Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Jaina and me.

Khadgar has taken a course of action that he knew would allow him to depose Jaina from the leadership of the Kirin Tor and assume the leadership himself. Now, Khadgar was the guy who had us storm the Dark Portal into Alternative Draenor and free Gul'dan from his imprisonment, so he is far from infallible. Jaina, on the other hand, has always been right, and despite that is always marginalised by the menfolk in the Alliance (Ansirem Runeweaver is the only honorable exception).

  • She was right to try to build a dialogue with Thrall in the hopes of bringing peace between the Horde and the Alliance
  • She was right to urge Varian to defend the lands in Kalimdor that the horde were invading under Garrosh's leadership
  • She was right to banish the Horde from Dalaran in reponse to their betrayal of the neutrality of Dalaran by smuggling the Divine Bell through the city. The Divine Bell, you will recall, was to be the power unit for a bomb similar to the one that flattened Theramore and killed all its inhabitants.
  • She was right to urge Varian to besiege and take Orgrimmar and defeat the horde under Garrosh. if only Varian had allowed Thrall to execute Garrosh when he had the chance, and had followed Jaina's advice to take executive control of Orgrimmar and dismantle the Horde as a military force and a political entity, we would not face the peril we currently face.
  • After Varian's death, she was right to urge Anduin not to trust the horde, who had shown their untrustworthy character on several occasions - the invasion of Azeroth by the orcs; the destruction of Lordaeron by the undead; the Wrathgate; Theramore; the list is far from complete. The Horde, and not the Burning Legion, are the greater existential threat to the Alliance.

She's had enough of being right and being ignored, and has withdrawn from the Kirin Tor in the wake of the council's vote of no confidence - effectively telling her that they prefer Aethas Sunreaver to her. My respect for Jaina and my repugnance of the disloyalty shown by the council will not allow me to give any support to Khadgar, and so I will accompany her in her exile, while the Alliance expends its energy fighting the wrong enemy. I used to be proud to wear the tabard and insignia of the Kirin Tor. I hope the day will come again when I can feel that pride.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Caving in

An aside from "Alternative Chat" (in You're history) caught my eye today:
"... the moment last year when Blizzard caved on allowing flying in Draenor. That shows a group of people that if they complained long and hard enough, the Company would realise the error of their ways and simply concede to demand"
The precise moment when I realized that Blizzard will always cave in was back when patch 3.1 got to the PTR, and people discovered that Blizzard had fixed a particular abuse of instances that was called "ghetto hearthing". Prior to patch 3.1, if you joined a group, entered an instance and then left the group, after 60 seconds you would be teleported to wherever your hearthstone was set to. Of course this exploit was a terrible abuse of the adventurers in the instance, who would then be forced to find a replacement, or try to 4-man it.

This was before the dungeon finder and queuing for instances, so if often meant that one person had to leave the instance, head to Dalaran or another city and ask in LFG* (or trade) for a replacement while their comrades waited patiently at the summoning stone.

You might wonder what sort of self-important, entitled ass-hole would inflict such a hardship on their fellow adventurers just because his hearthstone is on cooldown and wants to get home quickly. Well, it turns out that it's exactly the sort of self-important, entitled ass-hole who sees nothing wrong in this exploit and whines on the forums for it to be retained! I could hardly believe that anybody who actually did this would be shameless enough to demand its retention; but lo, the forums were full of whines and complaints.

But instead of just telling these whiners that this was an exploit and the exploit has been fixed (well, to be fair, they did repeat that line for about a week), the developers decided to halve the cooldown on hearthstones instead, teaching everyone that whining works.

It was therefore no surprise to me at the start of the Cataclysm, when instances were "too hard" for the poor babies, that they would whine about it and demand that Blizzard fix it so that they could enter instance and get loot without having to work for it. Blizzard held out.  They made the point that at the end of WotLK instances seemed easier to complete simply because everyone was overgeared for them, and these new Cataclysm dungeons would get easier as people upgeared. To nerf them would make them just too easy one people actually had appropriate gear. I was proud of Blizzard, sticking to their guns for a change. They held out for almost a month before they caved in and nerfed the instances.

