Eleven-Four

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Kiryn's place for rants about stuff. (version 6.0)

Archive for the ‘World of Warcraft’ Category

Pandaren children will haunt my nightmares

Friday, September 28th, 2012

I brought the spirit of fire to the temple, then left on my next quest. These odd little gnomes started swarming me, trying to chat with me about something or other, but I was paying little attention to what they were saying because I was trying to figure out what the hell they were.

They looked a bit like gnomes. Why are there gnomes on the Wandering Isle? Is this how I get introduced to the outside world? Gnomes swarming me in the starting area? Hmm. There’s something not quite right about their heads. I turn my camera around to get a better look… and I had to stop myself from screaming.

If my character is a dwarf dressed up like a panda-themed high school football mascot, these things are like gnomes wearing those plastic mickey mouse masks with the cutout eyes. Each one frozen in an identical, permanent creepy smile, with dark, cold, sunken eyes. They could not have made more disturbing faces if they tried. I think the pandaren halloween masks will be a great success next month.

Also, I think I’ve decided that it’s really weird how pandaren cut holes out of all of their pants for their little nubby tails. It looks really out of place. Those tails would fit just fine in pants! You don’t have to cut a hole!

Last night I was really feeling like the story was very tedious. What do you mean, I have to go find THREE MORE of these spirits? Ugh. But now that I’ve gotten towards the end of the zone, the dynamic between the two main characters is more interesting. I found the early story to be far too predictable, (Oh, the strongman appeared again, asking for a stronger material than last time? I bet this will eventually lead to me finding a material he can’t break with his face.) but I will give them credit: I was not expecting such a large river of blood, and the cinematic cutscene was a nice touch. Their faces are still hella creepy though.

The quest right after that was too vague, though. It told me to go out and find more healers, then protect them against the monsters. I went out, found a couple of healers, then stood around killing lizardmen for way longer than I probably should have, waiting for the quest to complete. When it didn’t, I eventually concluded that I had to go find more healers (even though they didn’t give me a number to go find) and that eventually did it.

I see examples of their laziness all over the place, though. Between the four or five times so far that a moving version of an NPC spawned on top of the stationary one and they overlapped for a second or two until the stationary one despawned, rather than making NPCs capable of movement, and the little cutscene after protecting the healers where the camera goes behind a tree to cover your view for three or four seconds so it can swap from the river of blood to the “happy healed all done” phase, I’m getting my immersion broken all over the place. Every few minutes I am reminded of the technical aspect of this area.

However, the environments are just plain gorgeous. It really does feel like they sank their entire budget into making beautiful new environments and didn’t bother to polish anything else. I think that’s why the majority of the advertisements for MOP are nothing but screenshots of lush jungles and temples and whatnot.

Note to self: add new mods to the setup.

Tooltip mod to move it to my cursor, or at least to a higher point on the screen, because right now the tooltip is sitting right in the middle of my minimap. It’s making it really hard to see where I’m going.

Quest tracker mod, because for some reason, the default quest tracker is only showing me two quests at a time, even when I have more. Have I completed my third quest? I have no idea. There’s a checkmark next to it in the quest log to say that it’s being tracked, and if I untrack my second quest, it shows up on the tracker, but otherwise it’s missing. Besides the fact that I can’t move it at all to be up in the top right where it needs to be.

Barely have any time to play this week due to solid overtime. I’ve been so focused on getting my UI set up for WoW that I haven’t logged into GW2 in days. Looking forward to the weekend for some solid game time, not to mention going out and getting some fresh air as well after being cooped up in this office all week. I need to take a nice walk to the lake, and go catch that new time travel movie. I’m a sucker for time travel movies. But… Hotel Transylvania is coming out too! How to decide?!

Mists of Pandaria – First Five Levels

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

If you play, come visit Yinfeng (Silver Wind) on Feathermoon. We will probably be going Horde side this time, as we played through the new Wrath AND Cataclysm content on Alliance before, and this offers an opportunity to do a lot of new stuff.

