get to the cap on the Alliance. I had a 60 horde undead mage that I leveled really fast, but I did it soley in instances and with friends that played at the same time every night. You see, I had really never leveled alone before. On my mage I was trying new things because I had always been a healer, but I was still in a static group, so I didn’t get a feel for soloing. I had been an Empathy/Dark hero in CoH and Monk in GW and had mostly been tied to a group the whole time. Soloing with my priest was painful. I got to 52, 6 levels from Burning Crusade, with its condensed leveling paths, and less travel, and stopped. I couldn’t do it. I spent 6 months at 52, and played barely any WoW. I’m not a fan of alts, so when my main got boring, I couldn’t play.

Then, I got off of school for week and decided to try WoW again just to see how I’d like it. At first my friends thought it was just another pass through, that I wouldn’t play very much. Then I dinged 53, and they joked about how it would be 10 years before i dinged 70 at the rate I was going. They couldn’t know how wrong they were. I dinged 70 on Saturday at 2 in the morning. It just all clicked. I started leveling at breakneck speed, and the game was fun again. That lasted for a month, and then I hit another doldrum, but that ended when we started raiding Kara as a guild. I was the Main Heal and I had some of my best MMO time for 4 months.

Then it stopped. We didn’t have enough people to get into a 25 man raid. We had cleared and gotten everything from Karazan and Zul’Aman. We didn’t want to join other people’s raids because they were too strict. Somehow we always were able to party and raid at the same time, while progressing. I tried leveling an alt to 70, and suceeded, but that was it. WoW was over for me.

So now I’m in the same position with WAR. I know I like the game, but I’m in a duldrum. I know that at some point, epiphany will strike and I’ll rank to 40 in all of 2 weeks, but I the wait is killing me. Everytime I log on I just feel bored, not because of the game but because of my mood. Oh yeah, and now there is competition. WotLK is calling, not just because its ‘new’ but because it will allow my small, tight-nit guild to progress in raiding the way we wanted to in BC. Its all so confusing to me, but I know I’ll get through. What I am most happy about, though, is that I’m excited with MMO’s again. I know the cinics are raining from the sky like its monsoon season, saying that “MMO’s have jumped the shark” for them, but I’m content. Competion is good.

The Solo Dungeon

Posted in Adventure Log, Design Thoughts, Observations on October 23, 2008 by dahras

I recently did the quest Bitter Blood (yes T2, i know, I’m REALLY behind), where you scale a vampire tower, in the throes of a battle, so you can destroy the vampire’s phylactery. I love the way the quest develops the story and builds to the climax of climbing the tower, which amounts to a single player dungeon. The only part of the quest that I didn’t like was the single player dungeon. This dislike made me really analyze what makes dungeons fun.

When people are asked what makes dungeons fun, they often respond that interesting boss fights, unique settings, and carefully tuned challenge make dungeons enjoyable, and they do. Unfortunately, though, these answers completely miss the underlying question: what makes dungeons fun, that is not specific to any one dungeon.

It is my opinion that it is the experience of being in a team, and completing a task as a coordinated team that makes dungeons fun. Think about it, when people quit raiding, whats their usual complaint? Its that the drama was too much for them. The people were too vicious to allow a fun time. This is why I think that solo or 2 man dungeons would not be fun at all, the team aspect just isn’t there.

When I was climbing the vampire tower, I realized this. Even though I was getting a normal dungeon experience (tricky trash mobs, slightly more tough mini-bosses, and a multi-stage end boss), the fact that it was all me stopped me from having as much fun as i could have. The quest was well designed, and written, but the solo aspect let me down.

Music in Games

Posted in Design Thoughts, Observations on October 21, 2008 by dahras

Its kind of funny, but I always turn off the music off in MMO’s. In fact, Its usually the first thing I do when I enter the game. Its not funny because most people keep their music on (because they don’t), but because I turn my music off. You see I’m a huge music listener, I listen to most genres, and even play an instrument (bass). I also understand that some of the background music of MMO’s is pretty good. Why don’t I listen to it? Well, I think its because I get distracted. Some of the reason I love music is because when I listen to it, I get absorbed by it, so having music (especially good music) in the background stops me from concentrating in MMO’s. Its actually kind of sad because I am probably missing out on some decent music, and some of the information communicated about locations by the it. Oh well, it could be worse! Oh yeah, and because I just talked about music, I have to put album covers from some of my favorite albums.