Bringing Choice To Talent Specs

•August 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As far as Cataclysm beta test goes, talents seem to be the most discussed aspect of it. What works and what doesn’t, design philosophies, utility vs pve vs pvp talents etc etc. Arguably the most important thing about the whole talent system redesign is whether Blizzard will achieve its goal of making talents that aren’t taken by 0 or 100% of players and making talent trees that don’t follow a clear Cookie Cutter template. I’d very much like to see talent specs that are diverse, where talent choices aren’t obvious, where talents are more than just “do” or “don’t”. In that regard I’d like to present a few ideas on how to make talents that would diversify each individual spec.

One of the most creative talent choices so far in Cataclysm

One of the most obvious ways to make different players of comparable skill level choose different talents would to be to introduce talents that don’t necessarily improve abilities, only alter them in some way that may or may not be beneficial. For example, on 4th tier of priest shadow tree there would be a talent called Rapid Flay.

Rapid Flay – Reduces the channel time, mana cost and damage of Mind Flay by 16/33/50%.

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Evolution Of UI

•August 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

When looking through my screenshot folder looking for article ideas, I noticed that I could guess the approximate date of the screenshot by looking at the UI alone. Although once my UI used to be a static element, over the course of last 16 months it’s been an everchanging entity constantly shifting its appearance and gaining/shedding parts. Although now most of the screenshots make me think “how the hell could I be happy with this UI back then?”, put together they create something like story of UI concepts, progression and refinement.

The Before Shot
This is what my UI looked last April, 2 weeks before I started tinkering with it. It is the standard Blizzard UI with a couple mods added here and there – TitanPanel at top displays various information I keep track of, Omen, the always-mandatory raid addon, of course keeps track of my aggro. The only visual addon I have here is SexyMap which was a really sweet looking addon that I installed despite it not fitting in my UI at all. Everything else is “out-of-the-box” – raid frames, action bars, bags, unit frames etc.

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A Different Way To Scale Raids

•August 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’d like to start off with a warning. A warning against Starcraft 2. Foolishly I thought that I’d be able to moderate my intake of this hypnotizing drug. Well 6 days my WoW life has been knocked out of balance by Medivacs, Dark Templar and Banelings. And I haven’t even been able to finish the single player campaign yet. Damn you, Blizzard, will you ever release me? That said though I’ve been able to muster enough force to create one original thought independent of Starcraft universe. I’m afraid it’s crazy idea time again.

A warning, not an advertisement

The way that current WoW endgame works is pretty straightforward – raiders clear the current tier of content every week improving their gear and waiting for the next tier to be released, to which they will immediately advance. However this creates a pattern for player activity- number of groups attending raids spikes the week new endgame content is released and after a few weeks starts to steadily decline. This is quite understandable as players either

a) are very skilled and breeze through the new content,
b) are trying to become better but hit a hard progression wall,
c) aren’t trying to improve and become bored of repeating the same bosses on same difficulty.

The only players who won’t be turned off will be those who find the difficulty just right, just enough to keep content challenging but not impossible. Sure, you could say that this is a tuning issue but the simple fact is that it’s impossible to tune a raid encounter to the needs of the majority of the playerbase. There will always be a portion that can kill every new boss in 2-3 weeks and a portion that be unable to progress past the first few bosses. Blizzard’s solution is to provide multiple difficulty settings via hard modes however 2 options is very little considering the breadth of the skill levels of the current players engaging in raids. Currently you can attempt the normal mode and receive ilvl 264 loot or you can attempt the hard mode and receive ilvl 277 loot. That’s it, those are the only options offered to raiders. If neither of them suit your raid group then you’re out of luck.

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5 Reasons Why You Want Deathwing Dead

•July 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Looking back at the whole Wrath of the Lich King expansion one thing many will admit was that the Lich King was brilliant in his role as the bad guy. The fallen prince of Lordaeron that everybody loved to hate had won a special place in our hearts during the events of Warcraft 3 and its expansion The Frozen Throne. Already before Warth of the Lich King everybody knew his story, why he was the way he was and why he needed to be stopped. Now though he’s dead and it’s time to pass the big bad guy torch to the next guy.

