Guide to the instaces updated – Uldaman

I’ve updated again my guide to the quests in the instances of World of Warcraft, alliance side only.

I believe I finally nailed down all the quests in Uldaman. It’s really crazy.

The guide can be found through the “Repository” link on the right sidebar of this site or directly here.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

Oh well, this is silly

Caydiem, the most intelligent and experienced community manager in World of Warcraft (not a case it’s a ‘she’), wrote on the official forums a silly explaination about the policy on Player Gatherings:

Regarding Player Gatherings Online

We fully understand that players may be dissatisfied with certain aspects of the game, and we appreciate when these players constructively make their voices heard in our forums. We use the forums to interact with the community, and the forums provide a large sampling of what players like and dislike. While we might not be able to respond to every thread that highlights an area of concern, the forums are read actively, and the game designers remain fully aware of what those areas of concern are. As such, the forums are the appropriate and intended place for these types of discussions to take place.

We do encourage players to hold events and strengthen the bonds in their community. But as for gathering in game for the purpose of expressing dissatisfaction with an aspect of World of Warcraft, please be advised that we cannot allow such protest gatherings that cause severe lag and/or server crashes to occur. If a gathering occurs that causes these issues, players will be asked to leave. If they continue, however, GMs can and will take action against accounts. This can lead to a suspension. Keep in mind that holding gatherings that cause undue server stress affects everyone on that realm. Please be kind to your fellow players and respect their desire to play too.

So, as you can read, there is ‘bad’ and ‘good’ lag.

The next time you plan a gathering remember to *smile*, instead of laughing hysterically (the source is here).

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

The problems of a “too balanced” system

Kalgan replied again on World of Warcraft’s forums with another informative post about one of those topics that remained ‘hot’ even after his extensive explanation:
the ‘miss ratio’ of the warrior class.

I added his comment for reference at the bottom of the previous archive.

This time what he writes is interesting because it descibes a system even “too balanced”. In the comments I wrote here below I was tempted to add how in the practice this absolute balance may also become a bad thing.

Recently I tried to figure out if I was more efficient in the battle, defensive or berserk stance (warrior 45). The result is that I didn’t find an overall best solution. The system looks so balanced that you basically cannot do a mistake. The choices you have available are located so well that you cannot do something wrong, producing a relevant error that you can easily understand and correct. Choosing the best tactic is *hard* because there isn’t a best tactic. From my experience the system encourages more a reactive behaviour where you adapt yourself to the situation, instead of figuring out a ‘best strategy’ and stick with it. But this also makes the system hard to learn because those mistakes aren’t easy to spot and doing mistakes is the most effective way we have to learn in general.

In this last comment Kalgan again dissipates wrong assumptions. He explains that the ‘defensive value’ of a creature with the possibility of parry and dodge is exactly the same of a creature that cannot parry nor dodge. The system simply converts those parries and dodges into misses of the player. So the perceived unbalance of the ‘miss ratio’ of a warrior is instead the result of a compensation to mantain the various types of mobs equal between each other.

A similar compensation happens if you fight the creature from behind. From what I read you don’t gain any kind of advantage in this case. The system simply converts the dodges and parries into misses but without affecting in any way the overall defensive value of the creature.

This is bad design from my point of view. Not only it is perceived by the players as ‘broken’, but it also trivializes every attempt at a personalization. I’d better plan a system where I can gain a bonus if I fight a monster from behind and I’d like to fight with different monster types offering different kinds of challenge, requiring me to react in different ways. Instead we have a system that negates every difference to obtain a perfect balance that makes everything equal.

If a creature that cannot parry just finishes to convert that possibility in a miss we really obtain a game completely flat with no personality, no variety and no depth.

Too much balance breaks the game in a similar way that not enough of it.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Warriors But Were (Not So) Afraid to Ask

Blizzard again rises the bar and sets a new standard.

The warrior protest in World of Warcraft produced some results. I documented the protest itself here, then gathered more comments here.

For me the protest was more a crusade about the communication than getting involved in the problems of the warrior class in the game. I’m really happy and pleased by how Blizzard reacted. Kalgan, one of the devs that engaged some PvP debates during beta, wrote down an incredibly exhaustive, deep and informative comment to the issues that the playerbase underlined during these months.