As happens every time I come back to WoW, I start off with default UI. Very rapidly come to the realization that I cannot play like this for more than a few hours. Every interface looks stale and dated. The information I need is too small, surrounded by way too many useless graphical elements rather than being crisp and clean and functional, and is arranged as far away from everything else as possible.

My action bar icons are tiny little bits of color in this sea of gray tile and gryphons, with the actual useful buttons lopsided on the left with a bunch of useless menu and bag buttons on the right that I will almost never press. My health bar is this thin green bar surrounded by more gray in the top left corner, while my buffs are thrown over in the top right corner, forcing me to be looking all over my screen rather than having everything I need in one place.

The biggest annoyances are things I can do nothing about. I have to actually right-click on things to loot them? Where’s my Interact key? Why can’t I double-click on things in my bag to use them — it’s not like double-clicking does anything. It shouldn’t be hard for them to add that functionality.

Why do I HAVE to hold down shift or ctrl or whatever in order to see the gear comparison? The two of us were so sure that was an option that you could reverse, like auto-loot, that we spent a few minutes poring over the interface options before eventually giving up and concluding that it wasn’t in there.

I am rearranging my UI to be as similar to Guild Wars 2 as possible. No more than 5 main rotation attacks, on big huge buttons slightly to the bottom left. No more than 5 side abilities, one of which heals me and one of which has a really long cooldown. Make the map square and bigger, move it to the bottom right. Put my health/energy/chi in the bottom center between the two bars, with my buffs and debuffs just above the right bar. I’ll probably use F1 through F5 for Chi-using skills, unless the class ends up wanting me to stance dance often.

Here’s a pic in progress. I haven’t gotten the cast bar or party frames set up yet, and I don’t have any skills on the F keys so that bar is invisible right now. I’d still like to move my quest log into the upper right corner and make my chat log a slightly less in-your-face opacity, but it’s functional for the moment. I like having the buttons big enough that I can see the great artistic detail that went into them.

(Pitbull, Bartender, Chinchilla, rChat in this screenshot, also using Quartz and Bagnon for things you can’t see.)

I’ll have to avoid using Q or E for anything at all, sadly (unless my monk gets some kind of movement ability, which seems likely, to put on a hidden Q dodge key) which is a waste of keyboard real estate, but otherwise I’m going to confuse myself terribly. I can probably use tilde to swap the 1-5 bar between two different states (damage and healing?) to simulate the GW2 weapon swap.

That out of the way, Monk is reasonably interesting so far. At first I was like “okay, so I spend energy to get combo points on myself — isn’t this just paladin holy power without mana?” but then unlike combo points OR holy power, I do not spend all of them to use finishing moves, but instead I spend them more like death knight runes, one or two at a time.

I have been saying for a long time that I wanted a non-mana healing class, but from what I’m seeing of these addon options, the monk’s healing “stance” uses mana just like druids do when they’re not in beast form. Way to be creative, blizz.

I ended up with a cape reasonably early that goes down long enough to cover my tail, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the plus side, the cape is animated properly rather than sticking out to avoid my tail like it does on the draenei. On the other hand, what’s the point of having a tail if I don’t get to look at it? I wish I didn’t have to go into the options menu to turn my cloak on and off, but I don’t really want to install an addon just for that.

Oh, but I finally put my finger on why I hate the pandaren face so much. It doesn’t look like the face of a real creature. It’s frozen into that static plastic grin all the time, and all I can think about when looking at it is that I’m a female dwarf dressed up as the panda-themed mascot for a high school sports team, about to put on a cheerleader’s outfit and go get some teenagers excited about football. This isn’t really appropriate attire for a fantasy adventurer.

With monks available for all races, I’ll probably swap to an orc monk once we’re out of this starting area. I don’t know if I can keep using this stupid-looking character long enough to check out the new content.