And what a guy we have waiting for us. Deathwing is approaching meaner and crazier than ever and bringing along a cataclysm that will rip the world itself apart. Despite the grandiose entrance to be, many players might find Deathwing an unknown entity. Within the Warcraft games he has appeared only once (not counting the minor cameo in Yogg-Sarons brain room) and those, who haven’t familiarized themselves with Warcraft lore, might be caught completely offguard by the arrival of this new menace.

First thing anybody should know about Deathwing is that he is one of the biggest evils Azeroth has ever faced. He has a long history of wreaking havoc wherever possible and over many centuries his list of maniacal plots to take over the world has become longer than those of all James Bond villains combined. To those that don’t really know Deathwing up close and personal here’s a list of just a few of his wrongdoings.

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How To Grind The Proper Way

•July 29, 2010 • 2 Comments

You look over your To-Do-List and there’s a giant grid staring back at you. From time to time every WoW player will find himself in this situation. It’s one of the worst experiences an MMO has to offer – that dread feeling, as you make your way to where your target is located, that the next few hours of your life are going to be spent in increasingly agonizing levels of boredom. Whether you are doing it for the gold, achievements, rare drops, professions or whatever else your heart desires, you will start losing track of your goal.

Yeah, nothing says “grind” like 40 Exalted reps

That’s why every grinder needs a distraction while at work. Something to take the mind off the monotonous action going on on your screen. Here’s a few ways that are sure to help get many reps to exalted, deliver rare drops to banks and make daily quests faster.

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How Blizzard Made Taxes Cool

•July 28, 2010 • 3 Comments

You gotta admit that Blizzard has one hell of a PR department. Over the years they have gotten away with stuff other game companies wouldn’t dream of pulling off – delayed releases, scrapped features or indeed whole games, nerfs and buffs that have sent many many players into rages, hissy fits and flame wars. But recently I think Blizzard outdid themselves in a way that surely deserves a mention in the book “How To Deceive Public And Keep Being Awesome”.

Cash Flow - Each time you loot money from an enemy, an extra 5/10% money is generated and deposited directly into your guild bank.

There have been 2 reactions to this particular Guild Perk so far. The first, and the most popular one, is that this is just one of many awesome perks that Blizzard is providing for active guilds, that this will help guild management to cover the cost of mandatory consumables and may cover raider repair costs and in best case scenario – even enchant, gem and glyph costs.

The second opinion is that Blizzard caved in and chickened out of the long ago proposed guild tax idea. I think TotalBiscuit expressed this opinion the best in his usual cynical way:
“They couldn’t bring themselves to put in a guild tax system because people would cry so they put in a “How about we just generate 5% extra gold for the economy and cause random inflation” “.

Well they didn’t. Blizzard didn’t chicken out of the guild tax system, instead they did something much better for the game. They disguised it in a way that would make players want to have a tax, that would make getting taxed an achievement.

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Foreseeing Cataclysm: The Rumors, The Leaks, The Rage

•July 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last time on Foreseeing Cataclysm:
The wild speculations that popped up once Blizzard filed a trademark for the name Cataclysm.

In this episode:
A recount of all the rumors and leaks that came to public attention before the official announcement of Cataclysm at BlizzCon ’09.

A few tidbits of information regarding what Blizzard may be planning for the next expansion came in early July from VideoGamer.com interview with Tom Chilton, game director of WoW. When asked about the possible setting of the next expansion, Chilton pointed out a lot of Azeroth hadn’t been finished yet and areas like South Seas and the Maelstrom hadn’t been introduced at all. Concerning new races, Chilton reiterated that adding new classes too often is not something they wanted to do. Also Chilton admitted a design flaw with adding the Draenei race was that the race had very little presence in WoW beforehand and any new races they introduced would have to have a presence in the game beforehand. This interview certainly seemed to indicate that Blizzard was going to add 2 new races in the next Cataclysm and that it might unlock new zones within Azeroth.

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