An Interesting Find…

So, I’m in the Cataclysm beta, and there will be a post or seven forthcoming regarding my thoughts on stuff, however I wanted to post this up real quick, because it caught my attention, and has potential to be pretty damn awesome.

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Note the up and down arrows on either side of the character select window. Could we be getting more than 11 character slots? Only time will tell.

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I return! And a review of Star Trek Online

And so, crawling from the deepest muck-filled tubes of the internet, I return to the blogosphere. What kept me away so long, other than my proven track record of not posting with anything resembling regularity? A combination of things, really. Moving out of state, moving in with my fiancee’s family, massive lag issues keeping me out of WoW for months, but mostly, a lack of anything to say. Thankfully, for the two of you who will read this(I can be optimistic), now I have something to say.

 

Space: the final frontier. To boldly go where no other MMO has gone before, and make it just…so…blah.

 

We’ll start with the good. Space combat is fun, if a tad bit much spacebar spam, and some tactics do come into play, especially(but not only) during space combat pvp. It would be nice if there were multiple classes of the newb ship, or the grind to get to the second tier of ships was shorter, but hey, very minor thing.

I absolutely love the concept of having a built in 5-man group using bridge officers and security(red shirts) while soloing. The AI is decent, and you have the ability to control the NPCs to some extent.

Aaaaaaaand that’s pretty much it for the good. Sadly, and with heavy hearts longing for our one chance to bring the wonderfully vivid, imaginative world of Star Trek interactively into our living rooms, we move on to the bad.

 

Sector block travel, the way you get from system to system, is painfully slow. I understand there needs to be travel time, but it just feels sluggish and boring.

Ground missions, and really most missions in general, are extremely cookie cutter. Go here, kill guys, collect loot, beam out. Go here, interact with five objects, beam out. And when the missions aren’t repetetive, they’re downright annoying. Go here, talk to planetary representative. They need 10 shield generators. Have fun wading through possibly multiple sector blocks to get the needed items.

And, quite possibly the worst offender, the Briar Patch. This is a system filled with explosive gas that makes full impulse(fast movement, major penalty that takes time to diminish to attack, shields, and auxiliary power which affects turn rate, some special abilities), impossible. You have to take out ten turrets and some enemy ships, then storm a base. Gas clouds spawn all over that, if any weaponsfire happens near them, causes them to explode for ridiculous damage that bypasses shields to anything within 4km, which is kinda big(max weapon range is 10km). At times useful for taking out turrets and ships, more often than not you will find yourself blown up. And sent back to the entrance, because regardless of the map being somewhat large, and slow to traverse, unlike many(most?) other space missions, you have only the one respawn location. Just terrible mission design, completely lacking in polish. And the only way to really do the mission in any reasonable amount of time is to fly above the gas clouds, where half the turrets can’t target you, which just feels cheaty.

Murder, Death, Kill. So many of the missions involve busting a phaser cap in Klingons, or Klingon allies, it’s frigging ridiculous. Yes, we get it, the Federation and Klingon Empire are at war. But outside of a tiny number of scripted events, all space combats are to the death. No opponent, even non-Klingon enemies such as pirates, fight to the death with no survival instinct to flee, even if just to recharge shields. There is such little diplomacy in the game that it’s negative amounts. Every time you complete a mission, a war breaks out in a third world country. For realz.

Polish. It’s what’s helped to keep WoW the top MMO ever. This game? Very little. It feels slapped together, ground combat is awkward at best, mere days before launch and there are still what appear to be placeholder NPCs(from Champions Online) in dialogue options. The game is being rushed, it shows, and unless Cryptic has some major patching planned for very early, I think it will be the death of this game.

Instancing/Zoning. There is no contiguous feel to the game world. It’s so split up into system zones, and sector block zones, with instance caps of 50, and in some case 5 players, that it barely feels like an MMO.

 

Now, I may seem like I’m being harsh, but none of these issues are unfixable. Two more months of development, beta testing(with controlled numbers, and not open beta access being used as a marketing tool to sell preorders), communication between testers and devs, and this game would have a much better chance. It would be a pretty awesome game, one I would definitely play. Sadly, this is not going to happen. The bottom line is being put before producing a quality product, and it’s going to sink it.