Mists of Pandaria: Character Creation

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

I’ve been playing the hell out of Guild Wars 2, and not posting here because I have little to complain about that isn’t being posted directly into their suggestions forum. However, my gaming partner is unsatisfied by the lack of his favorite trinity role in that game, and so we are returning to WoW on a temporary basis to level through the newly added content as a team before quitting again.

After having done my best to ignore most news about this expansion since whatever was mentioned during the Blizzcon panels themselves, I’m going into this as blind as possible. So far, I’ve created my female pandaren monk to cover as much new content ground as possible. I know that monks have subclasses to handle all three trinity roles, and they use Chi as a resource, but I know precious little else.

I am unhappy at the complete lack of facial feature options. I really dislike the female pandaren’s face, but my “face” options in character creation are all exactly the same face with different fur patterns around my eyes. I don’t CARE how much/little color I have around my eyes and how it’s arranged. I just want to fix that dumb-looking mouth and it won’t let me! =/

I am unhappy that in order to have a pandaren with a tail, I am required to have red/brown fur. I think the brown fur looks ugly. I think it’s going to clash with the colors of my future armor sets. I want to have a panda with black or gray fur. But no! In REAL life, only RED pandas have tails, so too it must be here. I would far rather have had a “tail” selection than these lame earrings. Then I could pick between no tail, the stripy tail, and the fox-looking tail with various levels of contrast in addition to whatever fur color I chose.

I am unhappy that my hair color is determined by my fur color, and they tricked me into thinking I’d be able to change it by having a “hair color” selection there. No! I only get to have a tiny dyed streak of that color on my bangs and all the rest of my hair is BROWN. Brown brown brown boring boring BROWN. Tauren hair color is determined by fur color too, but at least they don’t get my hopes up by having a “hair color” slider that only changes the color of the bands holding my pigtails.

These hairstyle options are terrible. I have every intention of running this character to a city as soon as I can and finding a better one at the barbershop.

Oh well. There’s a certain freedom to the knowledge that a character is simply a temporary diversion instead of a real person I’ll be identifying myself with for an indefinite period of time. It’s like when I’m creating a throwaway character for testing at work, and it doesn’t matter what I name them, and I don’t have to spend twenty minutes micromanaging their facial features because it doesn’t matter.

However, this whole process really feels like the art team was not given nearly enough time on this project, or maybe they’re understaffed. Or maybe they’re just getting lazy. Whatever the reason, I am so far unimpressed with this latest expansion, and the game is definitely showing its age in a time when so many other MMOs are offering a plethora of character customization options and sliders.

Three-manning Karazhan… at level 70?

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Since my last post, we’ve done a smattering of quests throughout Outland, mostly picking and choosing the ones that had greens with sockets in them, but most of our time has been spent in dungeons. Yesterday, we finished the last of the Outland dungeons, two-manning every one of them except Black Morass (not because we couldn’t, but because a friend’s level 68 mage alt needed to run it as well).

Overall, the most difficult fight was still Priestess Delrissa in Magister’s Terrace, but that was true even back in BC. I counted several times that I almost died throughout the fight, and I was actually quite surprised I lasted as long as I did. We didn’t wipe on any of the 5-man bosses, killing them all in the first try, usually using only the vague memories we had of the fights from doing them years ago along with observations of what the bosses did while we were fighting them. Half of the time, I wouldn’t even remember what the next boss was until we walked into their room to fight them.

After these experiences, I think the current power scaling at lower levels makes us each equal to approximately three people. Maybe four. We were accidentally pulling multiple trash groups that I remember being seriously painful, and surviving with only minor difficulty. We’d be pulling multiple groups on purpose just to make the dungeon go faster. Overall, we had a far easier time two-manning the dungeons now than we did 5-manning them back when they were relevant.

I wanted to see just how bad the scaling was, and if we could find our limit. How would we fare in Karazhan? Our friend the level 68 mage wanted to join us, so the three of us (two 70s with questing greens/blues and a few non-heroic dungeon drops, and a 68 mage wearing mostly heirlooms) headed over. We were expecting to get seriously pwned by the trash and call it a day.

