Saturday, April 20, 2013

Random Update

Sorry, no interesting post this week.  But I have an excuse, I promise!  I've been judging for National History Day which just ended (judging for papers and websites began before today).  If you know a middle or high school student who is interested in history, it's an amazing opportunity they should consider for next year.  Next step for the finalists from today is the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Some scattered random thoughts will have to do instead:

1. Two copies of NWN still available.

2. Even though I avoid it like the plague, I think LFR is still a beneficial addition to the game as a whole (more later).

3. Still concerned about item upgrades and valor when it comes to off sets.  I do actually have to heal a decent amount and the idea feeling like I should upgrade a healing item over a shadow item because it'll make more of a difference seems contrary to Blizzard's stated goals (where you can "pretty easily" upgrade every item).

4. Speaking of valor, I can now only buy offset gear with valor, can't use anything else for main set.  Which is actually nice, since it's a bit behind my main set right now.

5. My guild currently is 2/13H and about 95% of the way through two different heroic bosses.  Annoying, expect to kill them both this week.

6. Clearing ToT seems to take about 3.5-4 hours so far - which means if we do clear for gear we need to dedicate close to half of our raid week to it.

7. Flying on Ji-Kun is definitely fun and I very much enjoy the fight despite it having simpler mechanics and being one of the easier bosses.  Also liked Alysrazor flying a lot.  And Al'Akir.  Did I mention I liked flying?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Have Discovered the Source of Forum Complaining in Mists!

There are still two more games available from my giveaway - hopefully the recipients are enjoying Neverwinter Nights.  There's already been some evidence of new blood in the game's community, which is always nice to see.

Last December I wrote about the idea of "optional" in WoW.  A few days later, I set up some polls to try to collect some data.  Then I got completely sidetracked by other stuff and never got around to actually doing something useful with the results.

So let's change that!

To recap, the purpose was to find out what people were willing to do to obtain a very nice item (a best in slot heroic ring at the time).  To figure out the point where it crossed from "I'd be stupid not to get the ring" to "I'd have to be crazy to get that ring."

I imagine most of you aren't surprised to hear that people have differing opinions.  However, you may be surprised to find out just how wildly these opinions vary.  First, the graph for how many Mogu people would be willing to grind for the ring:

I want to emphasize that the x-axis is NOT a linear increase - those three spikes (about 1/3, 2/3, and near the end) are at 100, 1k, and 5k+ respectively.  So what does this mean?

Well, if the ring required killing 200 Mogu, fully 32.7% of the respondents would think you'd have to be insane to get the ring.  If you could kill a Mogu every 15 seconds, that would be less than an hour to obtain the heroic ring - yet this is considered to be too much by a good chunk of the population (what's even more revealing is that the people who respond to this poll are more likely to be more "hardcore" than people who never read forums or blogs - which means it's far more than 32.7% in reality).

This probably seems shocking to people used to potentially wiping dozens or heroic times on bosses to get two items (not that the loot is the primary goal, just as a reference point).

Next, we hit the median at 500 Mogu - at this point, about 50% of people think getting the ring is an obvious no-brainer - yet this is over twice many mogu as would be reasonable for about 1/3 of the respondents.

The next big spike is the 1000 Mogu mark.  And even at the 1k mark, fully 41% of the respondents think you'd be stupid not to get the ring.  Five times the amount of Mogu that 1/3 of the population thinks is reasonable.

And then, of course, 13% think you'd be justified in grinding out 5000+ Mogu (at four Mogu a minute, that's 20+ hours of grinding total).

No wonder we have so many complaints and arguments on the forums (in terms of actual complaints and not trolling) - if Blizzard puts in ring that requires you to kill 500 Mogu, half the population of those that responded to this poll thinks you'd be crazy to get the ring and half the population thinks you'd be equally crazy NOT to get the ring!  The first group can't understand why the latter group feels compelled and forced to grind out the Mogu and the latter group can't understand why the first group thinks it's even a valid choice whether to get the ring.

Now let's look at the graph for gold (in terms of how much you'd be willing to pay for the ring):

We notice that the graph is more of a bell curve (with two peaks, but at least there were SOME people in the middle).   However...those two peaks are at 5k and 50k.  Basically as many people think you'd be an idiot to spend over 5k on a BiS heroic ring as there are people who think you'd have to be an idiot NOT to fork over 50k for that kind of upgrade.

The median in this case is at the 10k mark, as a point of reference.

It's easy to see why we could have such disagreement over the use of the words "forced," "optional," and so on when people have such vastly different perspectives.  There are plenty of people who think something is completely optional and plenty of people who think they are forced to do something - when talking about the exact same thing.

As you can imagine, this puts Blizzard in a difficult situation - unless they do something very drastic (like require 20 Mogu slain or 20k Mogu slain), a large chunk of the population (or at least the forum/blogging population) will think it is forced to do something no matter where the bar is set and another large chunk of the population will vehemently disagree.

