Sunday, October 9, 2011

Itemlevel 352

So, I reached itemlevel 352 after a weekend of playing a lot and have to say: WoW is too stressful at this point. Have a look these three videos of different random groups. I don't think I play badly, really. I'm certainly not perfect, but these are among the very first times I ever did these bosses. My execution can get better, but not dramatically so.

And how much better need my execution and my itemlevel have to become for these fights to be actually enjoyable? Because right now they are at challenge 9-10 at my meter. It's just too stressful to be fun for me. Please keep in mind that these are random groups of players I'll probably never see again. Stuff could be dramatically different if I had a good guild and worked together with my friends to overcome the obstacles. But we all know what kind of investment it is to be active in a guild. Since I really don't know whether I will play WoW for longer than one month I am not convinced that this is what I want. LFD and difficult challenges just don't go well together.

I also dislike what has been mentioned before on blogs: this focus on Simon Says. I want to play my character. I don't want to constantly move out of the fire or learn some special boss mechanic. Yes, that might be boring for the players at Blizzard's headquarter who for better or worse had to play WoW for the last seven years or so. But for me there are 10 different classes with each three different speccs. To master them all is enough content for me. To also play some special boss mechanics game, in random groups, is not really fun. Just let me play a properly tuned instance with just a few extra mechanics (one or two in the entire instance) and tell me a nice story.

Last but not least, this modern WoW is "just a game". It is so far removed from the simulation, that it's hard to even think of bosses as sentient opponents. Sentient opponents wouldn't create safe zones before they unleash a world-shattering AoE spell, so that the group can (has to) move into the safe zone. And this happens repeatedly in WoW at different encounters. I know, sentient opponents also wouldn't wait for us to attack and stuff like that. But, as I said before, somewhere there is a line. If the designers constantly rub the immersion-breaking stuff into my face, I am eventually unable to suspend disbelieve, sorry.

On the other hand, I did play over this weekend, so WoW absolutely did succeed at keeping my mind busy and looked like an attractive activity. It's just the question of whether I will continue. I said before: In contrast to other business models, sub-based business models only need to make players remember a good time during the last session and give them something to do for the next one. That's all. Did I have a good time? I wouldn't say that. The WoW virtual world is too far removed from anything believable that I don't feel like doing anything meaningful. Notice the word 'feel'? Of course, games and virtual worlds aren't meaningful in the first place according to most philosophies. But when I think about starting a WoW session, right now, my thoughts are not "I want to continue playing my priest and see what adventures wait for him". It is rather "I need more itemlevels. Should I watch a youtube video before I try the boss?".

This WoW easily moves in the direction of "Why the hell do I even do this??". Running with a fictional character through a fantasy landscape, exploring things, experiencing adventures, meeting other people: these are things that create a meaning for me. But gaining more itemlevels to kill scripted bosses with random people in a totally immersion-breaking fashion? Sure, it keeps my mind busy while I am at it. But I fear that is not enough. If it weren't for the blog and the videos I doubt I'd do this.

Of course, this is just about the LFD/LFR content. Questing and stuff is still so absurdly trivial that it's not at all able to keep my mind busy. It is impossible to die in the open world unless you leave the keyboard for a minute or two while fighting a mob. The stories are not bad, but very badly told. It's mostly like "Thrall does this, you have to do that. Now Thrall does this, now Deathwing does that, ...". I said before: I would like Blizzard's stories to be told by Bioware. Because Bioware's stories are abysmal, but they are really good at telling them.

So far ...


  1. I've also gone back to WoW for a look. I very much sympathise with your comment about how stressful it can be.

    There's a simple fix though - play dps. I tried low level tanking but it's just annoying. If there are two ways to run part of a dungeon it's guaranteed that whichever you pick some tool will think it's the wrong way and insist on doing it different. Usually by going the way you're not going and ninja pulling then typing TANK!!!

    As dps though it's a low intensity game. You don't even need to read what other people type. I had no idea how to play the fights and no one really cares. Someone asked one time if they could "kick the dk" when we wiped but it turned out they couldn't.

    The other option of course is to play in a tight-knit group of good players. The game's design doesn't seem to generate new ones though. You pretty much have to inherit such a group or play with RL friends to find one.

  2. PS Healing may well become more enjoyable again on the other side of the gear gulf. But healing in bad gear is pointless and not needed. Let people carry you to good gear then return the favour.

  3. I JUST leveled my priest as well, did 3 "normal" heroics, picked 2pc 359 set, pvp gear for 2-3 slots, Thrall quest back, Brewfest trinket (you could queue for it at 84, so i did), one dungeon upgrade, and went right into Zandalari. Because on any new characters i'm always up for a challenge!

