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.

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)!

Real I.D., Lodur’s thoughts

Real I.D., Lodur’s thoughts

Since it was first announced there has been a wave of people very outspoken about this feature from both sides. People have been arguing the pros and cons of it and some of them are less than rational arguments. So I figured I’d share my own thoughts on it.

First though, here are some facts that you may not know about Real ID

  • Real ID is another name for Dingo, if you aren’t careful it will steal your babies!
  • Real ID promised to buy me dinner, but when the check came its wallet was in its other pants
  • Real ID will walk into a room, let one rip audibly and blame it on your dog
  • BP isn’t actually to blame for the oil spill, in truth it was Real ID. It just blamed BP and ran like hell.
  • Real ID is so fast it can outrun the Flash, which oddly enough is why Flash doesn’t work on your iPhone
  • Real ID assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • I survived Real ID, and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt

I figured a little levity was in order for this one, hope you got a giggle out of.

Honestly though there has been a bevy of ridiculous comments about Real ID to the point I don’t think I hear this much QQ when hunters are nerfed. It seems most of the arguments against it are based off of misinformation. Posts have been popping up every where about it from small blogs to big blogs accross the globe.

Stoppable had a great post about Real ID yesterday explaining some of the misconceptions about the new features. It’s a good read you should take a gander at it. Even Matt offered his two cents on the topic.

Spinks offered a good argument for sometimes wanting to be alone in game and not be bothered by anyone and how Real ID eliminates that. It was one of the better arguments I’ve read against the inclusion of Real ID and it is definitely worth your time as well. Anna from  too many annas has also chimed in on the topic and talked about the opening up of your personal information. It is a well thought out discussion on the negatives of Real ID.

That said I like the idea of Real ID chat ingame. There are actually many reason. First of all is it allows me and the officers in my guild to be more accessible to our guildies. There are times when someone will need an officer but none may be on at that time. As it stands a number of guildies have my cell phone, email, home address, AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and so forth in order to get a hold of me when needed. I tend to be a night owl, I’m up all hours of the night, but I’m not always in WoW. I do intend to play a lot of SC2 and you bet your arse I’ll be playing Diablo 3. Having a way to keep in touch with guildies and be pegged if I’m needed in game is very nice. Secondly it allows me to stay in touch with friends on different servers and factions. I have friends all over the place, many of my readers here fall into that category. I like being able to send them a whisper and ask what’s up. My girlfriend raids as horde on another server and it is nice to be able to send her a message in game just to say hi. I enjoyed using it in the SC2 beta and it worked really well there.

It is not without short-comings though. First of all, right out of the box it is spam heavy. Pop ups, growl notifications, status spam assail you as soon as you enable the feature. This can be turned off in the game settings, but still it is not a friendly first impression. There are memory issues still. Friends running top of the line PC’s with gobs of ram and terabytes of storage were getting errors about drive space for processing. This needs to be fixed and fixed fast. There are two key binds to reply to someone now in the default UI. A seperate key for chat reply, and one for whisper reply. Heres the thing though, they don’t both work! Chat reply (for chat groups) doesn’t work at all.  Why not just leave it as one key replies to whispers from Real ID or regular friends and leave the chat like a normal chat channel? Privacy mode please. Even on facebook I can turn chat off and have no one know I logged in. Why can’t I do the same here? I can set myself to busy but it’s not the same. Blizzard please add a function where I can turn it off when I don’t want to be bothered. I mean I accidentally did this last night when I crashed but I would rather prefer a button!

Overall I like it.  It is not very different from the battle.net communication we used to track friends back in Diablo 2 (you could add battle.net or user names to see all of their characters) and many of us utilize services like Steam where we can communicate across ANY game in the steam library to our friends, and it was about time that we saw something like this from Blizzard.

I’ll end today with a couple notes about security and etiquette

Friend of a Friend: People right now are saying that the ability to see friends of a friend are broken and wrong and invade someone’s privacy. The truth is though, besides a name you do not get anything else about the person. You do not see their email or anything like that. In fact, you get more information about friends of a friend from Facebook.

I have to give my email out!?: While the system is designed to search for people by email addresses, you can add other people and they cannot see your email. You can have people add you through friend of a friend and they will never see your email, or simply you can choose not to participate. Either way your information is really only accessible if you volunteer it.

Now I’m going to get spam mail!!!: Well, you may but you wont get it because of this. There are entire companies that do nothing but plug random combination of letters and numbers at domain names offering blanket statements to try and sell you products or click really bad links. Others buy the information from other websites for marketing. Either way I can pretty much guarantee you the Viagra spam email you got had nothing to do with Real ID.

