Chat Window: It’s there for a reason

WARNING: INCOMING VILE SPEW OF WHININESS AND QQ…. 

Ok, maybe not that bad, but it is a bit of a rant, but don’t worry, I’ll lighten it up. 

The Chat window.  It’s that thing that you start out with in the bottom left of  your UI, it’s where you can see what other folks are talking about in the area, or even what kind of stories or villainous rhetoric is being spewed in Trade Chat. It’s where important information appears, whether it be Blizz GM’s replying to a ticket, or achievement spam from your most recent conquer. 

It's got a purpose

It's got a purpose

 

It is also where instructions are relayed, and information provided to help your situational awareness. Addons take advantage of it to provide you with quick glimpses at information, or even warnings of incoming danger. 

Most importantly though, at least in most cases, it’s where your party or raid is commenting/talking/instructing/YELLING. It’s where your fellow members can inform you that you are standing in the bad, or not standing in the right place at all.  It’s where Raid Warnings appear before showing up in the middle of your screen. 

I went through all of this to get to this point… It’s there for a purpose, and that purpose is to convey information to  you that may be very important to the ongoing encounter. 

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How Real should it get?

Wow, it looks like the Cataclysm came early.  It seems that Blizzard’s player base has been torn asunder, with fissures and vents forming everywhere. Some have simply left the game, while others are unsure of their future with our favorite MMO, while even others feel that the new RealID feature may be a good thing. Anyway, here is my two copper on the whole RealID concept, and it’s plusses and minuses.

Battle.net & RealID

Battle.net & RealID

I myself am a bit split. I have taken advantage of the feature already in-game. It is really nice to be able to see when Friends are on, even if they’re hiding.  I’ve even been able to connect with some of my friends from Australia from my Halo 2 days.

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Addons, Bane or Boon

It’s a topic that a lot of people ask. Are addons required, or not?

GUI BOOM

GUI BOOM

This all came up after my brother came home for a week to visit, and wanted me to help him with some character tuning. He’s got a Blood Elf Priest on Area 52, level 80, and decked out in 10 man T9 gear. While he was visiting my house, he asked if I minded if he did a quick daily dungeon to get his frost emblems. I didn’t mind, I was busy watching the baby, so I told him to go for it.

First thing he asked… “Do you have Vuhdo?” I told him that I had downloaded it once, but never got around to using it, and instead told him that I’ve got some other addons that should hold him over till he gets a chance to download it.

So, we real quick logged him on, and got Grid/Clique and some of the bar addons in there, just to give him something to work with. He started it up, and hopped in the LFD to heal, and waited till the queue popped up. I was still trying to get him acquainted with the addons, and he didn’t get much of a chance to “customize” it to where he might be used to it. Well, ToC5 popped up, and he hopped in. It was crazy, he was lost as to what was where, and who was who. He had grown so accustomed to Vuhdo and his bar layout (default UI with Vuhdo over it) that he just couldn’t figure out what all was happening and freaked out.

I’m sure he’ll hate me for saying this, but he freaked out a bit quick, and probably could have regained composure, but instead just quit the group and hopped out. Sadly, he’s also used to his mouse which has 2 extra buttons I’ve just got 2 buttons and scroll wheel), that he just couldn’t heal without it.

Here’s where my point comes in. I subscribe to the notion that if a patch comes through, and all your addons blow up, you should still be able to do your job in a group or raid. Sure, it’ll be more difficult with less of the information coming your way, and you’ll have to get used to some slightly differently placed buttons, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world.

I myself have a few addons that I use:

  • FuBar: Simply to place some info addons like AtlasLoot, etc.
  • SpartanUI: Cause it looks cool
  • Dominos: Only because Bartender4 was still broke and Dominos worked at the time
  • PallyPower: Gotta love it, though I’m sure it’ll be void by the time Cataclysm comes out
  • Clique: I like being able to map some of the spells directly to buttons, and it handles it well.
  • Grid: It’s just the right size for both group and raid content, and lets me customize that shows up where.
  • PowerAuras: Haven’t really used this to its full potential, but is helpful in keeping track of some buffs I have on targets
  • SexyMap: Cause it’s sexy
  • Omen: For when I tank, I want to be sure that I’m at the top of that list.
  • Recount: Just for shits & giggles, I don’t usually use it much, except to measure how effective a new piece of gear is.
  • Deadly Boss Mods: Cause noises and text during a raid can sometimes be helpful
  • ElksBuffBars: So much cleaner than what I had.