With Draenor flying, I knew it was just a matter of time before the whingers got their way.

Of course, there is another way of looking at this: Blizzard are responding to their customers. Or at least, they're responding to their whiny customers. Perhaps I need to get with the program and start complaining more on the forums.

*The "Looking For Group" chat channel.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Lost lands

Pearl River, Dragon Ridge, Province, Hidden Village, Severogorsk, Komarin, Northwest, South Coast. I miss these battlegrounds in World of Tanks. All withdrawn and no longer playable in public random matches. I have fond memories of playing them. Even Port. 

Unbalanced? I don't know. What I do know is that I'm bored seeing the same few maps pop up again and again. I'd like some variation. A little variation is better than a little imbalance. Or how would it be if Wargaming.net were to tweak these maps to ameliorate them, rather than ditching them.

I wonder if I'll ever miss Overlord and Stalingrad, though. I doubt it.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Legion release date

Well, I got back from a sailing trip to learn that my guess on when Legion would be released was way off. Even though the film is already out in Ireland, the release of the expansion is three months away, so there isn't much of a tie-in with the film (perhaps the idea is to give new players time to learn).

All the same, I wonder why it was so important to drop all work on Warlords of Draenor, and leave existing players with not much to do for over a year. Worse, the WoD expansion was left unfinished, with Farahlon still missing from the map of alternative Draenor. I could understand Blizzard dropping everything WoD-related if it was important to hit a date that linked up Legion with the film, but it seems that was never the plan.

Anyway, I see, from one of the film's trailers, that the director understands that to form a shield wall, you need to have shields equipped. Unlike Blizzard.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Legion predictions (again)

Alpha testing for family and friends of Blizzard started last November (never mind that Ion Hazzikostas promised it would be beta testing, we get the gist). That gives us an extra data-point with which to make predictions of when Legion will be released, and forces me to revisit my previous predictions to see if they stand up. It would be madness to ignore pertinent new information.

Let's take a look at what hard data we have for previous releases (by the way, all the dates are ordered as year-month-day, to make it extra hard to understand them, no matter what part of the world you are in):

AnnouncedTesting startdeltaPre-release patch [n+1].0.0deltaPre-release event (shattering/scourge plague, etc)deltaRelease

First, let me point out that I made up the testing start date for BC. I could only find that it started in mid August 2006. All the other dates are exact.

So what is this table saying? Well, I'm calculating how long it was after testing started for each release, until certain landmarks along the way. The first such landmark is when the pre-release patch appeared. This is typically the patch with the last two numbers 0.0, and it's usually when new mechanics appear, to get players used to them before the release. For instance, talent tree changes, stat re-balancing and so on. It also usually contains all the artifacts needed for the new release.

The second landmark is when the pre-release event starts, that draws us into the new release. For instance, with the Cataclysm, the 4.0.0 (or 4.0.1) patch appeared on October 12, 2010 resetting everybody's talent trees and spell bars and glyphs. But there was nothing new happening in Azeroth, save a few tremors from time to time. Then came patch 4.03a on 23 November 2010, bringing the events of the Shattering: the old world was changed forever as Deathwing erupted from the fiery elemental plane of Deepholm, bursting through the crust of the planet and destroying everything he found in his path. However, all this was content available to everyone who had paid for WotLK. The new Cataclysm content became available (to everyone who had paid for it) on 7 Dec 2010, and we all rushed off to Uldum, Mount Hyjal, Vash'jir and so on.

So for each of these landmarks I calculated how many days that stage lasted (the delta column). So there were 162 days between when closed Alpha testing began and when 4.0.1 released. then a further 42 days before the Shattering, and another 14 days until the new zones opened and we could start levelling from 80-85.