I want this game to be good. I love Star Trek, and wish desperately that this game would live up to the awesome IP it’s based on. And there’s some just downright cool stuff. Being able to design your own, right down to the game mechanics influencing racial traits(think D&D 3/3.5 feats)? Brilliant. Leonard Nimoy voiceovering sector overviews? Incredible. But these are just small things, awesome by themselves, but not nearly enough to overcome the incredibly meh gameplay with it’s many issues.

 

I guess, then, there’s just one thing left to say. Help us, Bioware, you’re our only hope.

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Raid !

I watched you all raid last night and listened to all the gab while it was going on.  It’s easy to see why everyone loves it = what camaraderie!  What hilarity!  What joie de vivre!   Of course, you want to be there!

I was especially impressed with the Thaddeus/Feugen/Staggerlee (Stigmata, Sabbata – can’t recall his name) battle – that was epic.  And I still can’t get over how you all chat while chopping – incredible.  Oh, I don’t mean the calm, controlled constantly-changing stat quotes that Malfean and others insert, but the casual, off-hand comments; e.g., Iga’s “the chick who hit her is going to JAIL! – Ha, ha!!”  while simultaneously rezzing and/or healing and buffing 79 people (it seems) 79 times while under attack in the midst of furious battle.  Incredible.

And Iga, I was only laughing at your Frogger Annihilation because of the irony of it – I mean, you all had JUST discussed whether or not you were going to continue to make incessant fun of all who cratered at the Frogger crossing (quiet snickering from all)  with comments about how maybe it ought to be changed to the Thaddeus Leap, and you immediately went and Frogged out.  The humor of it just struck me, that’s all.    Just WAIT until I get my warlock out there, with her Doom Guard, and I will make up for it.

Whatever foul creatures you go after tonight (or tomorrow?), I will be cheering all of you on in the bleachers, here!

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Tweets and Gadgets

You might have noticed we’ve added Twitter to our site. Part of the reason for this is that we’re moving and I wanted to be able to keep in touch with our WoW guildies and also the blog as we’re in transit and before we get our internet set up. That should be an interesting task, since we’re going to be out in the country and there is basically ONE broadband option. A WISP, or wireless provider that caters to “last mile” wireless rural broadband. Looks to be good, just will take some time to set up. In the meantime, you can look for “Tweets” from us about our trip and on the status of our internet setup. Pray for us gamers, now and in the hour of our installation.

Secondly, I have a new and fun thing for you Windows Vista users! If you are using the Vista Sidebar with all of the fun gadget options like calendars, clocks, sticky notes and slideshows, there’s a new one just for WoW players! It’s called WoW Explorer. A neat little gadget with several nice background choices, that will display the realm status of your chosen realm(s) on your desktop all the time. (Handy for Tuesdays.) Also, it has a search feature that lets you search from among your favorite WoW related sites such as WoWDB, WoWHead, Thotbott, Allakhazam, WoWInsider, Curse Addons and even the Armory! Just today it’s been really handy for me when I was trying to figure out where to find a kind of fish I hadn’t gone after before. I recommend it!

And on a final note, when we do get our access back up and running, we should be introducing a new blogger to you. A blogger with a unique viewpoint. Stay tuned!

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Update!

Lord, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I really am terrible at the whole blogging thing, apparently.

So, big things are afoot in the RaidedM household…mainly, it is changing locations. I was laid off in November, and we’re moving to BFE, Texas so Sharon can be closer to her family…down the hall closer. We hit the road March 10th, so things have been and will continue to be hectic. Also, we’ll be without ‘net access probably for about a week or so once we get down there. Is there a way to set up an intravenous WoW drip?

