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I’ll be your low Gearscore tank tonight

Posted by Chris Jones
On February 14th, 2010 at 23:22

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I just got done running my second Heroic on Kadee, my much neglected Paladin: Violet Hold and Halls of Stone. Blizzard isn’t do a great job doing gearscore matching, though:

Thanks to the group that stuck with me through it. I didn’t die, but I can’t say the same for the other melee DPS in the group.

Oculus with four dragons, dismounted healer

Posted by Chris Jones
On December 27th, 2009 at 13:00

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So we ran heroic Oculus with a dismounted healer (me) today. It was unintentional: I got knocked down early and landed on Treasure Island safely, where I healed myself up and started healing the other drakes. It was much easier to keep the rest of the group up as a T9 Tree than it was on a green drake. We won with only one other player getting dismounted.

Edit: My second Oculus of the day disbanded before I could pick up a drake. I replaced a healer who quit after a wipe on Eregos: people are still convinced this is hard, which just goes to show they never tried it before 3.3 nerfed him. Amber Void, Emerald Void, and Ruby Void are much more attainable now than they were a month ago.

The inevitable decline in HPS

Posted by Chris Jones
On December 26th, 2009 at 16:05

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I’ve been running a lot of random heroics (10-15 a day on weekends — I’m putting together two sets of T9+) and have noticed that as the other players gear up, my HPS has done down faster than my Healing Spellpower has gone up.

In my last run, for instance, I got 1744.7 HPS for a total of 1,485,319 points of healing on a Halls of Lightning run. Two weeks ago, my HPS would have been closer to 2200 and I would have had to heal nearly 2 million points. At the same time, my overhealing has slightly declined (I’m better about only renewing HOTs when needed), and accounted for more potential healing than healing performed. Blame the Warlock or blame the HOts, the fact is that other players require less healing as they gear into Tier 9.

Role DPS Healing Taken Gear Score
Tank (Warrior) 1485.4 923,697 4473
DPS (Ret Pally) 2712.2 320,807 4850
DPS (Destro Warlock) 2479.7 265,365 4803
DPS (Enh Shaman) 3031.3 157,341 4850
Healer (Resto Druid) 125,574 4629

At this time, I only start finding my maximum HPS on raids where the entire group takes damage as once.

Examining the heal values themselves helps to show how overhealing occurs (ignoring crits):

  • Rejuvenation: 2001 per tick
  • Regrowth: 4600 hit, 1095 per tick
  • Lifebloom: 843 tick average, 1487 max tick; 2529 hit average, 8830 hit maximum
  • Nourish: 6409 average
  • Living Seed: 2598 average
  • Wild Growth: 770 average per tick
  • Glyph of Rejuvenation: 1175 average per tick

So as my healing spellpower has gone up from 2000 to 2500, my HPS has gone down from 2200 to 1700 because other players are better geared.

WoW patch 3.3’s impact

Posted by Chris Jones
On December 8th, 2009 at 08:09

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In World of Warcraft, I’m playing one of two roles lately: tank and healer. Patch 3.3 has been released and here are the big impacts on those roles:

Classes: General

  • Area-of-Effect Damage Caps: We’ve redesigned the way area damage is capped when hitting many targets. Instead of a hard cap on total damage done, the game now caps the total damage done at a value equal to the damage the spell would do if it hit 10 targets. In other words, if a spell does 1000 damage to each target, it would hit up to 10 targets for 1000 each, but with more than 10 targets, each target would take 1000 damage divided by the number of targets. 20 targets would be hit for 500 damage each in that example.


It’s elementary

Posted by Chris Jones
On August 7th, 2009 at 16:37

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Posted in Design Journal, Games

I’ve been considering what would make a good, unique quest. Putting aside Becky’s concerns about griefing, competition for mobs or clues, etc., and that this is intended for a text game (although it would work in a graphical game), I’ve got the skeleton of a design for generating mysteries that I’d like to try to implement sometime.

We’ll call it, for lack of a better term, Mystery Quest.

One outstanding question remains: do you believe players need feedback when collecting correctly clues, interviewing witnesses, and assembling evidence?

Typing hurts

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 28th, 2008 at 13:57

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I was none too pleased with the zombie invasion in WoW: all the griefers, jerks, and people we don’t want to play with showed up, stole kills, infected the AH . . .

in my WoW cancellation reason for Blizzard, I entered:

Zombies. After this last weekend, I’m not sure I want to spend any time with these people.