Say who you are!!: A new pet peeve of mine is people adding someone without saying who they are. I’ve gotten a dozen requests that I have no clue who those people are. I accept that this will happen as my information is highly public thanks to wow.com, World of Matticus and For The Lore.  All I ask is that if you’re going to send the request tell me who you are. I’ve accepted many friend requests on FaceBook that just said “hey I’m a reader from xyz you should add me”. So my rule is no message telling me who you are, I wont accept the invitation. I will be using this rule for Real ID as well. I mean it’s just common courtesy to announce who you are!

We live in a world where our information is readily available for just about anyone if they look hard enough. Take a look at FaceBook, Twitter, and even personal Blogs and Livejournals. We post information about ourselves that just about anyone can see if they want unless we are ultra super secretly careful. Is this really worse than they are? Is this worse than FaceBook ? In the end this is still optional, you can choose not to participate. Simply don’t accept any requests and don’t send any, and everything goes along as normal. This is not the end of the world. Blizzard is not going to sell your information to gold farmers and spammers (they would have long since done that already if that was the case) and the truth of the matter is your account is in no greater danger than it was two days ago. You should still have an authenticator and you shouldn’t respond to those emails from Gnomeregan royalty who just need a little help to get their money out of escrow.

So now that you’ve had a day with it, what do you think of the new Real ID system?

Special thanks to Thespius and my buddy Doug for the comedic help this morning.

What Will The MMO of Tomorrow Bring?

What Will The MMO of Tomorrow Bring?

Cataclysm is rapidly approaching and the game world we’ve known for the last 5+ years is changing. Towns destroyed, new races about and new powers for each race to play with. WoW is not the only game facing changes though, In fact the state of MMOs is changing as a whole, I mean let’s face it, in the coming months everything we thought we knew about this genre is going to go right out the window. The best part is, we as gamers are in the right place to enjoy the best of these changes to come … hopefully. You may ask yourself what am I talking about? Well let’s take a look at things that are going to be happening in the very near future.

Star Wars: The Old Republic


One of the most highly anticipated games coming up is Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). The game takes a popular franchise and is recreating the universe for a new MMO. So far it is shaping up to bring some new features with.

Every NPC / Quest is voiced: That is right, talk to an npc to get a quest, the whole thing will be read off to you by the character audibly. Pretty massive undertaking, and a pretty cool feature.

Consequence system: Every choice you make in the game, every quest you take every mob you kill has consequences. It can alter what quests you have available to you as well as what powers become available to you. It is possible to play two different characters and get completely different experiences based purely on the choices you make. The other part that is interesting about this MMO is that your choices can lead to faction changing. It has been stated that a Sith can be redeemed and a Jedi can fall from grace, all based on the choices you make in the game world.

Advanced Class system: Each starting class can evolve into one of two advanced classes, each of those advanced classes has two skill trees it can choose from. This allows for a large variation among players and classes and lets you customize your character to suit your needs and play-style. The depth of this is not yet revealed but this can be very very interesting in the future of updating and personalizing your in game avatars.

A Whole Universe to Explore: Most MMOs take place on a comparatively small land mass or group of landmasses (EvE online is an exception here), and can often times feel very linear in its progression. This is a truly massive undertaking as they are creating many many worlds for us to explore and each world is to be massive in and of themselves. The sheer scope of this, and the potential for player freedom here can be an altering factor to MMOs to come after.

These are just things off the top of my head about the game, there will be more to come as the game is closer to release, but they are truly beginning to push away from MMOs as we know them.

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars received great attention when it was released 5 years ago in part because it was a free to play after you purchased the game, but also because it was (and still is)  a good game. The sequel is shaping up to be even bigger and badder than the original (which is a good thing), but like Bioware with SWOTR, Arenanet aiming to shake things up a bit.

Whole New Way to Quest: I’ll open this up with a quote from Colin Johanson, Lead Content Designer for Guild Wars 2.

When building an MMO, we had to examine every core piece of accepted content from traditional games in the genre and ask, “How can this be improved?” By looking at the traditional quest system used in basically every MMO ever made, we’ve come to the conclusion that quests have a lot of areas for improvement. To address these flaws, we’ve developed our dynamic event system.

Traditional quest systems involve walking up to a character who usually has an exclamation point or question mark hovering over their head and talking to them. From here, you get a massive wall of text hardly anyone reads that describes a horrible or totally mundane thing going on in the world that you need to help with. You run off, complete this task, then return and talk to this character again to receive another wall of text and a reward. Traditional quest systems rely on these blocks of quest text to tell you what is happening in the world; this is just an outdated form of storytelling.

In Guild Wars 2, our event system won’t make you read a huge quest description to find out what’s going on. You’ll experience it by seeing and hearing things in the world. If a dragon is attacking, you won’t read three paragraphs telling you about it, you’ll see buildings exploding in giant balls of fire, and hear characters in the game world screaming about a dragon attack. You’ll hear guards from nearby cities trying to recruit players to go help fight the dragon, and see huge clouds of smoke in the distance, rising from the village under siege.

