Guest Post: Is that it for the story of Warcraft?

This is a guest post by former WoW blogger Honorshammer on the state of the game and his theories on why the player base has decreased. Interesting read and another take on yet the state of the game.

Blizzard’s recent conference call for investors had the blogosphere churning about the announcement that WoW lost about 5% of its player base and it back to pre-Cataclysm levels. Everyone is giving their opinion to explain why this is happening. Unsurprisingly, most everyone is taking something they don’t like about the game (too hard/too easy/too hardcore/too casual) and pointing at that and saying “see, i was right all along. People are leaving because of x.” I’m moderately guilty of this myself to some degree, and I will acknowledge that up front.

But I think the player base is too diverse for there to be one factor that has flipped a switch and led to the decline. There are likely a myriad of factors, and in this post I want to touch on one I don’t see getting much play in this discussion, the possibility that the story of WoW has simply been played out.

I was introduced to the Warcraft universe through Blizzard’s excellent Real Time Strategy games like Warcraft III: Riegn of Chaos and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. It was my enjoyment of those games that gave rise to my initial interest in World of Warcraft.

In those games Blizzard’s developers introduced some incredible characters. Jania Proudmoore, Kael’thalas Sunrider, Lady Vashj, Sylvanas, Illidan, and of course, the big guy himself, Arthas became fan favorites.

During Vanilla, WoW was still fresh and there was the sheer joy of exploring a new world. We met Jania in Dustwallow Marsh, and Sylvanas in the Undercity. The other major lore characters were still on the horizon, calling us to become powerful enough for their notice.

From the very beginning in Burning Crusade, we were taunted by Illidian’s “You are not PREPARED!” The developer’s made it very clear were on the path to fight him. First though, we fought Kael’Thalas in Tempest Keep (and Magister’s Terrace), and Lady Vashj met her end in Serpent Shrine Caverns. Finally, in what was originally the last raid of Burning Crusade, we got our payoff and fought Illidan himself. Part of my motivation for the guild hopping of my BC days was my desire to see these character’s story arcs to their conclusion. It was like I had started a book in Warcraft III, and now I wanted to finish it. Not doing so would have been like listening to a song that didn’t resolve.

Wrath made no bones about its primary nemesis. This was it. The path was laid out to the Frozen Throne. We would face Arthas himself. From the moment you got off the boat in either Howling Fjord or Borean Tundrea, Arthas was there, taunting you, urging you on to a final confrontation with him. For this player, Arthas was the penultimate antagonist. Ever since we witnessed the amazing cut scene of Arthas running King Terenas through with Frostmourne, we wanted a piece of him. My anger was ignited when in his blind passion for vengeance he took up Frostmourne killing my beloved Muradin in the processes. Through the levels and expansions, one thing had remained, the quest to confront Arthas.

By the end of Wrath, my avatar stood over Arthas’ lifeless body. The character who adorned the cover of box for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (Human edition), Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King was dead. His arc ended. And with his arc ended, the developers had finished the arc of every major villain from the Warcraft III games. The story was told.

What would propel us into Cataclysm would have to be new villains. World of Warcraft was now going to have to have to stand on its own story, and not simply finish the story begun in Warcraft III. I believe for a portion of the player base, World of Warcraft did a poor job of communicating its ongoing story. Our characters needed more motivation than we have been given. We need more than ‘he’s got duh perps, yo” to raid week after week in search of the next villain. We never got the connection to Deathwing that we had felt with Illidan, or Arthas. Arthas called to you from two expansions away. Deathwing whispers can barely be heard the very expansion we will confront him. Too much of the story was obfuscated outside of the game in comics, wikis, and novels. Our characters set out to defeat Deathwing more out of duty than raw passion.

So once the new zones have been seen, and the new dungeons run through a couple of times, we, as players, came back to the question of our motivation. Before, the answer had been to stay on the course to Illidan, or to Kael’thalas, or Arthas. Now the answer now was to prepare for Deathwing. For whatever reason, some players found that answer left them unmoved.

I can only speak for myself. I am still actively playing World of Warcraft, and I have no plans to quit, though I am playing far more casually than I did previously. Before killing Arthas, leaving would have felt like leaving something unfinished, like putting down a good book only halfway through. But now, the book feels read, and leaving a natural progression when the next good book is published.

I, Shaman: Speculation of the future of resto

I, Shaman: Speculation of the future of resto

With all the changes to healing between the expansion’s release and subsequent patches, restoration shaman have kind of gone in a bit of a circle almost. We started out the expansion with the inclusion of a few new spells that really set the tone. Healing Rain was an absolute power-house addition to our healing, and Spiritwalker’s Grace along with Unleash Elements gave us some additional healing versatility.

