You will come back…

A few weeks ago I started missing blogging a lot. It’s a difficult job for me to keep blogging here on a regular basis, because I’m not that kind of people who always think about a lot of funny or interesting things to speak about. Plus, I’m more of the procrastinating kind. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t help that I’m not writing in my native language. I’m not saying that I’d prefer to write in French (I had good reasons to write in English in the first place). But I have doubt sometimes. I often wonder if what I write is good enough for English readers, or if you’d rather go blind than continue reading such crap writing. Or if you can understand my thoughts and my desperate attempts at joking.

So sometimes, when I am short on ideas, I just let the blog sink in the internet limbo. But then I remember when I was a child and I played journalist with my sister. We tried writing a magazine but we generally only manage to write half an issue. Writing as always been a dream for me, but I never dedicate myself to it.

Anyway, hope this post will not be another vain attempt to come back and keep the blog alive. Today I’m well motivated to keep this blog going. Because it’s so much harder to write in English when I don’t blog regularly, because I never know how to start when I didn’t blog for a while, because it’s nice to have this place to express myself, and because this blog is some kind of achievement to me.

Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to talk about in this post is my come back to wow. About a year ago, I quit wow for Swtor. During this year I also played Diablo, Skyrim and Guild Wars 2. And now, I’m back to Wow. I didn’t intend to buy Pandaria in the first time and wasn’t particularly excited by this extension. But I ended buying it anyway. And I’m not the only one in this case. Each time there’s a new MMO going out, many players leave wow for the new game. I’ve seen people leave for Age of Conan, for Rift, for Swtor… And a few months ago, most of them came back to wow.

Why do everyone come back ? I played Rift, Swtor and Guild Wars 2 and these games were fine. They all had some things working better than wow. All of them could have been serious concurrent for WOW.But in the end, everyone come back to wow.

What does have WOW that other game can’t have? What is it that make wow a better MMO, no matter how other game’s mechanisms are interesting or compelling ?

WoW has a community. A large and old community. When you leave wow for another game, a few friends might follow you, but most of them will keep playing wow. After a few month, you start missing some friends, or just your whole community. The fact that your friend list is full of people you can talk to or play with.

A feature I’d love to see in the future of MMOs, is some simple inter-games communication system. Like Battle.net, but working with all games. Something that’ll let you see who is online on which game, and let’s you talk to your friends from other games. Imagine the scenario. You log in wow on a Saturday night but the guild chat is empty. You say hello the inter-game chat you created with your friend. Someone invites you to a World vs World session on Guild Wars 2. You just transformed a dull farming or solo-LFR night into a kill fest with friends.

This is possible. Rift tried to do that by integrating Twitter directly into the game chat. But unfortunately, as long as WoW is the uncontested leader of the genre, Blizzard has no interest whatsoever to implement something better than their Battle.net chat.

So, that’s what I missed when playing other games, and that’s what made me come back. That and the farm! What is WoW biggest advantage to you? What are you missing the most when you play other games?

Wanna play SWTOR ?

I was looking at my dashboard today when I noticed someone came to my blog after searching “make me wanna play SWTOR”. So, for the one of my three readers who don’t know if it’s worth it to play SWTOR or not, here are my top 10 reasons why you should give it a go :

  1. Class story. If there was one thing every MMO to come should have, it’s that. Your character have a story. In Swtor you won’t be going from planet to planet because you want to be level 50 as fast as possible, but because “what happens now ??” As a Bounty Hunter, each planet has a feel of “Finally, I killed the Lich King!” in Wrath, except on a shorter time-line.
  2. Quest cinematics are just great. No more dubious reading, and yet you know why you’re killing ten rats. And is a perfect complement to the class story to make the leveling experience compelling.
  3. You can have BSOCK with your companions, or, even better, with complete strangers !
  4. You can have your companions do the farming for you
  5. Light Side / Dark Side choices. This system allow you to give your character a real personality.
  6. You have a droid which says “It’s a pleasure to work for you mistress” each time it sees you.
  7. You can have a slave and torture her as you wish (or you can make her free if that’s your thing, but, seriously, who would do that ???)
  8. Your character will look badass.
  9. You have a ship of your own, and you can do space combat with it
  10. And last but not least : you can try SWTOR for free !