That is fairly massive right there, I mean just think about that. Total immersion into the world. That is pretty impressive and really sells the world to the players. He goes on to say the following

There is a second fundamental flaw to traditional quest systems: what the quest text tells you is happening in a quest is not actually what is happening in the world.

For example, in a traditional MMO, the character who gives you a quest will tell you ogres are coming to destroy the character’s home, and you need to kill them. You then get a quest which says, “Kill 0/10 ogres” and you proceed to kill a bunch of ogres standing around in a field picking daisies. Since every player in the game needs to be able to do this quest, the ogres will never actually threaten the character’s home – they will just eternally pick daisies in the field. The ogres aren’t actually doing what the quest says they are – the game is lying to you!

At ArenaNet, we believe this is NOT good enough. In Guild Wars 2, if a character tells you ogres are coming to destroy a house, they will really come and smash down the house if you don’t stop them!

We’ve all seen it, we get the quest to go kill x of y because they are coming to hurt z, but in truth they are just standing around doing nothing but waiting for the players to come and kill them. This adds a real consequence to the game world and leads into the second big thing about the game.

A Living Breathing World: Every action you take has an effect on the world around you. This means if you don’t stop the ogres from destroying that home, guess what? The building is actually destroyed and gone. If an army lays siege to a town and takes it, they will occupy that town, until someone frees the town from the army. There is no case of say a certain inn in a certain western location being built for 5+ years. If a city or town gets decimated it is not outside of reason that in this game it will be rebuilt over time. Traditionally in MMOs once you complete a quest or a task, you collect your reward and you move on with no effect on the world (That damn Corki keeps getting caught by the Ogres…), here everything you choose to do — or that which you choose not to do — has an impact on the world around you and can cause a chain of events that you may not see happen from making one innocuous choice.

Bringing a Community Back to MMOs: Right now in most games if a player goes off to kill a named NPC and another player gets the same quest, unless they are in the same group together they have to wait for the mob to respawn. This has often let to things such as griefing and harassment. Arenanet aims to end that. I’ll end my section here with one more quote

All players that fully participate in an event are rewarded for doing so; everyone who helps kill a monster or blow up an enemy catapult will get credit for doing so. There is no kill stealing and no quest camping. Everyone works together towards the common goal of the event and everyone is rewarded for doing so. To help ensure there is always enough for everyone to do, our events dynamically scale, so the more players who show up and participate in the event, the more enemies show up to fight them. If a bunch of players leave the event, it will dynamically scale back down so it can be completed by the people who are still there playing it. This careful balance created by our dynamic scaling system helps ensure you have the best and most rewarding play experience.

Tell me that doesn’t sound pretty cool. Again this can help shape how players move and interact through MMOs to come, depending entirely on execution of course.

Tera: The Exiled Realms of Arborea

Recently I had the good fortune to speak with Producer Brian Knox and writer Robin MacPherson from En Masse Entertainment on the podcast. If you’re interested you can click here for the show notes and the episode is free for download on iTunes or direct link from the site. The information we gained from the interview is pretty killer. The game itself is being simultaneously developed for both the eastern and western markets. There has been some trouble bringing eastern games over to the west based purely upon the different ideas of what we want in a game. En Masse aims to not only break those barriers but redefine the MMOs while they do it. So what do they have in store for us?

Define Your Own Player Relations: As of now there are no factions like we are used to in World of Warcraft and other games, instead it is entirely up to a player to choose who they side with. You choose your allies and your enemies. There is no pre-set racial enmity so you have complete freedom here. This is kind of a big deal for some people, and hasn’t really been seen since the days of Star Wars Galaxies. Yes there is PvP in the game, but it is about groups and teams versus other groups and teams. It is very likely that at some point you will be facing off against members of your own race in gladiatorial combat! It really opens up a lot of opportunities for the players both in terms of the game and, if they so choose, role playing.

Combat and Healing: The developers of Tera aim to make a much more involved combat system. There are no auto attacks here, there are no infinite stun locks, Tera’s tactical combat system gives players more control and constant involvement in the the game-play. No more point-and-click or just cycling through a palette of spells and skills, you really have to pay attention. This is not only true for damage dealers, but also for healers. They gave us two great examples on the show. One of their healers has a multiple target heal, it is activated by the player and held, the player is then required to select the target of the heals by clicking on them and then releasing the heal. Another can drop a series of orbs that will be used to heal players as they move around, requiring tactical placement and attention to the fight. They also are working to not make healers so fragile that they fall over in combat, but not so powerful that they just can’t be killed. They will have offensive capabilities so that they can hold their own in a fight, both PvE and PvP. One of their goals is to make healing more involved than playing Green bar Whack-a-Mole and to add some more excitement to that particular role. They aim to draw more people to the healing class through interest. The enthusiasm Brian Knox and Robin MacPherson had for the development of their combat system is rather infectious and they are excited to be able to showcase it in more detail soon.