I sent my share of petitions for foul language. All in all, I’d count the zombie weekend as a disaster for anyone who wasn’t already bored of the game. It was enough to make my wife and I walk away from WoW, and she has an overpowered fresh level 61 Enhancement Shaman she leveled from creation in the time it took me to go from 43 to 57. That’s pretty damn good alienation of your casual customers, Blizzard.

Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t play well, or for very long. I cut myself with a steak knife while preparing pet food on Sunday evening. I spent three hours in the emergency room before being discharged.

Exploding Chickens

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 8th, 2008 at 13:55

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I tried playing Warhammer Online yesterday (during WoW’s downtime, while I was at home with a cold). A couple weeks ago, I’d moved Foulfoot the Goblin Shaman from the Greenskin campaign to the Dark Elf campaign to made up missing levels. Post-beta, experience point rewards were changed such that characters leveled much more slowly: in closed Beta, players generally leveled at a rate that they would reach each PvE chapter at an appropriate level. In live, Becky played a lot of PvP on her Sorceress, won a lot of scenarios, and still was two levels behind where she needed to be by following the Dark Elf campaign exclusively (and she was even farther behind levels on her Goblin Squig Herder in the Greenskin campaign).

Returning to Ekrund as a level 12 Shaman, I figured I’d be the right level to basically be leaving the zone, based on my experiences in Beta. I could whip through the quests and be on the beach sipping seawater from salamander skulls in no time. Unfortunately, on my first encounter with a level 9 Dwarf Skeleton, I was turned into a Chicken, lost nearly 1000 hit points, and then was blown up by feedback (!) on a DOT. I found myself resurrecting at the nearby town, paying to get the health debuff removed, and figuring I just came across an odd bug. This seemed to be borne out until I grouped with a level 8 Squig Herder who was a little over his head in the same Dwarf tomb, then was (again) turned into a chicken and blown up by one of my DOTs–from his perspective, I was insta-killed–when I attacked the named ghost mob.

This makes WAR basically unplayable. It was bad enough that I would chicken when moving to a lower Tier, but I didn’t have to worry about that until after level 20. Now, I’m being chickened on mobs just a couple levels below me, well within my current Tier, and as the next stage in the storyline.

I reported the bug, but I can pretty much say that I don’t think EA/Mythic is going to be receiving any subscription money from me or my wife. They fixed a lot of warts in the game in the past couple weeks, or last couple patches, but this is game breaking and a real sign of code and design quality. It’s just too bad and it shatters some of my hopes, but I’m afraid WAR isn’t going to be my casual MMO gamer destination in the end.

Just like launch day

Posted by Chris Jones
On August 22nd, 2008 at 07:36

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We lost access to the WAR closed beta on Wednesday, although we didn’t know because we didn’t try to log in that night to play. Yesterday evening, I was discussing ranged classes with Becky and she was convinced to try the Shadow Warrior (despite what we felt was a poor starting area) and I was going to try the Sorcerer.

WAR Closed Beta was down. A note stated that they were preparing for the preview weekend, which I’ve been dreading all week as I figured I’d end up stuck in a newbie zone, waiting for named mobs to respawn, and tripping over other players. I figured, however, that Mythic would have to have plenty of servers up, and maybe I could leave a quick note with Becky that she could come play WAR today while I’m at work.

Launch Day Preview

Becky has felt that the last phases of this beta could have been handled better. Although Mythic has emphasized communicating through the Herald, she still felt cut-off as the standard has been set that patch notes, downtime, and important updates are displayed by the patcher–which rarely showed anything up-to-date. I ended up getting my best information from the Warhammer Alliance boards and a couple guild sites I’d check now and again.

It looks like the authentication server is acting as a significant point of failure in the process of selecting a server on which to play, and that the servers themselves are capped at 1600 players, about half of the server cap for DAOC. I can assure you that, at least until players spread out from gaining levels, 1000 players on the server make most of the low-level zones feel crowded.

Becky has had such poor customer experiences from the beta, with (to her) randomly downed servers during the middle of the day, the crowded newbie zones, and the RvR-based elder game that she’s looking to take a pass on WAR altogether–and can’t understand what I like about the game. (Is it enough that WoW is old?) We both realize this is a beta, but she was expecting it to be more like LOTRO’s beta and less like Shadowbane’s.

Launch Day Preview 2

It looks like Mythic raised the server caps. I can log in now–of course, now I have to leave for work.

Taking notes

Posted by Chris Jones
On August 18th, 2008 at 10:53

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I’ve started taking notes in Warhammer for doing some of the early quests, to try to detect patterns and improve efficiency, my wife’s biggest gripe about Warhammer (there are many occasions where you need to go back to previous towns to turn in quests, and a lot more running around than she likes).

