Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Simpler Time

I've been busy as all hell getting a visa lined up for my wife. We rode the bullet train twice (4 hours in each direction) on Monday to get to the American Embassy in Tokyo and get the ball rolling. We're now waiting for paperwork from them to come in the mail, at which point we'll need to go back to Tokyo for an interview, and if all goes well we should have a visa lined up for her in like two months. Ugh. This has really cut into my gaming time (Peggle on the DS doesn't count).

Ulduar is coming, albeit slowly. I've logged in on various nights to do my cloth cooldowns, to see the guild message of the day asking everyone to 'read up on the Ulduar encounters on mmo-champion and watch PTR videos of the fight'. It makes me want to puke. Jesus Christ. The last raid I actually did with the guild, I brought this up, basically along the lines of:

"...you're not really serious about wanting everyone to watch videos of unreleased raid content, right? Are we honestly going to be expected to zone in for the very first time on the first new raid content in a while, expected to already know what our role is exactly going to be, exactly where to stand, and exactly what to do?"

This was met with awkward silence; the implication being that that's exactly what they were expecting, duh.

I'm a healer now, and I don't think people like pissing off healers, because for the most part healers tend to be the 'well, I'm taking my fucking ball and going home, then' types. I've been familiar with this attitude from my days of main tanking, be it raids or 5 mans, and know there's a bit of tiptoeing that goes on around tanks and healers. People don't want to piss you off, because you're harder to replace. Nobody has any issues whatsoever telling the warlock or rogue to shut the fuck up and eat a dick if they don't like something.

So the response to my:

"well, fuck it. You guys can knock yourselves out and have fun with that, but I intend to zone into Ulduar with no idea at all what's in store for me. I've intentionally avoided reading mmo-champion for the past few weeks, because the first time we down a boss (probably after a good night or two of wipes), I want to be surprised at what drops"

...was just more awkward silence.

We've gotten so ingrained with having wowhead open on the second monitor (side note, what's up with the full page warhammer adverts there recently?), or having quest helper paint a big dumb arrow on our screen, that going into a fight without knowing how it's going to play out before we EVER attempt it is silly. I used to scoff at the 'game guide' section by the register at Gamestop, or when someone behind the counter would offer to sell me some volume that accompanied the single player RPG I was buying ("ha! no thanks, I like to PLAY the game, not just go through the motions as I read along"), but that attitude flys in the face of thottbot, wowhead, or any of the data mining sites that are so prevalent today.

The only solution to this is (I hate to say it) PvP, or infusing PvE mobs with random ability trees. Make each mob have a set of 50 skills they can choose 3 from randomly. No one is going to sit outside the bosses room being like "...and if he cleaves spread out, and if he drops a meteor clump up, and if he chain lightnings spread out, and if he summons a shade nuke it, and if he summons...". The entire pep talk would be like "don't suck, let's pull and see what happens", and then after a fight, we could be like "I saw a chain lightning targeting healers at 35%, what did you guys see?"...

I touch on this in a previous article, one of the earlier ones I wrote here on this domain. Until that happens, there will always be guilds that are just content to rip strats from those that actually PLAY the game, and those that actually play the game are limited to the Public Test Realm, something that isn't even technically a part of the World of Warcraft. It's tiring.

For now, I'll happily turn my speakers off during the explanation of any fight I haven't tried before and be the one in the raid that has no idea what everyone else is doing. That's hardly the optimal way to raid... and I don't mean hardly optimal in the 'we don't already know the fight inside out before having done it', but hardly optimal in the sense that '90% of them are operating with this amount of knowledge, and I'm operating with much less'. Ideally (for me) we'd all be operating with no knowledge. It would be wipes, and it would be frustrating, but fuck, isn't that the point of raiding?


I miss the 1.3 patch note summary:

I miss leveling my first toon, before I knew about optimal DPS rotations, or what GCD stood for. Now that I know, I'm expected to know.

You can't go back, and it sucks.

/2 WTB [massive head trauma] PST


Posh said...

I am so with you on this.

Not much to say about it, I totally agree with every word you say. (Even the add one wowhead..!!!?!!)

Give a random instance, with random bosses, with random abilities. Bring the players not the class, and lets have some fun.

Longasc said...

