Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fare Thee Well, Ghostcrawler

You may have heard the news already -- Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street is leaving Blizzard.

He was the Leads Systems Designer which basically meant he was in charge of how mechanics work in World of Warcraft.  He's not responsible for raid or dungeon design.  He's not responsible for PvP.  He's not responsible for Lore.  He's not responsible for a lot of other stuff too (though sometimes he works with other leads when things overlap) -- yet from the attitudes of some people you'd think Ghostcrawler sat alone in his cubicle and plotted to ruin WoW, instituting any change he wished without caring about the opinion of any other person.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course -- not only was he not in charge of many changes in WoW but he had an entire team to work with.  He was simply the face for the team and often represented changes in general since he was already interacting with people!

Or, to rephrase things, people disgust me on the internet.  Some of the vile things said about Mr. Street are despicable but, sadly, I am not surprised.  Just disappointed in people.

On my end, Mr. Street, I've always respected you and the tremendous amount of effort and dedication you put into your job.  I appreciated the way you attempted to engage the players via the forums, Blizzard blog, Twitter, and more.  I didn't always agree with you (like, say, the rep grind at the beginning of Mists of Pandaria) but I never doubted you and your team were doing what you thought best for WoW.

Best of luck to you.

P.S. If you're ever in my area I'd be happy to buy you a beer.  Or a Scotch/Gin, since I think you said you preferred those.  Or whatever.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What if LFR *DID* Require Proving Grounds?

I know the main hubbub is still all about the upcoming expansion Warlords of Draenor.  I am somewhat reeling from needing to go 20 man but that's something I can't even deal with until we're 14/14H.  I suspect it'll ultimately be better for the game but I'll still miss the feel of 10 man raiding and it'll definitely absolutely stink upsizing.

But that's not the topic today.

The idea of having Proving Grounds interact with LFR was floated a while ago by Ghostcrawler in an interview:

"We’ve even talked about maybe there’s a way that Proving Grounds can replace item level as the gating mechanism to get you into say raid finder or similar match making content."

But then Ghostcrawler clarified what he meant here and here:

"Yeah, we would never require PGs for LFR. It would just be a way to demonstrate that you didn't need the ilevel."

"It would probably be more like LFR requires ilevel 500 OR a Proving Ground Silver Medal, or maybe Silver + ilevel 450 or whatever."

But...what if it did require Proving Grounds?  And no, I don't mean Gold or even Silver -- I realize that there are hordes of players out there who are really not good at World of Warcraft.  But Bronze?  Is that too much to ask?

What if we saw something like the following for MoP?  You have to fulfill one of the requirements listed for each LFR.

Bronze + 460 ilvl (same as reality except it requires Bronze)
Silver + 450 ilvl
Gold + 440 ilvl

Note that if you could pull off Gold at 440 ilvl when it's tuned for 463 that would be quite a feat.

Bronze + 470 ilvl
Silver + 460 ilvl
Gold + 450 ilvl

Bronze + 480 ilvl
Silver + 470 ilvl
Gold + 460 ilvl

Bronze + 490 ilvl
Silver + 480 ilvl
Gold + 470 ilvl

Effectively every medal you have past Bronze in LFR shaves off 10 of the required ilvl -- and 10 ilvl is usually something like 15-20% damage/health/healing.  This also isn't some colossal time investment -- getting Bronze should only take like 15 minutes and that's counting travel time to the Temple (or wherever Proving Grounds are in the future).  It also requires very little skill to get Bronze, but more than going AFK and it shows you understand at least some of the basics.

Now, this is irrelevant for me as I never intend to step foot in LFR again as long as I live -- to use WoD terms, Normal/Heroic all the way for alts (if I have any -- the fact I can help any non-Mythic group with my main severely limits the benefits of having an alt for me, another post about that soon) and the joy of Normal PLUS Heroic PLUS Mythic for my main.  But it seems it would be useful as it allows people who have demonstrated they can pull their weight with less gear into LFR and forces people who just don't give a damn to at least do Bronze -- and everyone else in the LFR KNOWS everyone else can at least do Bronze.

Of course, they might simply nerf LFR so far into the ground that it really does become solely a tourist destination with awful ilvl compared to anything else -- or so I hope.  Make it clear that people who like raiding absolutely should be stepping up to Normal (current Flex).  The long term health of raiding depends on getting new players into the raiding pool.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Okay...Well, Uh...Raiding in WoD...

So the new expansion is Warlords of Draenor.  Apparently Garrosh goes back in time to stop the orcs from drinking the demon blood or something.  But this doesn't alter the current timeline...or something.  I suppose we'll get more details about how this apparently works.  Blizzard's also talked about a lot of interesting stuff, from a Garrison (instead of the farm from MoP), no Hit/Expertise, no Dodge/Parry, no Reforging, new stats on gear, some other stuff...and then we hit raiding.

Oh boy, we hit raiding.

LFR (25) -> LFR (10-25)
Flex (10-25) -> Normal (10-25)
Normal (10 or 25) -> Heroic (10-25)
Heroic (10 or 25) -> Mythic (20)

So, uh...yeah.  Applying Flex technology to LFR, sure.  Renaming the difficulties, fine, whatever, sounds mostly like marketing but it also makes some sense because three difficulties are flexible now.  Making normals scale like Flex, fine, they're not tuned to a razor's edge anyway.  And 20 man is the new heroic.

Wait, what?  20 man?

20 MAN?

Okay, okay, I just had to get that out of my system.

I get what they're trying to do -- having just one raid size for the hardest difficulty makes it easier to tune correctly and having it be larger makes it easier to plan for group composition.  Main thing I'm honestly wondering why Mythic simply isn't 25 man.  Maybe they figure enough people will quit by the start of WoD that this prevents 25 man guilds from needing to recruit a bunch.  Also means maybe guilds that manage to have exactly 25 people can bring all of them for "heroic" (current normal) bosses and pick the ideal 20 for mythic.

Of course, from the perspective of a 10H guild leader which raids twice a week...this really sucks.  Really, really sucks.  Really, really, really, really sucks.

We've been full clearing heroic content since Firelands -- my people aren't interested in just doing normals ("heroics" in WoD terms).  We're done with normal in 2-3 weeks usually -- and that's only because our time is so limited.  Which means I'll need to recruit another 12-13 people to make a Mythic guild.  Need to find another dozen players interested in our exact raid days and light schedule and who also meet our skill requirements.

This is going to be awful.

But it gets better!  We can't simply merge with another guild as we'll have too many tanks and healers (4 tanks, 6 healers).  And we can't simply form a second group for the moment for similar reasons -- people are not exactly going to be eager to jump at that.  We may have to try making a second group which specifically has off-spec tanks and healers once Siege has a 40% nerf or whatever and it's so easy that it can succeed.

Did I mention this was going to be terrible?

But wait, there's STILL more!  Apparently no mode will share loot lockouts.  Currently if we killed 8 out of 14 bosses on Heroic, we'd only need to clear the last 6 on normal to be competitive (plus Flex for some people, mainly trinkets/tier).  In WoD, if we kill 8 out of 14 bosses on Mythic...we get to kill ALL FOURTEEN bosses on Heroic (current normal) for gear.  PLUS likely bosses on normal (current Flex).

This sounds like the hell of ToC all over again except with more bosses.  Hell, there are more bosses in THREE difficulties of ToC than in ONE difficulty of the first tier of WoD.


I think that sums it up succinctly.