 

Stupid Server limitations needs to go

You know what ? 1.2 is going live now ! I’m totally excited. I’m going to get goodies for playing any alt I want, and we’re getting a completely customizable UI. (Be ready for UI posts soon®). But there’s something that disturb me with SWTOR and that’s just getting worse with 1.2 : server limitations.

3 months after launch, SWTOR seems to be a solid MMO. Solid enough that it may be the first MMO causing trouble to WOW. But it seems like it took Bioware a lot of time to create their game, and they didn’t take into account the latest advances of the genre. Look at the skill tree : don’t you find they look just like the Burning Crusade ?

Anyway, back in the time when MMO used the latest technology available, servers where a physical barrier, and it was already a great thing to be able to play with a few hundreds of players. But now ? Every player who played MMOs for a couple years met a lot of people, and we can’t imagine these players and all their friends and the friends of  their friends all sticking to the same server. Thus, you can’t limit players to a single server anymore.

People want to be able to talk and play with their friends, be it via inter-server chat and gaming, or at least by being able to play different characters on different servers without being penalized.

Blizzard got it, and introduced Battle.net. It was probably the better way, given their old servers, to allow players to play with all of their friends. They did some mistakes (like, linking battle.net account with real name), but overall the feature do the job. Now players are able to talk and play in groups, raids and battlegrounds with their inter-server friends.

Rift had another approach, and instead of an integrated tool, they allowed players to use their twitter account while logged-in. You can then easily communicate with your friends or inform them of your achievements. It’s not as great as Battle.net when it comes to actually playing with your friends, but it has it’s own advantage. For example, it can be very useful if you and your friends are playing 2 different games.

In SWTOR ? Nothing, nada, rien, Villepin1 ! And worse, now they introduce the new legacy feature, which is limited on a single server. That is, not only there is absolutely nothing that helps you playing with inter-server friends but if you ever wanted to play alts with some of your friends, you’re penalized as you don’t benefit (nor gain Legacy experience) from your main Legacy. Of course you can create a new Legacy, but you’ll have to start again from scratch, and you can’t unlock Legacy before level 30 or so.

So please, Bioware, do something about those stupid server limitations that don’t allow me to enjoy playing SWTOR with my friends.

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  1. Sorry, you need to look Le Petit Journal from April, 11 to understand this quote from our President Sarkozy

Three Months in a galaxy far far away…

I didn’t update this blog for a long time, but I never quite forgot it not did I stop being interested into blogging1. This may be an attempt to bring this blog back to life. Or maybe not. Let’s see if I have things to say in the following days or not. Whatever, I couldn’t resist to bring my 2 coppers to the first SWTOR meme ever. The good thing is that even if this blog was a WOW blog to begin with, it doesn’t need a lot of work to become a SWTOR blog. The only difference between now and then is that my alts are now bearing blasters and lazer sabers instead of wands and swords.

Well, back to the topic. First these 3 months weren’t really 3 months of  SWTOR. It was more like a week of SWTOR, 2 weeks off for Christmas, 3 weeks of SWTOR, 1 month off while moving in a new house and waiting for my computer to be ready for use, and finally 1 full month of SWTOR.

Leveling experience

My main is a Bounty Hunter in her 40s. The leveling was a lot of entertainment. I loved the story, and especially the class story. At some points the quests start to look just like another quest, but you’ve got the class story to keep you interested. I loved the fact that you can join a battleground and your stats magically increase so that you can compete with level 49 characters. I like the fact that you can mod your favorite gear but omg that’s a gold sink to constantly change your mods !

Companions and crew skills

At first I didn’t like the fact we had companions, but now I really love it. That make leveling as a healer or tank acceptable and quite interesting. But I’m mixed about the crew skills. I love the fact that you can have 3 complementary skills and be totally self-sufficient for your crafting skill, and I love the fact that you don’t have to farm your materials. But I hate that you have to spend money to skill-up.