It doesn't take much work to calculate the averages for each of these stages: on average, it takes 143 days of testing before the x.0.0 patch; an average of 21 days between that patch and the start of the pre-release event; and an average of  16 days after that until the release day, for a total of 180 days on average from when testing begins until product release. Let's plug these into the table and see what we get:

AnnouncedTesting startdeltaPre-release patch [n+1].0.0deltaPre-release event (shattering/scourge plague, etc)deltaRelease

So there you have it.

These predictions in red are to be taken with a pinch of salt. That average of 180 days? It has a standard deviation of 25 days. In other words, we shouldn't be surprised if the release date is a month before or after the 18th of May.

What this tells me is that I am still comfortable with my original prediction back in August that Legion's release date is planned to tie in with the release date of the Warcraft movie, which is currently 10 June in the US.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Reasons to be cheerful, part 3.

  1. Warcraft: the Beginning
  2. Film and Legion twinning
  3. Summer sun is coming (and boats)
  1. Devs chat at GamesCon
  2. Afrasabi and Tom Chilton
  3. Demons die in Legion (and nanny goats)
  1. Demon Hunters!
  2. Dalaran's next portal
  3. Demons aren't immortal (plus equal votes)
  1. Flying back in Draenor
  2. The tailoring trainer
  3. Gul'dan isn't saner (and porridge oats)


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Priestly disciplines

I took advantage of the level 100 boost that comes with Legion last month to bring a new healer under my wings: a discipline priest. They seemed to be doing fantastic things with healing in the raids I've been in, and priests are sadly lacking in my arsenal. A boost to level 100 and ilvl 640 is not to be sniffed at!

Sadly, I can't get to grips with the discipline style of healing, which is more about absorbs (and also a little bit of DPSing to restore mana and build Evangelism1). I've read IcyVeins, I've read Noxxic, I read HealingWow, but I'm still not very good at it. And despite having 640 gear, I wasn't able to complete the proving grounds even on bronze, so I still haven't got a good "rotation" (that's not even the right word here).

On top of that is the add-ons I'm using. I'm a clicker when it comes to WoW. I find I just can't memorize keybinds, and I have to see a visual indication of the spell I'm about to cast; or when I do memorize them, they interfere with the next class I'm playing, so for instance I go to cast Smite, and find myself hitting the key that's bound to Arcane Blast on my mage2.

So I'm not comfortable with mouse-over macros that require me to mouse over a raider and hit a memorized key-combo to cast a particular spell on her (plus, in raids there are so many melee bunched together that I'm bound to heal the wrong person). And individually targetting each raider and then clicking on the spell I want to cast on them is doubling the workload.

I'm using healbot, which at least allows me to hover over the player's name in its grid and cast a spell with a mouse-click combination (for which a tooltip appears to let me know what I've bound to each combo). It's not great for me. Besides the difficulty of finding the spell I want (spells on shift or ctrl modifiers only show in the tooltip once you hold down the modifier), I also note that I'm spending my time watching the grid, not the fight. I often find myself standing in the fire and not even seeing it, but spotting on the grid that that priest is taking a lot of damage and I'd better shield her!

So I don't think I've yet found a comfortable way to play this role. I've put my discipline priest away for now, and I've switched to a druid healer which I'm finding much more appealing. Druid heals are reactive, whereas priestly absorbs are best when proactive. And the longer (and fixed) duration of druid HOTs make it more rewarding to spend two clicks (one to select the player, one to select the spell) per cast, so I don't bother with any addons for druid healing.

All suggestions gratefully received!

1. By the way, I read in various places that Power Word: Solace generates 3 stacks of  Evangelism, but I can't find this info in its tooltip, nor does it seem to be generating 3 stacks for me. What am I missing?

2. You might say, "why don't you just map smite to the same key that you use for arcane blast?" That might work in this single case, but there isn't in general a one-to-one mapping between spells across classes, so it won't work in general.