Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I got an early start. When I logged in I picked up the Zhevra mount which I'd finally remembered to go and get from the Blizzard website. Picking it up, I got the RAF mount achievement, and when I added it to my mounts tab, I picked up the achievement for ten of them.
But I was far from finished.
My first task, as is usually the case of late, was knocking out my tournament dailies, of which I really only do the champion and valiant versions of Commander and Go kill 10/15 scourge plus Chillmaw. I quit doing the joust quests ages ago. I got a really good group for the quests and we knocked them out fast. Returning to the Tournament Grounds I turned in my valiant quests and ticked over to exalted with Stormwind - gaining both the Ambassador and 10 Exalted Reps achievements at the same time (if I wasn't delaying the final valiant turnin to keep getting an extra 26 gold a day, I could have added one more achievement on the night, to be fair).
The Dalaran fishing and cooking quests did nothing for me, but then, that's pretty much a daily refrain.
Moving on to Shattrath, I picked up my cooking and fishing dailies as usual - these are quests that I am doing because I need rewards toward the cooking and fishing meta's and am looking forward to ditching when they finally pay off.
And tonight, one of them did pay off.
Random numbers being what they are, I'd managed to not get the World's Largest Mudfish fishing quest over the weeks I've been doing the Outland fishing daily, so when I got it last night, and when I finished it (after wasting time at a lake that the fish didn't even spawn in to boot) I finally got the achievement for these quests.
But, better than that, I got the Captain Rumsey's Lager recipe.
A quick visit to Kaylee over at the World's Edge Tavern and the lager achievement was ticked off my cooking to-do list.
But I still had some time left to kill and an empty stable slot. Still trying to find the pet that would cement my current identity I took a trip down to Razorfen Kraul to window shop for armored boars. While I was there I knocked over the joint - and got one more achievement.
So there it was, seven achievements for doing nothing special or at all interesting. For everything good the achievement system brings, on nights like this, it seems fairly worthless.
But a worthless achievement system is fine to have around. An achievement system used as a barrier to entry for players trying to get a foot in the door of progress is villainy. One of the reasons I don't pug is because I got sick of being turned away by group leaders demanding "link achievement pl0x" to do a simple heroic - a Northrend heroic mind you, the ones that really aren't very hard. I don't have the Epic gear achievement, and I don't have all of the completion achievements so almost any group using this as a selection criteria is going to refuse me. Meanwhile, I can churn 3k+ DPS with dungeon buffs and my green rings and don't stand in void zones. Maybe it's not 1337, but it's enough.
Far from being a fun little way to track progress on silly things or rack up an unusual number while doing mundane tasks, achievements have become yet another instrument of hardcore bullying in a game that has always been a story of the haves and the have nots.
LF1M game where I don't have to pay for people to taunt, belittle and abuse me with the developer's help and encouragement.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I, on the other hand, don't.
It's a combination of things, but mostly time. Our guild runs three-to-four hour raids, often five nights a week. That's a ridiculous amount of raiding. Sure, not everyone does every one of those raids, Eric only does maybe three nights a week, but my schedule doesn't allow for even one. The guild's focus on Ulduar has consigned Naxx to a single night a week, with a four-hour full clear expectation, which means that I would have to be able to both start by 8pm and sit in one place for four hours. As a parent, homeowner, and responsible adult either of those criteria are very, very hard to meet on a regular basis. I can weasel my way into a free night and out of putting the kids to bed once in a while, but even demanding this abandonment of obligation once a week is good way to lose huge swaths of wife faction. The handful of options I am equipped for are becoming even more difficult, as even when I am able to go, so few of the guild's raiders are willing to even log in on those nights anymore that these raids have been getting called off more and more. The wall-to-wall nature of our schedule and the slim margin which we have above and beyond the 25-man raid group even make running dungeons all-but impossible. No one is free and even when they are, I am the only one who isn't sick of the 5-man content.
This puts me into an increasingly difficult position as my inability to participate only ensures that my gear becomes further and further from the guild's progression. I am geared more poorly than many alts at this point, and am a liability in Ulduar, which is the guild's sole focus. I am, essentially, done.
Progress, so much fun for many, so important to most, is a dreadful thing for me. I am increasingly left to question whether I should even remain in my current guild at all, or seek out a less successful and less active guild where lower content and fewer hours would be an option.
An optimist could argue, and rightfully so, that if I just wait patiently the guild will eventually have Ulduar on farm and I can get carried through a few sightseeing trips when the Colosseum is the focus in the future, but being an unproductive, irregular leech is hardly what I'd like to be.
So, I am left to stew and to waffle between moving on, just going solo, or accepting things as they are.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
*Yes, I do still have the spirit beast, but I hate it and will abandon it as soon as I need a stable slot. The assorted other pets I've been auditioning - the turtle, the owl, the nether ray, the dreadsabre have been ditched.
The winner is - a wasp.
The wasp seems to serve my purposes well. It has a family ability that is fairly useful for battlegrounds, it is a ferocity pet rather than a cunning pet, so I like the tree and accompanying abilities much more, it's fairly uncommon, and it looks fairly cool.
Specifically, after wandering around Zangermarsh and staring at bugs for a bit, I settled on the red wasp. Having a flying red light bulb chasing me around Sholazar Basin led quickly to a fitting name for the bug, so it has that going for it.
The wasp doesn't seem to have a lot of personality. If it has any idle animations, I didn't notice them yet - it certainly doesn't itch at fleas or stretch and yawn. Despite having a good name, the lack of character in the pet will affect bonding, but I don't hate the bug already, so it's halfway there.
So, Roxanne is likely to make it to 80, likely to be at my side as I farm marks to finally get that Black Battlestrider, but will only ever be a third pet and used situationally.
Which means that I still haven't found Barley's soul mate. I don't know why my hunter in this incarnation is struggling so desperately for identity and character, but he is, and it's annoying. I can't quite get my head around him as a character, I can't even begin to roleplay him, and his inability to form a compelling partnership with a critter is either the symptom or the cause of this problem.
I've been here before, of course, on Farstriders, while trying to detach from the toon's original deeply-developed character I struggled to settle on a pet and was unable to find a personality or backstory. I wasn't able to solve myself then until I transferred and renamed and found a new, unusual pet. The problem is, I really don't want to recreate this toon right now. I like my name, I like the way I look, and I don't want to boggle my UI settings.
Right now, Barley's pets are tools. His bear was chosen for AoE tanking multiple mobs, his wolf was chosen as the most effective raiding companion, and the bug was selected as a PvP pet. None of them were selected because I wanted that pet, that skin, that type specifically. They are all selected by math. I need to find the pet that I keep and use irrationally because I love it. My first wolf, Spanner, was in an era when wolves really weren't very good at anything. My demon-engine mechanospider, Beetlebum, never had a family skill. Those pets were pets rather than game mechanics, and that is what I am missing right now. I suspect deep down inside that at some point I will tame a critter that clicks, and the rest will follow.
