Monday, 22 April 2013

Sometimes you have to think, I know it hurts, but you have to do it.

World of Warcraft is a game, played on line by way of an Internet connection, but it is a game. Many players can join together to solve puzzles and defeat bosses found in the dungeons. Some of the puzzles are easy, such as kill three of these and four of those and open the door to the next room.

Some rooms are more technical, and thought is needed. No longer a case of bash them and smash them, sometimes, you have to kill in the right sequence else the game mechanics defeat you instead.

If the game mechanics kill everyone in your party, it is said to be a wipe. You all failed.

Sadly, with the dumbing down of the game by the game creators, it is now somewhat easier to rise through the levels to achieve a higher standard quicker.

This degradation of the game only partially works, for in the last expansion, new dungeons were created from older simpler dungeons, but many people still think that if you have the bigger weapon, you can simply slice your way into the Monastery or whatever room you are in.

World of Warcraft Dungeon room.

I am tired of people who give not the slightest thought to working out how to solve the puzzle before running ahead and creating mayhem. The end result is a guaranteed wipe, over and over. If you offer help, your told to 'butt out', no team playing at all.

The puzzles actually are simple and need only a modicum of thought, but that is sadly, too much for many world of warcraft players.

Friday, 16 November 2012

World of Warcraft Alt value

World of Warcraft, a multi-player, on-line role playing game. More than one player, on line and connected to the same environment while playing a game. Each player has a unique play style, in one way or another. I have several characters, with one or two being my primary. These two I have ramped up their skills and abilities and they are the characters that get the most play-time. As it is a social environment as well, being on line in my own name enables friends and followers to find me, talk or interact with me.

Sometime we all need a little 'quiet' time while we concentrate and do things we want to do. Alternative characters enable a player to be online and yet be separate from the established social circle, so to that end, I have an alt who's name for the most part is not connected to my main. My banking alt is obviously a banking  alt, a character used primarily for interacting with the bank and the auction house, yet though if a player knew who I was, there would be no obvious link to my main account. Ah, such is the wonderful anonymity a banking alt garners.

I have other alts, born from the frustration of paying high prices for goods and services my mains need while levelling their games. Each player is limited to two primary skills, such as Mining and Blacksmithing. Skilling alts up to be able to process the materials needed for top level objects is relatively simple. Levelling them with no trade whatsoever means a much faster levelling process, then, when you reach 85 or 90, teach your alt the trade and within a few days you have a workable proficiency.

With Mists of  Pandaria, the latest expansion by Blizzard for the game World of Warcraft, crafting alts need materials only found when killing Non Player Characters, NPC's. A player needs to play the alt characters if they want to use the crafting skills. Previously, the rare crafting materials were available by farming ores or herbs or even in the auction house. As I have enough alternative characters to cover all the trades I need, I find my daily workload ballooning.

Maybe those players using robots to automatically farm, are turning to 'bots' capable of harvesting NPC's in order to gain the needed crafting materials, or do they reduce the number of alts they use and farm the auction house to generate gold and thereby purchase the needed items from other players. An interesting conundrum,

I predict several 'bots' will greatly improve their 'AI' as they  tackle this problem. Gold Sellers seem to be dropping off the daily chat logs, possibly because the  rare materials cannot be easily harvested from simple 'bots' endlessly farming the ores and herbs from dawn until dawn the next day. Goes to show, if you solve a problem, you create a new challenge for someone else. Good job Blizzard making players work for the rare items, but it will be interesting to see how things turn out once the undetectable payer bots are introduced into the mix.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Too many dailies and not enough time

Blizzard have written into the game of World of Warcraft, significant changes to how the game is played. Many changes are fantastic if you know the earlier version, with new concepts, new storylines, new weapons and spells, and newer, simpler ways of doing things.

One game construct I feel a burden, is the linearity of the quest chains. You need to run through each quest, one after the other in order to gain the endgame goals. To make the end game harder to reach, repetitive tasks have been introduced into the quest lines, with a needed requirement to complete one chain, before you can start on the next line.

