Archive for April, 2010

“The 10 vs. 25 Debate Madness” or “Further Arguments”

April 30, 2010 4 comments

There is an excellent post on, with the staff writer split evenly about Blizzard’s recently announced raid changes in the upcoming Cataclysm expansion.

The first page details opinions of those writers who feel this is a turn for the worse, and understandably enough, most of them are affiliated with 25-man guilds. The second page details opinions from the other side of the fence, writers applauding the said changes. It’s a good read, especially if you are looking to find strong arguments for both sides of the equation.

Link: reacts to the Cataclysm raid changes.


“Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light Brings the Pretty” or “I Thought the Amazon Was a Woman!”

April 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Two new screenshots for Lara Croft: Guardian of the Light, they don’t really show anything particularly snazzy. They essentially depict what I believe to be complex physics-based puzzles, left behind by advanced ancient (isn’t that an oxymoron?) civilization, and designed to screw up your day.

But what truly stands out is the very cool artwork poster for the upcoming platformer, and the fact that the Amazon-looking character in the earlier screenshots, is actually a dude! Looks cool enough I suppose. I was a Tomb Raider fanatic back in the day, but with each successive iteration of the game, I lost interest. This new take on the IP just might have enough juice to pique my curiosity again.

The artwork/wallpaper is below.

Categories: Uncategorized

“Age of Offline Leveling” or “Innovation Appreciation”

April 29, 2010 1 comment

Age of Conan’s patch 1.07.2 went live yesterday, introducing what Funcom calls ‘offline leveling‘. The system starts off by awarding anyone and everyone with an active subscription a totals of four levels. Another level is added to these ‘free levels’ every four days. The player is then free to distribute these levels to any of their characters.

The only catch is that the character has to be level 30 or above, and no assigned level can be reverted.

In other words, if you have a level 30 collecting dust, and you just don’t have the patience or the constitution to level him any longer, you could get him to level 80, the current level cap, by doing absolutely nothing, as long as your subscription is active.

"Imma come back in 4 days to kick your ass!"

Some simple calculation, assuming your character is level 30, and you got 4 levels to start off:

  • Day 0: Level 34
  • Day 4: Level 34 + 1
  • Day 8: Level 34 + 2
  • Day 184: Level 34 + 46 = Level 80

Every 6 months or so, you could have a brand spankin’ new level 80, as long as you started with a character which you managed to get to level 30 on your own.

This got me to thinking about World of Warcraft. WoW has had programs in the past which facilitate fast level gains, such as the Recruit-A-Buddy program, where you essentially just get free levels and an insanely buffed experience gain rate to help level your recruited buddy. In fact, they even introduced the X-53 Touring Rocket flying mount, a flying mount that, for the first time in the history of WoW, seats two people. D’awwwww!

However, the concept of level reward for continued investment in the IP simply does not exist.

Looking at my WoW characters, I have a level 47, a level 36, a level 27, and a level 12. Let us assume for a second, that I bring the level 12 and the level 27 toon up to 30. Using the ‘offline leveling’ formula, all four of these characters will be level 80 in just under two years. Since I have been playing for 5+ years, I would still have 3+ years, or approximately 180+ levels to give out to other characters. This realization makes the lack of such a program in WoW all the more painful. In fact, there have been times when I have let my subscription roll on for months on end, planning on returning to the game soon. I gained nothing in that time. But with incentives such as these, at least I wouldn’t feel like I have completely wasted that money.

This has one further implication. Funcom, under the supervision and guidance of Rangar Tornquist, is developing an MMO that I am most excited about: The Secret World. With game-altering changes such as these which reward the player for being invested in the game, even passively, bodes well for the future of The Secret World.

“Continuing the 10 vs 25 debate” or “What Leto Said”

April 28, 2010 4 comments

Commenter and old WoW buddy Leto posted a lengthy and well-thought out response to my musings on the upcoming changes to the raid structure in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. I think his comment deserves a post of its own.

The post is part opinion, and part an honest trip down memory lane.

Our 40-man raids had an extremely tight knit core carrying a bunch of retards through content. For every exceptional player, we had a keyboard turning tank, slowly inching his way 180 degrees as adds I pulled off him with healing aggro during Gothik the Harvester destroyed me. The time commitments for the raids themselves were brutal, saying nothing of the headache of actually organizing, running, and administrating these beasts. With the advent of Burning Crusade’s lower raid sizes, the strength of our core shined through, however, as we pulled off server firsts in Gruul’s Lair, as well as Karazhan. 10 mans and 25 mans, while easier to get together than their 40 man predecessors, brought with them their own administrative challenges. How do we go about cutting the fat transitioning into this new raid size? How do we create a 10 man ‘A’ team for Karazhan progression without making other guild members feel alienated? What ended up really doing us in, however, was a case of the old ‘burn outs‘. Many of our core began taking breaks from raiding, or the game in general, and understandably so.