You know that this will cause trouble. People can probably understand your idea and where you are coming from, but as you already pointed out: It is expected to know what is ahead. And people will not love it if you fail due to not being prepared. This is really sad. You might have to create a guild of similar minded players if they look for someone to blame if the raid fails horribly (Ulduar is supposed to be harder) despite all preparation.

Heck, in WOTLK I knew the continent, the dungeons and the raid content from dozens of previews. The internet makes it too easy for us to get tons of information nowadays.

On the other hand, raiding did not change much since level 60. Don't stand in glowing crap can be universally applied to most encounters, and healers are supposed to heal, not to think... ;)

I would support Blizzard banning all macros, then raiding would become somewhat more complicated, and experience would trump half-automated scripts and addons.

Larísa said...

I wish I was so skilled that I'd stand a chance in more difficult encounters (such as Sarth+3d) without touching an addon, a macro or a guide. But I'm not :( I honestly people wouldn't like to play with me if it was all vanillia style. I would be too much of a risk.

This said I can understand your view. And to expect people to start watching strats and vids of Ulduar - NOW???? that's just insane.

I'll look up the basics before going there to not make a complete fool out of myself, but I won't do it until I know I'm going there.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, did you see Syncaine's use of you as a "WoW tourist" for his psycho-analysis?


Brian W. Smith said...

I think the best I can come up with for this Ixo is that its becoming less of a game now, and more of just an activity so you can spend some time.

I love WoW, just as much as I loved it years ago the first time I played it. However, I recognize that the amount of accessibility they are adding, and what the community does in the way of strategy guides/sites and previews, they are removing any real challenge to whats on the screen. The real game is now to get 25 people to show up, and do what is needed to be done during a fight.

Luckily for my guild, we still have a plethora of people that don't know shit until they zone in, and that at least makes things more interesting.

Anonymous said...

@ Alcaras

Holy crap. that guy is the epitome of "angry USA/wow-hating german 14 year old kid with apergers"

Nogamara said...

Holy crap. that guy is the epitome of "angry USA/wow-hating german 14 year old kid with apergers"

Hey, we got good healthcare, we can be like that :P

On a more serious note, I partly agree. On the one hand it sucks that you are expected to function as one little cog in the big raid group, but then again for me that metagame of balancing stats around that you're constantly improving and really doing something for your raid is what keeps me playing.

It is just no challenge to play "vanilla style". I recently saw a 54 Mage with STR/AGI gear and 0 Spellpower in Winterspring. He managed to level, although he had to drink after 2 Furbolgs of his level. Whatever floats your boat, but why have different classes at all if I can "beat the game to 60/70/80" as a caster with zero spellpower or a melee class with a caster mace and spirit/int robes?

Cap'n John said...

First, tell me more about Peggle for the DS. I saw it in Target and was wondering about it, so I hit up Gamefaqs. The general consensus seems to be that it's fun for the first few levels, and then it's just Shoot & Pray.

Second up, I was the classic Huntard, but I learned more the longer I played, and eventually had folks in my Guild looking up to me for some reason (I don't know why), claiming I was an awesome Hunter, and they even went and made me Hunter-class Leader. I had Add-Ons like Titan, and Atlas, and KTM or whatever the Threat Meter Add-on was, but for the rest of it, I raided naked with the bog standard WoW-issued UI. I didn't even have a Shot-Rotation Macro to spam, I manually weaved Steady Shot between my Autos and Arcanes and I was pretty damn good at it, too. Having a sub-100 latency helped a lot with that (Blizzard practically live down the road from me).

Third, your comment reminds me of an article I read in Sports Illustrated, of all places. It concerned steroid use in Baseball and the comment from one player was something along the lines of, "I'm good playing naked (w/o steroids) but I could be better. Am I letting my team down by playing naked?"

It was sad to read the peer pressure placed on top athletes by their own team mates, to be made to feel that they weren't playing at the top of their game, and that they were letting their team down, if they didn't cheat and take steroids.

Klepsacovic said...

I like knowing how my class works. I don't like going into raids knowing everything though. That's boring. I want to learn and figure things out. Maybe someone can say something basic like if there's an enrage timer. But where's the fun in walking into a fight knowing exactly what to do? That's just going through the motions, that's just following directions, that's not a challenge. Any screwup at that point is just that, a screwup. Guildies f-ing up is not a challenge. Learning a fight is a challenge.