If you fail to enjoy one section of the game, you will find yourself excluded from a lot of later game content, this I find, a little unfair and would like to point out other games in the world of MMO RPG's enable multiple paths to reach end game content, and one, Eve-Online, No path, you can choose how you play to reach an end game you decide upon.

Right now, a lot of things are shared with my other characters on the same account, account sharing is a good thing as it means that I don't have to run the same content over and over to have , say a special flying mount. Sadly, Blizzard have chosen to not include some content from being account bound, so if I want to ride my new mount with a second character, that character will have to run through the same long winded dailies until they have enough rep with the Flying Serpents to be able to buy the licence to fly.

I would love to see a small satchel in the bank, accessible only to my account so that I could share heirlooms with characters on other servers. After all, my pets, mounts and achievements are considered shared across all my account characters, so why not heirlooms.
I find myself limiting the number of characters I am progressing to level 90, there is so much end content to work on, well, read, 'daily grind', that with a screen full of characters, twelve to sixteen hours a day online playing a game is disturbing in the reality of things.
One can simply have too much World of Warcraft in their days timeline.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

World of Warcraft need to reconsider the Death Knight.

Back in the ye olde days, when flying was restricted to only those who had ridden hard, fought long drawn out battles, defended their realm in all the nooks, crannies, dungeons and holes in the ground the makers could imagine, back then, the best of the bunch were able to fly, to soar high on the wings of sweet well earned victory. There was room for a Hero Class, a player that could swing the tide and turn battles around, a player that could harness the very bones of the dead in defense of his realm, a player that using deaths own embrace, could swing an axe and strike at the heart of the opposition. Back then, there was room for a Death Knight, A rare and heroic breed capable of signalling the end of the long fight against the kings enemies.

In time gone by, it took a long time to get to level fifty five. A player learned his skills and understood his craft. A player knew his way around a sizeable portion of the map, knew where to stand, where to fish, he knew where to mine or make his weapons and armour. A player of level fifty five had many achievements and accomplishements under his belt. A player of level fifty five had proven he was no 'flash in the pan, a 'micro-nova', but a player who was capable of bringing value to any group. The ability for that player to create a Death Knight seemed a fair and proper thing to allow. Death knights in turn, had value as the players using them were often world-skilled and game-wise.

The game has changed, significantly, it is very much easier to level up. With refer-a-freind, you can make level fifty five in less than a week, With heirlooms you can race through dungeons as if they were some kind of solo Battleground, within days of paying for world of Warcraft, you can qualify to roll a death knight and begin the macabre and systematic destruction of players enjoyment on so many levels.

Death Knights no longer have any value, they bring nothing to the game, and far from being hero class, they are now the class most likely to be played by some one who neither cares for, nor understands the games mechanics. Death Knights are more than likely going to be the biggest single instrument in countless dungeon wipes. Characters playing new Death Knights seem more often than not, to display a total disregard for other players, total lack of understanding of dungeon mechanics and have no incentive to do better. They are in short, an abused and disposable class.

For some, it is great fun to create a DK on another server, destroy peoples dungeons for a weekend, and then, amid peals of laughter, destroy the deathknight and generate bragging rights for the first break at school on the next school day.

Some Death Knights are good players,they know how to play their character, and many of the characters they are teamed up with in the Dungeon Finder. Some Death Knights know how to be the 'tank' and execute the process extreemly well. I will wager, they are less than one percent of death knights though.

I propose some simple and basic changes to Death Knight creation, a series of simple concepts that will re-inject the 'hero class' into the Death Knights.

I suggest a player should have three or four level 85 or top level characters on a server, before that player can convert a player of level 55 or better into a death knight. Upon creation of the Death Knight, skills and abilities transfer over to the Death Knight, such as fishing, cooking , gathering skills and manufactiring skills, and the name of the character stays the same. A partial talent tree could be used to retain a small selection of the original characters abilities, so that Death Knights would no longer be simple mele characters, but characters that can deliver extreme dps using their original talents as a Mage, Priest, Shaman, Paladin, hunter etcetera. The racial talents should be removed and all death knights should be skeletal.

