Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Character Appearance

Anyone that plays WoW can't argue the fact that the end-game characters tend to be clones with the armor sets. Even with various armor sets, you still don't see as much variety as some games have offered in the past.

As far back as Ultima Online, and even in some MUDs, you could dye your clothing, or craft colored armor. While Ultima Online had simple 2d graphics with nothing more than skin tone and hair style to pick from at character creation, you still saw more variety in players.

I believe that the key to abolishing clones is not "extra sliders" on the character creation screen, but rather more aesthetic options during the span of a character's life.

Take the complaint in WoW about non-matching gear making characters look like clowns; if gear could be dyed to match, it wouldn't matter if you were wearing an unmatched set, it would appear to match.

By offering players more variety in their appearance, you could also alleviate another growing problem, inflation.

Ultima Online had a serious problem with inflation, one thing they did to help this was to add a gold-sink in which players would drop more gold into the game, and not into another player's hands. This gold-sink was neon hair, and it cost 500k to dye your hair a neon color, and another 500k to dye your beard a separate color.

This was a substantial amount of currency at the time, but people still paid to have the ability to set them selves apart from the crowd, and show some social status at the same time.

Right now the biggest gold-sink in World of Warcraft is no doubt the epic flying mount, but it's still a one-time purchase, and doesn't set you apart from the crowd.

By adding armor dyes to the game, and having ONLY npc's sell them for a large sum of money would solve two problems WoW currently faces, Clones & Inflation.

If you had the gold just collecting dust, would you spend it on such fluff that gave your player no real statistical advantage over others, but just set you apart from the crowd?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

To HoT or not? That is the question…

I like to play the healer. It *may* be less exciting and less glamorous than say a mage or a warrior but consider where those classes would be without heals. A healer *is* an important part of a team, a team working together to carefully unravel the instance *just* enough to allow them to mow through it. Too little and nothing will get done, too much and…well…you probably have been part of a bad pull before and know what it feels like, insert your own bad experience here. :( A good instance run is all about a certain balance, a certain amount of teamwork, and about experienced, even talented, players pulling their own weight.

I like to think of playing a healer as an interesting sub-game of Wow, a game that is based more upon strategic use of resources than button mashing. It is a dance between the need to heal and the need to not draw attention to one-self; between the use of a more mana efficient ‘lesser’ heals or the necessity of the ‘big’ heal.

When playing a healer I like to rely almost exclusively on HoTs (Heal over Time spells). Every Druid has 2 such HoTs, Rejuvenation and Regrowth. I usually hit Rejuvenation when the first little bit of the health bar comes off. It is an instant cast, is pretty mana efficient, and causes only a little ‘threat,’ threat being that which causes a mob (any creature you can fight in Wow) to be drawn to you. The result is that I have more mana for the next fight, which lessens the downtime, and the agro (the mob’s attention) stays on the characters designed to take such ‘attention’.

Being mana efficient helps one to have enough mana left over if the fight goes badly and I need to start the big heals or is a prolonged engagement where there simply isn’t an opportunity to drink. The other reason I like Rejuvenation is that it keeps healing while I am casting another heal, plus it stacks with other heals. This helps a lot if the agro is split up and 2 or more members are taking hits. I can cast an instant heal on one player and start the longer cast time of a bigger heal for another player, effectually making me into two healers!

If the Rejuvenation spell isn’t overcoming the incoming damage I switch to the Regrowth spell which has a, minor, instant heal AND a HoT built into it. I like this spell a lot because while this spell does cause more threat to mobs than the Rejuvenation spells, it draws far less agro, and has a faster cast time, than the Druid’s big healing spell, Healing Touch. There is NOTHING worse then drawing agro off of the fighter. *That* is the dilemma of healers everywhere, balancing the desire to put the health back into characters without attracting too much attention in the process.

While most engagements can be handled using HoTs there are situations when a big heal is the only thing that will keep a player in the fight. I know that when I have to pull out a big heal than we are either at a boss or have bitten off more than we can chew. In the case of a boss I usually wait until the fighter’s health is down to about ½ to 2/3rds gone *before* starting the long cast. Any earlier and 1) you won’t get as much ‘mileage’ out of your heal and 2) you might just agro the boss on you! In doing so you take a lot of damage, piss off the fighter, and have just wasted mana in the process by needing to heal yourself rather than spending it to heal the fighter(s). If you *need* to cast the big heal then you most certainly don’t want to draw attention to yourself in the process. :(

My biggest problem as a healer is overlooking that the pet bar. It is so much smaller than the other characters bars that I sometimes overlook it. ‘Forgetting’ to heal the pet is a major faux pas of healers, much to the chagrin of hunters everywhere. Maybe that is why Blizzard gave hunters the ability to heal their pets. Who knows?