The only ‘bad’ element is that this post arrives only after the protest. I believe that engaging the community in a discussion is extremely useful. For both the parts involved. I’m happy to see that Blizzard did a relevant step in the right direction and I hope now it won’t stop or feel satisfied.

With this entry I re-read (with my broken english) what has been written, summarizing and underlining those parts that I consider relevant.

Kalgan starts explaining that the rage-generation of 1h+shield is intended to behave differently than 2h. This because the rage builds up as you deal damage AND when you are hit. In the case of 1h+shield you are supposed to have more aggro on you and “hold” more opponents at the same time. So the rage-generation is compensated because while you deal overall less damage you are also being hit a lot more frequently. The issue then become how you are able to take the aggro. He explains that you can do this by switching stances and with the help of the Tactical Mastery talent and the Bloodrage skill.

Then he passes to discuss and analyze why warriors cannot be directly compared with rogues. This is obvious since, you know, classes are supposed to play differently in this game. Built on completely different mechanics. This was a non issue for me but it needed to be explained because it’s a very common assumption of the players when they compare directly the classes. So there’s not much to argue or discuss here, aside the fact that this was absolutely needed on the “communication level”.

Direct quotes:

If rage and energy were generated at equivalent rates, it wouldn’t have been particularly meaningful for them to be different mechanics. If we intended for them to be the same, we probably would have chosen to make warriors use energy just like rogues do, yet all this would have done is water down the core differences between the character classes.

Finally, if when it was all said and done warriors dealt as much damage as rogues (due to similar rage-energy translation into damage and similar power generation rates), warriors would be flat-out better characters then rogues (better armor, more hit points, same damage), so again, it simply isn’t reasonable to draw direct comparisons between the two.

All of that having been said, we agree that there are some issues with rage generation in general, and we plan to address these so that warriors dish out some more damage and push slightly more buttons than they do today.

Then he continues to explain how 1h+shield, 2h and dual wield are considered and balanced. To begin with he explains how 2h was balanced against 1h+shield. To do this they calculated extensively and exhaustively the overall time to kill 100 creatures. So including the downtime. 1h+shield is supposed to kill one single creature more slowly, but with less downtime between each fight. While 2h is supposed to kill more quickly but taking more damage, so more downtime. These tests brought directly to a rule:

2h weapons needed to produce approximately 20% more DPS then 1h+s. What this meant was that in order for DW to be an interesting (but not overpowered) choice, DW needed to also produce a total increase of 20% DPS over 1h+s (just like 2h does).

Given that, we needed to find a way to modify some combination of damage, hit chance, attack speed, or other basic combat factors in order to achieve 20% rather than 100%.

The miss rate, one of the most debated issue, is also considered intended. Balanced between 1h+shield, 2h and DW with the formula here above and with an overall ratio that is balanced to offer a “reasonable amount of unpredictability”.

This is instead what ISN’T working and will be addressed (soonâ„¢):

Now, regarding improving the warrior’s overall rage generation. We’ve found that there are indeed a few issues with rage generation as a result of bugs. Warriors (and druids in bear form) are intended to gain some rage on block,dodge,parry events, but apparently this isn’t working correctly. This needs to be fixed asap in order for warriors to meet their total expected rage generation.

In addition, while our tests have indicated that players are getting the intended 5% miss rate while using a single max-skill weapon against even level enemies (yes, we’ve tested this exhaustively, and cannot reproduce the 9% miss rate you’re reporting for normal swings), we have found the bug causing abilities (ie: heroic strike, sunder armor, etc) to miss around 9-10% of the time under the above conditions instead of the intended 5%. This does mean that warriors are getting the “miss” even about twice as often as they should. Obviously, this needs to be rectified asap, since it directly impacts the warriors DPS and rage use (since missing wastes 20% of the rage cost of the ability).