Remove 'Death Grip' totally. Its a mechanism that is abused beyond comprehension in dungeons. There are several 'taunts' used in World of Warcraft, the Death Knights Death Grip succeeds more often than not in bringing mobs into the party, often a sure-fire way of killing the healer, or the High DPS dealing mage. Death grip has outlived its value and could easily be replaced by a taunt of controllable and meaningful proportions.

Why not allow the Death Knight to gain health upon the succesful killing of a Mob, a life exchange if you like. The higher the value of dps contribution made by the death knight, the greater the healing effect on the mobs death. For fun, giggles if you will, the death of a Town Guard, quest giver, trainer or a player five levels or more below the death knight, will erode the death knights health proportionally to the effort of damage delivered. Take on a couple of quest givers and your toast...

Have the Death Knight Training Armour and Weapon, gifted during training, to have little or no armour quality after they Death Knight leaves the training levels. Simply, the DK will make or purchase or aquire Armour, and cladding and arming his DK in a manner that will lead to character survival.

Make Death Knights permanently PVP enabled. If you want to wear the suit, wear the responsibility.

Take away the Death Knights XP bar, let the iLevel of his gear determine whether or not he can enter a dungeon, or raid, or battle ground. (In fact, take away everyones XP bar and let their gear count serve as admission ticket regardless of level.)

On the plus side, the more honor he earns in raids, bg's, dungeons and the like, the better the gear he gets, the superior gear that can only be worn by DK's. Gear far better than any other class can get, because the DK, being a hero class character, should have hero quality equipment and weaponry.

Rant Over:

Friday, 10 June 2011

Did it suddenly get easier?

As I am part of a level 25 World of Warcraft Guild, I was able to buy two or three handy dandy BoA's, add another couple from the Honour Points system and I have a baby shaman running the dungeons, casting 'heals' where tanks, noobs and mages fear to tread.

Well, not exactly ' fear to tread', but surely splashing the healing mana on all who need it except for those who have decidely set about to piss me off.

My first character in World of Warcraft a few years ago, levelled up through questing, more questing and then some farming, and questing. Sometimes, the only way to be able to do questing was to find another area at your level, hop over there, log into a hearthstone home, and get on with yet more questing.

My Mage, I recall, spent level 56 to 58 farming in Western Plaguelands, then off to Honour Hold, failed, returned back to Eastern Plaguelands to farm another level or two.

Level 80 was an achievement of merit. We know the attrition for levelling characters is high, so to get to Dalaran at about 78, use the portal to get in for the first time was a genuine feel good moment.

A few months ago, I decided to run a character up using dungeons, and questing, it was easier, a lot easier. My partner watched and decided to create a human mage, drop a few 'looms' onto her and see if she could level up only using dungeons once she got past level 20. She reached level 20 in the first playing day, about 12 hours, now a week later she is well into level 70 killing critters with 'Arcane Blast', some Missiles and 'Presence of Mind', with a sprinkling of other spells so the keyboard doesnt get jammed up through lack of use.

I, on the other hand, am slowly raising a Draenei Shaman through the ranks and am sitting at level 52 with a 'played time' of 2 Days, 10 Hours and 7 Minutes. Not a record, but not slacking either. My biggest boost comes from realising that running Random Dungeons means that for the better percentage of my runs, they are going to be in dungeons that give me anything but the best xp (Experience Points), so I select only the top dungeons to run in. I don't get the bag of goodies, nor do I get any gold as reward, I do get huge amounts of bonus XP with each mob kill, so that so far, each dungeon run has netted me another level up in Blizzard's World of Warcraft.