Collision Between Players: Most MMOs don’t include collision in their games, you can run through bosses and other players. This reduces griefing in cities, and helps take a little stress off of planning some encounters and spaces. In Tera when a player is in a city there will be no collision, but when they step outside of the city there will be collision enabled. This is actually a pretty big move and adds a new level of complexity and strategy to combat, both PvE and PvP.  How many times has a boss gone waltzing through the tank and smack a healer dead in one shot? How many times in PvP does the healer or clothie just get burned down because no one can stop them? In Tera that is no longer the case. Tank types can intervene and try to place themselves in harms way to save a squishy. This also means that tank types in PvP are useful as tanks keeping players away from healers or fragile casters and giving their teammates time to react and adjust. Think about in WoW in a battle ground, when you see a warrior, druid, paladin or death knight you rarely will find them in tank gear and spec. It just isn’t useful because PvP in WoW is mostly about burning things down quickly. This also adds a level of strategy to PvP and PvE we haven’t seen before and will require people to work together in more involved ways. This can lead to varied and interesting strategies between different groups to accomplish the same goal.

Political and Economic System: Players make up the world for the most part in any game, we out number the NPCs and aside from driving auction house prices, have little impact on the world. The same leaders are in place and if you go to buy a consumable from an NPC the price largely stays the same. The developers of Tera have been pretty tight lipped on this system but I hear rumors that they may be explaining this in more detail soon. On the cast the stated that players will have a deeper impact on the economy of the game and that players will be able to be elected to offices for their server. Again no details are available yet, but if they do it like SWG did (but better) I think that will be an interesting change. Allowing players to have a deeper impact on the game and a larger investment in their time spent playing.

If you get a chance stop by their website and check out the trailer for the game, it has a glimpse at the UI as it stands right now and a view of some of the PvP action and starts to give you an idea of the size of the world they are creating.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Another of the years most highly anticipated games, Blizzard Entertainment has been hard at work to give us not only an expansion to a game we’ve come to love (or hate in some people’s cases), but to take time and change the game. We’ve been keeping up pretty heartily with things that are changing but let’s take a look at some of the highlights so far.

Stats and Class Abilities/Talents: They are re-balancing stats, pruning excess and making it easier for players to understand their characters. They are doing this not only with classes in mind, but also player roles. It will be easier than ever to know if a piece of gear is meant primarily for healers or DPS. While they are hard at work pairing down stats, they are also taking a look at all of the classes core abilities and talents in the game. In some cases their are some radical things in the works while others will receive some minor tweeks. We have had some information given to us from their twitter dev chat, as well as their class previews that were released not so long ago. New talents are being added and taken away, some find themselves converted into base abilities or trainable spells for the characters, and while they are at it they are adding a whole new talent system to the game called mastery. Rewarding players with key abilities and stat boosts as they invest points in their chosen roles. Tanks become better tanks passively by spending points, healers become better int heir roles and DPS do just that much more damage. This allows players a certain freedom while choosing talents and is working towards eliminating “cookie-cutter” specs and allow for more diversity.

New Races and Race/Class Combinations: They are adding two new playable races to the game just like they did in Burning Crusade. Worgen for the alliance giving them access to a monstrous race that is heavily steeped in the games lore, and Goblins for the horde with a very compelling story for the little green folk. While they were adding new races to the game they also decided to add new race and class combinations to the game. Trolls can become Druids, Humans can become Hunters and so forth. Some of these are based on lore (Dwarves in particular come to mind, but that is a post for another day) others are based on logic and the changing times of the game. Either way it opens up new avenues for players to enjoy the game and immerse themselves in the world the Blizzard has crafted.

New Graphics and a Changing World: Blizzard is simultaneously destroying the world we’ve known for the last 5+ years and making it more inspired at the same time. The game has been around for a long time and as a result the older content does not compare graphically to the newer content we’ve been seeing. Blizz is taking the time to update everything, from the polygon count and character models of the races, to the water and fire effects in the game. This is a huge leap forward in the ever escalating graphical war between game developers these days. While they are upgrading the technology of the game they are also doing a few things to the game world to add an feeling of epic grandeur to to the game breaking zones and cities and creating new areas to explore, bathing the world in fire and destruction and bringing new life to places long since thought dead, and in doing so they are expanding the lore of the game and bringing new life to an old world.

Changing Mechanics: When Wrath of the Lich King was released, tanking had been updated and changed around. Threat generation, tank DPS and the overall feeling of tanking has evolved since that expansions release. This time around Blizzard aims to change the way healers interact with the world. They want to make it a less stagnant role by moving it away from whack-a-mole and having each heal, each use of mana mean something and require not only thought and planning, but for the healer to pay more attention to the encounters and what is going on around them to try to predict where damage will be coming from. This includes adding spells, changing mana consumption and regeneration as well as a myriad of other factors we have yet to see. I think we will see the mechanics of healing change over the course of this expansion as much if not more so than tanking changed and was updated. Also by doing this they open up a multitude of avenues to re-invent boss fights and create new and dynamic encounters within the game that previously they could not do.