Not too long after Cataclysm’s release, shaman healing started falling behind some of the other healers not from lack of trying but for lack of throughput and cooldowns. We have a diverse toolkit to use, but there just wasn’t enough juice in the batteries. The developers at Blizzard ramped up our healing in an attempt to bring us up to par with other healers, and gave us a brand new cooldown to use. It just so happened to be a spell that we’ve been pining over for almost three years. As of patch 4.1 our healing has gone up exponentially and we can keep pace with the other healers pretty well, and we have enough tools an abilities to cover the main healing roles.

But now it’s time to look to the future. One of the big things about Cataclysm was that there would be a great homogenization where all healers could cover all of the roles in a raid or group. This is mostly true at this point. I can tank heal pretty damn well now, and have been for the last several weeks, and can switch between that and raid healing at the drop of a hat without losing pace. Paladins can pile on some massive raid healing and still nuke heal a single target. I think, though, that we’ve reached almost full circle and while we can cover all the roles necessary I think we all still have a specialty. Lets look at shaman and the toolkit we have.

Healing Rain is a massive AoE healing spell with an area of effect large enough to encompass two priest or druid healing circles. It is affected by mastery at each tick, so it can be used for lower health targets to great effect, and each healing tick has a chance to proc Earthliving. Chain Heal has had its coefficient buffed, and overall throughput increased. It was changed to include the additional target from the glyph as a base part of the spell, bringing our total targets up to 4. Riptide, with glyph, can be rolled across multiple targets when applied every cooldown, and Healing Stream Totem also got a bit of a boost and Spirit Link Totem is a clutch cooldown that can bring a raid from the brink of death to flat-out victory.  Shaman still thrive pretty hardily in the barren lands of AoE healing, it’s the point I think we excel the most at overall. This isn’t bad, it’s good to have a specialty, but we’ve done maybe a 310 turn. I won’t say 360 because we aren’t in that awful spot we were before, but we’re close enough to our old niche that we can still claim it, and we get the tools to be able to hang with the single target healers as well. I think though, that it was an intentional move to put us in the niche to give us that specialty and I think that it will become important in the next tier of raiding.

Tier 12 promises to ramp up the AoE damage. This is based purely on speculation of the content as well as some of the items that have been data-mined for set bonuses. As Vixsin pointed out in comments to my last post, is that every 4pc focuses on providing additional splash healing. This is a pretty good indicator as to what we’ll be dealing with, considering the set bonuses are usually tooled towards boosting your healing for the current content. So from set bonuses, and from the general fact we’ll be in the elmental plane of fire, we can expect a lot of raid wide damage and healing. This is something shaman normally can capitalize on by using all our tools. I think that T12 raiding content could be a shaman break out tier, where due to just the nature of our healing, you will see some ridiculous healing done. Basically I think we’ll make a strong showing in the next tier of content based on our cooldown, our healing spells and our ability to just be general healing bad-asses. After that, on the road to Deathwing, who knows what we’ll look like. But for right now I think we’re poised for greatness in the next tier.

Guest Post: How to Choose Your Officers

Guest Post: How to Choose Your Officers

Today we have a guest post by Sam from Top Rosters about Officer selection.

Starting a new guild is always tough. One of the major headaches is normally selecting your officers and so in this article I will try and discuss the various options that you have.

Viktory has already written about the various setups found in most guilds, i.e. guild master – class leaders – bank officer etc, but I want to cover the “who” part of the equation.

“Who” do you choose to be an officer and what role do you put them in?

In most cases if you are starting a guild you will have a couple of friends who are joining it with you. In a lot of cases they will be given officer positions immediately simply because they are there are the creation. Sometimes this works out well, but in my experience it is best to let the guild settle down for a couple of weeks while everyone gets to know each other before handing out responsibilities.

So you have a new guild with a new roster and you are looking to start raiding within a week. You need some officers. First off decide what structure of guild hierarchy you are going to use. I will not cover that here but check out Viktory’s post on it. In most guilds there is the guild master, a raid leader, class/role leaders, a recruitment officer and a bank/website officer.

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The raid leader position is definitely the most crucial and the one that can have the most dramatic impact on the guild’s progression. We have all experienced good and bad raid leaders and so here is my opinion on what makes a good’un:

  • They need to be vocal. Fairly self explanatory – you don’t want a timid raid leader.
  • They need to be keen on researching the latest strategies – they will normally be the ones deciding which tactics you use for each boss.
  • They need be a great organiser – they will be forming the raids and need to get class composition correct (less important these days with the changes to buffs.)
  • They need to have good “people skills” – players that get sidelined for raids will come to them for answers.
  • They need to be authoritative during raids – if they tell someone to do it they need to do it.