The next topic is the rage potions. Recently commenting this I wrote: “The design decision is to not make the game a potion fest. This destroys the game when you HAVE to go around with a hundreds of potions because you know the standard is about to use them ALL the time. Potions are ok if they are odds. To be odds they need to be limited or “odd” becomes just “catass”, where this catass can just own everything everywhere because he has super loot and potions to use all the time.”
Kalgan explains my point of view:

We understand that Rage potions being on the same timer as other combat-timer potions means they don’t amount to “free” rage. If rage potions were on a separate timer, we’d actually have to balance the game around the assumption that rage potions are used in a significant number of fights. Therefore, rage potions aren’t intended or expected to be what provides a baseline amount of rage for a fight.

The problem of the “hitpoints” is another hot topic in the discussion. Again here the damage comes directly from the experience of the players with other games and the assumptions that the same mechanics need to work in the same way in World of Warcraft.

You’re claiming an imbalance exists is because a warrior that focuses on getting gear with stats other than stamina gear can end up having a lower total health then another character that focuses on stamina equipment, I still don’t see the argument as entirely valid. That scenario seems more like a conscious choice on the part of the players involved, and evidence that WoW has interesting and meaningful equipment choices.

With respect to the implication that warriors should have more base health, our combat durations, damage values, ability/spell statistics, etc are all balanced around a warriors having their current health values. Changing those health values yet retaining similar combat times, downtime, etc for the game as a whole would require a huge number of changes across the game, impacting the balance of the game in general.

The problem of spells dealing damage to a warrior without a protection value coming from the armor factor is considered intended but again felt broken by the players because of assumptions coming from playing other games. They know that the spell damage isn’t reduced by the armor factor and the damage of spells (compared to warrior’s styles) is balanced keeping this key mechanic in mind.

Therefore, a warrior’s base melee attacks are deliberately “overpowered” with the expectation that the targets will have some amount of physical damage reduction due to armor.

The next problem is the “survivability”. In particular when warriors are compared to Paladins. Basically what Kalgan writes is that this issue will be partially solved with a paladin nerf more than a warrior boost:

While paladins are indeed intended to be the most survivable of any class in the game (players sometimes assume warriors are, which is not the case), paladins aren’t intended to make the best “tanks� in the game, or to have superior offensive abilities then warriors. What this means is that survivability alone does not a tank make.

The other key concept to tanking is the ability to hold agro on mobs (especially simultaneously on multiple mobs). This is the key difference between warriors and paladins in PvE. Simply put, warriors are intended to be the best at holding agro against multiple mobs (which will also be a more clear distinction once the Seal of the Crusader bug is fixed). So, assuming a group scenario that includes healers, a warrior’s survivability rivals that of a paladin’s, with the warrior having very significant advantages in terms of holding agro.

A quicknote is about the use of bandages compared with food:

Bandages heal considerably more quickly then food.

The rest of what Kalgan writes is simply about dissipating more and more wrong assumptions. Again this is needed and it’s an OPTIMAL way to communicate with the playerbase. It allows the players to UNDERSTAND how the problems are perceived by the devs and allows them to finally understand, accept and SHARE these design choices.

I’m more than sure that the time Kalgan ‘wasted’ to write all this will be rewarded. The communication isn’t simply important to keep the playerbase calm. It is important because the community itself is the biggest and more precious resource for a dedicated dev team. This message, that I read and analyzed, definitely improved my faith and trust into Blizzard. I’m sure that many other players feel the same way.

To conclude this is a quick list of what will hopefully change in the near future:

Cumulative List of Fixes:

1- We’ve found that there are indeed a few issues with rage generation as a result of bugs. Warriors (and druids in bear form) are intended to gain some rage on block, dodge, parry events, but apparently this isn’t working correctly. This needs to be fixed asap in order for warriors to meet their total expected rage generation.

2- We have found the bug causing abilities (ie: heroic strike, sunder armor, etc) to miss around 9-10% of the time under the above conditions instead of the intended 5%. This does mean that warriors are getting the “miss” even about twice as often as they should. Obviously, this needs to be rectified asap, since it directly impacts the warriors DPS and rage use

3- We agree that Bloodrage is too punishing right now. We plan to improve Bloodrage so warriors don’t feel as hesitant to use it.

4- (about the Improved Thunder Clap talent) This talent needs some love.

5- (about Improved Execute) The full consumption of rage upon missing is a bug that will be fixed.

