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WoW: Swift(y) Situation

July 19, 2011

I honestly do not have any real opinion on the subject.  The video itself seemed extremely shady on both sides.  Mostly because it did not actually allow for us to see a timeline of events, nor did it show the actual server going down.  Just him saying the words “guys we dont want to crash the server” (or something to that effect) and him in game getting notice that he was banned.  We, the people who are commenting here, have no idea what Blizzard’s investigation shows.  I for one can say, that if Bashiok is to be held to his word (which I am less and less inclined to do but am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt), the GM that actually used the banhammer in game did so without following the correct protocol.  Watching the video at least, we are lead to believe that there was some sort of streamed live event, the servers went down, he logged back in and was banned on the spot.  We as outside observers do not know if this is the case.  We are not even privy to the exact thing he was original banned for.  We do NOT have all the information.

Unfortunately, Blizzard and Bashiok specifically have lost their ability to manage their own community.  They have lost their touch and have lost their ability to do any good P.R. spinwork.  They realized too late that this player that their GM team had banned was an “internet celebrity” and Player sponsored by one of their key merchandising partners.  This is the most unfortunate thing.

Whether or not the ban of Swifty (and friends) was appropriate or not, we are left with very clear idea that Blizzard fucked up and did so multiple times during this fiasco.  We now have the distinct feeling that 1) they may have not followed their own internal protocols on how to handle player bans/investigations 2) that they can and will be swayed by a large amount of forum outpouring and Youtube hype and 3) that they will bend over backward for their Sponsor/Partners.

While 0-3 of these things may actually be true, we are left with the feeling that they all are.  The saddest fact that has come out of this mess is that we are left now with Bashiok and when you add all of this to all of the rest of the recent messes, we are left with a community that has very little respect for him.  He has gone from a community manager who people listened to and grudgingly respected to someone who just seems like a little informed brat.  The forums lately have become a festival of gripes over this or over that.  This is not the first time this has happened, it is just the first time that the CMs seem to be doing nothing but fueling the fire.

In my opinion, Bashiok should take a much needed break away from the forums and let someone else take over his role for a while.  We could use some new blood feeding us the WoW news everyday.  Both the good and the bad are there to be had everyday, but we could all stand to lose a lot of the thread deletions, this thread already exists, and other random junk that is fast making the CMs sound and feel like just a bunch of bullies and the userbase feel less and less heard.

In the end, the entire situation with Swifty just comes off as sketchy to me.  We do not know the entire situation from either point of view.  If he did what he is rumored to have been a part of.  Even if it was not something that he was a completely willing participant in, he should have been banned and kept being banned.  I realize he is a WoW celebrity, but the reality is, celebrity should NOT protect you from doing stupid crap and getting away with it.  We have had entirely too much of that in the past.  The sad fact of the world of MMOs however is that there is no jail, there is no court system where you are fined, or put to community service.  If there were, he probably would have been fined 100k gold and sent to the Molten Front to do 30 day of hard dailies (oh wait…)

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Blade & Soul: WTF?

May 2, 2011

Leave it NCSoft to bring us another Korean made MMO that gives us WTF moment after WTF moment.  The simple fact of the matter is that I have been looking at this MMO since I was playing Aion.  It is one of the many new “Action Combat” based MMOs that will be released in the next 12 months.  The overall concept of the game seems to be completely based in the old asian mythology.  Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the MMO.

The graphics are pretty damn nice looking and the overall look and feel of the game is pretty awesome.  Right down to the combat animations.  Taking a look at the video of the massive group PvP shows many of these animations.  The two biggest things you will notice are that there seem to be no lag whatsoever in the large group combat.  A pretty amazing feat considering the number of players that are on screen.

The second has to be the gliding.  Which is the true WTF moment.  This type of gameplay just seems far too gimmicky for words.  I had been looking forward to checking out this game until I saw it.

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Rift’s Disaster?!

April 17, 2011

Yes, I have been playing Rift for the past 30 days.  My account was set to expire this morning.  The climax of the River of Souls event was to be the make or break for me to re-subscribe or to let my account lapse.  So let me take a few moments and discuss the event as a whole.

Phase One: The Joke

The first phase of this event was pretty much a ridiculous excuse to add another set of currency and daily quests.  Sure, this has pretty much become a staple for MMO events, thanks much to World of Warcraft’s handling of most of their world events.  However, the major difference here is that in WoW or FFXI or even Warhammer we were given a number of activities ranging from completing a few dailies, killing some newly spawned event only monsters, to completing some random task such as collecting easter eggs, spelling our name with letters or just plain going into a dungeon and defeating a special event only encounter.