The horses in the stable certainly weren’t any harder than the 5-man trash was. The horseman boss was actually kinda a pushover. Hmm, how far can we push this? Moroes was probably the hardest, because we not only had to deal with four adds, but also with Moroes himself constantly blinding me so I couldn’t heal, and making all of us bleed for massive damage. We wiped on him a couple of times, but pulled it together in the end.

We kept clearing through to Maiden and Opera Event, taking them out as well with only minimal difficulty. Stopped for the night since it was getting quite late, and continued again tonight at Curator. We had to skip Nightbane because none of us had done the quest to summon him, and Netherspite because the fight mechanics make it incredibly difficult to kill him with fewer people. Maybe we’ll go back for them later.

But all of the other bosses? Slain, by us, in our three-man group, at level, with below-par gear. And it was actually much easier than it was back in BC with 10 people. No more than two wipes per boss, and we killed… 4 of them… on the first try (Horseman, Maiden -though we wiped on her trash three times-, Curator, and Illhoof) I would have never dreamed it possible.

Searching for a challenge in Cataclysm

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Rick and I are saddened by how much the old world instances have been nerfed. Possibly, rather, by how much our characters have been buffed, such that there is very little challenge left for a tank/healer duo, even in dungeons that are supposedly for five people. With five players in these dungeons, there isn’t enough time for the bosses to do anything interesting; they’re burned down within a matter of seconds. The trash is usually far more dangerous. I’d be truly shocked if anyone died during a boss fight.

We were running BRD for our level 50 class quests, and in the dungeon finder’s infinite wisdom, the final boss for dungeon finder credit in the first half is actually the first boss of the dungeon, even though the NPCs at the beginning give you a bunch of quests for the other bosses in the first half. You can skip her and run all the way back when you’re done with the rest in order to hold your groupmates hostage, or you can kill her when you pass her area and hope your groupmates feel like sticking around. We did half and half, running around to kill the other early bosses, then coming back for the Interrogator before moving on to the bosses in the middle, and as expected, two of our DPS left shortly after. The third stuck around for a while, but eventually told us he had to go. We just shrugged and kept going, and the dungeon was not significantly more difficult without them.

Even when it was just the two of us, the mobs and bosses still don’t do enough damage to counteract my smite-heals most of the time, though I am bubbling more than usual. The only issue we have is that it takes us longer to kill the bosses, which isn’t really much of an issue at all if you consider that we were killing them far too fast when we did it with 5 people. Killing them more slowly allows us more time to see the cool abilities the bosses have.

For example, we ended up continuing through BRD all the way past the bar to the Ambassador (don’t remember his name but he’s one of those fiery snake-dudes), who was level 55 to our 52, and for the very first time EVER, I saw why he summoned those fire elementals to him. They buff him with a stacking buff that increases his damage! Since I don’t learn Holy Nova until 62 (a thing that I am continuously annoyed about) we really have no way to effectively stop those elementals, so the guy had something like a 16-stack of that buff by the time he went down. Even with 80% increased damage, he wasn’t hitting hard enough for me to stop smiting and start healing for real. I guess almost doubling a pathetically low number still results in a pretty pathetically low number.

This is the exact playstyle I’ve always asked for — being able to Smite and Holy Fire to my heart’s content while fighting bosses. The mechanic of it is incredibly fluid. I Holy Fire, and due to my glyph, the dot from that increases the damage my Smites do. Both of these damage spells also heal the tank for 100% of the damage they deal, so increasing the damage is increasing the healing. With each of them that I cast, I get a stacking buff that increases the damage of further uses (so, further increasing the healing) while decreasing the mana cost. At 5 stacks of this, I can remove those buff stacks to get pretty wings, a burst of restored mana, and a buff that increases all of my healing (including the healing from my Smite damage). On TOP of which, every time my Smite crits, the heal from it also counts as a crit — and critical heals create a bubble for 30% of the healing done.