Whether your healer is a Priest or a Druid know that they are working as hard as, or harder than, the other characters in the party to make sure that everyone has a good run through an instance. If you think that your healer did a good job, say so, if their healing skills need a little work then point them at my post and maybe we can all have a little more fun in Wow!

Good day and good hunting! ~e

Friday, February 23, 2007

Darkfall Online : Video

The MMO is called Darkfall Online, and I've had my eye on it for awhile now. The website just released some game footage; check it out.

Monday, February 19, 2007

PvP Stories: Alliance Shaman

I was leveling my Mage (ding 64 btw) in Terrokar Forest when a level 63 Draenei Shaman challenges me to a duel. I'm usually against random duels, but I was looking forward to my first Shaman *duel*, since it's all been world PvP until now...

I'm not going into details, but the Shaman kicked my ass with his Enhancement spec. I asked him for another duel, since I know his spec now, and how to beat him. He accepts the duel and I basically kite'd him to death. After the duel, he starts rambling about how I suck because I ran the whole fight...

Ok, I have top get this out of the way since I hear this from a lot of people I have dueled; if you are melee, and I am ranged, why would I stand there and let you hit me? Just because 90% of the casters you duel stand there while you maul them to death, doesn't mean that is the norm, and they know what they're doing.

...sorry for the rant!

Anyways, we dueled a third time, and a forth, and so on. This player was good, and he knew his stuff, but his ego was horrible. We each won about 5 duels, so I was ready to leave it at that when he made the comment about cooldowns. I only used cooldowns on 3 of my 5 wins, so the 2 duels without cooldowns already established I could beat him without them, so why make a comment like that.

I realized then that this was one of those childish people that get their kicks out of other people's misery, so I dueled him one last time *WITHOUT* cooldowns and I won...

He went crazy, so I had to put him on ignore. I don't understand why some people have to be the 100% best 100% of the time. Acknowledging failure is the first step towards improvement. If only this guy knew how great he could be with some constructive criticism.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Keybinding (Druid)

This post is for all the friends I have that play Druids, here's my setup...

The main trick to my Druid's setup is my Logitech MX 518 mouse. This mouse comes with two buttons that fit nicely under your right thumb, and can be easily pressed without removing your left hand from the WASD. The mouse also has a standard middle scroll button that can be used in key bindings also. The "Back Mouse Button" is the button under your right thumb that's closest to you, and the "Forward Mouse Button" is the other; we all know the "Mouse Middle Button"

Cat Form................Shift + Forward Mouse Button
Bear Form..............Shift + Back Mouse Button
Cheetah Form......Shift + Middle Mouse Button
Seal Form..............Ctrl + Middle Mouse Button

The reason I use Shift + for my forms is to leave my Mouse Buttons open for attacks I need while using the WASD keys. Having the shape shifting keys on the mouse also lets you continue movement while shifting because your hands never leave their starting location. Yes, I'm the Druid that jumps circles around you while unleashing feline DPS.

Roots..........................................Back Mouse Button
Moonfire (Rank 1)................Forward Mouse Button
Moonfire...................................Middle Mouse Button
Barkskin...................................Ctrl + Back Mouse Button
Remove Curse.........................Q
Abolish Poison........................E
Faerie Fire................................F

Shred.........................Back Mouse Button
Mangle......................Forward Mouse Button
Ferocious Bite.......Middle Mouse Button
Dash...........................Ctrl + Forward Mouse Button
Claw...........................Ctrl + Back Mouse Button
Faerie Fire..................F

Growl...............................Back Mouse Button
Mangle.............................Forward Mouse Button
Bash..................................Middle Mouse Button
Maul.................................Ctrl + Forward Mouse Button
Charge.............................Ctrl + Back Mouse Button
Demoralizing Roar........E
Faerie Fire.......................F

I have my Regrowth, Rejuvination, Healing Touch, Starfire, Wrath, Shadowmeld, and Prowl all set as my #1-4 keys, in respect to their proper form. I have a macro that will use the #2 key to cast Rejuvination on a friendly target and Starfire on an enemy target, this also works for the #3 key with Healing Touch / Wrath. I do not have the macro on me, but I'll add it to the post later.

