Thursday, April 21, 2011

Up front with the Warfronts

Well, so much for instances. With most of the guild running experts, and time online being that unpredictable beast that it is, I've decided to go for PvP for enjoyment and the gear upgrade. To be honest, warfronts were my intention when I first purchased RIFT anyway, though now it's being done with a healer/dps instead of a shield bashing warrior. Still, since I won't be getting any new PvP gear for at least 3 weeks, I can concentrate on the skill aspect.

Last night, I noticed awesome improvements in my PvP play as a Warden/Sentinel healer. I'm preloading the most likely fang holder with the rolling stacking HoT, I'm using some of my attack skills to silence casters and knock back casting casters or melee that are going after the fang holder. The AoE heals are going well, and I'm getting better at my other HoTs.

I've even manage to pick up the fang myself, and last 1 minute and 19 seconds before dying, though that really is a team effort with the other team members healing me as well.

Codex is starting to make sense as well.. hold the Codex point, then go after the other targets.

I even managed a successful run of the shard in Whitesteppes (I think that's what it is called).

Life at level 50 has become this : Log in, check mail box for AH sales, grab warfront daily, do warfronts. Between warfronts, head out to Shimmersand. Do Dragonslayer dailies. Do RIFT events if there is one going out there. That usually lasts the 2 or 3 hours I have to play of an evening.

Oh, and I got my epic mount. 110% land speed, baby!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dubh hits 50

132 hours of playing RIFT, and 5 days, 4 hours, 54 minutes and something seconds of played time for Dubh, I've finally hit 50.

Now it's gearing time, for PvE instances, warfronts and whatever roles I end up doing within those activities.

Now, all I have to do is resist levelling an alt.

Ode to Stillmoor

You are not Icecrown
You are not Icecrown
Your hills are greenie, and there are fae
But you're an end zone
I may grow to hate you
When the dailies are all that's left to play

(sung to You Are My Sunshine)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Call to Care, or Failure Thereof

/sigh. Yeah another post about the Call to Arms thing. Go read about it, if you truly have been living under a rock.

I've been trying to form an opinion on it, but every time I go to write something, I keep trying to come up with an alternative solution. And I keep arriving to the same conclusion. I can't solve this thing.

World of Warcraft is becoming a victim of it's own success. Many people hold that opinion, and we're starting to see the cracks. Blizzard are seeing it too. Dissatisfied subscribers walking away, because it's no longer fun, queue times for anything are too long, and players who have been with the game for several years are moving on with other games, or other stages in their own lives.

Here a a few of the random thoughts I've had, when I've gone to compose a response, or provide a quick comment to any of the other blogs that have posted a thing or two on the matter.

My first character through to 60 in vanilla was a tank. Pathak! He was always a reluctant tank. Spec'd for Arms nearly the whole time, because Prot couldn't cut for soloing or battle grounds, tanking those lower level bosses was a big deal. However, once on top of things, it became enjoyable, especially in the guild run environment. Being the only tank in an instance gave a sense of achievement. Any old mage can pull agro, but the tank is the only one to take it from several mobs at once, and gets to move the angry crowd around the small amount of space available, to steer clear of the crowd controlled mobs.

Tanking was fun, but you needed to trust your healer to keep you up, your healer needed to trust you to use your mitigation, and you needed to trust the DPS to keep up crowd control. I guess those were the basics of the group mechanic. That lasted through to TBC. WotLK did away with the crowd control, somewhat, and it just became an AoE-fest. I've got no idea with Cataclysm because I never ended up running an instance. The thought of learning a whole bunch of boss fights, outside of a guild environment, and putting up with the shenanigans of the anonymous LFD drolls was too much.

In TBC, I levelled a pally, and he (Colerejuste) went on to run Kara until he was blue in the face, exalted in the rep and then a bit more, as a healer. Healing was fun. In WotLK, I did quite a bit of druid healing, but just heroics.

Now, when I read that there are not enough tanking signing up for the LFD tool, I'm not surprised. If you're in a guild, and you're working on raid content, why on earth would you put yourself through the pain of a PuG, for anything. There's the AH and guild perks for gold, a bit of casual farming for consumables. You can do guild runs for practice. Who would rather run a PuG than a guild run? No many folks, but perhaps a lot more DPS players than tanks and healers (apparently).

There might be a solution for this, but I don't know where you'd find it.

Change the composition of the group. Swap two of those pure DPS roles to dedicated crowd control and support roles. Sure they do a bit of damage, but the benefits they bring to the group with those roles are required. But there we go.. we just bought the role, not the player. You won't find this solution in the World of Warcraft.

Perhaps a new faction that only gives rep when you use the LFD tool solo. That's about as useful as a goody bag.

Gah, and there I go, looking for solutions to a problem that is as deep seeded as the nature of the players themselves. Players, and I guess tanks in particular, just aren't going to run content they don't find enjoyable. They're certainly not going to with a random group if they don't have to.

I think one of the options might be to even out the population who are actually using the LFD tool. Bring on the battle mage who absorbs and channels received damage to imbued objects or other players in the group. Perhaps a similar things for warlocks, but they channel the damage to their pets (that demonic rock sure can take some damage). The avoidance taunting rogue, and the hunter with his battle chicken. If you've got a population of DPS players that far exceeds the population of tanks who are actually sticking around for the LFD tool, then perhaps you need to enable some of those DPS players to be tanks.

But that's not WoW, that's another game... that doesn't have a LFD tool, and doesn't have cross server instancing. And I really hope it never does. I'd rather see realms merge than enable that enable that sort of functionality that seems to bring out the worst in some players.