While I'm at it, I also want to play with putting a point into soul link. While it's up, it's a 20% damage reduction talent, which is pretty huge for just one talent point in encounters where there's a lot of incidental damage (e.g., pretty much all of Ulduar). So, time to bust out simcraft.
What I did was create a basic file that had my stats in it, called Mariwocket_Gear.simcraft. Here's that file:
gear_stamina=1075Then, I created a Mariwocket.simcraft file with the basic warlock definition in it:
# Set Bonuses
# Meta Gem
# Item Procs
#!simcraft max_time=300 optimal_raid=1Note the Mariwocket_Gear.simcraft command - that tells the parser to load the gear definition file and execute it at that point in the system. Some other time, I'll go into detail about how the action list and all that stuff works.
Next, it's a lot of copy-pasting, where I modified the talent spec to move points around. I tried to rename the characters intelligently, so Mariwocket_Base_2of3EI is the one that has 2/3 in Empowered Imp. I'm looking at stealing a point from Empowered Imp, Demonic Aegis, or Backlash to put into Suppression. I'm also looking for a way to steal another point for soul link if possible, so the possibilities are 1/3 in any of those talents, or 2/3 in two of them. If you put all those commands in the same file (so a big Mariwocket.simcraft file), it'll run all of them and give you a side-by-side comparison. Here's what I got:
6788 7.8% Mariwocket_Base_0of2ISL_LTFirst of all, these specs are all within spitting distance of each other. The high end and low end specs are all very close, and as I said earlier - theoretical DPS in these situations should be only compared to each other, rather than set as absolutes. So the takeaway is that I could probably filch at least one point from Backlash or Empowered Imp. Since Empowered Imp is getting buffed a little in 3.2, it would make sense to rob from Backlash. Interestingly, the base spec (still missing a little hit rating) still performs better than when I rob a point from Demonic Aegis. I guess Demonic Aegis really is that good - I'd always thought of it as a little bonus, but nothing worth writing home over.
6744 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_2of3BL
6740 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_1of2ISL
6721 7.7% Mariwocket_Base
6715 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_2of3DA
6713 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_ISLBL
6712 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_2of3EA
6703 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_1of3BL_SL
6682 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_BLDA_SL
6674 7.7% Mariwocket_Base_BLEI_SL
6654 7.6% Mariwocket_Base_DAEI_SL
6653 7.6% Mariwocket_Base_1of3DA_SL
6653 7.6% Mariwocket_Base_1of3EI_SL
The really surprising thing is that the two _LT specs came out ahead. On a whim, I threw in the spec that assumed I'd swap out my current helm for the t7 hat that's sitting in my bank (I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend the gold to gem and enchant it properly), reglyph for lifetap, and drop Improved Soul Leech entirely. Without ISL, you end up lifetapping a fair bit more, but you gain a big buff when you do so - 300 spirit, plus an extra 20% of your spirit gets converted into spellpower. The glyph is even being buffed in 3.2. This setup of gear and glyphs, using the lazy lifetapping protocol (life tap just for mana, not to keep the buffs up) outperformed ALL of my specs without soul link. Looks like I can have my cake and eat it too, especially since all the movement-oriented fights in Ulduar mean I'll actually have more time to lifetap than the basic sim accounts for (I could model that too, but this article is already too long).
Monday, July 27, 2009
I suck at alts.
Still, I decided, as is my custom, to ignore hard truths and make myself a druid. Eschewing the effort required to level the alt normally in favor of a small cash outlay, I started a second account, set myself up as a multi-boxer, and let Refer-A-Fried work it's magic. In twenty-eight days, I had a matched set of fresh 60's, the druid I coveted and the paladin I'd had a fair bit of fun leveling alongside the treehugger.
Enter dilemma the first, I liked the paladin a lot.
I wanted a druid, but needed a character to level with it for the bonus experience. I'd always wanted to replace the paladin I'd played on a friend's account back during Burning Crusade, and the pairing looked to have some good crossbuffs, so I did the level dash using a retadin as the main character with the druid as a limited supporter on follow, basically just there to cast moonfire and heals over a keystroke repeater while the paladin bashed its way through old Azeroth. I suppose it could be expected under those circumstances, I'd basically leveled a paladin to 60, the druid got there on follow.
When the first pair of toons hit 60 and the RAF bonus stopped, I found myself with two months worth of linked accounts left. My objective had been reached, but the opportunity presented was seemingly too good to pass up. I had to level more toons while I could. I even went so far as to figure that in the time available, given average leveling rates, as detailed in spreadsheets no less, if I could get one more pair to 60 and a third pair only to 30 I could use granted levels to wind up with a character of level 60 or higher of every class.
Enter dilemma the second, I suck at alts.
My second team was warlock/priest. I wanted a warlock too. Eric does amazing things with his warlock and I've often wanted to do some of those things myself. Seemed like a good idea, good crossbuffs, bubble-blueberry-wanding hijinx ensued. Somewhere in the northern wetlands, though, the entire project died.
After roughly 45 days and with the second duo only level 31, I simply stopped trying. I was sick of alts. I started playing my hunter again and have been doing so exclusively for the last month and a half.
Presented with a clear blue sky of possibilities, the final results are as follows:
- 1 level 60 druid that I don't know how to play
- 1 level 60 paladin I enjoyed playing, but not enough to park my hunter
- 1 level 47 warlock built on level grants from his actual level of 31
- 1 level 60 rogue built on level grants from his actual level of 45
- 1 level 18 bank alt, because I didn't want the grantables to go to waste
I have mixed feelings on characters with granted levels. On the one hand, they are levels I don't have to grind, but on the other hand, there's a lot missing. You need to buy dozens of spells, your weapon skills are lagging, you need to gear up fairly thoroughly, you missed out on lots of reputation and other quest rewards - tangible and intangible, and you missed out on learning to play the class over those levels. Fortunately, I suck at alts, so it's not like I'll play them much anyway.