All these are used in unison to provide the extra info that I need to keep my focus on what’s important. If these blew up… oh well, I’d probably put a couple mouseover macros together to help with the casting, and be on my merry way.

I do feel, though, that there are several folks who depend all their abilities on the addons. This is what I would consider a crutch on your actual capabilities. It should be possible, though fortunately not required, to do all that can be done now with the default WoW UI, and in all reality, it can. We have the tools and the abilities to successfully complete an instance without freaking out cause you couldn’t figure out which way the health went when it dropped (ya he wasn’t sure and people died). I also feel that you should be able to tell who is fulfilling what role in your group, by simply looking at them, and if needed inspecting them. I wholeheartedly feel that a knowledge of the other classes as well as your own can increase your capabilities and allow you to adapt much quicker when things go awry.

Now, in contrast, I do feel that Addons are a wonderful addition to any UI. I have probably 3 or 4 different versions of my UI that I use for my Paladin, Shaman, Druid, and Mage. All this because you need different information for different classes. I have come to love the look of SpartanUI, as well as the versatility of the Grid/Clique combo, and will say that it is very beneficial in making quick decisions on who to heal and when. I try not to inendate myself with information overload, though keeping Omen and Recount up have never hurt my performance. I also like to keep things asthetically pleasing, and the combo of SpartanUI and SexyMap do that well. Without Deadly Boss Mods, I don’t really think that I would have learned some boss encounters as quickly as I have. I really consider it a very helpful tool in getting used to fights, and more often then not, I’ll turn it off once I’ve gotten a fight down pat.

<open rant>

Basically, it doesn’t really matter if you have them or not, but be sure that in the case that the GUI blows up, and all addons are made moot, don’t blame the addons if you can’t complete something. Your abilities should be determined by your skill, not the usability that an addon provides.

</end rant>

What do you use as addons? Do you require them to function?

One set of Footsteps

Alrighty, here comes a ranty post. Though, I’m unsure if it will come across as condescending or uplifting, but I guess that it will be in the eye of the beholder.

May need to be carried.

May need to be carried.

I used the title of this post because it reminded me of the old Christian saying “When you saw only one set of footprints in the sand, that was when I was carrying you,” an obvious reference to Jesus helping us along the way in life, carrying us when we thought we couldn’t go any further, though it somewhat works here as well.

Anyway, it all started with a tweet from Orithea:

It’s funny how easy it is to drag along a subpar dps, but a horrible healer or tank sinks the ship.

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Ok… I lied

Ok, maybe I didn’t lie, but I wasn’t able to continue the romp as DPS.

No More Ret... For now.

No More Ret... For now.

I did enjoy doing my daily quests as a Retribution paladin, and I did get a few upgrades; however, I didn’t get to use it that often in group situations. More often then not, we’d be short a healer, and I’d have to step in there instead. I think that only real group experience I had was a couple of 5 mans, and a quick Patchwerk fight for the weekly. I did do pretty well on the meters, which was fun, but it’s a bit repetative, and I don’t think that I really enjoy melee dps… and I never thought that I’d feel that way.

The reason for this, is that I don’t feel like I’m able to DPS to my full potential, unless I have a good tank who can hold the mob(s) in place, plus I’m never sure which mob to truly focus on if the tank is going all willy nilly on all the mobs. Usually I’d just focus another melee dps, and attack the target they are focusing on. I just don’t feel that I contributed as much as I could have, and because of this decided to respec back to Protection.

Yes, I do still have all my ret gear though, saved up in case I get the itch again, but for now I’ll be sticking with my insta-queues and the constant vigilence required to tank or heal. I guess another factor that influenced my decision was the fact that I was fortunate enough to get the Neverending Winter shield from ICC 10. This was even while I was healing, and fortunately all the tanks already had it or couldn’t use it. I had been waiting to replace my ‘ol faithful Royal Crest of Lordaeron (which will stay in my bank forever… yes more clutter). I now look even more like an actual tank, with my fancy T9, fancy T10 shield, and emblem helmet, I was looking good.