Scaling the Game: One of the biggest problems games that have been around a while have is scaling with the players. As you gain levels and powers older content loses its appeal and difficulty. Sometimes this can lead to players becoming bored as they outgrow the content put before them and start looking back on the previous content. Constantly adding new challenges is something that all MMOs do, but adding content that keeps you feeling as if you are in the midst of an epic world takes talent. Back in Vanilla we faced gods, elemental lords and children of dragon aspects and it felt epic. In BC we faced demon lords, specters of the worlds history, demon lords and NPCs that were super powerful and integral to the story and lore of the world, even after Vanilla it still felt epic. In Wrath we fight to face the architect of much of the worlds strife, and along the way face dragon aspects and a plethora of political intrigue as well as beginning to unravel the mysteries of Azeroth’s birth and forgotten lore, again even after BC the content moved in a steadily increasing arc. Now in Cataclysm we are working to uncover more about the titans that shaped our world and that still live somewhere among the multitude of worlds, are working to safeguard the world from a tormented Dragon Aspect that could have likely shrugged and destroyed Icecrown Citadel and crushed the Lich King. It seem that the arc continues as even now it already is starting to feel epic and it appears to be scaling properly with our ever increasing level and powers.

The game is still in alpha stages right now, but information is slowly trickling in and Blizzard has yet to reveal everything they have in store.

In The End: Needless to say the next year is going to be huge for the MMO industry, WoW is still the standard by which most people gauge an MMO, just like Everquest before it was the measure of the genre. The industry seems to no longer want to make another WoW, instead they seem to be working towards re-inventing the MMO genre. The best part is, in the end it is us the gamers that will benefit from this. We are at the horizon of a new age in gaming , everything is updating at an increasingly quick pace with new graphics, stories and game-play. This is an evolution of social gaming that has been long anticipated by the masses. In the past year alone we have had more choices in games of various shapes, sizes and types than ever before. I think there is a new arms race about to begin amongst the super powers of gaming, and I personally can’t wait to sample each of their wares and play with some shiny new toys.

So how about you? What do you think? Do you think that MMOs are going to evolve? What are you looking forward to the most? What would you like to see developers tackle? Are you excited for what is yet to come?

Well that is it for this week, until next time.

 

The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

“The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend”, at least that’s what Aristotle says. I think he was on to something there. You can have an entire army facing you ready to run you through, but if you have one friend by your side you may just have the chance to win. Before when I started EVE Online and Lord of the Rings Online, it was hard to get into the game because my friends either couldn’t play the same time as me or were vastly higher level than I was. It made the games much less fun at the time than it was to play with a friends.

MMOs force you to get to know some one’s personality before anything else, this is especially true when you’re grouped up in guilds or clans. This is vastly different than what our human nature normally allows. As people our nature is to find others like us physically first, then discern intelligence and mentality. Video games have made it so we get to know the person’s personality before anything else. As a result, friendships you make through the game can create a stronger bond than even you may realize.

I’m sure you’re asking why all of a sudden is Joe going on about friendships and want-not. Couple nights ago my guild was working on Lich King (25) and we were coming back from a break when we got on a tangent because an old friend of many of the long time people in the guild expressed interest in not only coming back to the game, but finding a home on our server. We started talking about all the “old timers” we used to hang out with and it came up that someone I used to farm honor with late night that I hadn’t heard from in a very long time, passed away. I had no idea and that really bothered me. I mean this a person that I used to stay up all hours of the night shooting the shit, while shooting the horde. I remember being dog tired after a particularly long day at work and being JUST below my requirement for Knight rank in the old PvP system. This person was part of the group that convinced me to just queue with them and then let them do the work while I napped. Just so I could make sure I got the points before the next day’s calculations to get my rank. This person was also part of the group that when me and my girlfriend at the time split for good, decided it was city raid time to try and break me out of the slump I had fallen into. All the while joking and cajoling me trying to get me to laugh. Say whatever you will, these were good people.

The news of the death was a bit sobering sure, but it made me think of the other people I’ve made friends with through this game and how much their friendships impact my life. One of my best friends was found through the game. I’ve talked about it before but it’s still a good story. Back in BC we got an influx of new recruits, one of which was a smart-ass warlock. We always joked in game and always got along. One raid night I offhandedly mentioned having gone to a local coffee house before the raid. Erommon perked up on vent and started asking questions. Soon as the raid was over we met up, went to Deny’s and just hung out to the course of another 3 hours or so just talking. Needless to say he has become one of my best friends.