6- (about Bloodthirst) I agree that this talent can use some improvement. It turns out the current design leaves it vulnerable to always being either too narrow or too powerful, without much in-between. As such, this talent is a likely candidate for change.

And a possible nerf in the future:

– (about Sweeping Strikes + Cleave or Retaliation) In truth, it was never really the intent that sweeping strikes would work on multi-target abilities (it is intended to turn single-target abilities into dual-target abilities). However, in the interest of not weakening warriors right now, we’re inclined to allow the combination to work as long as it doesn’t become highly abusive and create balance problems.

I archived permanently the original message here on this site in the forum. So that it won’t vanish as it always happen on Blizzard’s forums.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

[WoW] Kalgan on the warriors

This is a copy of the long comment about the warrior issues that Kalgan, one of the Blizzard’s devs, posted on the forums.


Very contructive post, deserves a read from the CMs/Devs.

First, Iâ

oddly enough.

Another comment about what I discussed here, here and also on Ubiquitous blogs.

Pretty much everyone is noticing how both Mythic and SOE are pillaging World of Warcraft of many design ideas and features. This brings to the obvious. The interesting debate is located on another cesspit:

Foozle #1:
Yeah, and WoW stole mythical characters from fables and mythology. OMG call the police!

Foozle #2:
Geez guys, Mythic realizes their quest system is not at all up to par with the competition. They are responding to the competition, exactly what many of you wanted. Emulation happens all over the gaming industry, stop trying to make it look like Mythic is the only one who does it (you are achieving this implicitly through sensationalism).

What did you guys say when WoW announced battlegrounds back in Beta?

Foozle #3:
The sad thing is that there is a HUGE source of great ideas… There has been TONS of requests over the years that have fallen on deaf ears… Remember that fake 1.74 post??? the one where the guy just looked in this forum and picked up all the stuff that has been asked for in the past few months/years??? He posted a fake notes page and almost everybody was sayin’ it would be the best patch ever.

(side note: Mythic also implemented the flight paths, opposed to the horse routes, shortly after Blizzard announced them. The game wasn’t even out at that time but it’s just another stuff to add to the pile. SOE did the same not long ago, adding gryphons to EQ2. And wasn’t “New Frontiers” also ‘borrowing’ savagely from Planetside? I believe that this dig site has no bottom…)

Again this underlines two main points. The first is that blaming Mythic is absolutely deserved because, again, all those stuff they are happily implementing now were suggested too many times way before World of Warcraft. What is unacceptable is that they need to be closely menaced and loose their subscribers before something good happens to the game, making it move, even slightly. So no interest in what you do if you don’t have someone behind setting you on fire?

Maybe here it’s just me out of this reality, because I’d work for something I want to *do*, no matter of the money I could earn as a consequence. The money should be a possibility to a desire or a need that should exist before, not just after because “you have to”. These games should be developed because of a ‘creative drive’ and improve and evolve when you have more and better tools to finally realize what before was just a distant desire.

Maybe I got lost when the word changed from ‘art’ to ‘industry’.

The competition is a good thing? No, it’s about a company that lost its spark of vitality. The mmorpg panorama in general is dead boring and flat, the only lessons learnt are those so obvious even for the stones.

The other point is that if someone needs to be pointed as ‘thief’ Blizzard may be as well the very first candidate. Isn’t World of Warcraft the apotheosis of derivative, unrisky design? After all wasn’t Matt Firor, producer of DAoC, to point at World of Warcraft as “a complete lack of risk”?

And in fact the random Foozle #4 is Raph Koster, directly with a comment here on my site:

You keep citing these sorts of things as if WoW created them…

In several of the cases you mention here and in the previous article, they already existed in one game or another. I’d say that yes, competition makes people look for things that they can take, but let’s also realize that in many cases (most, actually), these are innovations that have been around for a while.

Nothing new, right? So let me make an easy remark but which points the difference between what SOE and Mythic do compared to what Blizzard did with World of Warcraft:

The difference is that Blizzard improved what they ripped. While other companies are just creating bleached, misplaced copies.

Everyone ‘copies’ in this world. There’s nothing really new around, nor the possibility to create it from the void. But it’s the work you do on what you take that means something.

