Bowing to Design

“Probability as a measurable degree of certainty; necessity and chance; moral versus mathematical expectation; a priori an a posteriori probability; expectation of winning when players are divided according to dexterity; regard of all available arguments, their valuation, and their calculable evaluation; law of large numbers…”
Jacob Bernoulli

Bowing to Design

Quick resume: I have designed sets, stages and lights in Edinburgh, Hong Kong, New York, Boston and Los Angeles. I was mostly a lighting guy and spent a very busy thirty years doing it. I also spent a lot of time employed at my college and happily designed for students when they asked me.

A thing I learned early on, especially as I got known for my work, is that there can be insecure or unsure directors and choreographers. My intention has always been to let the design come out of the work, I’d never layer my own idea on top of someone else’s idea. But, when it comes to that collaborative conversation, one can see that director settling back and simply accepting an idea. I learned to be very careful about that since I was in a position of prestige or power. The director or choreographer has the keys to the car, they have to drive it to their destination.

The unsure choreographer might go to great lengths to try to make my idea work, confident that I am making the right choices or that they want to feature my work to make their work appear stronger. This is a mistake. A careful designer must make sure that it is the boss’s dream that is going to come true and see realization.

I think that in the World of Warcraft, that we have seen since Warlords of Dreanor the leadership bowing to the design. Whether it is the designers complaining and actually being catered to, I don’t know. It would not be healthy if this is the case.

In past blogs I have mentioned the “no flying” in WoD which caused an uproar. It is true that the game looks better on the ground but it is not the best overall choice as seen by the push back. Bowing to the designer was not a good idea then and we are living in some uncomfortable compromise with pathfinder.

The same was true with limiting the camera distance (which got reversed) and limiting water walking mounts (which got reversed). There must be a bunch more, but those stand out as obvious push backs from the player base and would not have ever gotten to us if we had a strong leader with a vision.

My tin foil hat theory is this is why so many offensive spells are on the global cool down: to feature the art work and animations. It might be defended publicly as an idea for better game play but, I think, the reality is that designers complained that their work could not be seen and they used their seniority, perhaps, to push it forward.

I remember in the Hellfire Citadel second boss encounter that, when we got strong, that we could over-power phase one and jump straight to phase three. We could skip all the cool art of the robot flying over our heads. I imagine the designer was really upset! But we players felt great; we kicked ass.

Players get clever. Today we can jump past the mobs after Taloc by shooting through the door at MOTHER. We can ignore the adds on Putrid Destroyer and tunnel on the boss. We can power through phase one of Zul by ccing the adds and focusing the boss; negating almost all of phase one mechanics.

I wonder if there will ever be a push back on the global cool down. Yes, we can see our cool animations but the “fun” part of stacking cool downs, trinkets, hero and potions to blow past mechanics are gone. I miss that and I think a good director would see that as an important part of the player experience.

Do I know anything? Nothing at all. The most obvious director is Ion and he does a fine job of representing and defending the choices in the game to us players on a regular basis.


Raiding: Progress

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Raiding: Progress

Yep, I ranted a little bit yesterday. Let us not over-look the good progress that our teams are making in Uldir.

My hunter is 6/8 on heroic and the team is 7/8. We spent one night (three hours) trying to down G’huun.

My healing druid is 5/8 with another team and also has one mythic Taloc kill. This team needs a break through badly, bosses 4 and 5 are a nightmare of wiping in the final stages.

The new patch with some class balancing (resto-druid nerf) will be December 11 and the new raid won’t be until January (so we believe). My expectation is that both teams will get the Ahead of the Curve feat of strength before the next raid arrives.

The tripping points are the azerite gear pieces that do not war- or titan-forge up. These are beefy stat pieces. Also, we know that the design philosophy is that the designers feel that they never have to nerf a raid but instead expect everyone to get full titan-forged pieces to be stronger. That takes a lot of time.

In all, I’m having fun. I like the people that I play with more than the game. And, I always have my Suggestion Box if I want to rant (a little) while on a flight path.