Am I better off for my experiment? Hard to say. Sure, I have a zebra and some advanced characters on my account, but do they matter if I am not playing them? And what did I lose by not playing my hunter for 45 days? This is the question that haunts and dooms my alts time and again, what did my main not do while a lesser character was doing irrelevant things? It always comes back to that nagging question and the answer is always that I regret the time lost, rather than valuing the time spent.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
6610 100.0% Raid
6613 100.0% mariwocket
Player=mariwocket (destruction) DPS=6613.4 (Error=+/-11.2 Range=+/-597) DPR=21.3 RS=310.7/247.9 (mana)
Core Stats: strength=66 agility=73 stamina=1074 intellect=917 spirit=574 health=18036 mana=17742
Spell Stats: power=1996 hit=13.19% crit=20.06% penetration=0 haste=10.09% mp5=0
Attack Stats power=56 hit=10.55% crit=13.95% expertise=0.00 penetration=0.00% haste=10.09%
Defense Stats: armor=2079
chaos_bolt Count= 20.2|15.1sec DPE= 10576|11% DPET= 7432 DPR= 43.5 pDPS= 711 Miss=0.8% Hit=7202 Crit=15067|17955|43.6%
conflagrate Count= 27.3|11.1sec DPE= 10458|14% DPET= 7602 DPR= 18.8 pDPS= 953 Miss=0.9% Hit=6146 Crit=12851|15440|65.1%
curse_of_doom Count= 4.1|60.3sec DPE= 15620| 3% DPET= 11085 DPR= 27.0 pDPS= 211 Miss=0.4% TickCount=4 Tick=15733
immolate Count= 19.4|15.7sec DPE= 9965|10% DPET= 8817 DPR= 16.9 pDPS= 646 Miss=0.1% Hit=1868 Crit= 3903| 4608|42.8% TickCount=93 Tick=1506
incinerate Count=121.6| 2.4sec DPE= 8563|53% DPET= 5281 DPR= 17.6 pDPS=3474 Miss=0.8% Hit=5778 Crit=12081|14795|44.9%
fire_bolt Count=161.3| 1.9sec DPE= 1149| 9% DPET= 620 DPR= 6.4 pDPS= 618 Miss=0.8% Hit=1063 Crit= 1595| 1754|17.9%
100.0% : improved_scorch
100.0% : improved_shadow_bolt
100.0% : master_poisoner
100.0% : totem_of_wrath
100.0% : winters_chill
44.7% : backdraft ( 27.1 triggers, 48.2% D.uptime )
11.7% : demonic_soul
15.0% : empowered_imp ( 28.8 triggers, 9.3% D.uptime )
100.0% : fel_armor ( 1.0 triggers, 100.0% D.uptime )
45.7% : pyroclasm ( 17.8 triggers, 58.2% D.uptime )
100.0% : replenishment
First of all, that all-important first number: 6610 DPS. That's not how much DPS I do. But before I get all sad about that, keep a few things in mind. By default, simcraft models a patchwerk-style tank and spank fight with no movement. It also assumes not only perfect execution on your part, but perfect execution on everybody's part and an optimal raid setup (with stuff like improved scorch, ebon plague, and totem of wrath always around). So take that number with a grain of salt. I typically do around 80% of my simcraft DPS in fights, sometimes less. It's good to use simcraft DPS (sDPS) to compare specs, if one spec or gearing or glyphing strategy produces more sDPS, odds are it will produce more actual DPS as well.
You can modify which buffs are present in the simulated raid if you want by changing the commandline. So, something like this
./simcraft player=mariwocket,server=steamwheedle%20cartel,region=us optimal_raid=1 totem_of_wrath=0
That lets you figure out what your projected DPS would be in a raid without a totem of wrath. You can turn off all sorts of buffs, take a look at your output screen, see what had uptime, and set it to 0 on the commandline. Easy.
Next, let's look at the damage breakdown. One of the most important numbers is DPET, or Damage Per Execution Time. That's how much damage you do each time you cast any given spell, normalized to 1 second. So whatever spells have the highest DPET are the highest priority. This makes sense, especially since those spells have cooldowns or are DoTs, so you can't just spam them. But it's DPET that tells us why we shouldn't cast Corruption as a Destruction warlock. If I add Corruption to my simulated rotation, I learn that its DPET is 4061, considerably below Incinerate's 5383. Makes sense - destro is chock full of talents that buff fire spells, and has nothing really to buff corruption.
You can do this kind of analysis for any spec or rotation. Take a look at your projected DPET values from all your skills, and use that information to decide what to do. Is rupture a higher DPET than eviscerate? What about envenom? Which special shots should you use as a Hunter? Everyone has questions about rotations, and while you could just go to the forums and ask someone else what they've figured out, it's very satisfying to figure it out on your own. Sometimes the forums are wrong. And other times, they just don't account for your funny gear or raid composition.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Nothing's wrong with my wolf or my bear, they're great pets and are perfect for the roles I use them for. I just have a desire to keep a pet around who isn't at the level cap so that all those scourge I knock off every day doing my tournament dailies are still sort of giving me experience points. Besides, I have stable slots, might as well use them.
Unfortunately, I am just not all that interested in the critters of Azeroth right now. I have browsed Petopia a dozen times and I just don't seem to get fixated on anything in particular. It is made more difficult by the fact that I do have some specific criteria for my search - my next pet needs to be:
- Useful for PvP. Though I really am not an aficionado of this part of the game, one of my near-term goals is getting the AB and WSG marks I need to finally get the Black Battlestrider for my mechanostrider collection. A pet that would serve this part of my future game experience might be a good choice.
- Non-rare. While I do have a 51-point BM spec on-call, I prefer to have the option of using a different spec with my non-novelty pets.
- Not entirely boring, but also not so visibly-obvious that it, and I, become a marked target when in the aforementioned battlegrounds.
Right now I have a Windroc tamed and I've put about a level on him. There's nothing specifically wrong with Mr. Smartypants the more-pedantic-than-wise owl, but he may be a bit too far into the boring side of things. I'm also not really enjoying the experience of playing alongside a cunning pet. The cunning tree isn't as solo-grind friendly as either of the other two, and having to feed pets again (even if it's just tossing on carrion feeder) is a step backwards. His disarm ability will be welcome in the eventual PvP role he will fill, but for now, it's almost useless and the combination of low level, lack of aggro-boost, and middle-of-the-road damage make threat management and kill speed less than ideal.
A different bird of prey might be a better choice. They're generally fairly bland, though. I find the wingspan of the Northrend models to be too large and annoying and the garish colors of the only colorful options will go against my desire not to stand out too much in battlegrounds. Aotona is amusing, being a giant parrot and all, but I don't have time to track him down and he is probably a bit too bright for my purposes.
Were I to feel the need to stick with cunning pets, I do have a history with spiders, but that is almost reason enough to avoid the family. A netherray might be interesting, they're pretty rarely seen, but they do have a somewhat valuable PvP ability. With a Skyguard rep grind also on my to-do short list I could even coordinate my pet and my eventual mount to gain the semblance of the long-sought 'hunter riding his pet' schtick.
Despite the fact that cunning pets were allegedly designed for PvP, the damage of ferocity pets leads many players of the sociopathic bent to suggest using them for the purpose instead. Though cats are far less than uncommon, I do really like the Dreadsabre's looks.
This is the downside of being a hunter. Forget all that stuff about dead zones, poor arena performance, expendable ammo, and poorly itemized drops, the true biggest problem we have is that we have to agonize over which pet to pick - more so which cosmetic version of which pet to pick.
WoW life is so hard.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The week before, I went to Naxxaramas-25 with the guild. Less than four hours, start to finish, we killed all the bosses and went home. It was very satisfying, especially because the raid leader just had to assign people to groups (group 1 and 2 on Stalagg, groups 3 and 4 on Feugen, etc). We just rolled it up.