All of this adds up to… I can’t do enough damage to compete with a real DPS (who would get 200% damage crits and a lot of passive buffs to increase their damage further) but what I CAN do is keep the tank topped off without having to stop dealing damage to do so. Prior to Cataclysm, I had to choose… I could deal damage, or I could heal. One or the other, but never both at the same time. If the tank was taking a certain amount of damage, I’d have to concentrate on healing, and the entirety of our damage was coming from the tank. And honestly, even now, I don’t think we’d be able to do this nearly as well if I were not a discipline priest.

The new mechanics allow us to quite easily two-man dungeons previously intended for 5 people, while in the intended level range. The loot that drops is actually good for us, and the best part is that we aren’t competing with anyone else for any of it. We’re actually kinda regretting that we didn’t think of this 40 levels ago.

But then we went to Sunken Temple, and stared in shock as we walked down the stairs to see an instance entrance earlier than it should be, and walked inside to see that we had skipped half of the dungeon. As bullshit as that place used to be with its endless low-level trash and semi-bosses that you had to fight your way through to unlock the end bosses, and the excessively long quest chain we had to do in order to summon Hakkar at all, I was proud of the fact that I knew my way around. Though, admittedly, I still had to go to Wowhead to remind myself which order to hit the statues in if I hadn’t been there within the past couple of weeks. But now, the place has been sliced in half, with all of the confusing hallways and stairs to the six statues removed entirely. “Destroyed in the Cataclysm” it seems.

I appreciate that there is now quest explanation for how the green dragons have been corrupted, and I also appreciate that the Hakkar fight doesn’t force you to wait through five minutes of extinguishing braziers before you can fight him, but it turns that fight into a simple tank n’ spank, as Hakkar himself doesn’t actually do anything at all other than attack. At least, he didn’t when we were fighting him.

Jammal’an, however, was one of the best challenges we’ve had so far. If you’ve ever run Sunken Temple in the past, you’ll know that he periodically mind-controls a member of the party. With the two of us, this was crazy. He’d mind-control the tank, and I’d have two bosses and a hella buffed party member all attacking me at the same time. That mind-control would wear off, and we’d have mere seconds until he would mind-control me instead. A couple of times, I just barely survived these phases, and we swapped back and forth over and over while whittling down his health in the few seconds between mind controls. Eventually taking him down was incredibly satisfying.

We moved out of his room and walked towards Eranikus, and were suddenly struck with a thought of “oh man, we should have prepared more for this!” We remembered his Deep Sleep ability that will cause this enormous dragon to ignore the tank and head straight for me, forcing me to tank him for an extended time until the tank wakes up again. Would I have enough health to survive the dragon’s onslaught? Rick handed me some food to increase my stamina for a bit, and we went in. The first two times Eranikus used his Deep Sleep, it seemed to be resisted. The third time, Rick used his human racial ability to break it, and grabbed Eranikus back again. It only actually worked twice, and both times, Eranikus only got two hits in before it wore off and he went back. He never even broke through my bubble, and he was far easier to take down than Jammal’an because of it.

I was actually pretty disappointed with that fight for a few hours afterward, until we were doing quests in Hellfire and I saw my glyphed bubble crit-heal for about 1500. Keeping in mind that the bubble glyph is only supposed to heal for 30% of the bubble’s amount, I glanced at my bubble’s tooltip. Turns out that my bubble’s health is almost as much as my entire health bar. Jeez, no wonder Eranikus couldn’t break through it. I shouldn’t have been surprised, really. I just had THREE bosses (I consider party members to be equivalent to bosses when they can crit me for 1200 damage) hitting me during the Jammal’an fight — Eranikus may be a dragon, but he’s still only one boss.

We then proceeded into Outland, 2-manning Hellfire Ramparts, Blood Furnace, and Slave Pens without much difficulty, and indeed, not much more slowly than we would have done it with five people. Not only is it not a challenge, but we’re regularly pulling multiple trash groups at a time because just pulling one is too slow. Bosses and trash pulls that I remember being difficult with five people back in BC are not even a challenge with two any more.