Lich King did a good job in bringing raids to the masses, so to speak, or as I like to call it, ‘Nintendo Wii’ing World of Warcraft’. Many classes were homogenized, dungeons were made simpler (who remembers the last time CC was necessary?) and 10 and 25 man version of raids were introduced, with optional challenges to help filter difficulty and appeal to the widest variety of players. More casual players were given badge loot to gear up in epics, however, the real loot was still, nonetheless, reserved for the 25 man raiders. Previous raiders like myself, not for lack of skill but rather lack of time, were thus still shafted from the best loot, but at least given a bit of compensation as WoW continued to become much more casual friendly. This merging of 10/25 man raid loot/lockouts is the next logical progression in Blizzard’s apparent strategy. Just as Nintendo’s ‘Blue Ocean’ strategy expanded the gaming market by appealing to a wider variety of people, so too does Blizzard expand WoW’s gazillion person player-base by continuing to appeal to an expanding contingent of casual player. I, for one, welcome this change.

With 10 man raids now on equal footing with 25, I’m able to raid with what’s left of my best old-school raiding friends and be rewarded, not for our time sink, but for our skill (assuming Blizzard is able to properly balance difficulty). The beauty of playing with a group you’ve known for 5 years is that the headache previously associated with raid leading is completely gone. 10 mans of this nature are laizzez faire. As Bronte said, these are knuckleheads you can trust with your virtual life. I know Bronte can pick up the slack if I get incapacitated; I know these tanks won’t keyboard turn and let me die to adds *cough* Waevyrn; I know these DPS won’t stand there with their thumbs up their butts while a mob blast novas; I know Peebers is going to be drunk. This kind of synergy is what makes 10 mans so appealing.

Many hardcore raiders hate this pandering to the casual, seeing it as trivializing their hard work, and I sympathize. However, look at it this way: the added time it takes to organize 25 mans will be balanced by the increased speed in which 25 man raiders will gear up via increased item and badge drops. Many people seem to be downplaying the importance of this. What this means is that it is 25 man players who will first be decked out in Tier 42, and therefore the first players geared enough to take on Hard Modes, reaping the inherent benefits (Be it titles, mounts, better gear, etc.). Your elitist e-peen can still be satiated! People who see this change as the death of 25 mans are mistaken. The quality of a piece of gear should be based on the skill required to obtain it. The amount of gear you acquire should be dependent on the amount of time/energy you put into acquiring it. This seems to be the philosophy Blizzard is approaching with these new raids, and therefore there will still be much incentive for 25 man raiding as it will simply be the quickest way to gear up and take on Hard Modes. That time and effort you put into organization is rewarded with efficiency, while still allowing 10 mans to acquire equal level gear, albeit at a slower pace. And I’m entirely all right with that.

“The Death of 25-Man Raids in WoW” or “A Larger Discussion on Cataclysm Raid Changes”

April 27, 2010 6 comments

A Quick Recap

Yesterday Blizzard Entertainment announced some unexpected changes to the raid structure in World of Warcraft’s third upcoming expansion, Cataclysm. 10-man instances and 25-man instances will feature the same loot from boss encounters, and will share a raid lockout ID. In other words, if you can get an item from a 25-man instance, you can get the same item from the 10-man.

Some Questions About the Raid Lockout ID

The only thing I am confused about is raid lockout IDs. If the 25-man and 10-man versions share the same ID, does this mean a) if you kill a boss in the 25-man version, he also dies in he 10-man version, or b) If you are saved to a 25-man instance, you cannot enter the 10-man version of that instance for that week.

Additionally, is it possible to kill one boss in the 25-man version, and kill the next one in the 10-man version, since the ID is the same?

Answers, I suspect, will emerge over the course of time.

A Matter of Difficulty

So far, the 10-mans feature the same encounters as 25-mans, simply tweaked to the smaller group size. In most cases the 10-man version of an encounter is easier, since there may be a smaller number of factors or combat mechanics to manage. In certain other cases, the 10-man versions are substantially harder than their 25-man counterparts (Sartharion + 3D comes to mind).

