Posts Tagged ‘World of Warcraft’

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What’s the first thing you’d do after a five-month hiatus?

I headed out for a test drive. After picking up the Black Bruise and Keleseth’s Seducer in April, a new job and new time constraints meant I had no more time for raiding, and I decided to take a break.

When I logged in last night and checked the character pane, I saw the icons and remembered: Hey, I’ve got a pair of bad-ass fist weapons here!

Some old-school friends were starting up a late 10-man ICC run, and we ran a quick six-boss gauntlet. Here are the numbers:

Gear Score: 5784

DPS: 9772.3

Buffs: Improved Might, Kings, MotW (scroll), Fish Feast, Intellect, no flask.

For half the raid, it was an alt run, so the context may be a bit skewed. The 9777 DPS was good for second on the meter, behind a very solid Elemental Shaman friend who has a heroic weapon and the four-piece set bonus.

Which I still don’t have. But, hey, Cataclysm might be here in less than two months, so what’s the worry?

In this week’s Totem Talk, Rich Malloy points out using Shock and Awe’s priority system as a guide for our DPS rotation “is a net DPS loss for experienced Enhancement players.”

I’ll take it one step further and point out it’s a net loss for everybody.

Shaman priority system

Windfury: The ultimate priority.

We’ve had quite a few posts on this subject, and I’ve repeated it like a mantra — there is no DPS rotation. While the guys over at Elitist Jerks take math to the extremes (bless their hearts) and tweak on down to the fraction level, it’s been established since early in the expansion that the beautiful new synergy between melee and casting gave us a unique system that couldn’t be simplified in terms of macros or “rotations.”

Simply put, you can’t be lazy when playing this spec, and macros are only going to hurt your DPS contribution to your raid. While that’s fine for heroics and older tiers, DPS spots for current tiers are almost always competitive, especially at the 10-man level. In a 25-man there are always a few spots for people to get “carried” through content…but do you really want to be that guy?

For my own set-up, I use Shock-and-Awe for one thing: to flash a small bar bright red and give me an audio cue when Maelstrom Weapon reaches five stacks.

That’s really all the help I need for rotation-specific, real time information. I stick to the standard priority system otherwise, and DBM takes care of my other split-second information needs. Everything else is purely cosmetic, and my personal preference has always been a clean UI — I find clutter only increases my chances of missing something critical and letting the raid down.

If Enhancement players were the type of people who are bothered by having to do extra work, we wouldn’t have rolled Shamans. After all, easy as it is to forget, it wasn’t until a few months ago that we had to set up each individual totem on every pull. Hunters, Warlocks and Mages don’t have to do that, and they can open up as soon as the threat numbers look favorable.

Maybe we’re spoiled by the revamped totem system. Or maybe — and this is my suspicion — the awesomeness of the Enhancement spec in Wrath has lured in players who might otherwise have specced Elemental or Resto, or rolled a different class altogether.

But I try to look at it this way — the more control over DPS abilities we have, the bigger the upside if we work hard. And that’s a wonderful problem to have.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman rotations

Hostess: Dean, Amy, I just sat you.Waiter: Oh, sh!t. What do we got?
Hostess: Well, yours are cool. They look like business people.
Waiter: All right.
Waitress: What about mine?
Hostess: I don’t know. They don’t speak English.
Waitress: Foreigners!
Hostess: I’m sorry.
Waitess: Are you mad at me?
Hostess: No, I swear! I’m just going by the rotation.
Waitress: I f*cking hate foreigners! It’s such bullsh!t!
Hostess: Like they don’t know how to tip?
Waitress: Oh, they know.
Waiter: Aw, yeah, they f*cking know!

Waiting: WoW's Bad Tippers

"100g tip for a couple gem cuts? Sweet."

The above quote is from the movie Waiting, a comedy about a TGI Fridays-esque chain restaurant called Shenaniganz. As expected, the waiters and waitresses spend a lot of time bitching about tips, but there’s one group in particular they dread most — foreigners.

In the film, five or six Europeans sit down at a booth and pretend they don’t speak a word of English, presenting themselves as tourists who aren’t familiar with the American custom of tipping for service.