Another one of my best friends I met as a result of WoW. I had just been hired for my current job and we were on a break from training. I logged into my guild’s website to check raid sign-ups and my friend Dan happened to see it was a WoW website. We started talking and quickly found out we had much in common outside of the game. We became fast friends and now he is currently the person I’m working with for the 2D video game I’ve been working on.

I try to make myself accessible to guildies, but there are some I talk to more than others just out of shared likes and dislikes and play times. I’ve had guildies call me with real life problems at very odd hours just to vent and seek advice like they would from any long term real world friend. I’ve had guildies call me to make sure I was OK with things going on in my life outside of the game.

Even through the community there is this amazing bond that can be shared. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made through blogging and the community that surrounds it. If not for that community I never would have met my girlfriend or been introduced to such amazing people as I have been. Hell I’ve talked about Thespius from this site before, we hit it off right away when he joined my guild and through game time, this site and just chatting in general I’m happy to call him my friend, and would share a frosty pint with him any day.

Sometimes it amazes me and I have to sit back and take stock of it all. Today is one of those days. I mean how long ago was it that gamers were shunned covens of outcasts? Now gaming is it’s own social media giant that is allowing us to make some great contacts and meet people we normally wouldn’t have thought to talk to or get to know. Look back and think about all the friends you’ve made in the game or through the community. Do you consider them actual friends? Any stories to share?

Being the Shaman Behind the Meat Shield

Being the Shaman Behind the Meat Shield

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Back on the 13th, Mera asked a question that I felt deserved a post to fully answer it.

“Can shamans make good MT or OT healers, as in to the same standard of other healing classes?”

I provided a short answer of yes on the 13th, but I’m going to try to flesh it out a bit more here.

Shaman have been given a lot of tools when Patch 3.0 was brought live. These tools allow us to be competitive with other healers in single target healing. Really we can break this down into a few sections – Spec (talents), Glyphs and Strategy.

Spec/Talents:

There are three very popular specs out there right now:

  • 0/16/55 This has been referred to as the cookie cutter spec.
  • 0/14/57 This spec. This spec moves points out of Elemental weapons to buff ancestral healing.
  • 0/14/57 A build which takes a few points out of Thundering Strikes in order to have a maxed Healing Way and Ancestral Healing while forsaking Improved Water Shield.

Each has different strengths they bring to the healing fight so to speak so lets take a quick peak at some of the choice talents.

Let’s take a look at the talents we pick up in enhancement first.

Thundering Strikes: This talent is five points of wonderful. It boosts your crit by a solid 5%. This is great because when you are on a Tank there can often times be spikes in damage. Having a higher crit ensures a better chance of being able to top off the tank with one healing wave instead of two or three.

Improved Shields:  This talent increases the bang for the buck you get out of your Earth Shield. That 15% counts for a lot in the long run, and your tank will thank you for picking it up.

Elemental Weapons: More spell power is always good.  This gives you an additional 45 spell power, no reason not to take it.

Now, those are very straight forward. One can argue the same about the next set but I’ll highlight the talents in the restoration tree that, in my opinion are great main tank healer abilities, or have been updated recently and can fill that role.

Healing Way: I’ll start with Healing Way, which is second only to Earth Shield in my book when one thinks of Shaman healing a tank.  This talent recently underwent a change that make it a very useful talent once again. The full affect of the talent is applied when you use the spell once. This means that you no longer have to spam the ability 3 times to get it rolling. Front loading the effect means that you can toss a Healing Wave on the tank, and then burn another 15 seconds worth of spells and Global Cool Downs until the ability expires. Tossing another healing wave on the tank will immediately receive an 18% boost and keeping this in mind it’s very very easy to net 20k crit heals and higher. I personally feel this is a must for shaman doing tank healing.

Earth Shield / Improved Earth Shield: These are pretty self explanatory. Earth Shield is a bread and butter talent. For as long as we’ve had it, we’ve been using it and rightly so. You toss this up on the main tank and it can help to create a very nice reactive buffer for health loss. This talent also underwent a fix recently. Previously the chance for the shield to crit heal was based on the person you put it on. Meaning a fire mage was more likely to get crit heals then a prot warrior. They’ve fixed it now so that it has a chance to crit based on your crit at the time of casting. Looking at your talents you have 14% built in before gear and INT are calculated. This just helps improve something that was already golden.

Ancestral Awakening: A lot of people don’t like this talent, but I personally love it. Taking a look at it, Ancestral Awakening really fits well with a main tank shaman healer. It procs off of Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave and Riptide. If you are on a tank, you’re going to be using a lot more Healing Wave then you usually do, and as a result this will proc more often. It heals for 30% of the amount healed. Lets say it procs off of a nice Healing Wave crit for 20,000 hp. The talent (like beacon of light) only spreads around the part that’s effective healing. Lets say 10,000hp of that heal is actually healing. That’s still a 3k heal that lands on someone who needs it.