With Rift, we were relegated to participating in content that was “new” yet it was still the same old thing.  During phase 1 of the encounter we were given several new Rift types.  While in and of themselves they were interesting, but they got old fast.  The real meat of the phase was already the basic routine of playing the game.  What we got was a zone that normally received invasions of Water and Life, we got some Death invasions mixed in.  In the zones such as Stillmoor, Gloamwood and Scarwood Reach where death invasions were already the norm, we got nothing but the status quo. Read the rest of this entry »

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SE Shuts Down Servers – An Opportunity?

March 18, 2011

The devastation in the wake of Japan’s earthquake/tsunami and ongoing structural issues have prompted many Japanese based companies to shift or cease operations temporarily.  Square-Enix is one of the major ones making news with their shutdowns of both of their Final Fantasy MMOs for an open-ended period of time.

While press releases from Square-Enix have indicated that both services could be back up and running as early as March 20th, these are far from solid restart dates for either game.  With electricity concerns and rolling black outs in effect for much of Japan, this time frame could be pushed back.  Now the question is, when that day comes that the power company re-stabilizes itself, should Square-Enix flip the switch back on for both games?

We all know that Final Fantasy XI is going to get turned back on as soon as it possibly can be.  Even with a considerable amount of XI’s playerbase leaving the game since last year’s FanFest and its announcement that the level cap would be increased by 24 levels.  Many players were excited by this news and many other players were dismayed and left the game.  Reports have the game’s subscription levels dropping from the 500,000 mark to around 100-125,000 currently.  While this is a significant loss over the course of a calendar year, the game is old, takes very little development dollars and the income greatly outweighs the cost.

Its baby sister however is not doing even that well.  With less than 100,000 boxes for Final Fantasy XIV sold in North America and Collector’s Edition boxes still sitting on store shelves 6 months after it’s release, FFXIV was the biggest flop in the last 5 years of video games.  The game is in its 5th Free Month.  Should SE take this as an opportunity to take the game offline for an extended period of time and do some substantial redesigning and fixing of issues?  Should SE take this as a sign and an excuse to take the game offline permanently?

I honestly do not think SE will keep XIV off longer than XI, but they should.  The game had so much potential and many former XI players and WoW players alike looked forward to the game for 2 years.  Until the day we saw the final open beta push that is.  This is the definition of opportunity.  We should see a closing of the game for at least 6 months and a relaunch.

If not, then we should see an apology and a closure.  Final Fantasy XIV had potential.  It never lived up to it.  It tried to do far too much innovation without innovating things people wanted changed.  The game was never supposed to live in the same MMO market as WoW or Rift.  It is/was a game that was meant to be different from the get go.  It just never made any of its basic game systems the “good” kind of different.

So, Square-Enix look upon this as an opportunity to fix the game and bring it down for a month or two (or six).

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Rallying Cry: A Mistake or Needed Cooldown?

February 25, 2011

With the 4.1 PTR now live we are able to see the newest changes to each of the classes.  There are changes to three of the 4 tanking classes.  However, the druid changes are basically buffs to their TPS abilities since they were so obviously overnerfed in a hotfix recently.  The Paladin changes deserve their own post.  So that leaves the Warrior Changes.  One Warrior Change in particular… Rallying Cry.

 

Rallying Cry
3 min cooldown

Temporarily grants you and all party or raid members within 30 yards 20% of maximum health for 10 sec.
After the effect expires, the health is lost.
(Shares a cooldown with Last Stand.)

On its face this ability is a boon for all specs of Warrior.  This solves our balance issues with Protection Paladins and their Divine Guardian.  This gives us a raid cooldown that is actually good and useful.  That is until we look at the fine print.  That “Shares a cooldown with Last Stand” part of the description.  Ahhh and there is the rub.  What are the ramifications of this?

1) Why does Rallying Cry share Last Stand’s cooldown?

By making these abilities share a cooldown Blizzard has solved one problem while causing another.  There is a reason why Divine Guardian also has fine print in its description.  Divine Guardian does NOT effect the casting Paladin.  Why?  For one reason and one reason only, because the developers did not want to give Paladins yet another cooldown they could use while tanking.

These abilities were designed to be used as raid cooldowns and not as personal cooldowns.  Thus by linking the cooldowns will force the cooldown to not be used as a personal tanking cooldown.

2) How does the linking effect Last Stand?

Unfortunately, this will cause other complications based on the overall design of this ability.  By linking these two cooldowns creates a paradigm where tanking warriors are now forced to make a decision between using one of their two tanking cooldowns and saving it to benefit the raid at a set point in an encounter.  Thus, for a good chunk of the more difficult encounters where a raid cooldown may be called for Warrior tanks will now be without a cooldown they would normally have.

3) What are the ramifications for Fury and Arms?