As crafters on every server can attest, some World of Warcraft players aren’t much different when it comes to tipping the people who make or enhance their gear. In one way, WoW’s bad tippers are worse than the foreigners in Waiting — you can see the Europeans coming, but Azeroth’s bad tippers don’t look any different from their better-tipping brethren.

Although real money is not at stake when it comes to in-game tipping, bad tips can influence player behavior — why would a crafter keep a BoE pattern if they’re getting paltry tips on big-ticket items? If they know from past experience they’re not going to recoup the going price of the pattern by crafting an item, why not just sell off the pattern?

Those were questions I asked myself a few months back, when I accumulated four Trial of the Crusader patterns for iLevel 245 gear and hadn’t ‘learned’ them yet. If I can get upwards of 5k for each of these patterns, I thought, is it really worth it to keep them for crafting?

As it turned out, it hasn’t been worth it. That’s a lesson I should have learned back in The Burning Crusade.

An example: Recently a Hunter had me craft a Crusader’s Dragonscale Breastplate. He had me travel to Undercity to meet him, kept me waiting for about 10 minutes as he finished buying off the materials, stood there eagerly while I hit the ‘create’ button, and ended the transaction by tipping a whopping 5g. Five gold is cool if I’m converting some Borean Leather into Heavy Borean for you, or if your level 50-something alt wants a Blue Dragonscale Breastplate. But if you’re asking a crafter to make you a near best-in-slot item that requires thousands of gold in mats, and you make that person travel to — and then wait for — you to gather up mats, you should tip them well.

"I like to swim in my guild bank's second tab."

I can’t help but notice how, on my server, there are a handful of people Horde-side who I’d consider completists when it comes to patterns and plans, while the rest seem content to max their crafting skill, make a few items for themselves and call it a day.

Around the same time as the above example, I had a player craft Crusader’s Dragonscale Bracers for me. I bought two of the Crusader Orbs with emblems, paid up the nose for the other two, and presented the mats with a 150g tip, which I still felt was kinda low despite my depleted in-game finances. Likewise, if I bring three epic gems to a jewelcrafter, I usually tip around 60g, or a little more than 20g per cut. I haven’t gotten any complaints, and I hope the crafters I deal with are happy.

Should we, as players, be tipping 15% or 20% on crafted items, as if we were settling the tab at a diner? No. A tip of 1k gold on an item that costs less than 6k to craft is problably excessive for most people, although if you’re one of those players sitting on more gold than Scrooge McDuck, you could make a crafter very, very happy that way. (I know one guy who was the GM of a large raid guild, and he claims he’s got more than 100k.)

Tips should reflect the value of the item being crafted, its rarity, its power, and the good faith of the crafter who learned it instead of selling it off at the Auction House. If a crafter makes a grand total of 15 Bracers of Swift Death, and she receives an average 10g tip for each of those bracers, the fact that she could have earned thousands more gold by selling the pattern will not elude her.

And while it’s true that every pattern sold through the Auction House finds its way into the possession of another crafter, those might not be the same folks who hang around in Dalaran or Orgrimmar for hours, offering their services in trade chat. Some people view crafting as a minigame itself, and it’s much better to have a reliable, frequently-available crafter on your friend’s list than it is to chase down a player who’s always in an instance or out farming somewhere away from civilization.

Of course, as in the real world, if you receive bad service you can choose to reduce your tip, or not tip at all. In the service industry, customers use their wallets to provide feedback. But if you’re happy with the transaction? Next time you excitedly gather up the mats for a big-ticket item and bring them to a friendly crafter for a key enchant or piece of gear, put yourself in their shoes and show your appreciation in gold. Like a bartender, they won’t forget you, and next time you need something they’re more likely to go out of their way to help you.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

battered hilt, drop please!
you are so damn elusive
both my weapons suck

LFG tool is sweet
Blizzard made a ninja’s dream
who needs a name change?

sylvanas is pissed
the lich king laid the smack down
now run for your lives!