Of course, it wasn't always like that. When I joined the guild, we spent two or three nights in naxx-25, and would wipe on patchwerk. We'd get all cranky when half the raid wouldn't release, leaving the other half trying to deal with the respawned slimes. We'd have people run the wrong way on Thaddius, certain warlocks (cough cough) forget to pop Detect Invisibility on the tanks so they can see shades. Some people may talk about how Naxx is easy or whatever, but we spent a lot of time learning how to work that place, and a while getting geared up so we could really start farming it.
Just at the height of our confidence, Blizzard dropped a new raid instance on our laps. Thanks, Blizzard! That was a non-sarcastic thank-you. I'm happy, because Naxxaramas was getting boring and we all were getting overconfident. It's easy to forget where you started in this game after you one-shot the entire instance and come within sighting distance of the Immortal achievement. Some people probably did forget, they expected to waltz into Ulduar and roll up some more bosses for more loots.
Didn't happen. We spent a lot of time corpserunning. We got Ignis down most of the way, but had to call it because it was getting late. We wiped a lot on Kologarn because people didn't know how to kite the eye beams and because it's a horrendous healer stress-test. We took 10 tries to get the Crazy Cat Lady (which is how you pronounce Auriya) down; most of those wipes were doing the pull and getting everybody sorted out.
The thing is, I had a blast. Wiping 10 times while tweaking the strategy for pulling a boss is fun. It's interesting and exciting. It's so much more interesting than spending an evening farming bosses, and if you actually end up downing a boss? It's sublime.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
It gets worse.
I use vendor ammo.
And, usually, I only get my food buffs from the fish feasts my guild tosses around liberally.
I do these things because I am notoriously cheap and because I expect that my small reduction in performance will go unnoticed and will not endanger the raid. I am, after all, just a middle-of-the-pack fill-in dps'er. I rarely, if ever find myself in progression encounters, and almost never pull up the rear of the DPS pack (thank you alts). I feel no great need to incur the costs of high-end raiding supplies and in truth, feel no guilt for not using them.
In game theory, I am an example of the free rider problem.
The free rider problem is a flavor of the more general concept known as the tragedy of the commons - the social phenomena in which the option to cheat or shirk a fair portion of effort, while still taking an equal portion of a limited, shared resource diminishes that shared resource below the capacity of any, be they cheaters or contributors, to benefit from the resource.
The classic example of the free rider problem is that of a bus which passengers may either ride for free or ride after paying a fare, however, all riders know that the fares pay for the operation of the bus, and if too many riders fail to pay, then the bus cannot run and all must walk. For the riders, each must resolve for themselves if they are willing to risk the walk and save their money as a free rider, or pay the fare in hopes of ensuring the operation of the bus. For the bus operator, the question is one of deciding upon a fare structure that finds an effective balance between padding the rate to account for free riders without making it so high that it generates additional cheaters from the pool of willing contributors at a lesser rate. For all participants, there is a great deal of risk, and it is up to the individual to decide his own strategy based on his own needs as well as his own knowledge (if the individual were to know how many paid vs. free riders were already on the bus when asked to pay a fare, it would be a simple matter to compute whether the operating costs were already covered, however, in most social negotiations, full disclosure can be assumed to be either non-existent, incomplete, or unreliable).
To extend this problem to my raid, the bus is a successful boss kill and the fare is adequate and appropriate use of consumables. I am the free rider. By showing up with inadequate consumables I do save myself gold, but I risk failing to down the boss and ultimately incurring the penalty of repair bills and lost loot. However, I expect that the vast majority of the other 24 members of the raid will "pay the fare" and that this total input will represent an overage of performance which will cover my portion and still result in the boss kill. Further, I choose to wager that this expected kill will occur based on the assumption of a sufficient number of contributing raiders so that I can justify my own non-contribution. While this does degenerate into a somewhat circular argument, the point is that in the risk vs. reward analysis, I fall on the the side of the free rider, expecting that I will be supported by the contributors while others in the raid will fall on the other side, willing to put in the additional effort and gold to ensure their own success.
The failure of a small number of raiders to contribute may not be substantial - to apply actual numbers, my theoretical dps using vendor ammo and no flasks or potions drops 189 points, or 3.6% compared to the potential score using the best available of each of these types at the optimal times. As one individual free rider in a group of 25, my diminished dps is not a substantial loss, and is unlikely to result in a failed encounter. This is the lure which creates free riders such as myself, the option to cheat and the high probability that a single cheater in a larger community will not bring about a negative outcome.
However, what is enticing to a single individual is certainly going to be enticing to all individuals. It is unlikely that I am ever the only free rider. While the raid's total dps might well be vastly more than what is required to beat the boss's enrage timer or the healers' mana usage, every individual free rider narrows that overage, and every one risks breaking the encounter for everyone.
Because this problem exists in the social space, the risks and rewards in truth extend beyond simply riding the bus or walking, but also include the perceptions, favor, and emotions of the rest of the group. For many participants it is not the risk of failing to down the boss that sways their choice of payment or non-payment, but rather the social outcome of their decision. Some raiders will wish to be seen as over-contributors and earn the accompanying prestige that comes with that effort (these are the people dropping fish feasts and scrapbots), some raiders will simply want to be seen as pulling their weight and will arrive with, and use consumables appropriately, and some will risk a negative stigma and choose to be a free rider.
The solution to the free rider problem, for a raiding guild, lies in adjusting the terms of the risk vs. reward to make free riding as unlikely as possible. It is neither entirely possible, nor in your long-term best interests to simply kick free riders out of your raids for most guilds - you may never be able to recruit enough good people to fill those empty slots, and it is always better to find a way to get the people you already have to participate than to leave an exploitable system that encourages free riders in place - your free riders may well be very good players, they just aren't presently motivated to bring and use the consumables which you would like them to bring. An all-or-nothing, pay-to-play approach to consumables, while perhaps acceptable for an absolute top-tier guild with world and server firsts on the line is not unrealistic, the stakes here are too great for free riders, but for the vast majority of guilds, getting and keeping enough raiders to run 25-man content is a sufficient challenge to mandate that keeping and reforming, or at least adapting to the free riders will be necessary in order to reach your content goals.
Because the choice to be a free rider is based on a risk vs. reward analysis, the way to reduce the number of free riders present is to increase the disparity between the two, to make the minimally effective contribution trend toward contributing rather than not doing do. If your guild does not offer substantial rewards for contributing, be they meaningful DKP points or even verbal recognition while also failing to leverage meaningful penalties such as DKP penalties or public remonstrations for failing to contribute, it is likely that you will have many free riders. The difference between the risk and reward is so narrow and insignificant that there is very little incentive to choose to make the effort. If, however, you have established policies that make free riding sufficiently unpleasant that the raiders will simply find it more worthwhile to behave in the way you desire, you will encounter substantially fewer free riders.