Gameplay

Many will say that SWTOR is just WOW in space. And they aren’t completely wrong, as the talent system looks like a wow twin and it’s really easy to compare classes when looking at the skills : the sith warrior has a charge, the sith sorcerer looks very like a shadow priest while in dps spec, and like a disc priest while in healing spec, etc. But there are also some very nice features :

  • No auto-attack : can be boring when the mob you’re fighting is at 1 hp and you have to wait for 1.5 second to kill him, but otherwise that’s make for a more active gameplay, and for more distinct spell animations for non-caster characters.
  • Cover mechanism : When trying SWTOR on the beta weekend, I played a smuggler. Cover was the first skill I encountered in this game and I was just “Wow ! That is different”. That’s one of the things that make me want to play SWTOR2.
  • Healing without mana : Healing is what I love, it’s no surprise that I play mostly healers in SWTOR too. And I must say I love how the resource works for Imperial Agents and Bounty Hunters. The management of a small pool / high regen rate really feels different compared to a big mana pool / low regen rate I’ve encounter in other games so far. Adds to that the fact that the regen rate change depending on how much resource you currently have, and that each second you spend at 100% resource (or 0 heat) is just wasting resource, and that makes for a compelling gameplay.

True MMO or single player game with friends ?

That was one of the questions from the game’s detractors, and I have to confess I’m starting to question myself too. I came to SWTOR with Mr. Zahia and a bunch of friends from WOW. We were away a month or so, and since we came back our guild was completely empty. Those already at level 50 seem to have grown bored, some have their account blocked for miscellaneous reasons, some didn’t want to follow our crew on server without queue times and are now playing (very casually) on another server, and the others are playing Mass Effect 3. Adds to that the phasing and the fact that you’ll have at best 40 ppl on a planet and 150 on the fleet3, and the games really feels empty. That’s not what I’m waiting from a MMO, and I might get bored pretty fast if it remains as is.

TL;DR

I really love this game, but I’d really like I could share the experience with more friends. Or find a guild that would accept to deal with my limited schedule and bring me in Ops on week-ends. Whatever to bring the Massively Mutliplayer into SWTOR, and that would become a great game.

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  1. I even began a cooking blog, where I write down the recipes I love. It’s here if you happen to be interested in French cooking
  2. I’m not a Star Wars fan at all to begin with, and I prefer medieval universe compared to science fiction
  3. And I’m on the 2nd most populated French server…

Entering PVP the easy way

It’s been a while since I wrote something here, and unfortunately my last 2 posts where a ranting post and one post about those who left WoW. If you thought I left WoW, I didn’t! Well, my hubby cancelled his account last week, so I’m still wondering what I will do about that, but I still loves WoW very much. I progressed in Firelands with Zahia and we’re only left with Ragnaros alive now. Plus, I recently stepped into PVP, and I appreciated so much that I built a lot of projects (unfortunately in standby for now).

Step 1: Sabotage !

After reading Cynwise post about Disposable Heroes, I levelled a few characters up to 10 and geared them with a full enchanted heirloom and Hand-Me-Down set. This was a lot of fun. You find yourself in a battleground with people having 2 to 4 times less hp than you, and you happen to kill about anyone within 2 GCDs, even as a healer !

As Cynwise predicted, this is a great way to begin PVP. It allows for a lot of error and you can actually progress, something that’s hardly possible if you’re the one dying in 2 GCDs.

Step 2: Twinking is easy…  and fun

After trying shaman, mage, rogue and priest, I decided to level the priest up to 19 and try non-xp battleground. It was fun too. It feels like rated battleground: most of the group is on vent, and there is an actual strategy. Except that if you have heirlooms and enough gold (I used between 500-1000 gold to buy lqe gear, enchant/tailoring mats and enough ore to level mining up to 225) it is really fast to have a close to optimized gear. The only difficulty is the Arena Grand Master trinket, but being on a PVE realm there wasn’t so much competition for it, and I often was the only one in the Gurubashi Arena (it has of course more chances to happen at 9 a.m on a weekday than 9 p.m during weekend!).

Playing Warsong games in this organized way was a lot of fun, up until the night were I was shout at 3 games in a row by some excessively exited 12 year old (based on his high pitched voice), because I was the only healer and he wasn’t being healed. THAT was not fun. I PVP because I find that relaxing (really, more on that later), and because you know what ?  It’s the only way to get better at it (and at my general awareness in the same time), not because I liked to be shouted at. I may go back to my priest later, but I needed a small break. So I began a new project.