In the end, I'm a casual observer in the World of Warcraft. I've moved on, I'm enjoying the show from the side lines. I heard the Call to Arms, and I failed. I abandoned. Maybe I'll pick it up in the next expansion.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Thoughts on Levelling

Gordon at We Fly Spitfires has done an interesting piece on levelling. I started doing a wall of text as a response, and felt that the reply would be better suited as a proper entry.

I still haven't got the hang of trackbacks/backlinks between Blogger and Wordpress, so here is a random trackback link.

There was a poll embedded, and I answered that I didn't care how long it took me to level. But that would only be partially true.

When playing a new game, levelling gives a chance for the game creators to tell the story. If there are factions, you may do it a couple of times to get both sides of that story.

When playing a new class, levelling the way nature (or Blizzard or whoever) intended gave me a good grounding in the mechanics of that class. But once you've completed it once, you may not want to do it again for that class, unless you started on a PvE server, and would like a PvP experience. Solo levelling a warrior in a PvP environment was something I consider to be almost the ultimate in hardship, especially if you did it as Prot. I could only imagine doing the same as a holy priest to be second in difficulty.

But after a while, you get used to the various classes, and you just want to jump in with a prebuilt class. Features like multiple roles / dual spec melt an argument for levelling for the sake of class mechanics.

After all, here you are, at level 85. Perhaps you've levelled as Arms the whole way, and now you want to get into tanking. There's no smooth transition if you've never tanked before. You just take the lowest level dungeon you can, even though you're overpowered, and start applying the basics you've read about. Eventually, you'll hit the harder dungeons for your level and will actually be tanking properly (you hope) without being over powered. Then you end up with the gear scale, as each of the harder dungeons require better gear. There's a skill scale in there as well, but usually, you'll hit gear as a limiting factor as the norm. Skill scale is something for the extremes.. i.e. you're just starting, or you're running hard modes in the premier raid.

Let's throw a RIFT comparison in there, too. RIFT is a bit easier going. It's not just dual spec, it's up to 4 specs. For a cleric, you may have a defensive build, an offensive build, a healing build and a PvP build. Though due to the cost of the roles, you may only have 3 role slots to select from for quite some time. Further more, you may only be interested in the offensive build. At some point, you may pick up a healing role, and there will be no nice levelling experience to help you use it. You may even just decide to pick a different primary soul at level 50, and there will be no nice levelling experience to help you learn it. You just jump in the deep end, grind some mobs, kill some players until you get comfortable with it. These are examples where levelling to learn a class comes unstuck.

Back to the original question, however, of do I care how long it takes to level? So far, not if I'm experiencing the story for the first time. And not if I'm learning a class for the first time.

But now I'm in a tricky position. I'm about to hit level 40 in RIFT on my cleric. Most of the guildies are now 50 or in the high 40s. I'm super keen to get up there and enjoy content with the guildies instead of going through the motions of levelling. On the other hand, I'm about to enter a new zone, so there's a story being unravelled for that zone, and I do like to read the quest text. I'm sure that after I hit 50, there is still going to be levelling to do, and I'm still going to take the time to read the quest text. I only get a couple of hours play a night, so levelling is taking a bit longer for me that the rest. I'm just going to have to exercise my patience.

PvP is going to be interesting. Warfront PvP, that is. I've only done the one warfront, and I'll need to do a whole bunch of I want a PvP soul. There's a really good chance I won't start the PvP properly until I hit level 50. It's going to be painful, I know. Going on to the battlefield with on Valor (the equivalent of Resilience), I'm going to be made into prawn paste for quite a few weeks until I can gear up.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Where's the WoW stuff?

This post, brought to you by a though provoking post at MMO Melting Pot, Is There Such A Thing As Being Too Loyal To A Game?.

I think I have a sum total of 14 people subscribed to this blog.  It's really only for me, recording my progress as I make my way through AzerothTelara.

Heh.  As the blog name may suggest, I used to play WoW.  Now I don't.  I've moved on to RIFT.  It appeals to my play style, and in this early phase of the game, guild structures also seem to appeal to my play style.. that is, leveling, PvP, not a lot of serious raiding.

I still read alot of WoW news, must mostly through MMO Champion and personal blogs.  I've dropped a few of the more serious WoW centric blogs from my Reader, like WoW Insider and World of Matticus.  WoW Insider has too many articles that I don't find relevant any more, and the matters of guild management and healing management, and even raid strategy found on WoM aren't relevant to me either.  I've also canned my general subscription to Massively, but still pick up their RIFT specific things. Three cheers for blogs with category based RSS feeds!

Anyway, I'm one of those players who defected to RIFT. Not because I hate WoW, but simply because it has run it has its course.

I used to think that WoW was forever.  It had solo content, battlegrounds, dungeons to run with your friends and those things called raids, which remained somewhat out of my reach for most of my WoW career.  But then the friends left, or played as sporadically as I did.  My lifestyle changed, and no longer could I play for 35 hours a week, do work and maintain a relationship.  I eventually played every class the game had to offer.  Somewhere along the line, I lost interest in levelling yet another toon on a PvP server, just so I could play in a guild that was actually populated with active players.  Even then, that guild closed up shop and moved on.

So, after playing WoW for almost 5 years, and clocking up over 6383 hours (as recorded by XFire),  I'm now 72 hours into RIFT having clocked in 22 hours this week (and it's Friday morning).  These days, my play times are typically 10pm to midnight, for most nights, though this last week, I've been a little naughty, staying up until 12:30am or 1:00am.

Even if you don't play RIFT, stick around, read the stories, watch the horror.  It's interesting times, and I've got a front row seat in the MMO war theatre, where we get to see if RIFT can survive as an MMO unto itself, and perhaps go forth to be a worthy competitor for WoW.  I've got a dodgy camcorder, and you're welcome to peruse whatever I manage to capture in words.