Your policies, however, should not be so draconian that people consider your guild to be too harsh to participate in, and your punishments should not be so loathsome that you push people out of your guild rather than toward your expected behavior. You will also need to make your rewards manageable, so that you can continue to offer them without either depleting your resources or rendering them so mundane they lose their draw. Balancing the carrot and the stick is a delicate process, and it is best to do so in stages rather than all at once so that you can observe the tipping point where your guild's free riders finally approach a sufficiently small number not to hurt your raid.
As far as advice goes, the easiest carrots and sticks to employ are the social controls you have available. Adjusting your loot system or doling out things with in-game effort and value will be a drain on your time and resources. Offering public praise and shame, a costless approach, is perhaps the best and fastest means to the desired end, or at least the best place to start.
3.6% of one player may not seem like a lot, but if you don't make people willing to accept that slip in performance feel like they are better off providing that full contribution, you could very soon be missing that much from 25. Getting that extra effort, and getting it without sore feelings or drama is not always going to be an easy goal to achieve, but it is a goal worth your effort. You, as a guild leader or officer, should not be taking the free rider approach to your raid culture any more than your raiders should be doing so with their own responsibilities.
But they just won't stand still.
I don't think there's ever been a time when I opened a vendor window with a scrapbot and it didn't almost immediately wander out of range, snapping the thing shut. There are times when working with these blasted things turns into a comedy of errors with three, four, five tries required just to repair my kit.
Why can't I freeze trap them?
Maybe they have known that Jeeves was coming up in a future content patch all along and they're just all angry because they know that they'll become pretty rare once the non-expendable version of themselves, plus banking comes around. I'd be pretty feisty too if I knew that my job was going to get shipped off to some urbane, moustached continental butler too.
But will Jeeves too be so fidgety? In our Naxx raid last night someone quipped that Jeeves "had better be a @%$*ing statue" but I fear the worst. Jeeves is, aftrer all, a khorium-powered, souped-up version of the scrapbot (or ten scrapbots, to be precise). I can only imagine that the thing will wind up buzzing around at full-tilt like that kid who sells rabbits in Dun Morogh.
I hate Jeeves already.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
As long as it isn't Michael Bey.
The horde needed to even out the population a bit, and since we all know Sam'll make it all about the Forsaken since they're freak'in zombies, all teh fanboys will rush to Undercity to re-enact their favorite scenes ad nauseum. Dialog will be a problem, though. How ever will those poor actors summon enough emotion to convincingly bring trade chat to the silver screen?
Bruce Campbell's inevitable cameo as the King of Stormwind is something to look forward to.
Still, I was hoping for a musical.
But that was the exception to the rule.
While it is true that a fair portion of my BC kit lasted through my level grind, pieces slowly drifting away, but most lasting until the late 70's. I simply had no need to spend gold on auction house indulgences and few quest drops in the run-up to 80 were as well itemized as my old raid gear, by design. Plus, as a hunter, I do have the luxury of a class that solos so well that gear is simply not as vital as classes that don't have my class's advantages.
Looking at my current gear, and my prospects and aspirations for raiding, I'm not all that bad off. Sure, some of my slots are a bit weak, if not altogether deficient, but on the whole my swag is good enough to trivialize any Northrend world content (outside of a handful of high-end group quests), and is sufficient to my role in my guild as an emergency slot-filler dps. Odds are that it's even good enough to allow me to get deep into the next expansion without having to waste gold on expendable kit in much the same way that my very similar equipment allowed me to do in the last expansion.
All of which brings us to a question I have been mulling over for a time - what to do with badges.
Badges take a bit of time and effort to get, and the things you can do with them are similarly limited. In most cases, those badges can be spent on two different things, gear for now, or stuff forever. Which do you buy?
Gear for now has its value. Getting the best stuff you can get is important, perhaps even vital to some players, especially those pushing the edge of progression like the core raiders in my guild. It's also important to people who gain a high degree of satisfaction with their game time as measured by swag quality, which is a perfectly valid way to evaluate your effort and time, but not mine.
And yet, even those people who do play in a gear-based mode, are badges well-spent on gear? Drops are inevitable and plentiful for raiders, and the quality of those drops are precisely tuned to the content they are mastering, while the vast majority of badge-based choices lag behind that curve.
I replaced a pretty good BC necklace with a slightly better heroic badge piece. A week later, I got an even better piece from a Naxx run. We would have done just as well in Naxx if I had saved my badges. I was out 25 badges of potential long-term purchases.
And that is the very case which pushes me toward the idea that badges are wasted on gear for now. When there are options which are "permanent" on offer - be they heirloom items you can use on alts indefinitely, or tournament pets that your character can summon from now until the game's ultimate demise, the investment in something other than just another piece of temporary gear simply seems like a vastly superior choice.
But at the same time, I suck at alts. Heirloom items are therefore a potential waste for me and a piece of improved gear for now and that slight benefit it conveys between now and the next expansion can be seen as the better choice.
When I take it all in, and am honest with myself, I come to the conclusion that for me, the best badge strategy is to use those badges (mainly Champion's Seals) that can be spent on items I will use indefinitely, mounts, pets, vanity pieces are best spent on such things, while those badges that mainly or only trade for gear (Valor, Heroism, etc.) are perhaps best spent on gear for Barley, but if I were to purchase the xp-bonus pieces for the alts I will only ever play in fits and starts, it is not necessarily a wasted effort, since those gear for now pieces passed over would have just been temporary and not vital to my goals anyway.
The conclusion each player reaches on how to use badges will necessarily be different, but the example of my own thought process should show that if you fully explore the rewards in light of your needs, preferences, and temperament you can plan your badge usage in such a way to vastly reduce any regret you might have over your eventual purchases.
It's not the easiest thing to use, nor is it the best-documented piece of software in the world. Never fear, however, you've got me.
First, you've got to get it. Go here: Simulationcraft Home Page, and download it. If you're feeling very adventurous and know your way around a source control system, the most up-to-date version of simcraft can be had from a public SVN repository and built by hand. But I'm not going to tell you how to do that, when there's already instructions (also mac ones).
Okay, so the first thing we'll do is use your character for creating a profile and scale factors. You do this by running Simcraft from a command line (terminal in macintosh, command prompt in windows):
./simcraft player=mariwocket,server=steamwheedle%20cartel,region=us calculate_scale_factors=1 center_scale_delta=1
simcraft.exe player=mariwocket,server=steamwheedle%20cartel,region=us calculate_scale_factors=1 center_scale_delta=1
depending on if you're in the Macintosh (or Unix) world or the Windows world. Use your own profile (if your realm has an apostrophe in it like Anub'arak, use %27 in the place of the apostrophe: armory=us,anub%27arak,character name). Also, note that there are no spaces after the commas in the commandline: player=mariwocket, realm=steamwheedle%20cartel will give an error. If you want to simulate your dual spec, append a ,talents=inactive after the region=us (or eu or ru for our international friends) part, again with no space.