Some guilds run with more than one person leading the raid but personally I have always found one to work better.

Class/role leaders are usually easier to find. The best starting point is recount (or whatever meter you use.) The top rogue will usually be the best rogue. Now of course there is a lot more to being a class leader than topping the meters. They also need to be able to:

  • Ascertain when a class member is performing sub-par and then have the gumption (odd word) to go and talk to them about it.
  • They need to be up to speed on their class – (perhaps ask potential class leaders which class relevant blogs they read)
  • They need to be inspecting their class members and advising them on necessary changes – be that gems, enchants, reforging etc. This should be the individual players responsibility, even in a casual guild, but you would be amazed how many players in raiding guilds are not optimised correctly and need a gentle nudge form their class leader.
  • Just like the raid leader, they need to have “people skills.” They need to be able to sideline a class member for a raid and let them know why. They need to be able to confer with the raid leader if he/she needs to know class specific details for a fight.
  • They need to be the most active members in the guild (attendance-wise.)
  • They will normally need to have the time to read through any class applications that get past the recruitment officer.

So you have picked your core team of class leaders and raid leader. Most guilds now opt for a recruitment officer. This is the poor sod who has to sift through the mountains of unreadable applications every week. Look for someone who is:

  • Patient – you do not want someone who will ragequit two weeks in after reading the 9th application from someone who does not have any professions.
  • Has good attention to detail – they will need to scan each application with a fine tooth comb and be able to ask the right questions.
  • Literate – you need someone who has great written English skills to reply to the applicants.

Sometimes you will want to pick a banking officer. Many guilds do not even bother with one and the guild leader simply does it. However if you do decide that you need one then they need to be:

  • Trustworthy – pretty obvious but ideally you do not want a ninja as your banker.
  • Organised – they need to keep track of what is going where and who is using it.
  • They need to be able to advise the guild master on cash flow and whether it could use a boost via BOE epic sales, boosting randoms through BWD etc.

Sometimes you will have a website officer but in general it is not necessary. Basically whoever creates the website deals with any problems that crop up with it!

So in essence choose your team based on those qualities and ‘you’ll be laughing.’ If you take my advice, try one week of raiding with yourself as raid leader and then decide on who should fill each role at the end of that week. You will have a better idea of who is suited to which role.

Thanks for reading and if you liked it feel free to visit us over at Top Rosters or follow on twitter @toprosters if that is your ‘thang. We are currently looking for a few class columnists so if interested please send us an email: mail@toprosters.com. Thanks for the opportunity Matt and keep up the great work here at WOM!

Matticast Episode 17 – Loot Systems

On Episode 17 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

- Loot Systems

- Pros and Cons of DKP, EPGP, Loot Council, Suicide Kings, and more.

- Dealing with Legendaries

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

 

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Restoration Shaman T12 set bonuses

On the off-chance that you missed it, the tier 12 set bonuses for patch 4.2 have been data-mined. Or rather it is what we think they are currently. Everyone has begun speculating about whether they are real, finished or just place holders as well as the impact they’ll have on the gameplay. Well, I figured I’d chime in on what the uncovered shaman tier 12 set bonus is supposed to be for restoration.

  • Restoration 2 Pieces – Your periodic healing from Riptide has a 40% chance to restore 1% of your base mana each time it heals a target.
  • Restoration 4 Pieces – Your Chain Heal spell will jump to one additional target.

Well, that’s what we know so far. I really like the idea of the 2 piece bonus for a few reasons. First of all, every tick of your Riptide will have a 40% chance to restore 1% of your base mana when it heals. Considering you’re likely to be rolling at least 3 of them at a time due to the nature of the spell and the glyph, the potential return on investment is pretty high here. The other thing to consider is that at our first haste plateau of 916, all of our HoTs get an extra tick. With Tier 12 gear it looks like we’ll likely be able to hit the second haste plateau with buffs, which is around 3.4k haste. At 1,573 haste (if you glyphed Riptide and have the warlock buff) Riptide will gain yet another additional tick. It will still occupy the same time on the target, and heal for the same amount, it will just tick more frequently. The point is, 1,573 is an easy number to hit, and even if you don’t have a warlock to buff you the total of 2005 (1857 if you’re a goblin) won’t be that hard to hit come patch 4.2. This increases your chances of getting some mana back with that wonderful 2 piece and honestly makes it very attractive.