I think the loot was somewhat of an issue. I had nearly 5 chances to get a new weapon or other piece of gear for my Ret set, over the few times I was in ICC. The Citadel Enforcer’s Claymore dropped 3 times, each time… I was healing, and the other melee dps that could use it were still using the Tyrannical Beheader, just like me, so obviously, to the winner go the spoils. Ramaladni’s Blade of Culling even dropped once, and went to the dps Deathknight in the run, cause guess what… I was healing. Even had the Bone Drake’s Enameled Boots drop as well, but yet again, I was healing, and one of hte DPS could use it over me. I guess it’s an obvious observation, that there are more DPS, and therefore more competition for gear. With Ret Paladins, Fury and Arms Warriors, and Unholy/Blood DKs all fighting for the same gear, it does get a bit more difficult for me to get my chance, especially when I am unable to actually DPS for the run, as my Healing set/skills are needed more. But, as I always say, c’est la vie.

I guess that is a bane of Pugging as well. I am unable to ever make my guild’s scheduled runs, as I can never guarantee that I’m going to be able to make it. I am more interested in helping out my wife, or being with her and the kids, than starting a run at 7:30-8:00. So, the only chances I’ve ever been in ICC are through PUGs that I happen to run across while sitting in Dalaran doing some dailies, and most of those are pretty late in the evening. I guess that’s also why I have never seen beyond Rotface and Festergut (I’ve actually taken them down though, that was a fun run too).

So to close this all up, I’m no longer Holy / Ret, I’m now Holy / Prot once again, and will likely stay that way unless I am requested to come as dps, or get the itch again. So, until then, insta-queues and Emblems of Triumph flowing from the heavens will be my game again for a while.

Look in the Mirror

Just recently Zarhym posted something interesting on the Blizzard forums about the Vote Kick feature. It’s already spreading around the blogosphere, but I thought I’d post it here too.

We have found that most players using the Dungeon Finder don’t use the Vote Kick feature or abandon groups very often. For these players, we are removing the cooldown on voting to kick players from a dungeon party. In contrast, those players who tend to kick players or abandon groups more frequently will notice that the Vote Kick feature maintains its cooldown. The goal here is to make sure players who are generally patient can make use of the Vote Kick feature when they really need it, without giving a more powerful tool to those who try to kick others or abandon dungeon groups very frequently.

This functionality will adjust itself as a player’s behavior while using the Dungeon Finder changes.

A while back, some folks at MMO-Champion dug up some stat variables dealing with:

These values have been collected since the LFD was released. This provides Blizzard with information on how many times you’ve abandoned or completed a group, and how many times you’ve either participated, initiated, or been the target of a vote kick.

What the new changes are initiating are the capability to limit those who kick their groups a lot by leaving the Vote Kick timer debuff on. While others who have hardly ever vote kicked or abandoned a group will no longer have the timer, and can initiate a vote kick right away.

There are a few good things and a few bad things with this, along with a few unanswered questions. One thing that I’m wondering is, are they taking into account the previous kicks/abandons/completions, or are they starting from a blank slate? The answer to this question would determine a few things.

First up, if they start from a blank slate, then those who maliciously Vote Kick often, will have a powerful tool to grief early, and often. As we do not yet know what the threshhold is as to when the debuff timer kicks in. On the other hand, if they use current data already collected, then griefers will still have to wait, lessening the chance that they’ll do it as often. Maybe the timer will get even longer, which I feel would be a good thing.

I have had experiences as well as read of experiences where tanks, who have a nearly instantaneous queue time, will get a group, and then just drop it. The reasons are varied, ranging from malicious griefing, to just not liking the group makeup. I myself have never done that, as I think it is well worth your time as well as that of the group to at least make an attempt at the instance, and in turn help somebody out. Maybe it’s the carebear paladin in me, but I have never dropped a group unless there was verbal abuse, or a complete asshat involved.

Now, for the folks who do not often or ever use the vote kick tool, there will not be a debuff on when they can use it. I see how it can be nice for those folks, but also wonder if it will be that much of an incentive. I could see far more use out of the removal of the “dropped group” debuff than of the Vote kick debuff. With no timer on the Vote Kick debuff, some new players may be tempted to follow the path of those who Vote Kick often, and it may lead to more abandoned groups, and pissed off players.