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

In my guild, one guy got a Battered Hilt on patch night, and that’s been it. No more hilts for anyone so far, and most of us (me included) have never actually seen one drop.

As I wrote earlier in the week, my group called it on patch night after we’d spent almost an hour zoning in to Forge of Souls, another 20 minutes or so zoning into Pit of Saron, and even more time trying to zone in to Halls of Reflection. So I ran two dungeons and logged off because there simply wasn’t time to do a third, especially if it was going to take us up to an hour just to get in.

Apparently Blizzard slipped in a hotfix sometime after patch night that significantly nerfed drop rates for the Battered Hilt.

There are reports of Hilts dropping like soap in prison showers, netting great weapons for the folks who had inordinate amounts of free time on patch night. I’ve even heard — from some reliable sources — reports of patch-night runs that saw two or three Hilts drop per run.

We’re five days into Patch 3.3, and I’ve run the new five-mans a total of 12 times, so I’m probably on the extreme low-end compared to some players. Maybe the fact that I haven’t seen one drop is attributable to that.

Quel'delar

Quel'delar

But in quite a few QQ threads on this issue, players are saying they expect to see one Hilt drop per week. With a one-in-five chance of winning the role, that means it could take as many as five weeks to get a Hilt. Ouch.

The hotfix seems to have pissed off quite a few players. As one Paladin on the official forums puts it:

What bugs me is all the people that took advantage of this benefit while I was sitting outside the instance trying to get in and failing. And now I get the decreased chance of getting it. Blizzard screwed up and now they should keep the drop rate the same instead of making those that didn’t take advantage of Blizz’s screw up suffer.

But not to worry — Patch 3.3 just continues the fine tradition of rewarding people who have inhuman amounts of free time. So whether you’ve got the time to run four versions of a single raid each week, or dedicate a six-hour block to running five-mans on patch night, rest assured the rewards will be sweet!

In January of this year, a first-time add-on developer contributed a simple piece of code to a few of World of Warcraft’s popular download sites.

Dubbed Gear Score, the mod was aimed at raid and PuG leaders, as an alternative to alt-tabbing out of the game to manually check the Armory pages of prospective group members. For the better part of eight months, the add-on remained relatively obscure, a toy for the developer’s friends, family and guild-mates.

It wasn’t until Gear Score 3.0 — which incorporated a built-in Armory tool — was released that the add-on’s popularity spread like a viral video, racking up thousands upon thousands of downloads and becoming a staple in almost every pick-up-group player’s toolbox. It’s hard to pin down exactly when Gear Score entered the wider consciousness of the World of Warcraft playerbase — probably some time between the first angry rants aimed at the add-on’s users, and the sudden use of the program’s name as a verb: “Dude, there’s a Ret Paladin who wants to join, can you Gear Score him?”

…if a player has great gear they need almost no skill or knowledge of the fights to succeed. For example, run Halls of Lightning with everyone in Ulduar gear, and you don’t even have to run away from Loken’s lightning blast, which will one-shot any player who actually needs gear from that instance. So it’s not that GearScore makes users assume that a player with 4000 score is more skilled, it’s that users don’t care what your skill level is, because with high enough gear you don’t need any skill.

Never has an add-on been so devisive, inspiring diatribes that grow into monstruous threads on the game’s official forums, or posts lamenting the growing notion that gear is the most significant factor in evaluating a player’s worth. Even the developers have responded, with Ghostcrawler joking about implementing an iLevel 300 shirt to “mess with mods that attempt to boil down players to gear scores.”

Yet for every player who thinks the add-on makes other players too lazy, too critical of others, or too dependent on gear as a barometer of skill, there’s another who thinks Gear Score — used in moderation — can quickly help them determine if a player is clearly not ready for certain content.

“If someone does have full greens and tries to pug heroic TOC25, addons like Gear Score are a good way to go ‘Whoa WTF?'” notes a Warrior on the official forums. “It’s all in how it’s used.”

It took only a few short weeks for legions of players to catch on, spending their downtime in cities like Dalaran, mousing over passing players to query their scores. As the number of players who were being rejected from pick-up-groups grew exponentially with the popularity of Gear Score, the backlash started to gain traction.