Putting a foot in the twink community, I learned there was level 70 guilds out there. Guilds doing BC raids, Battlegrounds and arena. I really begin playing at the beginning of BC (my first character was level 60 just before BC launch), and this is a time I loved a lot. Returning to these raids at the appropriate level appealed to me. Plus, a bit like level 19 twinks, it’s really easy to get more than decent gear. You can have a full S4 gear (including weapons and off-set items) for about 2k honor, something you can have with about 20 battlegrounds, depending on the level you do these. So I began leveling a new resto shaman on a new server where there was level 70 guilds. Unfortunately, she’s stuck at 54 for now, as I’m not in the mood of leveling her while I don’t know if I’ll still be playing (and how much) in a few weeks.

Step 3: Where I finally find out that I can actually appreciate PVP

So, while I’m wondering about my WoW future, I created a new baby rogue (If you didn’t understand why I choose this blog title until now, I hope you do know!). This rogue is on the same server than my baby shaman, so no heirloom or overpowered enchants for her. I entered Warsong as soon as I had a few green items. If you wish to do that, you need to be prepared : you’re going to die A LOT, and it may not be a lot of fun. Most people will have twice as much health as you do, and do much more damage (with standard non enchanted heirloom gear). You’d better choose your class with a lot of attention (I suggest rogue or hunter). As a rogue, I can at least choose to not commits suicide with my partners and instead remains stealthed when needed to focus on more interesting challenges. If you’re (very) well geared in a low level battleground, you can play to win the game and almost bring victory to your faction alone. If you only have what you can get from quests, you’d better not always try to play for the victory, or you may become frustrated within a few minutes. I you just try to focus on what achievable, you can have fun too. Like, I once managed to kill the flag carrier and his geared healer on my own. You can learn to make inventive use of your limited toolbox too. As a blood elf rogue, I learned that if I want to kill a mage, I need to use Arcane Torrent just after Ambush so that they can’t use their nova. I was surprised after my first Warsong to find out I actually appreciated the challenge. I may block her xp at level 20 for a time, as this seems to be an active bracket with F2P accounts, and it should allow me to grind a base gear with quests and dungeons. Unfortunately the leveling curve is so fast now that even without heirloom you don’t have the time for quests AND dungeons AND battlegrounds!

Step 4: Enjoy !

Anyway, PVP used to be a very stressful experience for me. I don’t know if I just changed or if it’s the fact I now entered battlegrounds the easy way (instead of going there with PVE gear, hoping to get appropriate PVP gear in the end), but it’s not the case anymore. I don’t shout about everything anymore while doing battlegrounds. (I only shout about my stupid totems bindings once in a while, because if you want to bind all your stupid totems, you have to use stupid bindings, and you have to remember these too!). I don’t rage because my team partner are obviously not wishing to win the game. If I loose a few games in a row and I’m not in a mood for that ? Ok, maybe I should just log out and try again later, it’s not a big deal after all, I’m not here to grind these stupid honor points but to enjoy myself.

With all this renewed interest for PVP, I did a few BG with Zahia too. It was interesting to notice all the differences between a level 10-14 Warsong where I completely overgear the content, a level 19 twink Warsong and a level 85 Warsong. I learned interesting stuff while researching about it. Did you know that if you have glyph of Stoneclaw totem, the shield is a personal buff, so that you keep it even if you replace another earth totem asap ? I also learned to use Healing Surge, and I now use this spell much more appropriately in raids.

If you’re interested in PVP but find it stressful or are easily frustrated, you should give it a try the easy way. You can learn a lot about your character and improve your gameplay. And it’s a nice change if you’re looking for new WoW projects !

 

What really stand behind suscribers numbers

With vacation and a few real life concerns to think about, I neglected the blog these last week. Plus, I have a few drafts that I don’t feel like I have the energy to finish now (I just hate going through the trouble to add pictures to my posts!).

