Nov 26 2010

Rights and Responsibilities


Reading through what Spinks over at Spinksville wrote about FrostGate got me thinking: what are the assumed rights and responsibilities I have when playing various characters? I know that I have those assumpitons in play, they are informed by the culture, and inevitably shaped by the community and interactions with other players. But I’ve never attempted to articulate them. Let’s have a go.

Belmann. I’m a holy healer, most of the time. When I’m in shadow spec, I’m just another DPS standing up the back. I assume I have the right to regain mana, and have the responsibility to keep as many people functioning as I can. I assume that healing usually takes precedence over dispelling and removing diseases, and I have the responsibility to throw out whatever buffs and damage I can when I can. I assume that I can reasonably expect other players to not stand in the stupid, to use the lightwell when I throw it down, and to not pull when I’m either not ready or out of range.

MacMorris. I’m a melee DPS. I assume that I have a responsibility to let the tank select targets to pull, then hit them as hard as I can once they’re focussed on her. I assume I have the responsibility to get out of the stupid when it bubbles under my feet, stand behind the mobs, do whatever self-healing and self-buffing that I can, and to maintain an awareness of what’s going on so that I can grab mobs that get away and start eating the cloth-wearers’ faces. And above all, a responsibility to not steal aggro from the tank. On the other hand I have an expectation that the tank will make reasonable judgements about what will be pulled and how. I don’t have an expectation that the healer will heal me while the tank is in trouble, and don’t have an expectation that the healer will top off my health if I die.

Morkhaeus. I’m a ranged DPS. I assume that I have a responsibility to let the tank select targets to pull, then fry them. All while making sure that I don’t steal aggro (which given the threat I can currently generate, is not very likely). I have a responsibility not to stand in the stupid, and to be prepared to ice block or go invisible if a mob gets away and heads toward me. If a mob breaks away and goes for the healer, I have a responsibility to try to fry it before it gets to the healer. I expect other players to have at least some awareness that I burn through mana like crazy, and respect that I have to regain mana between fights. I expect other players to not snap their fingers and say “mage, food” or “mage, buff”, just as I assume I have the responsibility to proactively buff and offer food. And above all, if I turn a mob into a sheep (or penguin, as the case may be), I expect other players not to immediately hit the damned thing.

My other toons are not well enough developed to have a clear idea of what I expect. Glymly the hunter is somewhere in the mid-40s, and doing reasonable damage in instances, even though it’s a bit clumsy and face-rolling. I think the main responsibility he has which is unique to being a hunter is to make sure that the pet is not stealing aggro from the tank, and to throw down traps in front of the clothies.

My baby tank Maarisu is still mired somewhere around 38 (so much for my plan to level those two dwarves in parallel), and I’m finding it really difficult to articulate a role for her. As I’ve alluded to before, I find that the change in player behaviour in Vanilla or low level instances makes it really hard to tank effectively, and half the time I feel like I’m battling the other players, and not the mobs. It tentatively feels like as a tank I have a responsibility to keep the mobs focussed on me, while at the same time I have a right to pull mobs and gather together groups in the style and at the pace of my own choosing. That’s definitely the thing that twists my knickers playing her through 5-man instances so far – even when I state it explicitly, there’s seldom any recognition of the simple facts of the mechanics of a prot warrior: it takes a few seconds to build up rage, and if I haven’t got the mobs’ attention when the DPS open fire, it’s needlessly difficult to bring them all back together.

I have to say that dipping my toe in tanking gives me even more respect for good tanks who stick with it. It’s a rotten hard role, I think.

Nov 17 2010

Want some libertarian comment with that?


I am loving the pre-Cataclysm events and story line that are playing out. The overall story arc and NPC character writing is very good, and there is much more sense of a deep and persistent back-story then there was with the Wrath pre-release (and really, the BC pre-release was pretty well non-existent). They’ve also listened to the player base and made the events much less intrusive – players can opt to ignore the pre-release activity, engage in it lightly, or throw themselves fully into it.

The pace of the events has been excellent as well, particularly if you step back and look at a key facet of the in-game world: the characters we are playing, the puppet avatars we all (one way or another) role play through, and the NPCs, are not aware of what is happening. Step into the game world with me for a moment: everyone is aware that something weird is going on. Nobody has the full picture, nobody has a prescient view of the impending cataclysm. It’s a world where the political leadership is exhausted from fighting the Lich King, and where political and religious institutions have been badly fractured by conflict arising from the war in Northrend. Everything is a bit of a mess, it’s looking like a new war with the Horde is on the horizon, elemental forces are upset and confused, and the earthquakes are coming faster all the time.

Now look at what the events have involved (alliance blinkers on here, I have no idea what the horde events are). We started with the usual sort of vague “there’s something odd happening, go see what it is” quests that we’re used to from the druids. It escalated into a rather more pointed series of investigations on behalf of the military/police of Stormwind, dealing with what they suspect to be a present threat from the latest freaky cult. Which quickly escalated into you going out on the streets of Stormwind and telling the population that the king and security forces are suspending their expected and traditional liberties. This is a pretty grim situation – the general overall ethos in the Warcraft world is a vague adherence to secular humanism, with a heavy overlay of belief in personal freedom married closely to personal responsibility. In other words, fairly standard post-Tolkien fantasy role play.

Going further with that thought. King Varian Wrynn is generally and basically the Lawful Good archetype (yet another Paladin with a rod up his royal backside), and when you take that to extremes you get some pretty questionable behaviour. And he’s done some pretty questionable things. Invading the Undercity is high on the list. Even though it’s the “right” thing to do, there surely would have been less bloody minded and dogmatic ways of dealing with the issue. And this whole “tell the citizens I’m putting a fence around them to protect them, at the cost of their liberties” is pretty questionable as well: at this stage, he’s not really got evidence that the cult is that much of a threat. The reactions is dispraportionate.

Stepping back out into the Real World – it’s a lovely piece of detailed and quite deep world building, presented in a way that players can engage with it at whatever level they choose. It makes me excited for Cataclysm – all those extra writers and designers they have are going to have made some really neat toys for us.

Oct 6 2010

What Now?


Yet another post tapped out on the train. This is starting to be a habit. So. Something like 9 weeks to Cataclysm. What will I try to do before then.

The reality which may not be fully and generally understood is that the next few weeks will be tumultuous, even before the pre-release world events.

We know that Blizzard want to, need to, get 4.0.x out before Cata – they have no choice because that patch is needed to ensure compatible experiences for players in that week or so after Cara when some have the expansion and some don’t. Going further we can expect two patches, not one – at least one week out before cata, more like two, they’ll get out a patch to fix the 4.0.x bugs. Which means we should expect 4.0.x in the next two weeks so that people can get familiar with the changes, and key add-ons fixed.

So we should expect that over the next couple of months we’re all going to be relearning how to play, how the economy and trades will work, and how to obtain and improve gear. A substantial amount of WOW 2.0 is going to be delivered with this patch, and Cata itself is 2.1

So what might be achievable in that time? I’m hoping to get the following sorted:

  • get Morkhaeus to 80
  • level Mork’s jewel crafting
  • level Macmorris’s trades
  • get Belmann’s enchanting leveled and make a bunch of scrolls
  • get the “well read” achievement.

Check back and see how I went.