Anonymous said...

@ Armagon

The answer is easy. Blizzards new motto is "If you pay $15 a month: YOU GET EVERYTHING."

Krunchy said...

Ah, the days before becoming tainted by min/max-ing and the endgame mentality. I remember my first character: a human pally. I got it to 47. Didn't use a single hotkey, clicked everything, specced wherever I wanted to put points even if it looked a bit questionable. I was a bit of a joke to some of the folks in my guild, but I didn't care. The GM helped me find gear and I had a couple of guys with whom I always played and leveled. It was FUN dammit, at least until trying to level past 45 at which point it became a chore. This was back when ret pallies got out DPSed by holy priests, after all.

Hell, even when I started leveling my mage, which was my main up until my account froze, I wasn't terribly sure what to do aside from word of mouth. Level 60 and my raiding friend changed that, but I was still having fun.

Hmm. In retrospect, both were fun in their own way. Leveling with that sense of discovery was incredibly fun and satisfying to me. Then again, getting together with 39 of my "peeps" and smashing face was also very satisfying and fun. This was before the days of knowing all the bosses before the content went live, but I didn't feel like my experience was "worsened" by hearing an explanation before a boss. Knowing and experiencing are still two different things and as someone always very interested in how things work (and a programmer) trying a boss for the first time I till somehow know backwards and forwards is interesting to me anyway.

I say the fun is what you make it. Iso, you like the idea of going in not knowing what to expect. No doubt, that could be fun. I'd play that. However, I say there's a different bit of fun to be had in killing a boss with a well orchestrated plan. Or if you're feeling sassy, you can do it with a different plan than the official bosskillers strat to see how good you really are. Running 5-mans for me stayed interesting longer than it should have because when even 1 or 2 members are pugs, you know there's a random factor or at least some tweaking you'll have to do on the fly to adjust for class/gear/spec.

Shit, I think I'm not doing the greatest job of getting my point across, but it's there. Everyone has a way they like to do things. It may not be your method of choice, but it doesn't mean it won't be fun and interesting if you try looking at it differently. If that doesn't work, then find that group out there that shares your ideas and play with them. If that group doesn't exist, start it.

Rich said...

@ capn john: Peggle on the DS is peggle. If you've played it on the computer, it's the same thing.

I liked it on the computer, so i like it on the DS. You can get as into it as you want, or just enjoy the zen of it (i do the latter). Many people try and make it so the ball ALWAYS lands in the free ball hole, i just line shots up and chuck em out there.

if you *haven't* played it on the PC, shame on you. There's a free demo of it on steam.

@ everyone else: Yes, I can agree there's some fun to 'executing the plan', but even Naxx isn't NEW. The only new (raid) content we've seen this expansion are sarth, maly, and VOA, which are all basically onyxias... not full blown dungeons.

I'm as excited to get in there as the next guy, but I don't want to step into the theater knowing darth vader is luke's father... you know?

PS SPOILER ALERT, if you haven't seen star wars, don't read that last sentence.

HP said...

I wasn't there during the simpler times but I don't think I do that much preparation when it comes to knowing strats =X The most I ever do is just watch a video and that's it. Sometimes I don't pay attention to the RL but I've been breeding bad habits due to the easier content. That'll kick me in the ass for Ulduar.

LOL, I have to laugh at your response though. It's a bit spiteful but understandable. Reading up on all the strategies just suck out all the fun in raiding and make it too technical. Unless your guild is all about making it to first down for server, then why so much trouble?

Btw, I'm so happy that you commented on my blog =) It is exciting to see someone you read and follow also does the same to you!

I should've tagged you too but to be honest, I was going down the list of people I read and you were where I stopped at because I was going in order of recent posts and I was tagging too many people already =X Sorry!

Btw, I love your entries! Please don't think that because I didn't tag you that I don't love reading your blog!

I knew nothing about Dark Fall and didn't care but somehow you made it relevant so that a MMO nub like me could understand your points.

John said...

So don't do it.

My guild, Inner Focus (US-Elune[A]) has decided to say fuck it, and do Ulduar blind. We'll learn as we go, we want to play the game, not regurgitate someone other experience.

I should mention we're looking for a few good people to join us.... www.inner-focus.com