I have been moving keys around and playing with this since the release of the game, and I still find myself making changes. It's all about what is comfortable to you, what helps you achieve your playstyle goal with the least amount of key fiddling and effort from your part.

I hope this helps you in your quest for Shape Shifting ease, but please tweak any settings to fit your playstyle & talent spec.


Monday, February 12, 2007

PvP: Tip of the Day (Counter Spell)

I have mentioned a couple of nice uses for Counter Spell in previous post, but I thought I would dedicate an entire "PvP: Tip of the Day" post to the wonderful spell.

For those of you that have never played a Mage, or don't know anything about the spell, I'll explain what this awesome spell does.
Counter Spell : Counters the targets spell cast, preventing all spells in that 'school' of magic from being cast for 10 seconds.

There is a two point talent in the Arcane tree that gives Counter Spell a complete SILENCE for the first 4 seconds of the spell, so even if you miss the counter, you're still guaranteed 4 seconds of freedom.

Warriors : The best use of Counter Spell here is to cast it on incoming Warriors before they can activate their Charge ability. The reason this is a great thing to stop a Charge is because, A) it puts the Warrior in combat, so they can only use their Intercept ability (which cost rage / used in combat) and B) Warriors generate rage from damage dealt & damage taken, but Counter Spell causes NO damage, hence forth, no rage to activate Intercept. At this point you have stopped the Warrior from Charging / Intercepting you completely and you are able to cast a Polymorph to prepare for your death combo >=]

Priest : This depends on the Talent Spec of the Priest. While it's safe to save the Counter Spell to stop a Holy / Disc. Priest from healing, I've found that most Shadow Specced Priest won't cancel Shadow Form to heal if they get their "Shadow" spells countered for 10 seconds. So, in the case of a Shadow Priest in Shadow Form, I will save the Counter to stop their 41 point DoT, which I believe is called Undying Plague.

Warlock : Being a Frost Mage, I always save Counter Spell to stop the Warlock from casting Banish on my Water Ele. This gives my Water Ele anywhere from 12-13 extra seconds of poundage time on the Warlock, and usually throws them out-of-sync enough to win the fight.

Paladin : The Improved Counter Spell from the two point talent in the Arcane tree really shines here. You can't Counter Spell through a Bubble; however, you can prevent the Bubble from being cast if you silence the Paladin before the Bubble. This takes precise timing, but it can lead to the quick death of an otherwise "hard-to-kill" class.

Druid : This is a little tricky, since there is the chance for an instant cast heal from Nature's Swiftness (21 point Restoration Talent), but with the majority of Druids speccing Feral now-a-days, this isn't an issue. If you notice they are a Resto Druid before the fight, then the Improved Counter Spell can help since you know to hit them with it as they come out of their feral form. If they are a Feral / Balance spec Druid, or you don't have Improved CS, then it's safe to say, just watch for the heal, and hope for the best. It's a great thing that most Druids don't know how well they can do against Mages and they end up just avoiding the fight.

Shaman : The important thing here is to set a macro to target the Grounding Totem, then to cast Fireblast (Rank 1). A good Shaman will drop a Grounding Totem just before they go to heal so it absorbs your Counter Spell, and they get the heal off. If you can destroy their totem quick enough, you might be able to Counter their heal, but it's hard since it's only 1.5 second cast. Also, keep in mind that Shaman can get Nature's Swiftness with 21 points in their Restoration talent tree and get an instant cast heal also.

Hunter / Rogue : I have yet to find a use for Counter Spell against these two classes, please feel free to leave a comment if you know of one.

Mage : Last, but not least, is the Mage. This is the most entertaining because the other Mage has the same spell, and is looking to Counter you as well. I always try to use my Counter Spell on their Arcane spells first and foremost, regardless of what spec they are; the reason is that you can stop the other Mage from using THEIR Counter Spell for 10 seconds if you are successful. Within that 10 seconds you are free to reign down the long cast spells, such as Frostbolt & Fireball. If you can't catch the Mage casting an Arcane spell, then it's next best option is to Counter his main source of damage. This is easy to tell based off what they are casting / have cast. Ice Barrier is easy to spot, and fire Mages will charge you to get their short range Blastwave & Dragon's Breath cast. If you cast Counter Spell first, which I always like to do, then the next best trick is to cast a long cast-time damage spell from outside of your spec, since most Mages will start to look for a spell to Counter after you just locked down their spell casting. I don't know why Mages do this, but it allows you to open up DPS from your main source.

Please note that these are just some tips for Counter Spell and there are always other circumstances that can change the course of a fight *cough* Engineering Stun Bombs *cough*. I welcome any feedback to additional uses of Counter Spell, or corrections you may find within my tips. Thanks.


Friday, February 9, 2007

PvP Stories...Arie Peak and the Corpse Campers!

Place: Arie Peak, Hinterlands

Objective: To help my Night Elf Druid friend hit level 44 by using my level 50 Night Elf Druid.

Outcome: We were corpse camped by a level 63 Undead Mage / 40 Blood Elf Paladin.
I usually don't log on my main when I get camped, but the sight of a level 40 Blood Elf Paladin jumping up and down on my corpse sent me over the top...

I logged on Keystone, the level 63 Human Mage, and fly to the scene of the crime. Upon my arrival I see the comedic duo in the same spot over my Druid's corpse, at which point I casted... Water Ele, Frostbolt, Ranged Frost Nova (Freeze), Fireblast...

The Frostbolt & the Fireblast both crit on the Paladin because of the 50% crit chance to frozen targets. It's now just me and a level 63 Undead Mage that just launched a Fireball as the Paladin died; fortunately I was able to Ice Block before it hit me.

I let the Ice Block last the full duration since my Water Ele was pounding on the Mage already. As soon as the Ice Block ended I casted Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Fireblast, and I crit on the CoC, but he blinked out of the Nova before the Fireblast hit him, so no crit there.

He starts to cast Scorch on me and I Counter Spell and start a Scorch myself, since I know his next move is to Counter Spell me, which he does and successfully prevents me from casting any fire spells for 10 seconds; whoopty-doo since I have ZERO talents points in the fire tree.

I don't know why, but other Mages tend to Counter Spell the first or second spell you cast after you Counter them, I guess it's a revenge cast, who knows.

From there it was another ranged Frost Nova from my Water Ele followed by a Fireblast and Cone of Cold. I was victorious until the arrival of a level 70 Undead Rogue, and I was unable to overcome the three of them after that point.

Also this weekend, I beat three level 70's on my level 63 Mage (love the Frost tree!)
I was able to beat a level 70 Tauren Warrior that was pretty clueless and should probably have read my
  • Warrior vs. Mage post.

  • The Warrior has an excuse since they're underpowered against Mages, but there's no reason a level 70 Tauren Druid should loose to a level 63 Mage. This poor fella didn't bother shifting out of the "slowing effect" from my Frost spells.

    A level 70 Night Elf Rogue wanted to test his new spec against me, and I won the duel, but he was using moves he's never used before. I remember when I first respecced Frost and I had no clue what I was doing.

    I'll try and squeeze in a "PvP: Tip of the Day", but it's been hectic here at work, so I might wait till tomorrow.

    I hope everyone has a great weekend! Keystone OUT!

    Wednesday, February 7, 2007

    PvP: Tip of the Day (Druid)

    Today's PvP tip focuses on the HoT (Heal Over Time) abilities of a Druid.

    This is basically what I call a 'pre-cast' effect. When the duel timer starts, go ahead and start casting a Regrowth followed by a Rejuvenation, then immediately turn into your combat form of choice and the duel will JUST be starting and you'll have TWO heals continually ticking already on yourself.

    This is a semi-cheap tactic for a duel, but it's no different than a Priest timing their Power Word: Shield before a fight.

    I use this tactic in world PvP too; if I see the person first, then I start the HoT 'pre-cast' before engaging the opponent.

    I hope this helps any of my Druid friends out there.

    **on a side note, look for an additional author to the blog in the near future. A good friend of mine has agreed to contribute articles.

    Monday, February 5, 2007

    PvP: Tip of the Day

    I'm going to start a segment consisting of simple tips, mostly pertaining to PvP.

    This idea came to me last night after I put Judgement of Justice on an Undead Rogue, then I stunned him and took off running since I was almost dead when he initiated the attack (go figure).

    As soon as the Rogue came out of stun he hit Sprint to try and catch me, but this Rogue obviously doesn't keep up with the patch notes, or anything to do with the Paladin class for that matter.

    So, hence forth, today's PvP tip is *DO NOT* use any speed enhancements of any kind after a Paladin has Judged you with Justice (the golden fist with the circle around it) as they will not work.

    The Judgement of Justice (rank 2) does *NOT* slow you down, but it *DOES* keep you from increasing your speed with any sort of enhancements, and yes, this includes sprint.