An artist may use the same type of colors and know the same techniques to paint. A writer may respect or even play with all the rules that build a genre but at the end it’s the personality, the subjective point of view, the last touch to transform a blatant copy into something that can offer a real value.

Now there’s something related? I guess so, whatever I write seems to be connected with everything else. So I got this quote too:

(about the passion for this genre)
Don’t worry, it wears off eventually and you quit.

Some of us actually made a career out of it, oddly enough.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

Last comments about the warrior protest

My reportage is here below.
On the forum thread Caydiem (Blizzard CR) wrote:

Please understand that we value your feedback and we know how upset the Warrior community is at this time. There are ways to express your opinion on this. Post on the forums — we do read the class forums, we know you’re not satisfied, and we appreciate your well-written posts.

The protest is not a constructive way to get your point across. It causes lag for many customers and can ruin their gameplay experience. This is why we cannot allow such a thing to continue. If you use constructive means of communicating with us, trust me… we’ll listen.

To which I replied that ‘trust’ is one of those qualities you have always to earn slowly, with the time.

Again I believe that the importance of this protest is about the communication level. The rest of the comments I paste here should describe well also my point of view:

A trend I have noticed, if you post something completely inane you will get a CSR response, while many actual requests for information on stealth nerfs go ignored.

Its become clear that the CSR’s are kept in the dark and are basically having to use “we’ll look into it” posts and never return to the subject. This is why the protest happened and the response was hilariously inadequate for such a gesture. It seems Blizzard ignored all the lessons learned from EQ CSR despite the large number of former EQers on their payroll.

J. the Yellow:
If the easiest way to get the attention of CSR’s and/or CM’s is to do or say things that are totally stupid, the relationship is broken.

I think it is called dealing with them on their own level. Joking of course. At any rate I thought I would never experience worse CS than SOE’s however judging from my own experiences with WoW and EQII, it does seem that SOE has improved their act out a lot and Blizzard is fumbling in the dark.

Protests even to the point of crashing the server should make it plenty clear that there is a problem that needs to get a fairly quick remedy. The only problem is when you have every single class or guild doing this constantly for arguably stupid reasons.

Good tool and I’m afraid it’s the only significant one players have at this moment. Quitting doesn’t improve the game. Whining on a forum doesn’t improve it either. Crashing the server doesn’t necessarily help either, but it is a more aggressive stance to a lackluster problem.

Not having a true line of communication with the playerbase is the problem. Blizzard can solve all of these protest issues by just responding to issues. All it would take would be for them to divide up the classes amongst the 4 or 5 CSR guys they have working the forums now. Once or twice a day go through the class forums and just respond with a I’ll bring it up at the next dev meeting or I’ll look into it for you.

Does that seem so hard? Unfortunately it is more than what Blizzard was willing to do until several thousand people upset with the lack of communication crashed a server in protest. Now they have said what they should have before any of it even happened.

A policy of open communication is not something we, as players, should have to even think about. It’s so fucking common sense I have to wonder about the competency of those in charge of the industry CSR/GM programs.

And finally two core points. The first is that Blizzard is *slow*. Painfully slow. They aren’t an optimal company for a mmorpg because they are organized in a completely different way. Single player games need a completely different structure and while an “old” approach brought to a really polished and successful game, now it’s absolutely inappropriate. And we are only starting to see the difficulties Blizzard will face (and they are somewhat aware of this). My point of view is that this situation isn’t just a temporary adjustment. Again I was expecting this already in May.

Sable Blaze:
We also know exactly how long it takes Blizzard to change anything. So patience is a virtue in this case (a necessity, more like).

Patience is a lot harder to find when you’re paying $15 a month. And I think that’s the problem here. Waiting five months for a patch on a game with no monthly fee is one thing. Waiting five months in an MMOG is $75 and with the leveling curve, you’ll probably max out even if your class is gimped.

And the last point, again about the communication:

But is a “we’re looking into that”, “good stuff is on the way”, “you’re wrong, it works like this” really going to satiate these frothing fanbios?

No, it’s about searching a real and open communication without placeholder answers.

Communication is again two-way and it needs a discussion. This discussion goes only from players to devs. They need to start discussing and offer their own feedback.