Tidal Force: Again, pretty self explanatory. Having something that boosts your crit for Healing Wave is always a good thing

Tidal Waves: This talent is also very nice. It procs off Chain Heal and Riptide. We can assume that you’ll be using Riptide pretty liberally as it’s an instant cast hot with a flash heal at the front (so yes you should be using it if you’re not), and so this should be up all the time. It reduces the casting time of your Healing Wave spells by 30%. That extra little bit of haste helps to deliver your big heal faster.

Glyphs:

For Glyphs it might be a bit hard to choose for tank healing duty but we do have some good ones to choose from.

  • Glyph of Water Mastery: More mana! I hope I never hear anyone complain about more mana =D
  • Glyph of Mana Tide Totem: Again more mana, in this case taking full advantage of all the INT you have.
  • Glyph of Healing Wave: This takes advantage of your Healing Wave casts by returning 20% of the effective healing done, ignoring overheal amounts. Great glyph for AoE bosses and fights where you might not be able to heal yourself.
  • Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave: Less mana to cast, and faster then it’s big brother, this glyph lets LHW strike an Earth Shielded target for a respectable amount on par with non crit Healing Waves.
  • Glyph of Earthliving: This helps make sure you have a HoT up as much as possible. 5% more Earthliving procs can help cushion your healing a bit.
  • Glyph of Chain Heal: Even though you’re going to be casting more heals then Chain Heal, it still remains our most efficient heal. Casting it in between Healing Waves can help keep Tidal Waves up, and if you happen to catch any low melee in the process, so much the better.

Pick glyphs that help fill in gaps in what you need. If you need more mana, two glyphs will go along way to help that. If you find yourself taking damage and not being able to peel away from the tank, there is a glyph that help you keep standing long into the fight. Now these are just the Resto ones, I’ve heard people using ones to finagle more crit and such.  Take a look Here and find ones that work for you.

Strategy

Lets face it, loling around and chain healing a raid isn’t rocket science. Using our tools to their full potential while raid healing take much more finesse. Switching gears from Raid Healing to Tank Healing takes a different mindset. First thing to remember is Resto Shaman don’t really have any preventative measures to help mitigate incoming damage beyond Stoneskin Totem and Strength of Earth Totem to add armor or STR/AGI for mitigation. Our healing is all reactive aside from maybe our two HoTs, and even then we only have full control over one of them. Earth Shield requires the person you put it on to be hit before it goes off. As a result we spend a lot of time overhealing when we’re on a tank in an attempt to keep them topped off. With the amounts of mana regen we usually have, it’s not hard to keep the spells constantly streaming while keeping up on mana. You will also make full use of all your healing spells as a tank healer. Be adaptive to the situation and be ready to move with your tank. With raid healing it’s easy to sit put and plug away but a lot of times with the tank you’ll have to move with them to keep them in healing range or line of sight.

Conclusion

With all this in mind my answer to the question is Yes, I feel that shaman are more then capable Tank Healers, on par with other classes. We have all the tools necessary to fill both roles of the Raid Healer and Tank Healer effectively. There may be fights were a certain type of healer is better for the job (like a Discipline Priest healing the Sartharion Tank on Sarth 3D) but that doesn’t mean it’s the case every time. We can keep up with the Priests, Paladins and Druids in single target healing just fine.

Image courtesy of www.plan59.com

Matticus Interviewed

It all started with a PM from Blog Azeroth which exploded into a full fledge interview. Had lots of fun answering this one from the WoW Blogger. Go read it!

Most important question asked?

Will the blog still be going? For that matter do you foresee WoW itself still alive in a decade?

The blog itself will be up. I chose this name so that it wouldn’t exactly be limited to just World of Warcraft. It’s World of Matticus and whatever happens to be contained in that world will be up to me. Blizzard’s stories have been compelling in every game they’ve produced. If they keep up story telling and designing the games the way they are now there is no reason to see WoW even remotely slowing down at all.

20 + 3 Myths about Women Who Play WoW

20 + 3 Myths about Women Who Play WoW

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So Matt and I were goofing off one day, and in one of those conversations where you’re not quite sure how it got onto that topic… we started talking about some of the myths around being a female gamer. Like all stereotypes, some have a base in reality, some are pretty funny, and some nag at my feminist sensibilities. Here’s 20 myths about female WoW-ers that I’ve encountered:  

  • We don’t exist
  • We’re super-hot asian women
  • We’re all crushingly obese in real life
  • We can’t Tank
  • We can’t Melee
  • We can’t PvP
  • Actually, we can’t play
  • We must want to be your girlfriend (or cyber you)
  • We’re sleeping with our Guild leader/Raid leader and that’s why we get raid invites/gear
  • We only play healing classes
  • We cause 100% of all guild/server drama
  • We get given gold, mats, and items for free
  • or, if not for free, in exchange for non-monetary favors
  • All female ‘toons are really guys trying to cash in on the above myths (especially Elves)
  • We don’t play Horde
  • We’re only playing to spend time with our boyfriend/husband
  • We care more about how gear looks than its stats
  • We only tame cuddly, cute pets
  • We don’t theorycraft (‘cuz math is HARD!)
  • We all hate each other
  • Female GMs are all married to a co-GM and not really leading the guild
  • We fly into hysterics if given negative feedback
  • We aren’t allowed to raid when we’re on our period

Image credits: Sacredart

Thanks Auz & Joveta!!