Using My Suggestion Box

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
W.C. Fields

Using My Suggestion Box

My best guess is that there is an intern who reads the suggestions and flags them in categories like ideas, rants, clueless. Some move up to another person but most simply get ignored as fodder or chaff.

Still, I use the Suggestion Box to amuse myself while on long flight paths and there are plenty of those. I don’t have a Twitter account so this is my only communication avenue that limits my characters. I wish I was as clever as Ben Franklin, who would have been a genius at Twitter; his “a penny saved is a penny earned” and so many more still stand today, hundreds of years later.

I do raid and run dungeons. Highly recommended is a group of friends, stepping into that world solo would take some very thick skin.

We are seeing the product of a paradigm shift by Ion who insists on “bring the class”. He thinks that it is fun for a player to have a special skill and to be desired in a raid or dungeon.

In raiding, this has created an elitist culture. With raid teams needing to pug in players to do their special tasks, if we fail then the pugger leaves; compounding our sense of failure. To keep our chins up, we pug in again and wait for them to fly and port and run from town.

Misdirections points out in Thoughts from my week off that many of the encounters have a mechanic where one player can wipe the raid. I’ll add that some of those mechanics, like orb catching, are at the end of a long fight! My feeling is with these raid encounters that we feel relief when downing a boss and that is not how we should feel. We should feel powerful and that we had Kicked Ass.

We don’t feel like we Kicked Ass, we feel like we survived a fight. That is not, in my opinion, how a player should feel in a boss encounter.

The raid game has been flattened and dull:

  • Most of the fights are on a timed phase change. You can not (like past expansions) be so powerful that you push a phase and not have to deal with a mechanic. Doing that in the past made us feel very powerful and very good about our skills.
  • The burst damage and healing has been flattened, partially by the added global cool down mechanics. We don’t see pretty mountains peaks and valleys, we see long dull plains with an occasional tumble weed.
  • Over gearing makes little difference but it should. The only thing that I see from higher gear is increased stamina to survive hits that once killed you.
  • We (really just me) didn’t know that there would be class specialists. My character is not “the guy” and no one wants me beyond my sunny personality.

Feel free to disagree. I don’t think that I have a full handle on it.

As I said above that there is an elitist culture now in raiding. Those with special skills, like orb running, can quick-join raids and can leave on the first wipe or even the first hint at failure. This brings an arrogance and a bit of snobbery to this person because he IS special and so deserves a voice and an accounting. And it makes us feel bad.

Demon Hunters with their flippy thing, Monks with their spinny thing, Warriors with their jumpy thing, Death Knights with their grippy thing and so on and so on: layered on top of this is class imbalance. We need to get a Disc Priest in here and I’m a Resto-Druid standing right here, insulted and shamed.

The hope is a better designed raid for the next patch. We do want to raid and have fun and feel powerful. I really don’t like using the Suggestion Box and finishing with “I hope that (and I’m sorry) that the employees are not as miserable as the players”.

Tiny Mechanical Mouse (not) Macro’d

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
Groucho Marx

Tiny Mechanical Mouse (not) Macro’d

This new toy is pretty great. Your character will kneel down to put the mouse on the ground. Your pet will chase it about for a full thirty seconds with a mere twenty minute cooldown. It is amusing, fun and well worth the steep price of five hundred polished pet charms.

A screen shot shows nothing really, I’m sorry. Get the toy yourself and enjoy it!

I have NOT been able to make a macro, which bums me out.

I tried:

/cast tiny mechanical mouse


/summonpet Stardust
/cast tiny mechanical mouse

In both cases the pet shows up, the toy shows up, BUT the pet ignores the mouse! This is a big amusing in itself but … not what I want.

If you can figure it out, I’d appreciate it. I think a note via the Suggestion Box is in order.

Until then, I’ll summon a pet. And then use the toy. It is fun!

120 x 3

“I’m off to race around the world – a race against time and two men. I know I can beat time. I hope I can beat the men.”
Dorothy Kilgallen

120 x 3

A lot of players have a lot of Alts, I just got my third!