But yesterday Oestrius wrote an interesting post about the recent subscriber loss and how these people are real people that we met in game. First I wanted to comment, but then I felt like this deserved a whole blog post.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re losing people.  Let me stress that.  We are losing people.  We’re losing loved ones.  We’re saying goodbye to friendships and memories and ties that we have formed with one another.  It’s more than just lost revenue and subscription numbers.

Oestrius is right, but I find that a bit excessive.

While playing WoW, I met and became friend with a lot of people, and many left the game. Each time a friend leave the game, it makes me sad, because I know there’s a good chance I’ll never see him again. People leaving are real people. But you know what ? People leave your real life too. Remember your best friend from when you where 7 year old. Do you still know her ? Do you still write letters to your foreign correspondent from secondary school, or to your friends from your holiday camps ? How long since you last spoke to your friends from university, or from the last place you lived ?

Making friends and then “losing” them is part of life. Be it in an MMO or in real life. But you don’t loose them. There aren’t part of your life anymore, but their life is still going on. And, from the WoW friend I lost, most of them left because they had an happy busy real life other wise.

Loosing WoW friend is always sad, but it has nothing to do with Blizzard subscribers numbers for me. What Blizzard subscribers loss say to me is that WoW will no last forever. Some day, Stormwind streets won’t be crowded anymore. It’ll be hard to find groups on low population realms, until some day when these realm will be merged together or with some bigger realms. Content patch and extensions wil come less and less often. Blizzard saw this too, the signs are obvious. I didn’t remember it, but Oestrius said that the Dungeon Finder tool went out just after the first subscribers loss was announced. Recently Blizzard encountered a new loss, and a cross realm Raid Finder tool is planned for the next patch. This is the simplest way for Blizzard to keep activities on realms even if the population get lower and lower. There are also clues that makes me think we’ll have a new expansion in less than a year. Extensions make people come back to the game, and keep current players interested in the game.

WoW is on his dying slope. I get that, WoW has to die some day anyway. But thinking about it is still strange. Will WoW stop existing altogether ? Or will it continue with a few irresistible players ? How is it going to impact me ? Will I still be playing at this time ? That’s what Blizzard subscribers number means to me. It means that some day, my favorite game, and almost the only game I really played, will no longer exist. Maybe I’ll even be part of the next subscribers number, as many of my WoW friends plan to play Star War, the Old Republic when it’s going out, and I might very well follow them.

Fireland is great. Or is it really ?

Be warned, this is going to be a rant post. Small thinks that bugs me in Firelands and 4.2, things that don’t allow me to enjoy the new content as much as I’d like. Anyway, feel free to leave if you really love Firelands and wouldn’t like to have your pleasure ruined by someone who noticed boring flaws.

Want to /suicide each time I look at Skada…

First, there is this thing about resto shaman feeling useless while healing with a resto druid. That isn’t just me, many shaman feel that way. When you do your best at using all your skill in the best possible way, reforge all your spirit away to have BIGGER HEALS, and still can’t manage to do more than 70%-80% of your fellow holy paladin and resto druid on a normal fight, you don’t feel very well. OK, when your raid is doing it wrong and damage is crazy, resto shaman healing is great… until the raid inevitably wipes. But what’s the purpose of being able to heal a lot when you know it’s going to be a wipe anyway ? (like, when the upper team is dead on Beth’tilac…). At least, you know you CAN do it. And you try to persuade yourself than you’re here when the raids needs you, with your mastery @save-the-raid-from-certain-death, but knowing the raid don’t really needs you most of the time is still sad.

Then there was that random crap on Rhyolith

Last time, we tried Rhyolite (or Riz au Lait, as we like to call him) for the second night, and it was a complete disaster. First, we felt like melees managed the driving better: no more lava drinking. But then, we felt like we couldn’t beat bad RNG. We had volcano spawn at inconvenience places, Riz au Lait activating volcanoes he just passed.

Like one time, just on the beginning of the fight, Riz au Lait spawn 2 volcanoes in front of him, one just on the right, and one just on the left. As Riz au Lait came closer and closer to the lava, we decided to make him turn right. Of course, the second he passed the left volcano, he decided to activate it.

Or these time, where volcanoes where all on one another, and Riz au Lait had 10 stacks of Molten Armor…

Ok, that’s just Murphy’s law, I suppose we could handle it if we just get better handling the whole fight.

