Saturday, 28 August 2010

Your Soul belongs to the Lich King

Just a little heads-up. Because I am a curious person. And I keep hearing my raid leaders say "Whatever you do, when you die on the Lich King fight, do not release until we tell you to" (and yes, you can hear the 'bold' in there).

When you all die and the Lich King starts doing his little ressurection spell there actually is a "release" button on your screen.

Looks like this:

But when you try and actually press that release button you get that message there: "Your soul belongs to the Lich King". So unless you miss the ressurection, you're actually safe. No one can fuck up mess up this part. And from there on out, it's all smooth sailing anyway.

P.S. Sorry if I spoilt it for you. If you somehow managed to get this far into the expansion without learning that you get killed at 10% and then ressurected I am amazed. I feel with you. And I truly am sorry for ruining it. But hey... we sometimes learn things even though we do not want to - like "sex can lead to babies" and "fire is hot". Disappointment is just another part of life, eh?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Who does the Lich King remind you of?

Well that is a serious question right there - and how did it come up? By accident, I assure you.

My lovely wife asked me what our baby was watching downstairs - and me, being the good husband that I am, answered instantly (while still reading Tams post) with no thought about what I was actually replying to, what the question was or anything else (It's like that "Does this dress look my bum look fat?" questions - you are not afforded time to think, you are required to answer instantly with a resounding "No! Of course not!").

My reply? "The Lich King"

Which .. err.. was not technically true. Our baby does not have a privately made home video of a WoW-celebrity in the video cassette player (there - showing my age again, ah well).

What he actually was watching was Winnie the Pooh.

Now admittedly, there are some differences. However, just to prove that I was not totally demented, let me offer a list of things where Winnie the Pooh and Arthas, the Lich King are very similar.

5) Both rely excessively on one item for their power (or stoutness) - Honey and Frostmourne, not neccessarily in the order of the two listed figures.

4) Both are shown wearing the same old suit forever. Arthas in his black armour since his first appearance in Howling Fjord, Winnie in his grubby red t-shirt.

3) Both have a tendency to mock their devout servants recklessly and possibly without noticing. In the case of Arthas we are talking about the "You have served me well, Drakkuru, by leading these heroes here" line, in the case of Winnie we're talking about the "This could also be named Pooh and Piglet corner, if it wasn't longer and thus not as good".

2) Both are a bit stout. Seriously.

A little less "letting your minions do all the work for you", a little more exercise, perhaps?

1) And finally: Both speak with a voice as if they had a cold. Examples? Sure... here is the official WotLK trailer, and here is Winnie, stuck in a hole.

I wonder ....

Monday, 23 August 2010

Why I have trouble roleplaying in World of Warcraft

One of those confessional posts ... without much current action. I had to do one eventually, didn't I?

Right.. let's start with the rambly backstory. I play MMORPGs for a while now (as pointed out once or twice before). The first one I picked up was Ultima Online which had no quests, no endgame and non-consentual pvp. There was technically no reason to do anything - of course back then there were also no chat channels, so you could only use it as a chat client as long as you were on the same screen as the person you were talking to. Roleplaying was about as effective as it is now on the Roleplaying Servers in WoW - some people did, others did not. There were no rules, and I have not heard of an instance where Origin had to install a Goldshire Patrol.

There were a few other games coming out later that I tried, starting in the proper three-dimensional playstyle common now - Everquest, Asherons Call and others come to mind. Graphics were getting better (compared to Ultima), but they were far from what we are used today. No surprises.

(Picture taken from here)

I already found it harder to play in those games - and didn't quite grasp why. Of course the usual excuses come to mind: wrong people, getting older, outgrowing a phase, etc.

Interestingly enough, my roleplaying phase came back with Star Wars Galaxies.

And it was good fun. There was all sorts of things you could do. They even had professions in the game that were completely useless in combat - pure traders, entertainers and image designers (yes, there was basically a hairdresser profession). Of course many players mixed and matched those with combat classes - if they were not going for the optimized flavour-of-the-month design (tri-master in pistoleer, smuggler and bounty hunter comes to mind).

Now that I am again finding time to wonder about "what's going on" in World of Warcraft I may have stumbled upon another reason I personally find it hard to roleplay.


There is a certain amount of munchkinism hidden in my friendly shell. I do love to optimize my characters and used to spend hours brooding over three character points at the end of a pen-and-paper session to find the optimal point to spend them. Depending on the game not even in something combat related (Combat in GURPS? Eek. You might actually get hurt!).

With time that also allows me to spin a backstory, to basically grow with the character. At the start of a game there will be a rudimentary backstory, but all the details, all the colour come with the game itself. After a while the character may have become quite powerful (or started there, for something like a Superhero game), but it's only with time that the story comes together.

Now this does transfer to online games as well. As long as there is a good amount of character development, a story is easy to find. And suddenly I find it more and more difficult to "justify" the story.

Let me post two pictures to point out what I mean:

An armed and armoured dwarf. Fabulous hairstyle, pornstar moustache. It's all there. This is not quite best-in-slot gear for a tank, but not too terribly far off either. Look at all those lovely big ... numbers! Mind and eyes up here, please!

Almost 4000 stamina, enough health to last roughly 48175 1-damage hits and 33k armour. A veritable brick wall.

The same dwarf, the same fabulous hairstyle but this time covered with nothing more substantial than a tabard. Again, I'd like to direct your attention away from the amazing physique and towards the numbers.