What of the other warriors inside your raid?  While Arms Warriors are not a spec that are often brought to raids for their stellar dps, fury warriors are.  Warrior damage is high and raids are bringing the “player” and not the “class”.  After this change will warriors be brought for their class?

We had similar circumstances back in Wrath of the Lich King.  Back then, all Paladins had access to Divine Guardian.  Paladins of all three specs were being brought to raids because of this.  Retribution Paladins in particular were being brought because of this.  Divine Guardian was so powerful that when the trees were redesigned the ability was given only to tanks.  Tanks and healers have a place to protect the raid.  Limiting and healing damage to the raid is their pervue.  The DPS pervue is to do damage and keep themselves alive.

I am not going to say that Rallying Cry will be to Warriors what Heroism/Bloodlust was to Shaman.  I will however say, that the ability will shift raid makeups considerably across the board.  Where there were once 1 DPS warrior in a 25 man raid, there will now be 2-3.  Where there were no warriors in a 10man group, there will be 1.

Raid cooldowns should remain in the hands of the Tanks and the Healers.

4) How do we fix this ability to be what Warrior tanks need?

First off, do we as warrior tanks need a raid cooldown?  Part of me wants to say, “No we do not.”  While the other part of me see’s Divine Guardian and says “They have one, I want one!”  What it really comes down to, will Protection Warriors be chosen more over Paladins if they had a similar raid cooldown?  I can’t help but to agree that they would.  Yet, that being said, is it a necessary addition to the game?

Personally, I am going to go with the “No we do not” sentiment.  However, it seems like we are getting this no matter if we like it or not.  So how do we make this ability workable within the Protection Warrior toolkit?

The easiest solution is perhaps the best solution.  Divine Guardian has fine print, just copy it and paste it into the Last Stand talent.  Create extra wording to the talent changing Rallying Cry from effecting the warrior if cast by him and preventing Last Stand and Rallying Cry from being up at the same time no matter who cast what.

Yes, it would be better if Rallying Cry was flat out attached to Last Stand’s Talent.  One talent to grant both abilities within the Protection tree.  Thus making it a Protection only ability.

5) What are the PvP ramifications?

I do not PvP regularly, but I can see some real issues within organized PvP.  Rallying Cry during an Arena Match could turn the tide.  Rallying Cry during a Tol Barad could do the same.  Giving upwards of 40 people 20% extra health will be as strong or stronger than a well-timed Time Warp/Heroism/Bloodlust.  Is Blizzard thinking everything as through as we’d like?

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Been gone too long..

February 17, 2011

With the release of FFXIV and it being pretty much Dead on Arrival, I took a step back from really posting.  To be honest, I had hugely high hopes for the game and its utter and total failure to bring even a modernized and playable version of FFXI to the table was more than a huge let down for me.

WoW is a game that just ends up bringing me back into the fold.  Not because WoW is an awesome game, but because other games just do not do anything WoW does with any polish.  I honestly, loved the “Asian Grind” that was the original Final Fantasy MMO.  FFXI had its grind, but it mitigated that grind with a heck of a lot of good story, cutscenes and missions that mattered both to the player and to the world at large.  Armor, Weapons and other rewards you got along the way, often times stayed with you for a long period of time.  A character in the game was permanent and was “all-in-one”.  You “owned” your character much more because you could grow with it.  Want to play a mage today?  Sure, just go to your Moogle and change jobs and level up!”  There was no rolling or rerolling when you wanted to change it up.

I was looking forward to that more than anything in FFXIV.  Alas, even that portion of the game was botched in my mind.  From the first day I entered the Alpha, I wasn’t impressed with the new “Armory” system of choosing your job.  Crafting as a “Class”?  It never made sense to anyone and it just didn’t work in the end.

That brings me to the simple fact about FFXIV.  It won’t recover.  The new development staff may be trying to tell us of all these changes they are making to the game.  However, it’s all smoke and mirrors and the game will probably never make it out of its “free to play” time it currently sits in.  While I know a handful of people who still play the game and are having fun with it, that is a small majority.  What those players have to say about the state of the game still holds true.  It’s not a great game, it’s not a good game, it’s just a game of hope.  They are holding out that the devs give them what they are telling them they are going to get.  Hope is all they have, because the rest of the MMO market consists of a handful of older games, that most have either played or have no interest in, WoW, or a couple of new games like DCUO or Rift.

Most players left WoW for XIV because they were tired of the Amusement Park mentality Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick Tip: Flight Training

November 20, 2010

Just a quick tip for moving into 4.03a and Cataclysm.

Master Riding Skill otherwise known as 310% riding speed can currently be purchased in several locations.  While it is 5000g in Dalaran, it is only the low low price of 4000g in Borean Tundra.  This price is good at both Warsong Hold and Valiance Keep.  So this discount is good for both factions.