But then, there was that completely random move from Riz au Lait. He turned 50° in one step, stopped for his stamping, and turned 50° again on the next step. And the gauge wasn’t even full or even near to full!

That seemed so omg volcanoes are random, Riz au Lait driving is random. Why the hell are we just trying to kill a boss where everything is complete random crap?

Plus there are all these urban legends on this boss. Maybe you can avoid the bumping thing if you jump at the right time. Maybe you should avoid dots on the feets. Maybe you should dot both feets. Maybe Riz au Lait’s direction depends on damage done to each feet. Or maybe Riz au Lait’s direction depends on number on hits on each feet. It seems like none really knows. Well, maybe hard core guilds know how it works, but it seems like they either don’t want to talk about their finding before they kill him on heroic mode or don’t have the time to talk about it before they kill Heroic Ragnaros.

Well, I like this boss, because the mechanisms is new and different. But it seems buggy, no one really knows how it works, and while the encounter journal is comprehensive on other bosses, it’s widely lacking for Riz au Lait. Molten Armor isn’t even mentionned in there!

/bored about doing 25-man fights in a 10-man raid

All these add boss where you have to divide dps on 2 or more different tasks seems so much better tuned for 25 man, and much more complicated in 10-man. In 10-man, 1 dps is 1/6 to 1/5 of your total damage. In 25-man, one dps is 1/16 to 1/18 or your total damage. You can easily fine-tune the dps assignment so that everything is dpssed down at the rate it should. Plus if you want to do one boss with one more tank, you only loose a small part of you your raid damage.

In a 10-man raid, fine-tuning dps assignment is much harder. Lets take an obvious example. On Beth’tilac, 4 things must be dpssed down at the same time: Beth’tilac, the drone, the spinners, and the small spiders. If you put one dps on each task, you have one free agent left. But one dps on each task is not enough sometimes. In a 25-man raid, you can have 4 dps on each task, and you can fine-tune it by moving one dps here and there.

So, the random 10-man dps has to handle multiple tasks at the same time, whereas the random 25-man dps can focus on one single task. He needs more awareness, more reactivity, more autonomy than a random 25-man dps.

10-man are harder on the raid leader, because decisions are harder to make and choices are limited. 10-man are harder on each member because they need to handle many tasks at the same time, whereas in a 25-man raid you can assign a single task to each dps (or, at least to the people who can’t handle multiple tasks).

Final ranting: I’m doing it wrong too!

There was a bit on ranting on the blogosphere lately about the need to do things you don’t like, bet it farming dailies or heroics to cap your weekly valor points. As Windsoar, I’m doing it wrong. I don’t do heroics anymore because I hate that. I already spend 30 to 50 minutes each day doing Molten Front dailies and not leveling my toon of the moment, I’m not going to spend another hour doing something I already did 15+ times. Farming valor points in T11 was ok : the instances were still fairly new and they still could be a bit of a challenge (at least if you did the Zandalari random in 4.1). But now, I did these instances a lot, and there isn’t any difficulty left.Plus, my play time available to do instances is limited, be it with Zahia or with an alt.

I wish Blizzard could be inventive for that, and find a new way to obtain valor points for raiding toons, without having to run the same old instance again, and again, and again. Like, there could be a chance to get valor points from Fireland trashes. Or Molten Front daily quests could award a chest, were you would have a chance to find valor points. Or they could have added the Zandalari instances and Fireland at the same time, so that all the useless valor points I got while doing the new troll instances would have served buying my T12 set, instead of some crap for my offspec.

But I don’t think Blizzard will do that ever. For the Looking for Dungeon tool to be successful, there needs to be enough people queuing for these instances, otherwise it takes too long to find a group. So, they must be pretty happy with how valor points currently work, because it allow the LFD to work well, and casual players can do dungeons, get new gear at each new patch, and they still wish to play the game and pay their subscription.

But still, for casual raiding guilds, with casual raiders, this system is complete crap. I don’t even want to know in how many weeks I am going to get my T12 valor pieces while killing 2 bosses each week (that is, Shannox and Baratin Hold)