December 2010


The Choose your own Adventure books started coming out when I was around 10 years old. Which meant that I got very lucky, as I was just the right age for them. In these books the reader took the role of the protagonist, being able to choose alternate paths and thus arriving at many different possible endings. Copying this new format, the Fighting Fantasy books took the same idea into a fantasy setting, with the addition of adding dice rolls to the battle sequences. I must have purchased nearly all of these books; I probably still have them somewhere in a box back home. Without a doubt they were my stepping-stone to Dungeons & Dragons and then computer games. And they offer the reader one very important tool when playing a game:

Choice.

I thought about this last night after playing some of the Worgen starting zone for the first time. I lasted about 10 minutes before I gave up. A lot of commentaters have said how much they like the new starting area. I suppose that it is nice to look at, and there is some groovy gothic-type atmosphere. But overall it is entirely forgetable. You are not playing a game in that zone. You do not have to think. You are merely led from one npc to another as they force-feed you the required information. The very first quest had you rescuing townsfolk by banging on doors. When the first one of them rushed out my instinctive reaction was to have a look behind the now opened door. But you can’t. It is open, but you can’t go in. Because that is not where you are supposed to go.

What I am writing here is not new; plenty of bloggers and commentators have been saying the same thing over the last few weeks. But this morning I cast my mind back to my very first experience of WoW all those years ago, to the human starting zone. You know, the one where you have to go and take out all the poor kobolds. And I asked myself, did I have any choice there? Or was I being railroaded also? Because I want to be fair when I write this blog. I don’t just want to dump on Blizzard in a high and mighty way. I want to really understand if the game is broken or if it’s just me. And then it came to me; we might not have had much choice back then, but there was the illusion of choice.

Strip someones illusions away and what are you left with? In the case of the Worgen starting zone, not very much. Pretty pictures, yes. Nice water graphics, yes. Come on, we can do better than that. Either Blizzard have totally lost sight of what makes a game playable or they have become comsumed by their own arrogance and contempt for their player-base. There is choice everywhere you look. Even reading a book presents you with choice. You can choose how to interpret what the writer is saying. This is why authors like Dan Brown have so much success. They give the reader no choice, the story is force-fed into you. All you have to do is sit there and consume the pages. And writing that now, perhaps Blizzard have realised this also. They don’t want to be remembered for a great game any more than Dan Brown wants to be remembered for a great book.

The first Choose your own Adventure book was called, ‘The Cave of Time.’ I still remember that moment of discovery where it was I who was deciding the course of events. Well, we are always free to decide our own course, that is the beauty of life.

So how about this for a new years resolution:

Move back to the other side of the world.

Which is what my wife and I are doing. We’re leaving the freezing confines, (and economic and tax misery), of the Italian Alps and heading back to the sunny beaches of Australia. You know it baby! That’s the good news. The bad news is that my computer will be following me on a boat, and will probably arrive, who knows when. I will be able to have access to the internet obviously in Australia, but until my gaming rig arrives I won’t have access to any online games. Goddamit, I may have to actually go outside and talk to people. The horror!

So, Sunday will be my last day online in WoW for quite a bit. If you see me you might want to follow me around as I could suddenly give everyone my gold in a spontaneous fit of insanity. My blogging will continue, do not worry about that. However I will have to plumb my topics from looking at hot chicks on the beach. I’m sure you’ll stick around, (particularly with my secret camera that I got for Christmas, heh heh).

We want to make it clear that Combat is intended to use fast off-hand weapons. We also want to polish Revealing Strike a bit.

So it’s official. We’re supposed to use fast off hands for Combat. Gee, that’s nice. So how about, you know, giving us some???

There’s another bit for rogues in this patch as well:

Cheap Shot now correctly shares diminishing returns with other stun effects.

Go fuck yourselves.

Anyway, how bad is PvP at the moment, eh? I’m thinking this is the worse it has ever been in the history of the world the universe and everything. Told Barad is hopelessly broken, and yesterdays patch note that gives the attacking team 1800 honor points if they take it and the defending team 180 if they defend is … well, it’s probably the most stupid thing ever in the history of the game. Arena points are all out of whack, the whole thing is one big disaster. I’m not even bothering with PvP anymore until they fix hunters. Seriously, they are so overpowered right now that they’re almost game ruining on their own. Hunters now have some form of stealth and they can stun from a distance. Couple that with their pet ripping your face off and the fact that their pets almost always see through rogue stealth and there is nothing we can do. Smoke bomb is a little help but too little too late. I could go on. I won’t because I have to take the dog to the vet to get his rabies shot. hahaha, this is my revenge for those hunter pets!