It really is fun to have instant world quests and a free bird whistle. A player can jump right in and begin whichever process they desire. Three emissary quests are ready to go and let’s start playing.

Being terribly weak and dying to a world quest boss happens and caution, once again, must be learned. Having a little more awareness of your surroundings keeps one on their toes.

This guy is a miner and herbalist. The intention is to feed my alchemist and a little bit to my engineer. Sadly, engineers don’t have a lot to make or have fun with so far in this expansion. I do like the belt enchants.

Three characters now can farm polished pet charms and I’m looking at that mechanical mouse with a whopping 500 charm price tag. Sometime next week, I’d guess.

Tiny Mechanical Mouse
Item Level 1
Binds when picked up
Use: Drop a tiny robot mouse for your companion pet to chase around for 30 sec. (20 Min Cooldown)

Vendor: Madeline Netley
Zone: Stormsong Valley
Cost: 500


Going Mobile

“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.”
Henry David Thoreau

Going Mobile

Thoreau, while doing his Walden Pond thing, urged us to “simplify, simplify, simplify”. Sure he made a big deal about isolation at that time but he also would walk from his pond over to his mom’s house for cookies too.

Liking the idea, I feel I am way past the need to accrue more stuff in my home to show my success. I only own one bowl for cereal or soup. Getting it down to one was hard. I look to my boxes of books with a bit of squinty eyes. I love my books and return to them as old friends.

Blizzard is expanding its franchise to include mobile games for the phone. MMO Champions lists mobile game in its report on Activision Earnings Call. In it we see how coveted the market is in China.

As of this point, a lot of people have grown up with a phone in their hands. A phone is much more than a phone, it is a shield from the world around you. How often have I seen people in the store with a phone to their ear pretending to be talking or check their phone to avoid eye contact? It takes much less than a thought to pop up a game and be absorbed in your phone.

I don’t have any games on my phone. I scowl at my phone when it beeps that I have an e-mail, the darn thing is too intrusive and nags worse than my ex-wife. As you might guess, I have no interest in Blizzard’s mobile games and resent that they take talent away from my World of Warcraft; if they do that.

Unless … that mobile game can support my PC game! If I could do a pet battle or some kind of WQ type thing to improve and further my character, I’d do that. You and me both don’t think that will be the design. So, they can put out a bunch of different products but in my mission to simplify my life: I’ll stick with the World of Warcraft.

Raiding Fading

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”
Dorothy Parker

Raiding Fading

The players who only play WoW show up to raids. The guys who played WoW and tried the raiding scene but enjoy other kinds of games are starting to play those games. Guild Wars seems to be popular with these players.

Uldir, which I call Oh Dear!, is a tedious bit of game play. Too much trash and too much trash with boss skills and each boss has too many mechanics, I think. It is hard to say but I know from my own experience that there is no single boss that I look forward to fighting. I don’t blame those guys for looking for other forms of entertainment.

Typically on our raid team, there will be a boss or two in a raid where we say, “oh, we got this” or we look forward to a boss as our time to shine and show off our mad skills. I don’t see that in Uldir. We are not over-powered and a single person can wipe the raid (and does with many apologies).

In Legion, we had Mistress Sassy with whom we struggled and then learned the fight; phase by phase until we were confident. Every kill after that, we felt powerful and enjoyed our rehearsed dance. I simply don’t feel that in Uldir, I’m sorry.

On Saturday, we put up a pug board and got a block of five players who were “geared”. Their raid team had blown up but these five still wanted to play, so they joined us for a little bit and then drifted off.

Wait, I take it back. MOTHER on heroic is a hoot and challenging. The second boss is fun and a bit silly. I do like that one. And I like the start of Mythrax where we all jump into a hole together, that is fun too. But, readers, I’m really trying to see it.

We doubt, today, if we’ll get the Ahead of the Curve feat of strength this time, even if the next raid doesn’t arrive until deep January. That is a bit unsettling!

We like our raid team, I have faith that the next raid will be better designed.