Lastly, it will have those who abuse the system need to look at their own behaviour, and how they act towards others, and make decisions as to how they treat people. Sure it’s a pipe dream to have no more Vote Kicks based on malicious intent, as I’m sure it’ll still happen. But this is one step towards having those who currently partake in malicious vote kicks (kicking after last boss so that gear can’t be passed to the one kicked, etc.) take a look in the mirror. Maybe, just maybe, it’s they who suck and need to L2Play.

We’ll see how it works out. It is nice that those who do not take advantage or abuse the system will get a bit of a pat on the back, and those who do will get “punished”. I’m sure there will be more systems like this put in place in the future (think PvP “deserter” debuff), we’ll just have to see.

How to Homogenize Healing

How far is too far?

How far is too far?

I think that the chemistry definition describes it best.

In Chemistry, mixtures may be homogeneous. In other words, mixtures have the same proportions throughout a given sample or multiple samples of different proportion to create a consistent mixture.

It has been said by the boys at Blue that healing classes are going to be homogenized further, to pull some classes out of their restricted niches. There are folks on both sides of this fence. There are those who fear that all healing classes will be so similar, that there will not be a defined niche for any certain type of healer. There are also those who fear that it may actually push some classes further into a defined niche, lessening their chances at a raid spot.

Personally, I believe that it isn’t a problem of the generality or specificity of the classes, but rather a problem with how Blizzard may plan to keep healing interesting. I do get a bit tired of playing whack-a-mole after a large raid wide damage spike happens.

Whack-a-mole.. err cat.

Whack-a-mole.. err cat.

In addition, there is more than just the spell selection that is being homogenized, as stats will be a difining factor as well, no matter the class.

Blizzard Says:

Homogenization is a risk. Totally. It’s something we try and fight against. In the case of healing, we don’t want to erode the unique aspects of the 5 talent specs. We just want to move the non-unique parts closer together. If you need an analogy, we’re not going to mess with the flowers or the fruit or the shape of the leaves. We just want everyone to have similar roots. Spells like Circle, Chain Heal and Beacon will continue to be an important and unique part of your repertoire. We just want to make sure everyone has the basic tools so that they aren’t in a situation where they’re trying to tighten screws with a hammer.

Now having said that, there are a couple of exceptions. If you are a Disc priest who loved to use PW:S and nothing else or a Resto druid who loved to use Rejuv and nothing else, then you will probably need to use more of your buttons again. We don’t want to promote the strategy of trying to pre-heal as many people as possible without really worrying about who is actually taking damage. There’s not a lot of decision-making or coordination or reactive gameplay there. Disc priests will need to actually cast heals (and Penance can certainly be one of them) and druids will have to mix in some direct heals along with their hots. (Source)

Healing in Cataclysm
I take a different view on a couple of your points here. Healers won’t be forced to spam their most efficient heal because the encounters will be less threatening early on. Later on when your mana regen as at its highest you will need to use your highest throughput spell because the damage is higher. You’ll also need to use your fast heal sometimes for the same reason. Fortunately fully raid buffed and in good gear, you’ll have more mana regen. I don’t think any of these changes encourage players to blame healers more. Bad players are always going to deflect their failures onto someone else. That is why they are bad players. The alternative is to make healing so simplistic that there is almost no chance of failure (i.e. nobody would ever die). You’d never get blamed for anything but you’d probably also be pretty bored.

Minus gaming coefficients, we pretty much had this model with downranking and it largely worked.

My fear is that if they over shoot the homogenization of the healing classes by to far, it will cause healing to become far more boring than it already is. Don’t get me wrong, healing isn’t always boring, in fact it can get pretty frantic at certain points. However, it is still the same spells with the same priorities, on the same targets.

Cataclysm looks to be pulling the Paladins out of their Tank heal only niche, and providing them with tools to provide raid healing. Now this isn’t necessarily efficient or effective raid healing, but we have yet to actually get our hands on it to see. Along with pulling each class out of their niche, it also appears that their stats are becoming far more homogenized as well. If you think about it, a Paladin would have NEVER consciously purchased or rolled on anything with spirit; however, come Cataclysm, it will be a very important addition to their healing repertoire.

I do agree that the stat homogenization is a good thing. There were so many Elemental Shamans and some Balance Druids who were left out of upgrades, simply because they shared stats with their healing equivelant. This appears to be going away with Cataclysm, as +Spirit is now going to be a “healer only” stat, while incentives will be provided to each class to incist on using the armor type appropriate. Grouping this together will make it that much easier for RL/GL to distribute gear accordingly.