Please leave.

This is the new phrase to tell somebody that they suck and that they should leave a 5 man group. Its economy of words do not betray the fact that it is a most efficient put-down and insult. In its brevity is communicated the fact that the person being told to leave is beneath the merit of having further words devoted to any explanation. I have seen it said after an hour together in an instance. I have seen it said after a first wipe. Behind those two words lie something like this:

“I cannot be bothered to type any more to tell you that you suck. I can’t even be bothered to press a button to call a vote to kick you from the group. So just do us all a favor and take care of your own demise yourself and save us all the trouble of having to put up with your continued existence.”

The ironic thing in all of this is that in most of the cases that I have seen so far in cataclysm of this sort, the person using these two words is the one that either should be leaving themselves or should be working on improving their own performance. While on the one hand I applaud Blizzard’s return to having Heroics as a test of teamwork and skill, (as they were in Burning Crusade), I am also somewhat dumbfounded as to why they would do this. Because with this decision they have made maybe 20% of their playerbase happy, (the figure is probably too high), but they have confused and pissed off the remaining 80% who flourished in the Wrath of the Lich King world of run in and zerg every mob in sight. I ran a half dozen heroic PuGs over the weekend, and I will not be running any more of them again. These players cannot handle the fact that they may be lacking in something, (skill, ability, knowledge, intelligence, take your pick). A wipe for them is not an opportunity to learn something; it is a complete failure that must be blamed on another player.

I ran Heroic Deadmines for the first time on the weekend. I stated at the beginning of the run that this was my first run in it. I attempted to glance quickly at wowhead while we were in it to check boss tactics but it was almost impossible due to the speed of the run. We got to the Mechanical Harvest boss and our first attempt went okay – we got him down to about 20% and then we wiped. As melee DPS I was on the boss. Looking at the notes online it seemed that I would be better on the harvester but that was what they wanted. It’s a difficult boss to stay close to the first time with his rushes and cleaves but I managed. We started the 2nd attempt and I made a miscalculation on his harvest ability and I died. A mistake, but one that can be learned from. Instead I got a “fail rouge” from the healer. He couldn’t even spell it properly. And then I got the “please leave”.

I am sure that all of you reading this have many, many, more examples of ignorance of this type. The Wrath mindset is even difficult to break for quite a few guildies that I have seen. Mistakes are equated with failure. As any good teacher knows, mistakes are an opportunity to learn. If they are treated as a failure then students will cease to take risks for fear of ridicule or punishment. They will stay safely cocooned in their limited knowledge, prefering that to the fear of risking a mistake. The new content is very good, there are a lot of things that need to be fixed and tweaked but overall it is a great improvement on Wrath. But I fear that the playerbase is irriversibly broken. And slowly but surely I am seeing good players being broken down by this and leaving the game. And when most of the good players are gone, then all the lolkids will only have each other to play with. And then the game will come to a shuddering halt as they will leave in droves without the good players to carry them through.

Please leave. It will become prophetic.

So some random thoughts for today. I’ll just throw these out there as they come to me and you can ignore them as is your want.

Gold in Cataclysm.

I’ve never been much of a gold player. I tend to always have enough gold to get what I need but I’m not one to play the Auction House regularly. I also am usually pretty generous with my profession services for guildies and friends. I’m more of a barter system user: you need me to cut you some gems? What are your professions? Oh, you’re a scribe. OK, then I’ll do this for you and when I need some glyphs I’ll let you know. That’s how I tend to roll. I had Enchanting maxed in Wrath until I dropped it for mining because I wanted to gather up mats for an eventual idea of power levelling engineering. A lot of people said I was mad to drop 450 Enchanting, but coming into Cataclysm it has been the best gold decision that I have ever made.