Myth busted: Canadian Chicks Play WoW

I know I’m soooo going to be asking for it and Wyn and Syd probably going to butcher me. I’m in my Psyc class and there’s a girl right in front of me playing WoW while the Prof is lecturing.

  • Looks like a 70 Warlock main
  • Enchanter
  • Has the ZA bag
  • Looks like the Mag Bag too
  • Has many alts
  • Alliance
  • Piling the IF AH with stuff

…Is it scary that I can tell that much information with just a simple and involuntary glance over her shoulder? Or am I just a really good stalker? It must be my Criminology training and eye to detail.

Yeah, thats it!

SYTYCB: 10 Silly Timewasters

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This is Jen’s SYTYCB week 2 entry.

There is lots of expansion talk right now and with Arthas looming in the not-so-distant future you might be thinking where should I be spending my WoW time?

Do I need to get all my alts to 70 so I have an army to fight the Lich King?

Should I be preparing and gathering to level professions immediately so I can have the first flying carpet on my server?

Are there achievements I would like to have in place before Wrath hits (collecting mini-pets or grinding reputations to exalted)?

While all of these things are fun to do and can help complete some of your WoW-related goals, sometimes we need to be a little silly.  Here is my list of random things to do in WoW that will not progress your character or accomplish anything productive goal-wise. These are purely time-wasters.


Play With NPCs


If you see a pair of NPCs having a conversation, join in! They really don’t mind and it is entertaining for you and everyone around you. You can also slow walk or “RP walk” if you see a group of them going somewhere. I have found they never go anywhere exciting though, and normally end up vanishing into thin air.


Easter Egg Hunt


Have you visited Ophera Windfury or Haris Pilton lately? Blizzard has a great sense of humor and they have hidden pop culture references throughout Azeroth and Outlands. Just spend one hour in Un’Goro Crater and you will see plenty of references and spoofs of old console games.


One-man Bosses


Tanks get to be in the bosses’ face all the time where casters and healers have to take a backseat view to the action. So if you want to see what the boss looks like when angry and what kinds of goofy facial expressions he makes then pose as a tank. I am not saying one-man bosses you KNOW you can kill. This is to one-man bosses for fun and screenshots, not achievement. Be prepared for repairs.


Show Off


Ride around Shattrath on your armored netherdrake or stand in Stormwind with your new shiny epic. If you are the type that thrives on attention and the accolades from others, then this is the time-waster for you. Make sure you answer all whispers with “oh sorry, I was tabbed out” even though you were sitting there just basking in the adoration.

Toon Watch

Do you ever go to the mall and just watch the people shopping? This is similar; watching what goes on in your capital city can be a riot. Seeing how many people try to jump to the very top of the Stormwind fountain can keep you entertained for at least 10 minutes. I don’t think they realize how silly they look. Thanks for the laughs, fountain jumpers.

You Shook Me All Night Long

There are plenty of fun things in the game that can shape-shift you. This can be a noggenfogger party, a furbolg party or a ninja party. Be creative. Make sure everyone brings their favorite mini-pet and vanity items. Hellloooo brewfest pony keg!

Become a Regular

Stay at the same inn every night, or even find an empty building in Ironforge and call it your home. I chose to become a regular at a tavern where everyone knows my name. Who knows, they might start giving you a discount.

Suicide Jumps

This could be considered practice for the new achievements, but I’ve been doing this for a long time just for fun. It certainly helps if you have a way of surviving the fall, for example Priest’s levitate.

Give Me My Greypics

I do not consider myself a role-player, but I do enjoy collecting costumes or sets of grey gear. Instead of chasing epics that will be replaced eventually, why not chase grey sets? It can be fun and your guild can get involved in trying to find certain set pieces you are missing. Caylee is modeling the lovely crochet set.

/join trade

This might be torturous for some, but if you want hear more about Chuck Norris, murlocs or anal [insert spell here] this is the best way to get all of that in one sitting.

Enjoy the game you play. If you do not enjoy dailies don’t do them or find a way to make them more interesting. If stockpiling mats makes you yawn then stop it. If you are not enjoying the game, why are you here? What time-wasters or fun things do you do in game?

Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted. John Lennon