I’ve only taken notes on the Empire starting area (it’s new to me), and I’m going out of my way to try to identify history and lore and notable NPC unlocks. I’ve submitted a bunch of bugs and gameplay issues, and I only wish that Closed Beta was going on a little longer so I could get more done before the masses arrive.

I think Becky is going to take a pass on Warhammer. Dungeon Runners is very appealing to her right now, although she dislikes how much larger the dungeons get after the first set (Algernon) simply because it takes much more time to clear them, and she really needs a break from World of Warcraft. She’s still trying the WAR beta but the game doesn’t appeal to her very much. I think I may now have a shrinkwrapped WAR collector’s edition with unused pre-order keys arriving on September 18.

RvR has been about what I expect. My Goblin Shaman tends to be pretty hard to kill, although I specialized into healing instead of damage so it takes me quite a while to kill tank and healer classes. It typically takes duos or trios to take me out when I’m paying attention to my health, although this might be a little harder for them now that I’ve picked up a couple more RvR-specific abilities. I’m still most interested in the game for PvE at this point, and that’s pretty rich and well polished. Public Quests are downright addictive, especially because they give you great equipment rewards for rolling at the top for the chest loot and from the local rally master. Finally, in PvE or RvR, tanks tend to be pretty rare (apparently, Shamans are the FOTM for Greenskins, even more than Squig Herders), so every Black Orc can easily form a group and get a couple (or three) pocket healers following him around.


Posted by Chris Jones
On August 14th, 2008 at 14:57

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Squig HerderBecky and I finally got to play Warhammer Online (WAR) last night. Initial impressions include:

  • The artistic style is quirky and fun and well done
  • The game has significant polish
  • The most fun we’ve had with it so far is when playing Greenskins. Other races we’ve tried have more serious storylines and starting areas.
  • WoW Hunters might be looking forward to the White Lion, but that should really be for people who miss playing their Beastmasters from EQ. The closest WoW Hunter analogue is the Squig Herder. No kidding.
  • Low level Demonologists play like Animists from DAOC
  • Public quests can be a ton of fun, but quest mobs for unrelated quests should be moved outside the public quest area (they may not respawn until after the public quest is complete)
  • We’ve had two client crashes, one each, and one zone crash. This isn’t too bad considering that the game still has five weeks before release.
  • Character customization is in, although the slider IDs aren’t necessarily matching the character body part, and there are some very gory choices available
  • The zones feel, overall, smaller than WoW zones, more on par with starting zones in DAOC (which makes some sense)–Becky described it as a very urban feel in that she was constantly rubbing elbows with other CE closed beta players
  • WAR has the hands-down best map implementation we’ve ever seen in an MMO. CoH/CoV were good, but this is better.
  • The characters we’ve played don’t feel particularly weak, even in my case where I rolled up primary healers. Becky has no complaints about her Squig Herder.
  • High Elves don’t have enough money to train all their skills at level 5 or 6. Greenskins don’t run low on money.
  • There’s an interesting mechanic to some “green name” drops before making them usable. I had pretty good luck with drops on my Shaman.
  • As always, big races are a pain to see around or click NPCs
  • There are (or were) queues to get into the lowbie RvR. It looked like you could start that as early as level three simply by following quest lines.
  • The quest tracker has a great implementation, definitely a step up from WoW
  • The Tome of Knowledge takes a little getting used to for navigation and isn’t always obvious–it made more sense to me than to Becky
  • On the other hand, I was more likely to get lost and not be able to find my quest mobs or locations (at least without the help of the map) than Becky who pushed through the quests (all new to her too!) about half-again as quickly as I could
  • There are a lot of bottleneck named mobs with three to five minute respawn times, and a lot of players who don’t understand grouping for that kill
  • We’ve still seen other graphical bugs, such as channeled spells that have the termination end prematurely for the player but continue indefinitely when seen by other players
  • You need to watch your message log, such as when logging out–there are few popups

The game runs better and is more fun than Age of Conan, which is a much more serious game. Becky’s overall impression is that WoW doesn’t have anything to worry about in the long run, and the however much fun WAR is, it’s tempered by the density of players and how difficult it will be to start a new character and complete quests in the first few months. On more than one occasion, we’ve missed named quest mobs who weren’t up because they died within seconds of spawning or had to fight with crowds for even relatively common spawns.

Becky believes the Dwarves and High Elves were the most popular races she tried, although the server population skewed 5:3, Chaos to Order (the opposite of a typical WoW server).