On the WoW front, Blood has surprising become a very viable tanking spec. I’ve been main tanking Naxx 10 using this spec, which I’ve been extremely happy with. Sadly it’s getting a slight nerf in 3.1 as of the PTR right now, losing the expertise on Blood Gorged and gaining armor pen. On the upside, it gives some more liberty to not go 51 points deep in Blood, and play around a bit more in the other trees. Once 3.1 lands, I’m considering going with a Blood/Unholy tanking build that uses Death Strike for it’s U/F pair, skipping Annihilation for more toys in Unholy.

Also, in news from the PTR, Frost is taking it in the ass. Not only is Howling Blast getting moved to the 51 point talent, it’s taking a 25% damage cut, nerfing aoe threat generation for frost tanks in a big way, which will push more people into Blood or Unholy for tanking, and push the majority of DK DPSers to Unholy, pretty much killing Frost’s viability. The good news? Unholy is being buffed, so we can expect a nerf to Unholy and a buff to Frost shortly after the patch, if things remain as they are on the PTR.

And why is all of this taking place? Because Blizzard can’t seem to figure out how to make dual wielding a non-viable raid dps spec. Now, granted, the HB/Impurity/Crypt Fever build has been pretty broken for some time. Tossing on some rep blues/mostly greens in 3.0.3 and rocking 1800-2k DPS in heroics was a tad broken. However, there has to be a way to kill the DW specs without gutting Frost tanking in aoe situations. If they’re that determined to nullify dual wield in raiding situations, just remove the ability from DKs and compensate one handed weapons in inventory somehow.

Why do I say Blizzard is trying to remove dual wield viability entirely, rather than just balance it? Let’s look at the facts. Back in beta, Blizzard openly stated that they wanted 2h DPS to be superior to DW DPS. Also, let’s look at the tree. With Howling Blast moved to the 51 point talent, it is no longer possible to obtain it and Impurity, which was the main talent boosting the damage on it so high for DW DKs. You’re also no longer able to pick up desecration, another cut to the HB damage. I believe these changes would have brought DW spec in line with 2H DPS. However, to remove those talents interacting with Howling Blast -and- cut the damage on it by 25%, you’re gutting the ability, yet again making a substandard ability for the 51 point ability in Frost.

As a disclaimer, all of this ranting is regarding PTR patch notes/changes, which are subject to change at any time.

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Drama Llama Visits a Wow Couple

Playing WoW with your significant other has a lot of advantages. You can spend a lot of time together having fun while leveling, raiding, farming or just screwing around on those amusing new alts you just made. You always have someone to attend those crazy-fun BRK events with. You’ll never be one of those couples who goes out to dinner and simply stares at one another across the table with nothing to say, because there’s always some theorycraft to hash over or some amusing anecdote one of you missed in guildchat. You might get stares from people at the table next to you who think your discussions of shot rotation and mage talent builds is mind-bogglingly weird, but at least you’re enjoying your time together!

However, playing together has its downside, too. There are the nights when you want to work on those alts because, by god, you can taste 70, but your significant other wants to farm heroic badges. Or the evenings when one of you feels like raiding, but the other doesn’t, so one of you just goes along to make peace and not to be left lounging around watching TV alone for three hours while listening to one-sided Vent chat. It’s like anything else you do together; there’s compromise and sometimes not everyone is going to be happy.

Sometimes, though, it slips from being just casual “Oh darn, I didn’t want to do that tonight” stuff into actual disagreements. We’ve had actual arguments about who caused a facepull or my pulling aggro off of him when he’s tanking. Occasionally we’ll get miffed at something someone is doing in group and, because we don’t feel comfortable yelling at someone for their aggro management over Vent, we’ll lecture one another about what we’re doing wrong. Generally it’s mild, like two small yappy dogs going at it for a few minutes and then settling down again.

Then there are those other times, when the pressures of guild dynamics and politics actually start to weigh you down. People who don’t play, or who have never played a game with social interaction, simply have no concept of how “a game” can get to you. At least your significant other understands when you’re peeved over something someone in guildchat said or did, rather than asking why you’re angry over pixels. But when the politics and circumstances in the guild are getting to both of you, when it’s actually stressful and distracting, it begins to taint the fun and camaraderie you had built within this game you’re trying to play together and it starts to become “srs bzns”. Especially if one, or both, of you feels personally caught up in the complex guild implosion taking place around you. It’s hard to be happy-go-lucky when your over-dinner game hashing becomes less about how to write a sheeping macro and more about who said what to whom, possible Machiavellian motives and other dramatic complexities.