If skill is really more important than gear, the detractors wondered, shouldn’t there be more ways of evaluating players besides — or in addition to — gear?

As it turns out, mirrikat45, the developer of Gear Score, has thought of that. His solution: Revamp Gear Score into a more robust indicator of player effectiveness by offering a baseball card’s worth of totals and statistics. Although busy working out the kinks in the latest iteration of Gear Score, mirrikat45 took some time out of his day to talk with Stormstrike about his add-on, the way it’s used by players, and what kind of functionality we can expect from the newest version.

First I want to ask you about the general response to Gear Score. As a player who took a long break from the game, I came back to WoW (and to raiding) to find everyone was using your add-on. I read your blog, and it seems like Gear Score was added to Curse and the other popular add-on sites in late August, is that right?

GearScore was created in January of 2009, at almost the exact same time as Wow-hereos. However GearScore didn’t become popular until I released the 3.0 version with the in-game armory. (In late August.)

Can you describe the explosion in popularity of Gear Score? Did it take you by surprise? And do you have any information on how many people use it?

The explosion was partly by suprise. And some of that explosion was the cause of a few problems within the addon. It’s hard for me to say how many people are using it. I have several thousand downloads / day from Curse, but its hard to see exactly how many of those are just updates and how many are new users. In addition many websites out there pull addons from other sources and allow people to download them from there. Further more, I don’t track downloads from the blog either.

…the majority of critics have absolutely no idea how the addon works. They make crazy assumptions, such as ‘Your GearScore is simply the total of all your item levels,’ or perhaps the average item level. They don’t realize the addon contains an in-game armory so that it cannot be “tricked.” They assume that putting on “Darkmoon Card: Greatness” will drastically ruin your score and therefore the addon is completely flawed.


From reading your blog, it’s obvious you’ve heard some of the criticisms and are working to make the add-on more robust, so it provides more than just an evaluation of a player’s gear. In the new version,  users will be able to see if a player’s gear is appropriate for their spec, and get detailed histories of their raiding experience. Can you talk a little bit about why you decided to add those extra features? Is there anything else on the horizon, in terms of other categories with which to evaluate a player’s contribution to a raid?

Well, first, I added them because I wanted them! And so did a lot of my friends, family, and guild members. I also wanted to emphasize that GearScore isn’t everything, that there are other aspects you should take into account when inviting players. However usually for a pug leader with a time limit, the amount of time it took to take these other aspects into account was encumbering. These updates allow for more efficient information, in an easier to read display.

gearscorescreen

GearScore 3.1 will reveal if a player is wearing gear itemized appropriately for their spec, among other changes.

Let’s also talk about technical limitations, if you don’t mind. What bits of data do you wish Blizzard would make available for add-on developers like you? What kind of features would you like to implement, but cannot, due to the limits of lag and in-game data mining?

When I first wrote the addon I calculated stats directly off the items, so if it was enchanted or gemmed it would naturally have a higher score. To combat latency issues within Dalaran, Blizzard removed gem information from itemlinks seen on characters in the game. (Which means that when you first inspect a player you must wait a few seconds to receive gem information. For the most part the average user won’t notice anything, but addons will).

This addon was indeed my first. I had messed around with some of the code before but never put any effort into a real addon. I’m very good at learning technical systems of any kind and was able to quickly learn the language and had the first version of the addon out within a couple months…I would love the opportunity to work in any kind of game design and plan to begin writing my own apps for the iPhone.

This caused all kinds of bugs, because Blizzard never added a method to determine WHEN the gem information is actually ready. To combat this change I had to calculate my formula in another way that still came to the same value. Doing so however removes my ability to calculate the value of gems and enchantments, a major criticism of the addon. My wish is for blizzard to add the gem information back into itemlinks or to make an event “GEM_INFORMATION_READY” which we could simply wait for, before scanning a player’s Gear.