Has it got easier, hell yes, way easier. Dumbed down dungeons, bloated xp returns, enhanced xp for BoA gear, extra XP and Rep for being in a good guild all combine to rocket me through the levels. Is it more fun, well, its different, there are no puzzles to solve, so no sence of accompliment. But if the object is to get the character to 85 and then teach it a craft, then yes, it is so easy.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Guild Elitists in World of Warcraft

Most adults can, within a few moments of talking to another person, establish whether or not there is mutual harmony on the horizon if they were to become friends. Friendship can, in some social cases in this day and age, be acquired by the click of a face book page, or the happy sitting together in a railway train carriage.

To have to apply through a complicated on-line 'question and answer' document is uncomfortable, intrusive, and missing the whole point of become a friend. Guilds, in the on-line MMORPG, rather rely on everyone in the guild being 'nice' or 'grown up' to each other. Not everyone can spare the time to turn an on-line game into some kind of macho high pressure sporting fixture and so for many of us, guilds are about a bunch of friends hacking at monsters as and when they all get on line together. But if you are the only one on line, you are expected to be able to look after yourself for a few hours should the need arise.

In this current season, being a member of a guild enables you to draw on 'perks' simply not available to solo players. Perks such as extra hit shore, faster cool downs, improved benefits, stronger equipment all allow the guild based player to level up faster, earn more gold quicker, and achieve success where teams are needed to defeat some of the quest challenges.

It is a two-way street, the guild benefits financially and socially from having an active membership, and the members benefit from having a powerful guild supporting them.
I understand a great many players are still young enough to have not worked out the social niceties of making friends with real adults in the real world, and the behaviour of a good many guild players leaves you with the belief that they are looking forward to their thirteenth birthday, or have discovered the word 'anal' or are so dim they cannot function unless someone is holding their hand.

An abundance of these players can bring a guild down with petty innuendo, lies, thefts, mistrust and a general childishness of silly arguments over the guild public channel. We say, 'We can do without the drama queens', and understand that all guilds will have some childish players, or even children, but a good many grown up children to balance the ratio and to keep the guild in good trim.

To have to apply by a complicated on line document, giving age, location, times of play, interests, gender, server likes and dislikes strikes me too much of applying for a job, not a social agreement to work together. I was looking for a group of like minded people to share 'guild perks' with while I help earn that guild more perks, and for me, it needs to be a fun thing, a warm social interchange, where I can be allowed to play as I wish to, but join in with group activities from time to time.

The need to fill out a long form turns me off and makes me cold to that group. If they have lost the ability to communicate as adults with other adults and use that 'built-in' ability to assess another player, then maybe that is not a group for me. They can keep their silly forms and childish approach to game playing. I'm going to play alongside other intelligent, articulate, grown up children.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

World of Warcraft needs a Dragon

It is good that some entities, like Blizzard, the Company that owns World of Warcraft, considers it important to raise money for relief aid to Japan. For any reason you care to choose, helping others is always good. Though sometimes, a little incentive is needed to get their customers to part with their hard earned cash so that it can be forwarded to the Japan Relief Fund.

Sadly, if a scheme is only half baked, then a full loaf is never returned, and by that I mean, Blizzard, for example, could have gained terrific leverage on the inherent need for many of their gamers to own something worthwhile.

Blizzard are giving a small pet away as a way of saying 'thank you' for making a donation. Sadly, most players have more pets than they can use in any given session, with so many pets given away as incentives, a pet shortage in World of Warcraft is something there is not.
I applaud their desire to help Japan, but I feel they could have raised tons of cash instead of the great dollop they have. And they had the mechanism at their disposal, in plain sight and not being used effectively.

Now the players can fly just about anywhere on almost any mount, the race is on to get bigger, harder to get, more colourful mounts, so gigantic dragons, breathing blue flames, and whose frame is all bones is the most wanted flying mount.

If Blizzard had released a huge colourful very fast flying mount, something unique, and made it account bound, and charged the player something easy to obtain, like twenty Euros or twenty Dollars, then I bet I would have purchased it for my characters. I bet a lot of people would have bought it. Once one player has it, others demand to know how they can get one and do not want to be left out.

Imagine a couple million players each pumping twenty dollars into the system, Blizzard could have made a significant donation to the Japan Relief Fund.