At one time, when we first started playing together, if you had asked me if we would eventually be embroiled in guild drama, I would have definitely said no. We don’t take this game that seriously! But I honestly should have known better, having been involved in social games in the past and knowing the way people work. However, there’s a point when, regardless of the people on the other side, you have to make yourself step back and say “It’s just a game”. You have to remember that you started playing the game to enjoy it and enjoy the company of the person you’re playing with, not to play an Azerothian version of Knot’s Landing (Whoa, I’m dating myself).

So do you quit? No, you don’t quit. Too much time and effort is invested! (Not to mention money, baby, with that $15 bucks a month each.) Do you leap headfirst into the maelstrom? No, not that, because you’re sick of that mess. Do you try to keep a cool and judicious head and keep trying to help things along? Yeah, ’cause that’s been working really well so far. Do you jump ship and strike out for calmer waters? Not promising, as this problem seems universal. Or do you just pull back, put on the brakes, and let things settle where they’re going to settle while concentrating on enjoying the game together, much in the way you originally did?

Yep. I’m going with that last one.

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Quick apology

For those of you reading through a feed reader, apologies for the spam that’s about to ensue. Explanation coming afterwards.

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Patch Day! 2.4.3

Lots of little tweaks, but the two I was most interested in are the fact that you can get mounts at 30 now and the huge freaking bags the slut Haris Pilton sells at the tavern in LC.

Honestly, I’m stoked about mounts at 30. It just means less trouble for my alts. Am I poor-mouthing about “back in my day we had to wait until 40. Then travel five miles uphill in the snow to get our mounts!”? Well, maybe a little, but it still makes things easier on everybody and I’m for that. Besides, it just makes it easier for them to put new mounts in Wrath and wring more pixelated money out of us. As for the bags, holy unlimited cargo space, Batman! The price on those things is just this side of extortion. Not to mention the assorted useless items she sells that are 2-3k. Who’s going to pay 2k for a pair of sunglasses? (Ok, I admit, I was tempted for a moment there. An around-town outfit with sunglasses and a pair of the knit sandals that look like flip-flops? Awesome summer chic. Gimme a break. I’m a girl.)

I’ll leave the dissection of the changes and how they’ve  nerfed/buffed various classes to someone who knows everything about all the classes. Meanwhile, how sad is it that the first thing I did, was go get a Nether Ray Fry ? It matches!

Mother and Baby!

Mother and Baby!

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Server Shenannigans

Was anyone else around last night who had to experience the “World of Warcraft Server Follies”? Quite the show, wasn’t it? Maybe it was just on Turalyon, but it was interesting.

We’d decided to hit up Heroic Mech for some badges with some guildies when people started having lag. Ok, well that, happens, but not usually to 20 people at once. Guild chat was filling up with comments. I happened to have just died in Mech, so I attempted to release as our Paladin was one of the ones having problems, and it wouldn’t let me. After several attempts, including using the repop script commands and no success, Malfean had me Alt+F4 out and relog. At which point, this happened:

Floating Mech

Floating Mech

And this:

Moar Floating Mech

Moar Floating Mech

If you look closely you can see in the first picture that the people I was with are still standing in what used to be the hallway before Capacitus. You can even see the elevator in the background. In the second screencap you can see Capcitus himself having a jolly old time floating in space with his buddies, all hippedy hopping around in the clouds and stars of deep Netherstorm.

The best part was that, when I hit release, I fell through the sky and disappeared and could see nothing but stars. And I still took falling damage! Every time I hit release, I died again and took falling damage. At one point our Pally got back, walked into the middle of empty space, rezzed me, and I fell and died again. By the time the servers got back to normal 30 minutes later my gear was busted and it cost me 16g to repair. I was unhappy…but it was still pretty damned funny.

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