It is good to hear, though, that they don’t plan on passing spells around like a mixed drink. Instead leaving Beacon, Chain Heal, PW: Bubble, etc. to their respective classes. This is also apparent with the new “AoE” heal for the paladin, as there has never before been a “moving totem” type spell like that, well at least not for healing.

Gnome demonstrating Healing Hands

Gnome demonstrating Healing Hands

Here’s to hoping that they continue with their current design philosophy, and don’t overdo the homogenization of the healing classes. Also, here’s to hoping that the new spells are worth the wait.

Thinking about Mechanima

Good morning everybody!

Happy Towel Day!

Anyway, I’ve lately been checking out some of the latest WoW mechanima out there on da YouTube. There are really a lot of creative folks out there, and some really good works. I, however, have always wanted to make one myself. Ever since I learned that I could export the models from the WoWModel Viewer to 3DSMax files, all kinds of thoughts flew through my head. I had even created several characters from my “novel” about Khraden’s history and thought about making an actual book cover from them. But that was before the WoWModelViewer got all borked, and never seems to be totally stable.

I’ve had ideas of videos based on some of the music that I listen too, and how several songs fit so well with the subject matter, no matter how modern the music.

Rock ON!

Rock ON!

Anyway, this morning, I heard a song on the radio, on the way to work. It was “Familiar Taste of Poison” by Halestorm. As I listened to the song, sadly, I pictured in my head a video presenting the reminisent memories of a widow, who’s husband was a Rogue. I had all kinds of transitions from one point of the song to another, and all kinds of camera angles. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the tools to create such a thing. Well, not yet.

Here’s where you all come in.

Does anybody else do any Mechanima, and if so, what tools do you use? Have you found a good copy of the WoWModelViewer? Anything free or “trial” !! :)

Thanks for any ideas. Now back to your regularly scheduled Paladin news.

DPS Validation and Accountability

Well, here’s the final role specific addition to this series. It is also the one role that rew people realize as being as important as it is. The role of DPS is also the most popular role to follow, simply because of this misconception.

More often then not, though, most DPS feel that Tanks and Healers have some sort of entitlement when it comes to grouping. Simply put, they feel that because they are “must-have” roles, that they are more imporant than the lowly DPS. In some cases this is true, as if you did not have a tank, the DPS would get swarmed by mobs, and if you didn’t have a healer, those mobs would slice down the DPS with no resistance. However, without the DPS role, Tanks and Healers would never finish an instance within a single night, nor would they ever meet enrage timers. It was once joked that 2 paladins could almost do an entire instance (at level), it would just take 3 weeks to do it.

Because of this perception, a lot of DPS feel that they have to push themselves into the forefront so that they can get noticed. Hence the rise of Damage Meters, and the DPS ePeen. However, there are those who still stand in the back (figuratively or literally) and work hard as hell to keep the pain flowing, but also help out the rest of the group/raid. It is here that you can separate the real DPS from the twatmelons.

Don't be a twatmelon.

Don't be a twatmelon.

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Tank Validation and Accountability

Tanks make mistakes too.

Tanks make mistakes too.

I’ve decided to continue this series on my observations about how different roles are treated. I’ve already hit the big one to me, and that is healing. Next, I plan to point out some of the faults blamed on tanks, including a story from a fellow tank and friend of mine.

Like healing, tanking is often a required role in a group. Not always, at least 98% of the time in 5 mans, but 100% in raids. The short and sweet is that if you do not have a meat shield on the front lines, you are going to become that meat shield. That mound of flesh wrapped in plate (or furry leather) armor is there to get punched in the face repeatedly so you don’t have to. Because of this, they too should be treated with a certain level of respect. In addition to their normal duties, Tanks also often are placed in a position of leadership, whether they like it or not.

For nearly 6 months, I would tank on my Paladin. It was a nice change of pace, but also changed my view of how a tank’s job works. I remember when I first started the dungeon crawl, that the tank was allowed a certain amount of time at the beginning of a pull to gain aggro. This was before threat became such an easy thing to come by. Back when Warriors had to get a certain number of Sunder Armors off before the raid or group even thought about casting anything. Now-a-days, from what I’ve noticed, that is no longer the case. It is now a race to the end of the dungeon, and a test to see who can kill the mob faster. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, as quick runs mean quick rewards, but it can cause problems as well.

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