I began Cataclysm with about 1800 gold, and from selling stacks of ore and raw gems from prospecting ore when the ore price began to drop, I have made almost 20,000 gold. And this is from someone who never tries with this sort of thing. It just seems like gold is a low hanging fruit in Cataclysm thus far. Or that I have the two best professions for this expansion. Now I’m getting rare cuts that other JC’s aren’t bothering with and making a nice profit from buying raw blue gems for 75g and selling them cut for about 300g. This is really good for me for when I begin raiding with The PuG, as they got a boss down last night and the items went for an average of 7000g each.

Apparently there is a real shortage of DPS in the raid group, they have tonnes of healers and tanks. But when they posted the recount data last night after they downed the boss the numbers were up around 23,000dps. Now I know that they have raid buffs in there but I’m not even coming close to those sort of numbers, so it looks like I’m going to have to farm heroics for a little bit before I stick my hand up to raid.

One of my guildies asked me if I could help him out with some mats for a nice top hat. He needed me to pickpocket some Polished Bronze Rivets. I said that I could do that no problem. Well, let me tell you, these babies are hard to find. I’ve managed to find just 2 of them out of quite a lot of mobs with empty pockets. There are none on the AH so I have no idea how much they would list for. Wowhead had them at 250g each yesterday but today they’re at 7 silver. Go figure that out. Anyway, it looks like pickpocketing is going to be very rewardiing for rogues this expansion. Go check out Daria’s post on this at Ravenholdt Manor.

Yesterday I got invited to run a rated battleground with the guild. It was Warsong Gulch, (I have no idea if it is always this or if they randomly change), and in the waiting room our plan was told to us: everyone run together and zerg their flag and get ours back. I had a sinking feeling at hearing this, but went along with it, and of course we lost. We might have all been from the same guild, and we might have all been in there with the same idea, but it wasn’t much use at all. Here is a little hint for players wanting to do rated battlegrounds: you are going to need to have voice communication, full stop. There is no choice here. You cannot type instructions and expect players to see them immediately when they are in the midst of fighting. You also cannot react quickly enough to the changing dynamics and communicate your directions without voice chat. Particularly as the vast majority of opposing teams will have this themselves. When I first began WoW many years ago I played quite a few battlegrounds with a set team. The leader of this team never got himself involved in the action. He just found a nice spot out of the way where he could see everything and issued instructions. I don’t think we ever lost a battle. You’re going to need to do the same thing here.

There was a moment when I typed something in raid chat to communicate a strategy that I perceived the horde to be executing. The response I got immediately from another player was, “no ****.” I was extremely surprised at this coming from a guildmember of The PuG. I was also very annoyed by this point, and when the same player told me to do what I was already doing I responded back in kind with a ‘no shit’, something of which I was not proud of and immediately regretted. Once again I communicated in chat that the horde were doing something and once again I got rude comments as it seemed that I was stating the obvious. The run degenerated into name calling and the usual social moron platitudes that I have seen so many times in random BG’s and that I had hoped never to see in a guild run. It was very depressing. I can only assume that players are so indoctrinated to behave badly in battlegrounds that they do it without thinking. Still, it’s no excuse, and if the guild wants to do these runs then we’re going to have to clean up our act.

Yesterday I hit 85 on my main, (after getting fried to a crisp by Deathwing without warning in the Twilight Highlands), and so immediately began checking out the weapon situation. I had noticed during my levelling process that while there were a large number of 2.60 speed weapons, the only weapon I had found under 1.60 was a single dagger. So this morning I jumped on wowhead to see the situation for myself. Let me now list for you all the fast offhand weapons that there are in game that are not dagger which us rogues can use:

There are none.

Okay, so that was pretty simple. Now lets have a list at what the dagger options are. Here is the full list on wowhead. As you can see it’s a pretty slim list. The only really easy weapon to grab on that list is the Throat Slasher which can be purchased for 950 Justice Points. As a combat rogue, this should be your first purchase as main hands are so easy to come by at this point. The rest of the daggers on this list are randoms drops, apart from the green dagger which can be found on a quest but you’d have to be pretty desperate to use that one. I don’t know why there is such a huge shortage of weapons that are fast offhands in the game. And it seems very strange that there is not one axe, sword, fist or mace that is a fast offhand. Good luck on these drops because they are going to be very hard to get and every rogue and his pet goat will be wanting one. My pet goats name is Harold.

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