Okay, if you pulled that off, there will be a big wall of text. We're going to look at that wall in detail later - your projected DPS is likely considerably higher than your actual DPS for a lot of reason, and now's not the time to get into it. Instead, look at the last line of the output, scaling factors. For me, that is:
Sta=0.00 Int=0.50 Spi=0.77 SP=1.42 Hit=2.73 Crit=0.89 Haste=1.04 Lag=0.00
This is my gear prioritization, right here. Should I try and get Haste or Crit? How much is spirit worth in the long run? The only caveat here is that the scaling factor for Hit rating assumes the hit is useful. If you're already hitcapped (17% for casters between buffs, talents, and actual hit rating), then it goes to 0.00.
Anyway, as you can see, I value haste considerably more than crit, and I value crit and spirit at about the same level. This can tell me about incidental things like whether or not I should try to activate a socket bonus. Assume the socket is yellow and has a +6 haste bonus if you activate it. Should you socket 19 spellpower (red) and ignore it, or 9 spellpower / 8 haste (orange) for the extra 6 haste? 19 * 1.41 = 26.79, (9*1.41) + (14*1.04) = 27.75, so in that case the answer is yes: gem for haste (but barely).
I also plug this information into wowhead's item comparison tool when I'm looking for upgrades, as well as pawn for quick comparisons in-game.
The important thing to remember is that your current scaling factors are a function of your current gear level. These numbers change as you gear up (crit becomes worth less and less the more you have, but both crit and haste go up in value if you have an abnormally high spellpower), so remember to update this from time to time.
Anyway, that's the start of Simulationcraft. Go forth and simulate.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
- All previous masks are representations of playable races
- Blizzard has hinted that they will use races already seeded in the game when adding new playable types
- Worgen and goblins are already in the game
- Now they have masks
- Worgen and goblins are soon to be revealed as playable races
Initially, I just didn't buy into this nonsense. It really makes very little sense.
Goblins, for their part, exist as a purpose-built neutral faction. They are in the game so that the designers have a race they can seed in contested zones, cutting the number of settlements, quest descriptions, npc designs, etc needed in half, as well as to provide a vehicle to facilitate the limited cross-faction interaction possible.
Worgen seem even less likely as a player race. They're used somewhat haphazardly in the game as adversaries in the schizophrenic "horror movie" settings, plus fully random appearances out in Ashenvale and elsewhere. They're a shared villain race with no obvious connection to either faction or to civilization in general.
One problem with either of these races is that they are both essentially neutral. Unlike a race like High Elves that have some leanings or previous affiliation through the game, what would lead them to suddenly choose a side in the alliance vs. horde conflict? It would be possible to stew up a subset of either race, be it a previously undisclosed cartel of goblins or a nation of more civilized worgen behind the Greymane Wall unaffiliated with their wilderness brethren, but these would be completely appearing from nowhere. Still, a total ret-con would be required. The mechanics of the game make a third, neutral option improbable so they would have to ultimately affiliate without any particular predisposition.
While those points are all rational, when looking back at the history of races added to the game, those rational, considered, lore-friendly reasons that goblins and worgen won't be coming hold no water, because when Blizzard last added races, they came out of nowhere, had little or no previous history or place in the game, and failed to have a clear and obvious reason to affiliate with either faction.
We had no good reason to expect either draenei or blood elves before BC was released. There were broken ones out in Swamp of Sorrows and there was lore about the orc homeworld and the Dark Portal, and it even stood to some reason that natives of the land we were going to in the expansion would have a place as playable options, but did anyone honestly predict the spacegoats? Blood elves too were a bit of a shock. High elves had always fought against the Horde, they existed in the game already (and still do), but for the remnants of Silvermoon to be warped into their present form, and for them to join the Horde was and is incongruous.
And so clearly the thought process employed by Blizzard to include these races follows almost precisely the rational argument against the goblin/worgen inclusion. Every good reason not to include goblins and worgen is seen in the implementation of the original expansion races.
Despite being absolutely the last thing that would seem to make sense, based on history, one almost has to assume that this is inevitable. The only question really is whether there will eventually be a glitch that will let all those worgen hunters that will be running all over the place the ability to tame an elf for a weekend before it gets hotfixed.
Karma being what it is.
To that end I have settled on a set of addons that allow me to improve the quality of my class play and overall game experience. My UI with my raid (Marksman) spec looks like this -
The Addons I use, and my reason for doing so are:
- I use Dominos for my button bars. I wanted to be able to relocate and resize my action bars, add a couple of bars above and beyond the default six, and the custom bars had to save based on spec. Dominos does all of this and is very easy to configure.
In addition to just moving and resizing buttons, a central and priceless tool this addon gives me is the ability to monitor my shot cooldowns in the center of the screen. By positioning a custom bar in the center of the screen unobtrusively over my character and dropping my shot stack (Kill Shot, Chimera Shot, Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot, Steady Shot) onto it, I can pay attention to the cooldown timers of my shots while still having the ability to watch the goings on in front of me. This has improved my situational awareness dramatically over where it was when my eyes were usually fixed on the bottom left of my screen. I actually know what bosses look like again.
Situational awareness was what I liked most about the castsequence macros we used back in BC. Sure, a steady/auto macro was a bit of easymode facerolling, but when all you had to do was spam a button or two you did have the luxury of fairly complete attention on your surroundings. I was able to pull off those long chain traps and provide twitchy scattershots on mobs that broke for the clothies because I wasn't looking at cast bars all of the time. The new priority stack takes some of your focus off what is going on around you and without putting those buttons in the center of the screen, I find that I am handicapped by them.
- To block out the bottom of the screen so that my UI elements don't interfere with viewing or interacting with the environment, I use Sunn - Viewport Art. This addon will resize your view space and make it easier to click on things since you won't be accidentally starting chats with people in your social windows. I find chat windows much easier to follow without having to deal with transparency too. It also adds a slickness to the whole interface that I enjoy.
- While I don't rely on it as much or as critically as I did back in BC when crowd control was actually used and I made my living as a trapper instead of as a turret, Kharthus's Hunter Timers is still a very important little addon for keeping track of the durations of spells like stings, mend pet, and rapid fire. It stays out of the way when it's not active and can be sized down to be unobtrusive even when it's on. You can also add or remove so many different things to suit your needs that it is really a great little tool for making you just that little bit better.
- Anyone who has specced for improved tracking, which is to say, just about everyone should get Track-O-Matique. It's a painfully simple addon that makes a painful activity completely automatic, which is to say it swaps your tracking type over to your target's type while in combat to give you the damage bonus, then flips it back to whatever you had it on before when you leave combat (in my case, almost always Find Minerals). This is one of those addons you can forget you even have, but if you didn't have it, you'd be forgetting to get that extra damage you specced for. Everyone wins. Get it.
- I use Viperwatch as a way to remind myself when I need to flip into and out of Aspect of the Viper. While I rarely need to be reminded to turn it on, sine I do a good job of monitoring mana use in fights, remembering to turn it off, especially between fights, is something I am less effective at and can get caught on reduced DPS as a result. My only beef with this addon is that it only presents the reminder once, I would appreciate a repeated reminder every few seconds.