    It wasn't even that hard, actually, at least as Holy. Most of the fights are pretty manageable. Obviously, i wiped on some of them, but i always could finish them all after a few attempts and finding what works for current group.

    You can kite spirits for long time on Jin'do with Body And Soul, for example, and fade is awesome at dropping any add aggro.

    Except High Priestess Kilnara... Total nightmare. The only fight where i actually have to switch to AoE chakra state, and see people dying from tears+cats in seconds. And if i try to heal them up to no-danger zone, or tank doesn't push cds for cats, i run oom immediately.

    Last boss in Zul'aman can be a bit hard sometimes too, but as long as people actually kill small cats first for cat/dragonhawk, it's ok (makes huge difference on tank damage after taunts). The bear/eagle combo is absolutely trivial.

    Dragonhawk... in your video it looks like tank did something really stupid. Along the lines of turning his back to boss and adds to move to bubble maybe. If they don't do stupid stuff and actually keep adds while dodging fire bombs, usually they could survive. Moving part is annoying, but remember, he targets people for flame line. In your video you were running in tight group, that's really wrong - you get flame line every cast that way.

    Still, i was running oom even on manageable bosses. Pretty much every boss fight. Had to find good moments to pop mana regen Hymn with shadowfiend for extra mana, and press mana pot.

    Then i got Core of Ripeness trinket. It makes HUGE difference. Like difference between finishing fights pressing all mana cds and still almost oom, and having about 20-30% left.
    I also added zandalari mainhand + jp offhand for more spirit instead of Jin'do int staff.

    Now it looks like challenge diminished already, and the only hard part remaining is carrying 4k dps feral druids through Zul'Gurub (no kidding... that group also wiped on Bloodlord 5 times, which i haven't seen for ages). It took a while to finish, but it was fun :)

  4. Oh, and your last video? Total tank error! Not only he doesn't get cats, he doesn't taunt on umm... "claw rage"? Claw rage is absolutely NOT healable if not taunted; tank is supposed to taunt at about 1 second in, basically as soon as he can register boss charging away from him, so that each (tank and charged person) only gets about 3-6 stacks of extra damage. Anyone getting to full 10 stacks without defensive cooldowns dies; and target is stunned during claw rage so you cannot use most of them.

    ...though it might be only obvious after you play tank for a while :)

  5. PS: And, as reply to the rest of the post, to me, PEOPLE in LFD is Random Content. Unpredictable, and sometimes fun challenge.

    The dungeon itself is static backdrop that gets tuned out after a while.

  6. Shalcker, that kind of random content would be very badly balanced ;). But you are right in that the only way to deal with the LFD people is to treat them as gameplay elements that make your life harder.
    If you start to think that you shouldn't have to play together with these people you become frustrated.

    Content does become more relaxing the more often you do it. As soon as you can clearly identify the others' errors in realtime, you are much more relaxed when the group fails; especially as healer.

    That's why the first few boss tries in LFD are really unpleasant experiences. You have no idea what is happening and usually you fail at something but don't know exactly at what and why.

  7. Random answers:
    - the reason "playing your class" does not enter in the equation is that with so many guides/tutorials/information on the internet, a good/excellent knowledge of the class is ASSUMED. At this point the only solution is gimmicks, or more exacly throwing wrenches into your gameplay to see if you can still keep playing your class well under stress. (hmmm I think Tobold should read this as well :)
    - random groups are random, but this does not necessarily mean stupid. If you don't know a boss strat you can ask. Sure people can laugh at you and maybe even kick you. But seriously, in that case did you REALLY want to play with them?
    - I've arrived in WoW during WotLK, but I always considered it "just a game". If I want lore I'll go to LotRO (even if I find that Turbine is massacring Tolkien more often than not). The whole WoW lore is a random mishmash of mythologies pulled from right and left. As much as some episodes are nice, I could never relate to "the world".
    - Whatever game you play, I think that a stable group of friends (read "guild" if you want) is more or less a requirement, as it adds a lot to the experience.

  8. I'd like to see the difficulty of WoW be increased for the 20-85 leveling game whilst the difficulty - AND rewards - of random LFDs nerfed. I'm all for hard dungeons but they should only be accessible via normal non-PUGs whilst the LFD system should be easier and the rewards less decent to compensate.

  9. i've enjoyed following you in this series and this post in particular is brilliant. you've captured my own thoughts and feelings almost exactly. this - "I would like Blizzard's stories to be told by Bioware." - i found especially funny. yeah, that's why bioware is getting my money and not the blizzard b team.