The four piece does not thrill me for a few reasons. First of all, adding an additional target to Chain Heal is something our old Glyph of Chain Heal used to do. I’m not really excited by the idea that our set bonus was something that was previously a glyph, and then was just added to the spell anyways as a base component. Secondly, every jump reduces the mount of healing done by chain heal exponentially. As it stands, that last jump would be a piddly amount of healing, and that is assuming a 5th target is in range, and even needs the heal. Thirdly, it is not raid team neutral. What I mean by this is 10 vs 25 man raiding. It’s often times hard enough to get CH to hit all 4 targets in a 25 man raid, it can be downright impossible in a 10 man. That means that the set bonus could go wasted. Lastly, it hardly compares with some of the other 4-piece set bonuses that have been data-mined. Compare one additional bounce of chain heal to the other set that give free healing to nearby targets, or place a free flame-like Lightwell. It just doesn’t have the same punch, and I don’t see it really contributing to our overall healing.

That said, I’m holding out hope that this is incomplete data, that maybe the set bonus will change. Maybe if it healed two targets at the maximum value of chain heal before starting it’s declining healing value, or gave it another augment. Maybe give a bonus to another spell like Healing Rain. Something that feels a little more in line with the other healing 4-piece bonuses would be nice. Since this isn’t even available on the Patch 4.2 PTR yet, I’m hoping it will evolve into something more robust, but only time will tell.

What about you? What do you think about the data mined set bonus? Love it, hate it? What would you like to see for a restoration 4-piece set bonus for T12?

Matticast Poll: Loot Systems

This week on The Matticast we are going to be covering the pros and cons of various loot systems, but we wanted to get reader feedback first. Which loot system has worked best for you? Have ones you just hate? Answer our poll and leave us your feedback in the comments.

Which Loot System Do you Prefer

  • Loot Council (24%, 63 Votes)
  • EPGP (24%, 62 Votes)
  • Need/Greed (23%, 61 Votes)
  • DKP (13%, 33 Votes)
  • Suicide Kings (10%, 26 Votes)
  • Other (Leave In Comments) (6%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 261

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Improving the in-game Recruitment System

Improving the in-game Recruitment System

 

We just downed heroic Atramedes last night on 25 man. We’re now 5/13.

So, the in-game recruitment interface.

I love it.

It’s about time something like this was added. Not every guild can afford its own online presence or has the desire to monitor constant  forum posts. Instead of listing how serious a guild is (hardcore or casual), there are options allowing leaders to indicate guild interests. Weekdays and weekends could be a little more specific, but it’ll do the job for now. Same thing with class roles even though it is extremely basic. I like how they subtly allowed leaders to show whether the guild is a leveling or an endgame guild. It doesn’t say it per se, but come on. For me, I left the Any Level radio button checked. I might have rerolls wandering around and exploring guilds or something.

I do have some suggestions to make.

From the guild leader perspective

I would like to see more screen real estate for additional options. Weekday and weekend availability is nice, but we all know people take their Friday nights off to go watch movies like Fast 5 (Anyone see it yet? Worth it?). Add 7 checkboxes for each day of the week showing what days the guild does stuff on.

Why stop there? How about some buttons for times like:

  • Red eye early morning
  • Morning
  • Afternoon
  • Evening
  • Late night

Approximate time of day would need to be based on server time. At least prospects will have an idea of whether or not they can commit to the rough time.

See the class roles? Setting tank, healer and damage is great for queuing for instances. But we need a little more precision when it comes to class selection at least. Throw class and spec icons. If not, consider adding in classes so we can choose to recruit elusive classes that players seem to be ditching these days like Rogues and Shamans.

I’d also like the ability to set permissions on who can view the Requests tab. I cant seem to find it in the permissions settings anywhere.

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From the applicant’s perspective

The upside to this is that if you’re in a guild, you can’t browse other guilds. That means you need to be an unguilded, free agent.

Here’s the thing.

I imagine most players would want to retain benefits of their guild or at least enjoy some social interaction before their time to leave. I’m sure that if a player is leaving their guild, they would have informed their leadership anyway (At least, I hope). If I were looking to change guilds, I know I’d want to minimize downtime between current guild and guild-to-be. 

Okay, I guess I’ll be more realistic. If I were a player unsatisfied in a guild, I’d love to at least explore what guild options are available to me. Being able to browse all the guilds that are looking while guilded would be nice to have. Perhaps remove the “Apply” button or render it unclickable to minimize any errors.

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Besides, as a GM, I’d love to see what my competition colleagues are looking for. It’s also amazing how many “blank” applications are out there. A good number of players who wanted to join Conquest don’t even fill out the description so I have to guess based on their role and level. Usually what I do in cases where I think the player has serious interest is I’ll decline their application but I’ll fire them an in-game mail asking them to formally apply on the Conquest site anyway.  

How about you guys? What do you think of the in-game recruiting interface and how would you improve it further?