In a sort of interesting twist, by making more content more accessible, Blizzard makes more people feel compelled to do it and gets more complaints than they might if they added nothing at all.

Which is definitely true in regards to valor capping and coins - my primary issue with them as a heroic raider (finished world 404 overall, 247 for 10 mans on two nights a week) is that we compete for rankings which then determines who we can recruit.  Meaning that, yes, in a vacuum, adding coins and item upgrades is nothing but a boost for our team - but if they give a more of an advantage to our competition than they do for us then we were better off in a sense without the boosts even existing.

Complicated issue to be sure.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Want a Free Game?

Yes, I'm alive.  And for those who found my posts interesting, I apologize for my inactivity the last few months, been very busy with a few things plus real life has been quite hectic.

First among those would be raiding in WoW.  We raced to finish Heroic Sha of Fear in time and literally killed him about 5 hours before the servers went down for the 5.2 patch.  Cut it very close there.  Throne of Thunder has been interesting so far, lots of trash at times, 1/13H and will kill Heroic Ji-Kun this week at a minimum.  Going to be tricky trying to deal with a 12 boss raid with plenty of trash on a two night schedule.

I've also been busy fighting the good fight on the Blizzard forums regarding the new item upgrade plan and how it impacts (or rather doesn't) your off set, which causes problems since Blizzard is expecting everyone to pretty easily upgrade every item (their words, not mine).

Prior to that, I've also been working on a project of my own in what little free time I had.  You see, in addition to WoW I'm quite fond of a game called Neverwinter Nights.  It's an RPG that came out a few years before WoW which is completely amazing because it is immensely customizable.  You can play solo campaigns, you can play multiplayer campaigns, and you can play online on what are effectively MMOs (abet with playerbases in the dozens to hundreds instead of tens of thousands).

It has a complete toolset that can be used to tweak almost every mechanic and create custom content - the original "official" Bioware campaigns make up like 0.1% of what's available for the game, and a ton of the user made content blows the original campaigns out of the water.  Users can also add new content in the form of ".hak" files, which add new creature models, new tilesets, new weapons, new feats (like talents), etc.

And all of this is free except for the original purchase.  It's available to buy on a site called Good Old Games for $9.99 normally - which includes the original campaign, both expansions (so two more campaigns), and an additional "premium" module - but it's on sale right now for $5.99.

Except I'll sweeten the pot even further - if you send me an email at balkothwarcraft at gmail dot com within the next three days, I'll buy the game for you and send it to you as a gift.  Absolutely free.  Because I think the game deserves to be promoted.

On top of that, if 10 people haven't requested a copy of the game by the end of the sale, I'll still send a free copy of the game until 10 people total have gotten one.

Now, earlier I mentioned a project of my own.  There was a "building challenge" where participants had one month to create a module (the game is separated into modules, which can range from being a single testing zone to a MMO-like Persistent World which spans hundreds of areas and offers hundreds of hours of playtime - you just load the module you want to play or join it if it's already being hosted).  I created a solo adventure for max level characters called Siege of the Heavens, which is an action adventure focused on scripted boss fights, similar to what you'd find in WoW raids and dungeons (or Brawler's Guild if you've done that).  The Heavens are under attack by devils and demons and the celestials enlist the help of mortals heroes like yourself to help lift the siege.

It's not something you should immediately play - you'll want to familiarize yourself with the basic mechanics of the game before trying my module.  It's also only technically halfway finished since I only had a month to build it - which is still 3 or so hours of playtime, and once it's done you'll be able to pick up where you left off and play the remaining 3-4 hours that are planned.

Speaking of familiarizing yourself with the game, I would be happy to play through the official campaigns (or some custom campaigns, I'd strongly recommend the Aielund Saga at a minimum - among many other custom campaigns - which is much better than the official campaigns but again somewhat expects a familiarity with the game) with anyone interested, provided we can arrange suitable times.  The first official campaign probably takes about 40 hours to play through, the second two both take about 20 hours each.

You will need to request a unique multiplayer key once you claim your game or else you will be unable to sign into some multiplayer modules for security reasons.  There are instructions on how to do so on the GOG site.

Also, some of the old multiplayer services (like game listings provided by Gamespy) are no longer active - but members of the community have recreated replacements that are just as good (or better in some cases) as the originals.  More information can be found here.  Feel free to contact me (via email or private message on the boards - this is my profile there) or post on those boards for help if you need it.

Again, email me at balkothwarcraft at gmail dot com if you want a copy of the game, want to find out more about the game, want to try to play the game with me, or just want me to shut up about NWN and get back to focusing on WoW.

My goal is to try to get at least a post per week and I will try to analyze some of the results from the poll to the right next.  Expect some graphs and probably some whining from me.