One of the things highlighted in the announcement was that the difficulty fluctuation between 10-mans and 25-mans will be closer. I am sure anyone can agree, it would be virtually impossible to ensure the same exact difficulty for any given encounter across both types of raids, so I wonder how this claim can be made with the wide disparity of combat mechanics involved in a 10-man, vs. a 25-man.

Shifting Perspectives

It is interesting to me how difference in your status as a raider can diametrically alter the manner in which you look at this piece of news. I have been playing WoW with the same band of ruffians, off an on, for the last five years or so. In that time, we have raided 40-man instances, briefly held on to the top-dog slot on our server, and conquered 25-man, 20-man and 10-man content. The group I run with is at a juncture where we are tired of having to recruit new individuals to our folds every few months as people splinter, burn out, get tired or simply move on. We are just focused on building and maintaining a very closely-knit force of about 10-12 raiders to consistently take on 10-man content.

So when we heard of the announcement above, everyone in the core group was ecstatic. We would no longer have to be second-class citizens simply because we did not want to go through the pains of running 25-mans with nearly 15 unknown individuals. We could finally compete with the larger guilds on equal footing.

But I found out quickly that our perspective was quite different from those who were in larger guilds. Matticus, for one, believes that having the same drops, just multiplied by 2.5, would be screwing over the 25-man raiding guilds.

“Please, do not screw over the players who prefer to do 25s. I believe some of the extra rewards are badges, loot, and gold. The extra gold is nice and all but for most organizations, it isn’t a problem. Having extra badges will speed up the gearing process for sure.”

Matticus fears people will naturally gravitate towards 10-mans because they are easier (and arguably faster) to organize than 25-mans, and now offer the same exact loot. Understandable I suppose. I mean think about it, the 10-mans now enjoy the advantages of some of the following:

  • a tightly-knit crew
  • ease of organization
  • speed of putting it together
  • access to the same content and itemization
  • better probability of rolling for an item you need (a 10% chance in 10-mans vs. a 4% chance in 25-mans)

He also brings up another interesting point. In the past, players  from the 25-man version of an instance would tear up the 10-man version because they were over-geared. But the playing field is the same now: both instances offering the same rewards implies that gearing from the 25-man will not give you a distinct advantage over the 10-man.

Larisa, over at the Ping Pigtail Inn, another 25-man raider, shares the same perspective. She also feels that 25-mans should have better rewards than 10-mans because organizing a 25-man raid is significantly more complicated. Having organized a guild of over 60 individuals for 40 man raids in vanilla WoW, I understand her perspective, but being in the 10-man raiding boat now, I don’t agree with her conclusion.

She herself states that the 10-mans can be arguably more difficult because the mistake of one individual has that much more impact on the overall raid than in a 25-man. This is perhaps the most powerful argument to make for the upcoming change. On any given encounter in a 25-man, if a healer gets himself killed, there are still (on average) four other healers that can pick up the slack. If a healer dies in the 10-man, the other healer is effectively screwed unless there is some sort of miracle. Losing one DPS’er in a 25-man could mean a net loss of 1 / (25 – 5 healers -3 tanks) x 100 = 5.88% DPS. Losing the same in a 10-man implies a net loss of 1 / (10 – 2 healers – 2 tanks) x 100 = 16.67% DPS, nearly three times the overall impact.

Additionally, there is a social argument to be made here. Having played with a large number of individuals in the many years I have played the game, I know I am playing at my best and I am most comfortable when I am raiding with individuals that I can trust with my virtual life. A 10-man, for me, has just the right number of individuals that I can rely on in any given situation. In any raid larger than 25 people, I am almost guaranteed to run with at least a few individuals I might not be comfortable playing with. So if I just want to play with my core group, why should my raiding be penalized because I choose not to group with the people I don’t enjoy playing the game with. This new change affords smaller, closely-knit communities this exact privilege: to enjoy the game with the people you want to play with, without having to worry about doing inferior content for inferior loot.

Larisa also quotes a comment from MMO-Champion:

“This means basicly get the best ppl from you 25 man raiding guild , kick out all others , and focus on 10 man raids? less troubles with organisation , less drama , more chance on raiding since you don’t have to count on that many peeps.”

I have to admit I can sympathize with her frustration, but I feel that the change is necessary and long overdue. In addition, if a 25-man guild kicks out the weakest links, it goes on to prove the social point I made above: everyone prefers playing World of Warcraft with the people they can trust and rely on in any given situation. This change, although not terribly conducive to incite interest in 25-mans, allows you to do that.