GearScoreSnip2

Among the new at-a-glance features is a tab that displays dungeon progress, with mouse-over information detailing the specific bosses a player has killed. (Image courtesy mirrikat45)

For every player who has ranted about Gear Score on the forums or blogs, there are others who see it as an extremely useful tool for quickly determining if players are really ready for certain content.  Is there anything you would like to say to critics, or those who don’t seem to realize that gear is just one way of measuring a player’s effectiveness?

This is a difficult thing for me to comment on. I’ve spent a lot of time on the forums speaking to people about the addon.

The first problem I run into is that people don’t always hate the addon in particular, they seem to hate the words “gear score,” and often times they don’t realize there is a difference between the addon and wow-heroes. The next problem I run into is that the majority of critics have absolutely no idea how the addon works. They make crazy assumptions, such as ‘Your GearScore is simply the total of all your item levels,’ or perhaps the average item level. They don’t realize the addon contains an in-game armory so that it cannot be “tricked”. They assume that putting on “Darkmoon Card: Greatness” will drastically ruin your score and therefore the addon is completely flawed.

Furthermore they make crazy assumptions about “EVERYONE” who uses the addon, saying things such as “everyone who uses it is a moron” or “tanks put on cloth gear just because the item has higher GearScore.” All the assumptions about the addon are completely false, and I highly doubt that even a small number of players act in the way critics assume they do.

Before I continue, let me describe the “misuse” a lot of my critics say the addon causes. They complain that people use my addon to keep those who need gear out of instances because my addon encourages players to ask for “4000” GearScore just to run heroics. This isn’t true. The addon states right on the main screen that 2600 is more than suitable for  Heroics.

The players are using the addon correctly, however they are just looking for unreasonably high values for heroics. Why? Because they don’t want to spend more then 15 minutes in the instance. This is a problem of laziness being rewarded with more emblems. The more emblems per hour you can farm out of heroics, the more benefits you get. So in a way, the game itself encourages players to run speed runs. Without GearScore players just ask for “6000 DPS” or “Link [Overkill Achievement],” or they just inspect you or look up your Gear on Armory, IMBA, or wow-heroes.

Heroics are very easy, and having high gear makes it even easier, so that if a player has high gear they need almost no skill or knowledge of the fights to succeed. For example, Run Halls of Lightning with everyone in Ulduar gear, and you don’t even have to run away from Loken’s lightning blast, which will one shot any player who actually needs gear from that instance. So it’s not that GearScore makes users assume that a player with 4000 score is more skilled, it’s that users don’t care what your skill level is, because with high enough gear you don’t’ need any skill.

Look at it the other way, and when you see players looking for raids or groups for current level content they ask for reasonable GearScores and also tend to say “Must know the fights”. Although many players still make you link the achievement to prove you know the fights. This suggests to me that the users of the addon know the fights wont be easy, and still want you to not suck. And the fact that they tend to ask for reasonable GearScores leads me to believe that most of the “abuse” and “misuse” who-ha is highly exaggerated.

Blizzard has on multiple times stated that they don’t see a problem with gear checks or gear evaluating levels. They have stated that they noticed the problem with the community shifting to “speed” runs and focusing on efficiency. They have also stated that they have plans for Cataclysm to alleviate this problem.

And finally, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to include a little bit about you. Is this your first add-on? How did you get into coding add-ons? Is this just a hobby, or is it something you hope might segue into a full-time job with a games company?

I’m 23 years old, from Oregon originally, but living in Washington at the moment. My main is a Restoration Shaman, but I do have a warlock, druid, paladin, and hunter alts. I don’t have much time to play them because of the time demands addon programming costs.

This addon was indeed my first. I had messed around with some of the code before, but never put any effort into a real addon. I’m very good at learning techincal systems of any kind and was able to quickly learn the language and had the first version of the addon out within a couple months.

I originally wrote the addon because people would just count the number of epics you had on your gear as the only requirement to get into Naxx. However some of these epics were only a fraction of a bit better then many blues available from Heroic Dungeons, and in addition people were inviting those in level 70 epics. GearScore was written to let you see how powerful that purple item should be.
So what’s next for you after GearScore?
I would love the opportunity to work in any kind of game design and plan to begin writing my own apps for the Iphone.