Only 174 stamina left (a 23rd, roughly), 9700 health (rounding generously - a fifth) and 218 armour (a 150th of the dressed amount). Not so much "Brick Wall" any more - more like moderately pudgy dwarf with a tabard draped over his shoulders.

Just because I can, there is also a screenshot of a new dwarf.

Again a drop in power: only 23 stamina left (1/8th of the amount at level 80), 70 health (a 140th, roughly) and 34 armour (1/6th).

So what does that show me? Well, I gained quite a generous amount of health from merely leveling up. Anything else completely pales in comparison to the amount of stats that my little dwarf gained from his gear. It's not the character that gets stronger, it's the equipment.

Still nothing new there - how does that tie in with me being unable to cyber up some hot chicks in Dalaran roleplay the character properly? Well, improvements gained from gear somehow are less "real". To me, at least (There, that's the cunningly hidden spilling the beans on my state of mind).

It won't change - not in this game, anyway. The whole design is based on this "items" thing. Makes sense, if you are trying to get people to raid the same content over and over again.

It does affect more than games, though...

However much I like the Brent Weeks "Night Angel" trilogy, the main character only becomes as good as he is at the end by an artifact (or seven - let's not spoil everything here). I find it harder to identify with the character than with someone more gritty, who can just pick up a different sword and fight just as effectively. For a good example, I'd recomment Logan from the "First Law" trilogy by Joe Abercrombie.

What does that mean for me as a person? Well, probably that I'd rather be able to fight well (in the mud, with naked elf chicks, with a sword) than to swing a "singing and dancing sword of superiour enchantedness" that mocks my slightly excessive weight and low stamina when I draw it.

So ... errr... let's try a quick summary: I don't like games/books/films that are based on items - I prefer personal power. The kind that cannot be stolen in the next village by a cruel thief/gamemaster.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Too many buffs!

So there is now (err… rather... a while ago, but that is beside the point) talk about spreading a few of the more iconic buffs around – mages will be shamans and such.

Now one of the curious developments also combines the effects of Blessing of Might and Wisdom. Nerf enhancement shamans and retribution paladins, says I! But overall, the effect might not be all that large. It is a good start, however, to a rather major problem.

Now I’m not sure how much of an eye you keep on your buffs during a fight. Maybe you are one of those players who use an add-on (like BuffMore) and just react to red and green light*. There are many, many buffs up there (err.. or over there, or wherever you placed yours). Too many of them. More than 10, easily, and with the latest “conversion” of some buffs to permanent (that 5% crit for everyone from fury warriors not just cats? That one!) they are always present.

This seriously reduces the visibility and impact of short-term reactive buffs. Of course there are add-ons that take care of this: Power Auras (for a shiny and popular choice) or TellMeWhen (lightweight and .. err.. rather ugly) come to mind. Those remind me when my Sword and Board is up, my arcane missiles are free or my next exorcism will be instant.

Is this really necessary? I mean, what is the benefit for me as a player of buffs. Sure – they do improve my performance (sometimes by much less than I previously thought – thanks PewPewLazers), but in the end the situation is like this:

You enter a group/raid/sparkling adventure setting and every buffs. All their buffs will be applied. Especially the ones no one really needs, because otherwise you’d forget them when they come in handy (Hello Shadow Protection! – my BuffMore also tells me you are unexpected). Our raid leaders (thank you) will remind people if they forgot a buff – thanks to add-ons, by the way, not because they memorized the icon of every single one of the 2076529 buffs that should be present.


For the next expansion I’d want a different system. A system that allows three different situational buffs. In every 5-man instance you are awarded “Small Unit Tactics”, in every 10-man raid you are granted “We’re an army now” and in a 25-man raid you’ll have “Large Scale Combat”. Those buffs combine all those piddly little stupid things into one global buff (much like the charming presence of our King in the entrance to ICC does, maybe). All other buffs are removed. Gone. Good riddance.

And then we can focus on keeping an eye on the important things that actually change during combat. Short term buffs that really make a difference. Like Timewarp (err… Bloodlust).

* On that note: Why does my BuffMore tell me that “Defensive Stance” is an unexpected buff. Was I supposed to be a tank-spec when I first installed it? Does it default to DPS classes? What the hell is going on here!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

GM Support at my worst

Yeah no, that is no spelling error. See... it's like this. About two weeks ago I thought I'd jump onto my little warrior once more and bash some heads in. After all... a fully heirloomed up cow-of-doom should have a fun time.

Logged in, found my favourite axe in my bags, and off I trundled. It was only after the first few fights that I noticed my studly bare chest and the rippling six-pack.

Which ... err... made me go and look for my armour. Seems they not in the mail of any of my other characters. Nor in the mailboxes. And I checked all the platewearing classes. Suspicion aroused, I even made my deathknight finally walk down into "Whateverville" to the mailbox. Didn't steal the horse even - mail was more important. No armour.

So ... I sent a GM ticket. Asking if I had lost my heirlooms in the mail. And got a reply back that they would not reimburse items that they could not determine I had lost. Meh.

So .. I sent another mail. With more detail - oh yes!

And look, I got a reply within minutes. A reply basically saying "you are a silly bugger, go and check your characters properly". Which is ... well deserved. I might have to look into an addon that gives me a searchable inventory for all my alts.

And not Arcinventory. I hate it.