Avatar has a different take altogether, one that none of the rest of us thought of. He says:

“First because 10 and 25s are on the same lockout timer, I expect to see pug 10s and 25s (with the exception of alt runs) to mostly disappear, no one wants to chance getting a pug together and lock themselves out of both the 25 and 10 man version, especially if you can run it with your guild. Most raiding guilds probably won’t tolerate you getting locked out of raids.”

It is an interesting thought, but I doubt most individuals that raid endgame competitively, also pug the same content. I think pugging will continue, albeit the number of raids will reduce because of the shared lockout ID, but not disappear altogether. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

At least Keen, in the same boat as I am, agrees with me in this.

“This is fantastic.  My guild (or a pug or whatever) can choose to spread our content out over a longer period and tackle one of these smaller raids a night or pack them all in.  We can rotate people in and out and people can choose what they can make and not feel like they’re missing out by going to one because better loot drops in the other.  I’m a big proponent of streamlining raids.  I’d prefer them to just be the dang bosses anyway with the fights being more intricate and epic.  This moves right along in that direction.”

Just a matter of perspective I suppose. 🙂

“Smaller Guilds Buffed in Cataclysm” or “10 vs. 25”

April 27, 2010 7 comments
EDIT: A larger discussion on the upcoming raid changes can be found here.

Blizzard today shared some truly stunning news regarding the way 10-man and 25-man dungeons will perform in World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion. Ready? The loot tables for raid lockout ID’s for 10-mans and 25-mans will be the same.

This is undoubtedly one of the biggest changes since 10-man and 25-man dungeons were introduced. It effectively implies that smaller guilds will no longer have to feel like they are engaging inferior content for inferior loot because they cannot muster the numbers for a larger 25-man team. In addition, the 25-man guilds will not be able to farm the 10-man content as well, since the raid lockout ID will be the same.
Blizzard has essentially taken steps to ensure the smaller guilds can play and compete on an equal footing with some of the larger guilds in WoW.

To summarize some of the key points in the announcement:
  1. 10-man and 25-man will be comparable in difficulty.
  2. You can choose the difficulty of an encounter (normal or heroic) when you get to the boss.
  3. The initial raids in Cataclysm will be designed to be tackled by players in Cataclysm dungeon blues and crafted gear.
  4. Most importantly, 10-man and 25-man instances will drop the same exact loot, and share the same lock out. The only difference is that if the 10-man drops 2 items from a boss, the 25-man will drop 5 items from the same boss to keep loot distribution even.

It’s not April 1st is it?

Se7en Tidbits: “Raid Leader’s Resume” or “St. George is Overrated!”

April 26, 2010 2 comments

Here are a few tidbits that caught my attention for one reason or another this week:

  • “And while we’re at it, why is it that I spent an entire controller-crushing hour trying to figure out that one level in the puzzle game Braid before giving up and then nailing it on the first try after a good night’s sleep?” Jamie Madigan discusses how ample sleep helps us play video games better.
  • “It’s a quad-core with a nice graphics card in it, 8GB of RAM, Blu-ray player and a 1TB hard drive.  That’ll do, pig.  That’ll do.” In other news, Syp gets a new PC, and Bronte gets jealous.
  • “In most combat, speed plays a very important part in the outcome. If you can’t catch or hit an enemy, it will be very difficult to defeat them.” Werit discusses the important of speed in and Warhammer PvP, and maintains his position as the only blogger who has me nearly convinced to pick up the MMO. Nearly.
  • “The argument about whether people should put WoW on their job applications is one that has been doing the rounds for awhile, but how about raid leading as experience for running your own business?” Spinks talks about an article that explores the question above. Can I finally tell my boss I led one of two teams in the history of the Eitrigg server that defeated C’Thun?
  • “St George kills one lousy dragon and gets a day of national holiday in his memory. I’ve killed hundreds of dragons, and all I have to show for it is this miserable +1 sword and bag full of vendor-trash drake toenails.” That is actually the entire post from Melmoth over at Killed in a Smiling Accident!
  • “The other advantage that the Holy build has is that you can cast Beacon on Valithria and add extra healing to the raid. I’ve found that doing this is valuable at the very end of the fight, keeping the raid from being overrun.” Coriel discusses a little experiment that I will now attempt the next time I am in ICC.
Categories: Se7en Tidbits