It’s not about posting a long programmatic announce. It’s about posting it, read the reactions and engage a discussion.

Conclusion with a precious nugget from Freakazoid:

Disco Stu:
How about fuck you. I pay to play the game. They have enough trouble keeping the servers up as it is. If your stupid ass is going to try and crash them because you (in your obviously unbiased and well thought out opinion) don’t kill shit quick enough then you need a kick in the balls and a 24 hour ban.

How about fuck you. I pay my taxes. They have enough trouble keeping the roads uncongested as it is. If your stupid ass is going to try and halt traffic because you (in your obviously unbiased and well thought out opinion) think the police are racist then you need a kick in the balls and a 24 hour detention.

(comments ‘borrowed’ from Corpnews and F13)

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

These screenshots are worth a *ban*!

Here’s a “visual” reportage of the protest that took place about two hours ago on the Argent Dawn server of World of Warcraft. The subject of this protest was the problems of the warrior class, the purpose of the protest was to draw the attention over those issues and ‘to awaken’ both the playerbase and Blizzard.

In general I do not care about classes discussions, in fact I rarely rant about nerfs or direct unbalances of the classes. But I was there, of course. These type of “happenings” are way too fun and interesting from an “observer” point of view. They are something unique that has its roots directly in the very potential of the genre.

You can read in detail about what happened and find more proper and informative links here.

Instead if you follow the “read more” link on the right of this article you’ll see my visual reportage. From the beginning to its pitiful end ;p
(about 16 images and 4.8Mb in total)

My conclusions are unrelated: the client of the game is amazing. Everything remained perfectly smooth with no hiccups or freezes even when someone started spamming AOE spells. I could consider this as a preemptive test for the upcoming battlegrounds.

UPDATE: Pasted at the bottom the letter I received from Blizzard about the account suspension.

My mailbox is still waiting an answer. So I don’t know if the account got suspended for a day, a week, a month or just forever. Voices say it’s three days.

I shouldn’t play around happily when my account isn’t even completely ‘legal’ considering I play from the Europe.

This is the letter I received a minute ago about the account suspension:

Offense: Harassment – Zone Disruption

Details: Zone disruption for Ironforge during warrior protest, player would not disperse after many warnings

The actions detailed above have been deemed inappropriate for World of Warcraft by the In-Game Support staff of Blizzard Entertainment. As a result, this account has received a warning and a 3 hour account suspension. Until the suspension has been lifted, the account will not be accessible. Please note that Blizzard Entertainment will be unable to provide further information regarding the specific time an account will be accessible again.

Be aware that additional inappropriate actions may result in further disciplinary action, including account closure. We thank you in advance for respecting our position and hope that you will continue to enjoy your gaming experience in World of Warcraft.

EDIT: Comments disabled for awhile.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

Koreans beat World of Warcraft, game over

I wouldn’t write about this but I got called on.

It seems that the Koreans were able to kill the biggest foozle currently in World of Warcraft, aka the dragon named “Onyxia”. This while the 600k players on the north american servers are still tinkering to accomplish it (and struggling with raid-related bugs).

This news is accompanied by a choreographic screenshot and the announce that they just needed three days to level up a mage to 60 (but weren’t characters kept from beta to release in Korea?).

The news isn’t important as a big event itself. It is important in the way it’s tied to something Ubiq wrote recently (today it’s all-Ubiq, Ubiquitous).

“World of Warcraft” is the exact same game here and in Korea. It’s not getting a localization that will adapt the mechanics of the game. In this case I’m interested in observing how Blizzard will react to this. If what has been said is correct, this game will become a huge hit in Korea and this means that those players WILL HAVE an impact on the design of the game. This super hardcore playerbase will feel flat bored way, way sooner than the north american players and I’m more than sure that Blizzard won’t just ignore a million or so subscribers paying up to 24$ each month (that’s the monthly fee in Korea, confirmed by Blizzard).

This may be both a good (because it will push the development of a game that now seems sitting and yawning, glutted, the day after the party) and a bad thing (because it will force the flat, horizontal development. Adding an infinite number of ‘stuff’ in a strategy dictated by mudflation and removing directly any type of depth from the game world).

Btw, your ph4t 133t is here.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: