Introducing A New Site For Your Reading Pleasure…

Introducing A New Site For Your Reading Pleasure…

Melting Pot

I mentioned yesterday that I’d be posting some happy MMO news. I said it’s all hush hush – you know – toodle pip wot-wot, under your hat old chap. …Yep,I know you’re all looking at me a bit oddly now. Anyway, the news has been a tightly kept secret all right – until now.

A few months ago I put out a call asking you folks to lend me your brains. Thanks to everyone who responded! Since then I’ve been beavering away on designing a website. Originally it was going to be a purely WoW based blog doin’ things my way; then the idea grew. It grew to include a wide range of MMOs, and have a community side too.

A couple of weeks ago it split into two projects and the primary site morphed into something different again. Doh. Flexibility for the win.

The Melting Pot is a manual aggregation site for MMO blogs. We actively look for interesting, witty or intelligent opinion-based articles from around the blogosphere – currently from mostly WoW blogs. We then link what we find to let you guys know they’re there. We also give some thoughts of our own to get the discussion started, ‘cos hey – we’re bloggers too, and find these discussions genuinely interesting.

Now, it’s still a lil’ site and adapting daily but it’s ready for general perusal. So without further ado as its Editor in Chief I’d like to invite you to have a gander at MMO Melting Pot.

Feel free to add its feeds to your RSS filters – we’ll be posting daily, from a ever wider selection of sites and games. Prod the shiny comments system with your own opinions – it won’t eat your children. Tip us off about interesting articles you’ve stumbled upon – we’re open to suggestions. And, when you least expect it, community bits n’ bobs might shuffle onto the menu bar too.

So. Drop in, say hi, grab a cup of coffee from the Pot – you might not know what’s in it, but it’s good stuff, mon.

What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

<The results are in! Scroll down>

Imagine an oversized owl with a golden exclamation mark over her head.

Her clawed feet are a’tappin’. Her head’s swaying round, beak held high. She clearly expects people to stop and listen to her woes. People regularly socialize with oversized owls, after all. Especially any that look like they’re damsels in distress. Maybe not damsels, but distress.

Yep. that thar owl be giving you a quest.

Your quest, should you choose to accept it, is to tell me what you’d like me to write about on World of Matticus early next week. I’ve decided to put my own bonnet with a beehive inside it aside, to ask you guys if there’s anything you’re curious about, want answers to, or generally want to challenge me to make a fool of myself. No catches and few rules. To whit, the rules are:

  • You can submit one idea for an article by posting in the comments of this thread
  • You can suggest any genre of idea but as World of Matticus is focused on healing and leading, I’d suggest going for something heal/lead related
  • You can decide what sort of post it is – whether it’s something you want my opinion on, something you want me to fact-check and answer, or something you want to know how to do. whatever it is, I’ll do my best to answer the winning idea
  • You have until midnight PST on Friday 16th July to post a comment.

On Saturday I’ll do an in game /roll of however many comments this post gets. The number I get in the roll will be the winning comment, and therefore article idea.

For example, if I get 8 replies with a suggestion each, I’ll /roll 1-8. If the roll result is 5, I’ll write an article based on commenter #5’s suggestion. And just to put the icing on the quest I’ll update this post with a screenshot of the roll, so you guys know I’m not pulling some funky owl magic.

So. Let the ideas and challenges begin! What do you want me to write this week? Post before Friday, as this article will self destruct… all right, not really. But the owl will stop peering questioningly at you, then.

By the way… keep this under your hat, hush hush and all… but I’ll also be putting up another brief post later today with some small but happy MMO related news. Keep checking!

Saturday Edit:

So it’s Saturday and the results are in. I took a roll of 1-12 as we got 12 replies (if the result had been a post that was a chat comment rather than an idea submission i’d just have re-rolled). So, without further ado, this is the result:

Image (c) Blizzard Entertainment

Ignore the “X is already being ignored” lines – that’s just what I get when I login. The important bit’s the roll; comment #9 won. So next week, on Jooles’ suggestion, I’ll be writing a WoM article based round this:

The future of healing assignments. Have they gone the way of crowd control due to smart heals and class pigeon-holing? Is it Paladins heal tanks, Shammy’s heal melee, Priests + Druids heal raid forever or is this going to change in Cataclysm? Which way are Disc priests going to go?

See you then!

Understanding New Talents and Thoughts on Priests

Last week, it was announced that talent trees would get sliced. Reason being that there was too much unnecessary crap and not enough fun talents. Most of us sort of got the idea of what they wanted to do. Include more talents that do something tangible, that we can feel or use.

Potentially free Lightning Bolt after casting a Lightning Bolt? Cool.

Gradually increasing healing by some random percentage of which you can’t really see? Not quite as exciting.

Preview the new trees and see what they’ll look like

How specialization works

Okay, so the way I understand it, the moment you ding level 10, you get to start specializing your character. The moment you invest your first talent, you get access to a myriad of spells and abilities which define that particular tree.

Let’s use a Priest for example.

As Holy

I get access to:

  • Desperate Prayer
  • Holy Priest (Pushback reduction on discipline and holy spells)
  • Meditation

As Discipline

I get access to:

  • Penance
  • Pushback resistance
  • Meditation

From what I can see, no special training is required. You are well on your way to becoming that specialized priest of your choice. There won’t be any 20/21 type builds either. You need to fully invest your points down one tree before you can fork over to a different one. The rate at which you receive talents points have been roughly halved as well. Figure you get a new point every 2 or maybe 3 levels.

What do I think?

My opinion though, I’m not sure what can be done to entice players to select holy at the lower levels. I notice a few sad face Priests when they notice that Desperate Prayer is the innate spell we get. Desperate Prayer makes the most sense for balance and logistical reasons (like what’s the point of getting Circle of Healing at level 10?) At that stage of the game, you’re hardly doing much in a party anyway. At least with the prayer, you can fire off a desperate heal if you pulled one too many murlocs.

I can’t count the number of times where I could’ve easily leveled the murlocs and their huts if I had access to Desperate Prayer.

Anyway, I can certainly see the foundation of Holy taking place. I’m trying to remember what the original 41 point talent was back in vanilla (Spirit of Redemption? Lightwell?). Now if they can just somehow throw in something new in place of Renew or Empowered Healing at the first level under Holy. What would be a decent ability at that level?

Holy seems quite top heavy in the sense that any of the deeper talents could easily fulfill the role as the 31 point talent. Guardian Spirit is the current one. Circle of Healing used to be the end talent back during Burning Crusade, if memory serves. I wouldn’t mind seeing Chakra and Guardian Spirit switched. From a symbolic perspective, I think a talent like that which gives your spells nifty bonuses whenever you string them together should be an ultimate skill.

But that’s inspired from assorted limit breaks from Final Fantasy.

From a logistical and practical standpoint? It might be better off if priests get a feel for Chakra earlier in their leveling life.

The Discipline side of things looks great! Power Word: Barrier as the 31 pointer? Awesome. It appears that Discipline is destined to be the leveling spec (due to Evangelism and Archangel).

One thing I noticed is the placement of Inner Focus. At 11 points in, it will not be accessible to Holy priests. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. Inner Focus has been one of those taken-for-granted type talents that all healing priests usually get. For it to be cut off like for those that choose the path of Holy is going to be quite the impact. Here’s hoping it gets switched with Archangel.

Anyway, I like the direction the talent condensation is going. Obviously they’re not all complete or finalized yet. Some classes still have a few placeholders or leftover talents from live that aren’t supposed to be there.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a heck of a time figuring out which healing priest type I want to switch to. I’ll probably end up dual speccing both anyway. I might just go back to my roots and be straight up holy again in the expansion.

How are you liking the talents so far? (And it doesn’t have to be restricted to just priests either)!

Awesome WoW Moments: #1 Surviving When You Had No Business Surviving

Last week, the crew and I were working on some Icecrown hard modes. Specifically, we spent a few hours wiping to Sindragosa on 10 man. On one of the pull ins, my mouse stopped responding for a moment and I lost my bearings. I knew there was no way I could run out in time. So I held my breath, cast Pain Suppression on myself and watched as I survived with several thousand health points left in the tank.

I don’t advise anyone doing that.

But managing to survive through certain death is, without a doubt, one of the best highs you can experience in the game.

Other such moments include:

  • Receiving a Power Word: Shield with double digit health left
  • Guardian Spirit activating
  • The angry Faction Champion after you getting death gripped away when one more swing would’ve killed you

Awesome.

Yeah. I bought the book as a birthday gift for a friend. Made me think about WoW moments. I felt inspired.

The Aftermath of Real ID

The Aftermath of Real ID

It’s not going away as it’s already been integrated into the game. At least we won’t get our real identities attached to the forums. Personally, I don’t post on the forums that often. When I do post on forums, it’s usually to advertise that my guild is recruiting players (an absolute, shameless plug I might add).

I can’t pretend to know what the full storyline was behind the closed doors of Blizzard. I am a little worried about the direction that this network is going. I don’t have an issue with the idea of Real ID. I think the ability to communicate across platforms and servers is a great idea. But greater control over who can and cannot be on a friend’s list is needed.

Now as for the forums, that idea has been shelved (at least temporarily). That’s not to say that one day it isn’t possible for that to thrive. In order for that to happen though, we need to exist in some super utopian society where stalking and harassment simply cannot occur at all. That day is a long time away. We probably won’t ever live to see it.

A compromise

I do think Blizzard might’ve been on to something though when they set off on implementing a united ID of sorts for players. I might have different characters on my World of Warcraft account, a Starcraft 2 account and potentially a Diablo 3 account. Perhaps I don’t want to go through the hassle of logging in and out everytime I want to switch game forums. Having the forums display first and last name is (obviously) a very bad idea.

steam

But what about a handle that’s universal? That would work. For example, I could apply Matticus as my universal handle and whenever I’d post something, it could attach my chosen character name (like Matticus [Mallet] or something). Haven’t quite thought of all the negatives yet and there’s bound to be some, but I know it won’t generate such an uproar across the entire forums blogosphere community internet.

realid-bbc realid-msnbc

But most importantly…

 realid-reddit

(High five to anyone who reads this blog who is also a Reddit reader)

Posting employee info was wrong though

One thing I did not agree with at all was when certain individuals took it upon themselves to just publically post information about their names, their jobs, their addresses, pictures of their family and so forth. Personally, I felt that action crossed some line. I don’t know, maybe it’s my idea of ethics and my time in school which taught me better. Actual implementation (if it happened) wouldn’t have been for a couple of weeks. Many arguments across the internet already raised the privacy issues. I just don’t think it was the right thing to do. I mean these guys are developers and people who work on the game in some aspect of it too. They’re the architects of the world we love. Do we really want to threaten them and run them out of a job (or possibly worse than that)?

Like, I don’t need to see a nuke go off to know it’ll level a city.

I do know that a number of players voted with immediately cancelling their subscriptions (and some closed their accounts). That’s probably the better way to go especially if it’s something that affects you on such a personal level like this.

Did anyone really like the change? I mean really?

realidpol

Those are most likely not the official numbers, but I generated them purely based off of Twitter, blogs, opinion pieces and people I spoke with. For sure, a solid majority of the community was strongly against it. There were some individuals who felt indifferent or gave off the “doesn’t bother me, I don’t care vibe”. But, I was hard pressed to really find anyone who was seriously gung ho and all for it.

Or maybe I just didn’t look hard enough.

Anyway, my point does sort of stand. You were either against it or felt indifferent. Not many (if any) truly embraced it.

Why the UFM policy doesn’t work

“I don’t like that you’re clogging up my twitter timeline with your junk”

“I don’t want to get spoiled by <some upcoming expansion>”

“You don’t talk enough about warriors” <- (Yeah, I know. I actually had someone tell me this.)

UFM basically means Unfollow Me. I have a twitter policy in place simply because I’ve had former followers who disapproved or disliked aspects of my tweets or personality. Following is a volunteer action. If you don’t like someone on twitter, you do not have to follow them.

And this was the logic provided by players who weren’t really affected by the ramifications of Real ID.

“If you don’t want your name shown on the forums, then don’t post”

For the most part, that was the exact solution I was going to use.

Ultimately though, the carpet bombing solution would lock out a lot of productive individuals who contribute guides, advice, or other beneficial things to the forums. The cost-benefit ratio is greatly skewed where it becomes way too costly. The rewards did not even come close to exceeding the risk. Players who troll are going to troll anyway.

For the vast majority of us, I like to think that we’re all level headed, reasonable individuals. Looking someone up, tracing their location or phone number, and making menacing phone calls or threats? Hey, you just crossed over to criminal territory. Yeah that guy you’re calling up may be the biggest douche bag on the forums, but right now, you’d be the one that’d face jail time or fines or some other form of punishment.

It’s something I learned (and somehow still remember) from my criminology courses. Someone who is going to shoplift a product is probably going to do it anyway regardless of the consequences. The main reason that stores have cameras, store personnel, bars on windows and so forth is to act as a form of deterrence for the rest of us normal, civilized people.

In any case, it’s all over with. It’s done.

At least for now.

Cataclysm Contest on Epic Advice (and other things)

Hey guys, I’ve received a bunch of emails, DMs, and other such messages asking me about my thoughts regarding the whole Real ID forum change and stuff. I don’t agree with it and I don’t like it. I’m working on that post right now. I’m also trying not to rehash what Lodur said either.

How about some updates?

First, a quick note from our friends at Epic Advice. They’re holding a Cataclysm Question Contest. They want to score the world first when it comes to answering questions about the upcoming expansion. You can help them by getting in your curiosities and questions. Two ways to win: Be lucky and get randomly chosen (RNG style), or be ranked when it comes to answering questions or asking questions (own the question meters).

More details here.

Blogs

All of my blogs are going to get some updated themeing done. No ETA on that. Theres a few annoying bugs with the theme that I don’t like (such as the menu disappearing way down when you load certain posts or pages). Sadly, I just don’t have as much time when it comes to updating No Stock UI anymore. It’s simply t he way it’s set up right now from a technical stand point. I figure if I can just modify and streamline the post updating process, it’ll be easier for me to do.

My silence

I have a problem. Sometimes, I reach a point where I think every possible topic has been explored in a given area. I’m sort of in hibernating mode. I’m not firing off as many posts as I used to and that’s largely due to the whole job thing which keeps me busy. I’m still here.

Magic tournament

M11 pre-release is this weekend. Please put on deoderant. Lots of it. Use the stick. There’s going to be hundreds of sweaty nerds packed in a potentially non-AC’d room. Also, WTB your Time Reversals.

Guild

7/12 hard modes on ICC 25, 11/12 hard modes on ICC 10. Need an adept mage. Like badly. You have no idea. Someone who has the ego to withstand our warlocks and bring them to their knees. That DPS meter needs to be blue at the top. Not pink or yellow. Blue.

Moto GP

Also, will be driving down to Red Bull US Grand Prix for Moto GP. California will be fun. I’ll probably die to the heat. It’s like 28° C here in Vancouver. I can barely tolerate it.

Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*

Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*

*update* Real ID is canceled on official forums Blizzard most definitely listened, and it’s a good thing!

So, Vaneras over on the EU forums just informed us that Real ID will be making an appearance on the forums. Needless to say there is a slew of comments slinging around about this. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some say it will be the new life of the forums while others think that this marks their imminent death. So I thought it would be good to talk about it a little bit here.

First off, lets talk about the current state of the forums. There are some good threads there. There are some helpful guides and bits of information. But for each helpful bit there is a counterpart. People that just show up to cause issues, scream drama and pick Internet fights. I know a lot of people personally who avoid the forums just to avoid those specific people. This is a sad thing though, as the forums are set up to help build the community and not to be a source of drama or argument. On a personal level I hate having to weed through 15,000 posts of people complaining to get to the 1 that has a valid point in a discussion. This is obviously an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Let’s face it, the Internet is a place where people can hide behind a fake name and say and do whatever they want with little to no recourse. This can be simple complaining out outright just being an ass-hat.  This Internet anonymity is what Blizzard is trying to take away I think. How many times have they posted a proposed class change only to have intelligent well thought out responses from posters get drowned out by the wailing masses? How many times has a person asked for advices on gear or spec or spell priority only to be called a noob for pages on end? It happens, trust me I know.  So I can see what Blizzard is trying to do here, by eliminating the ability to hide behind a character name, that person is held accountable for what they said or do.

Quick story here. I know a guy who in real life is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Intelligent, well spoken and would give you the shirt off his back. When he logs into game or on the forums however, he does a complete 180. He yells at people, argues incessantly, turns into a complete womanizing bigot and has a completely abrasive personality. This sounds extreme but it is a lot more common than you think. When you don’t have to be held accountable in real life for your actions, the rules change. The Blizzard forums have been plagued by this from day 1.

By adding this level of accountability Blizzard I’m sure is hoping to cut down on the forum slop by discouraging the trolls from posting, and making people think twice about just posting empty whining.

There is however another side to this coin. There are a ton of people who try very hard to separate their real life from their game life. They post helpful guides to trade-skills, or how to level efficiently on the forums for general reading. They offer insight to class changes and constructive criticism when people ask for help. This group of people also has something to lose by this change going live, as does the community in general if they stop posting. Some people like the anonymity of their toons as a way to just separate their lives into distinct parts. If they stop posting because of this change, that will be very sad indeed.

Some are concerned for their safety. They fear stalkers and real life harassment and fallout from the forums following them into real life. As a person who has worked in internet security for a long time, I can tell you the chances of this are pretty slim. A persons name alone does not provide a ton of information. It does not for example provide your address and township. Your internet providers work very hard to keep that information private as do most websites, banks etc. It is in Blizzards best intrest as well to keep this information private, and so far they have done a pretty good job of it. Unless you have a one of a kind name and are publicly listed in an international phone book or public websites with your pertinent information, the chances aren’t too great that your name will give up enough information about you to harass you outside of your online personae.  I understand the concern there,  it is a valid reason for being against the change. But it can be rather difficult to find someone .

Another argument is that this goes against the originally stated purpose of Real ID. It was toted as an optional, convenient way to keep track of your friends across servers and even games. Some people feel that being forced to use it to interact on the forums violates this and removes the “optional” portion of the feature. This is a valid argument as there is no way to circumvent this at current.

There are also those of us that this has absolutely zero effect on. Those of us that already live in the public eye and have our names out there will see no change in how we do business essentially. Me personally, doesn’t phase me one bit. My name is out there from the For the Lore podcast and WoW.com. Having my real name show up on the forums isn’t a big deal at this point. I also have the good fortune to have a name that is not exactly unique. Joseph Perez is the Steve Smith of Hispanic names. Try looking it up in the phone book sometimes, it is rather hilarious.

Here are some facts to remember about this

This will only affect the new forums created when SC2 and Cataclysm launch. Old forums and old posts will remain untouched (for now, hopefully this won’t become retroactive)

Blue Posters are not immune to this, and will also be showing their real first and last names

Having your name does not compromise your account security. Email, password (and hopefully you’re using an authenticator) are what let people in. Even if you call Blizzard customer support and say you are “so and so” you have to provide a LOT of proof of identity.

So what do you think? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Will it be a new beginning for the Blizzard forums or will it mark its death?

UPDATE

Let me clarify something real fast. While the change doesn’t affect me personally I still do NOT like it. I understand what they are trying to do with it, but I don’t think it was thought out enough. On facebook I can go silent, I can turn off chat and no one has to know I’m on. I can hide details like my email, phone number and location, and if I so choose I can change my name on the account. Here we don’t have the option. I do NOT like the idea that choice is being taken away from the gamers. We choose to play this game and who to interact with. Why do we not have a choice in this? I think that the overwhelming response people are having to this is a good thing and hopefully Blizzard will see it and make some changes. But again, I am NOT for this change, but I don’t think it needs to be attacked with nukes instead of calm rational discussion. It is a lot easier for people (i.e. Blizzard) to dismiss an over the top emotional response to this (which don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly valid response from us as users to be passionate about this change) as opposed to when people calmly lay down why they don’t agree with it. That’s all.

Where in the World is Spirit Link?

Where in the World is Spirit Link?


So, it has certainly been a busy week around the office so to speak. The announcement of the Cataclysm beta has everyone chomping at the bit, eagerly awaiting their invitation to what is sure to be one hell of a party.

Since the announcement of the beta there has been a flood of information. Among that information was many tidbits about Restoration shaman. I did an analysis of those updates over on wow.com feel free to check it out. The one thing that has been missing from all of this information has been Spirit Link.

Spirit Link was the original 51 talent in the restoration tree in the first Wrath of the Lich King beta build. I fell in love with this spell very early on, and was looking forward to using it in a raid. It was, however, not to be. Shortly after the second beta build of Wrath the talent was taken away like a jealous father stealing his daughter away in a tower prison, replaced by our now glorious Riptide. I still pine for Spirit Link however. I often wonder if, when I look up at the lonely stars at night, if  Spirit Link is somewhere looking up at the same stars missing me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Riptide, but my heart still belongs to Spirit Link.

When we got the very first set of class previews, Blizzard developers stated that they were going to try and bring Spirit Link back. The restoration shaman community was incredibly receptive to this, and there was much rejoicing. I know I danced a little bit at the news. So we eagerly awaited the announcement of its presence. When the beta information was released, I am sad to say that Spirit Link is MIA. There have been no official statements as of this post as to why it was not included this round, but I have a few suspicions.

The reason the spell was removed from the Wrath beta is that it was hard to balance. here was the original wording of the spell.

Spirit Link (Rank 1): You link the friendly target with two nearby targets, causing 50% of the damage taken to be distributed to the linked targets. After 2200 damage, the link will sever.

That is pretty interesting right? The problem was two fold here. First, the spell had no duration limit aside from the damage cap. So you could set it on two targets and just let it be. Second, the damage cap was either too low (2200 damage would be one swing from most bosses) or too high. Finding a sweet spot was always a problem as it was either way too weak, or way too powerful.

My guess is that either it is NYI (not yet included) or they are still having problems balancing it.  In the Wrath beta  it could be stacked and made damage mitigation moot. “Non def capped tank? We have three shaman NO PROBLEM!” type deal. I will be highly interested to see if it makes it to live, because I love it so much. If it doesn’t make it to live, it will surely still be the one that got away.  It was interesting and a brand new mechanic to play with. I love it like a fat kid loves cake, and I’m a fat kid that LOVES his cake. As a bonus here’s a video of the spell in use in the Wrath beta.

So what do you guys think? Want to see this spell make it live to Cataclysm? How would you balance it? How would you change it?

Also this week, my buddy shane has written a new Google Chrome extension called Armory Links. It allows you to look anyone up quickly and easily in any of the various armory and gear checking sites. You should check it out, I know I love it and use it frequently.

And if you’re heading to BlizzCon and are interested in custom badge art, be sure to swing by Ginny’s site and check out her stuff. She does great work, and I know she’s working on a custom Lodur piece for me as we speak.