- I use Chinchilla as my map addon. Like so many other UI tweakers I have found that moving the map to the bottom center of the screen makes it a lot easier to use. It reduces eye movement and increases situational awareness. This addon in particular lets you configure and tweak so many parts of the map interface that you can really either wind up with exactly what you want or get lost in a configuration black hole, whichever you prefer. My only issue with this addon is that my automatic quest tracking is suppressed by it. If anyone knows how to get it to work again while using this map solution, please, let me know. Flipping open your log is old school, but I prefer convenience, thanks.
- Despite the addition of a stock gear swapper, I still use Outfitter because it is able to context-swapping for me, while the stock solution relies on active selections. While having pre-defined gear sets for raiding and soloing, pvp, fishing, and roleplaying that can be swapped out easily is nice, the reason I always have the thing around is that it dutifully equips my deepdive helmet for me every time I get into water deep enough to swim in. I've had this luxury for so long now that I don't know how I would ever manage without it.
- I use MinimapButtonBag to compress my assorted addon buttons around the minimap to reduce clutter. It's not essential and it's not a great boost to effectiveness, but it does tidy things up a bit, and that's a good thing.
- WorldLoc is an ultra-light choice for getting a coordinate output on your full-screen map, as opposed to other map addons like Atlas that give the feature with a huge footprint.
While addons like questhelper and carbonite are wildly popular for questing, I avoid them simply because they are very resource-intensive. When I need help with quests I will just launch a web browser, search for what I need on wowhead, then close down the browser session so that I don't tax my in-and-out-of-game system resources too much for a luxury that isn't in constant use and which only saves me a tiny bit of time. UI additions for quest help in 3.2 will even further reduce the need for that type of addon.My solo (Beastmastery) spec looks almost exactly the same, the only difference being that I ditch the button bar in the center of the screen as I don't need to worry so much about shot sequencing when I am out digging up rocks in Sholazar or fishing in Zangermarsh (though the button bar is still there, it is just empty, so when I am fishing I can move the fishing cast button over there for ease of use, or drop quest items on it etc., which I find very convenient).
I give a lot of real estate to chat windows because I like to be able to both present a lot of information, but also to be able to ignore them for a little bit and still have the luxury of looking back down and catching up on conversations without needing to roll up my log. Having lots of windows, and segregating them by information type allows you to better manage your flow of information, find what you want faster, and keep specific information on-screen longer. In my case I have a social window for guild, party, and raid chat, as well as tells, an information window with loot, skillups, rep gains, system messages and the like, and a combat log. I used to put my party and raid chat on another tab that I would hide in the main chat window and drag out into the field of view when I was actually in a raid or party, but I forgot to do it so much and it so rarely interferes with my other social chat anyway, that I just consolidated these in the end. While breaking up your information into chunks can be a great benefit, over-dividing it can result in a wall of text and/or unused UI real estate that is counterproductive.
When it is all said and done, the objective for me is to achieve the right balance between addons that make you perform better without using so many that your machine performs worse. Narrowing down your selections to those that give you an essential improvement in experience and eschewing the use of too many which are rarely-used, bloated, or pointless will make your life easier and less complicated. The features that you consider vital and addons you choose to address those needs are a personal choice, but hopefully, something about my own selections proves helpful in making yours.
Monday, July 20, 2009
The same ones.
Over and over.
It isn't that I don't have anything else to do. I have a long list of things I want to accomplish in the game. It also isn't that I do them for the money, I prefer good old fashioned mining for that sort of thing. Rather, it is simply the case that the things I am trying to accomplish in the game right now are closely tied to daily quests, and so, as much as this repetition has grown to be tedious and fatiguing, I am still driven (by both desire and my basic obsessive nature) to stick it out.
And so I spend my nights rotating through the Argent Tournament collecting tokens and building toward Crusader status, Dalaran cooking and fishing dailies for their assorted achievements and rewards, and the Shattrath cooking and fishing dailies for the same reason.
My only hope at this point is that I am able to roll a few of these off soon. The Shattrath dailies in particular are a few rare drop rewards away from being kicked out of my daily grind, and were I not simply such a fiercely compulsive creature of habit, none of them is really all that necessary.
I just need something better to do.
But something that doesn't wind up being something else I need to do every day. I won't even fly over the Oracles' village right now.
I don't get enough sleep as it is.
As a precautionary measure, I created a level 1 alt on Farstriders first, naming him Thrinwizzle. That let me rename my character, so I chose "Wembel". A less oppressively-gnomish name, but with overtones of Fraggle Rock. Actually, you can find me as wembley-fraggle on eBay, Buttonmen, and Slashdot, so it's a name that I'm reasonably comfortable with. I thought creating a level 1 alt to force a name-change was terribly clever. Later, Blizzard made it so you could change your name as a standard part of the transfer, or even change your name and stay on the same server.
Short story long, Farstriders didn't work out. That's a post for another day. After my 3 months were up, I transferred back. I kept the Wembel name, though, since Thrinwizzle was still RP-dead.
The problem was, I was tired of Wembel. Not mechanically, I really enjoy playing a warlock. Not even RP-wise, since I don't really do much post-RP anymore, and Wembel's story was interesting enough. No, I was just tired of the name.
So I went and blew $25 on a character re-customization. I changed genders, outlook, skintone, and all that jazz. Now my warlock is named Mariwocket and she's a she. Nothing else changed, except that I love my Warlock again. She's a blast, quite literally. Plus, as you can see above, people love her name.
Twenty-five bucks might seem like a lot, and changing purely cosmetic parts of your character might seem like a little. But it's amazing how much new hotness can be injected into your gameplay if you shake things up a little.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Eric and I have both done it, a fair few times in fact, and I am particularly guilty of hitting the reset button on my hunter four times - so far. My first escape was to a new server and a new name (at the time the only changes available, and even at that, the name had to be gamed with a prepared alt) in order to escape the mountain of RP grief I had built up on top of my original hunter identity, Taelea. I quietly moved to the Farstriders server, called myself Xaen, and only told one person I'd done it. Of course, since I have a notorious case of virtual world social anxiety I spent the better part of a month not talking to a single soul on that server before Eric up and jumped over as well and we soon discovered that a small band of disaffected friends from SwC had coincidentally come over as well. We made a guild, had a great time, and then exploded in a megaton dramabomb.
So, on the run from another unpleasant situation I wound up back on SwC with half of the former exiles and called myself Tagger for a week or two. Fortunately, the newly-added paid name changes and the existing server transfers were on separate clocks at the time, since I quickly tossed off that terrible name due to both personal dislike of it and a nasty situation involving what should have been the last time I ever gave anyone advice.
Thus was born Bexley, who, thanks to a bit of Keepers of Time trickery and lack of imagination wound up being the timelost offspring of my original hunter. At the time, you couldn't change the way you look, so a connection made a sort of twisted sense. Bex was fun, Bex didn't have a lot of baggage, Bex did a lot of cool things, but Bex is what I was playing when I burned out.
When I came back a few months later, I couldn't play the toon. The barber shop helped a little, and another name change could have kept things a little on the interesting side, but I needed something really extreme in order to live in my hunter's skin, and I really wanted to live in that skin, since I suck at alting and love huntering. Fortunately, recustomization had entered the picture and with a bit of glue and some assorted bionic bits, Barley was made.
All of which leads to the present, in which I am beginning to itch for another identity, probably just out of habit.
While it is true that all of these hijinx did a fine job of detaching me fully or partially from whatever oppressive social situations I had gotten myself into in-game, that escape always comes at a great cost (and I don't just mean the credit card bills) which you should always consider when laying down the fee for your new identity.
First, you have to re-imagine yourself. For non-roleplayers this is either trivial or irrelevant, but for RP server dorks like us, it is a major step, and often a difficult one. While my hunter had deep and rewarding stories and adventures in two guises, in all of its others, including the current form, I was unable to create a character or a backstory which was playable and entertaining, cutting me off from the RP community and making the stay in that identity short and unrewarding.
Second, you have to go to great lengths to preserve social ties. If you're running away, this isn't a big deal, but if you just want a new start on the same server, you will have to make the rounds of people you know, forums you post to, and groups you frequent letting them know about your change. Even after all of this effort, a fair portion of the people you used to know will promptly forget you, and remain resistant to adjusting even after frequent reminders. You will lose friends even if this isn't your objective.
Third, and somewhat related to the previous item, you will have to establish a new reputation for yourself. Your new name will need to grow to have context and history for those from your past and new acquaintances alike. People won't know you as the guy who told that great story on the forums, or who pulled off those endless chain traps anymore, your new name needs those achievements now, and you'll have to put in the work to earn them. Be careful, it is just as easy to make a horrible first impression with your fresh-faced toon as it is to make a good one, maybe easier, and it's harder to undo a mistake without a reserve of good karma behind you.
Next, on the technical side, changing names and servers will really boggle your UI. There are ways to deal with this in your directory structure, which might make a good blog post for later, but you will have to accept that a lot of addon tweaking, macro fixing, and general configuration demons will have to be worked out before you can get up and running. It is a very frustrating way to start a new life online.
Finally, you'll have to eventually come to grips with the fact that the problem was never your toon, but you.
I am still working on this one.
But for 25 bucks, I can postpone that epiphany.
Friday, July 17, 2009
There are some facts to pull from these reports that are quite eye-opening. The first is that cats are still the most popular pet out there, by nearly twice the count of the second most popular pet (wolves). I suppose this isn't really all that surprising, cats, though no longer rated as such were the highest dps pet though most of the game's history and essentially required. Even if people aren't still running around with them, they're sitting in their stables. My own cat, Montecore, was dropped after its appearance was boggled after LK came out - what had been an all-white tiger was turned into a black/white tiger by a "bug fix" and the gm's wouldn't tweak it back to what I preferred - and I was abandoning all of my old identity's pets and starting over anyway, but I did run around with a spotty dreadsaber (probably my favorite cat skin ever) between 76 and 80. Though cats have drifted down to third or fourth on the dps ladder, they are still solid critters for soloing and raiding alike and have some really nice skins. Hunters have long quipped that Blizzard likes cats best - maybe we should have been saying that hunters like cats best, but that gets into an argument of correlation vs. causation.
And what can you say about the lowly sporebat? A better question is, what are those 43 people up to?
If nothing else, these reports should serve as a definitive verdict on Blizzard's failure to balance pets. The wide range of perceived and real effectiveness of family abilities leads to a definite lack of variety in actual use. You can't possibly wind up with a situation where all pets are equal and hunters just pick a pet based on looks, because that would be uninteresting, but I think you can make a definite argument for buffing a few family skills based on this data.
And for the record, I have shelved the spirit beast, and am hunting for the giant parrot of Sholazar.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
And now they say that I can take my main and with faith and trust and pixie dust (and 25 bucks) turn him into the troll I should have been to begin with, mon.
And there's not a chance in Hellfire Peninsula that I'll ever do it.
Some people seem surprised that I wouldn't take advantage of the service to realize a long-held wish, but there are reasons for my refusal.
Most people can appreciate the fact that I would prefer not to cut myself off from my in-game friends by swapping faction, but in truth, this isn't the most compelling reason to stay dwarven. I have friends on both sides through assorted alts of those who play both sides as it is, and besides, I hardly talk to anyone anyway.
But the real reason, and the less obvious reason I won't go, though, is that I would just hate to see so many of the things that I have spent all of these years working for either vanish or become a perverse reflection of the original achievement - if Barls were to suddenly become a troll, my mechanostriders would disappear forever, converted perhaps to skeletal warhorses, and that Gnomeregan reputation that I ground out with 417 stacks of runecloth back in the day would be morphed into adoration from a city I can't find the mailbox in.
Something just isn't right about that.
If I had a compelling reason to go - a group of real-life friends on the other side and no social contact on alliance, or just more than a grass-being-greener admiration for the Horde - then maybe I could get over this feeling that my toon would be undermined and diminished by the move. I would have no trouble at all moving one of my refer-a-friend alts or even my death knight alt, they have no history, no hard-won achievements and no trophies that are important to me, but my hunter is just different. For all of the times I've changed names, gender-bent, or hit the barber shop for a new surface identity, the toon is always built on the same ever-growing foundation of years of effort and history, and I just can't see me ever giving that up.
But first, I need a lot of herbs. A whole lot of herbs. Enter Kranthis. At one point, I loved this guy. Back in BC days, Kranthis was my tank. Feral druids had so much fun tanking because it was pretty easy to spam swipe and/or lacerate, and because you could get significant tanking upgrades via the PvP system. Resilience was a better stat for feral tanks than defense was, back in BC. Not so anymore. I also made the mistake of deciding to level 70-80 as Balance on Kranthis. Boomchicken is not for me, but now I'm all geared for it and don't have any more feral gear. So I got tired of the druid and parked him at 77.
Why 77? Cold-weather flying. Kranthis is an Herbalist / Miner with epic flight. If you have a druid in such a situation, you're set for life. Seriously. You can herb in flightform, and even if you drop flightform (to mine, say) you can return as an instant-cast. You can even do it from shadowmeld (if you're in combat, pop shadowmeld and then flightform and fly away). If I ever need money or herbs or ore or what have you, I can take Kranthis out for a spin. I fly over Icecrown, spamming my /castsequence Find Minerals, Find Herbs macro. Time it right and you will see all the stuff you want to farm.
Some future post will reveal all my farming secrets. Where do I go, and what do I do there? But for now, trust me - whether or not you like druiding (and I don't anymore), they make amazing farmers. If you're looking at bringing a new alt into the world, you can't go wrong with a druid. Heck, if you have the fortitude to get one to 80, you could even use your druid in a raid. What other class lets you choose from tank, melee DPS, spell DPS or healing? None.
But the real secret power of druids is farming.