Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Notes for Endtime Dungeon

Recently, World of Warcraft's Patch 4.3 added three new five-player dungeons, End Time, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight: this is a quick guide to the first.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On Character

Not the personality trait, no.

There's a couple letters in MMORPG that kinda hang - the whole "Role Playing" thing. Some people can treat World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, the upcoming The Old Republic, or whichever their MMO of choice is as a numbers game - bigger numbers forever, all the time!

Metagaming is okay, you know? Munchkin out, munchkins, keep on trucking, 'coz we love you too. (But if you roll seven RIGHT NOW, our love for you is double all weekend)

Kerain North, as drawn by @Outbirk

For some, the Role Playing may stop at the "get better gear, be better at game" - but, for others, they may have a personal attachment to characters they play. Might make stories for them, even!

I've felt bad about the recent offerings because I dump more fanfiction than anything useful here - but it felt like a good conversation piece!

What about you? Do you think of your "toon" as a character? Do you put thought into their motivation? Their history? Do you do this for every character, or just for your favorite?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rambling on a theme

Before I start rambling in a jumble of half-formed thoughts, I would like to start by directing you to this latest post on the Flavor Text Lore blog, "Failure, Challenge, and the Decline of WoW" - while a lot of people might be quick to point and say it's a familiar argument made by people who play Warcraft at a much higher level than the average player, they do themselves the disservice of realizing Hamlet and Perculia give probably the most intelligent dissertation on "fun" and "engaging" gameplay short of David Sirlin's dissertations on Street Fighter 2.

There is a good counter point to be made here in regards to their article; I am not the writer to make that argument, nor do I have the complete thoughts to do the argument a shade of the justice it deserves.

Instead, I want to move down another train of thought; to talk about what is fun, because I do feel pretty confident in being able to illustrate what I think is fun, and hopefully, to tie back to the Flavor Text post, I can illustrate an idea that I've been rolling around for a few weeks:

 Being picky is okay, because being picky is knowing what you want. And if you know what you want from a video game (be it WoW or anything else), your gameplay experience changes based on your expectations.

Let's agree to a single conceit before we move any further on this point: Overcoming challenges is fun.

You play a video game because you want a challenge. Everything extra that you do in a video game is compulsory.

Now that you and I agree, "We like to be challenged" we can riff a little. We have an even ground. We don't care what the challenge is, we like to beat stuff. We play a game and like to be able to point to whatever we've done and say "I completed this. For me."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This Is How I Priest

In July, I tagged the "Circle of Healers" post - to detail a bit about how I understood healing, to talk about things I did, and to look at stuff I watch intently. And then, Blizzard recently had a "call to arms" for classes for players to detail what and why they're happy/unhappy with their chosen class.

This, paired with conversations I've had with Lizzia and some others about HOW I actually heal has led to this, this thing here. A blog post.

As before, the character in question is Karanina, Discipline Priest of US Medivh-A's guild Waypoint.

She's not smug, she's just prettier than you, and has the GM logs to prove it. (Picture by outbirk of Dancing Runes)

Anybody who's had the misfortune of listening to me debate my Valor Point purchases will probably know all of this stuff already, and will likely want to close this blog and silently mourn their knowing me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Circle of Healers

Lizzia, of Authorized to Ramble, a healer within my guild, and a good friend, tagged me to take this questionnaire/survey.

To detail the approximate amount of raid healing experience I have at level 85, I healed my first raid (Baradin Hold) in the tail end of June. Then my second raid was Blackwing Descent. Then my third was Firelands. All in about two weeks. I've been level 85 on my priest since May 13th, of 2011, and after a little bit of "play here, play there" we were sort of ambushed with news the week before the Firelands patch that we were going to be losing one of our healers because of waning interest in raiding.

We were having roster questions and weren't sure how to manage raid slot rotations, but the way we went with is I just moved to join the ranks of Waypoint Healers, including the aforementioned Liz, and Rezznul, who occasionally posts at Red Noob Diaries. 

Yes. Taking up a wholly unfamiliar role days before a major content patch and expecting to be competent at it is much less terrifying to me than recruiting new players.

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
The only max level healer I have, and will be answering the questions here on, is the Discipline Priest healer, Karanina; of Medivh-US's Waypoint guild.
  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) 
A majority of my dungeoneeristing lately is in 10 player raids, five player dungeons, and the occasional bout of PVP tomfoolery.
  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Inner Focus; now that healing is supposed to be much more akin to a game of darts, the idea of a well timed heal saving the day is fantastic - and when I didn't have enough mana to maintain throughput, I learned to love Inner Focus very quickly.
  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Divine Hymn! A channeled smart heal sounds really exciting, but, it just feels... very underwhelming.
  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? 
I feel like the best thing I bring to the table as a Disc Priest - and why you ought consider one in your raid team - is the strong tank healing they bring. Through management of cooldowns (Pain Suppression, Power Word: Barrier, PW: Shield being the big ones, with Prayer of Mending and Penance being consistent casts) we can do a lot to help mitigate a tank's damage received.
  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? 
Mana Efficiency! Doubly so for my spec, because it does feel like Discipline requires way more gear to be good - but, on the opposite side of that coin, it does feel like when you get that gear level, you are pretty incredible at what you do.
  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? 
Don't raid 25s; instead let me answer this for 10s.

The strength of Disc Priest healing is tank heals - ideally I'm focused on one tank, though, I'm finding with my gear level, and sharpening reaction time, I could probably be good at keeping both tanks bubbled, if not healed up. I don't know if this is actually feasible, but it's definitely something I am learning and working to see if it is a thing.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
So far I've only levelled a Priest healer; so, there's that. I think I would like the feel of resto shamananananing, though.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
I tried Paladin healing, but didn't like it - though, only having a cursory idea of what I'm trying to do is always going to be very frustrating to me.
  • What is your worst habit as a healer? 
I don't trust the tools enough. Prayer of Mending is better than I think, as is Renew. 
  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? 
"What's a CC? C'mon, Bear Run. Why'd we die? What do you mean you need mana?"
  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? 
  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? 
"Is everybody I am supposed to heal still alive, Y/N?"
  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? 
I don't know enough to know what to say here! That it's bad? I'm enjoying Disc healing very muchly, and I like to think I'm doing pretty okay at it, but... see above question for the depth and breadth of my visual knowledge.
  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? 
Well, I'm having difficulty learning not to tunnel vision, so I imagine most new healers probably have this problem?
  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
Lot of overhealing - I do try and leverage Greater Heal when needed to get sizable Divine Aegis shield procs from critical healan.
  • Haste or Crit and why? 
Balance, tending towards Crit. I can time heals, I cannot force a crit.
  • What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Priest =B
  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? 
Add-ons, I just use Quartz. I can glance and see buffs on target and manage expectations of healing accordingly.

As far as macros, I do have shift modifiers for Renew/PW: Shield and Dispel/Mass Dispel - generally filling up my extra buttons on my mouse with utility/constant use spells.
  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why? 
I try to balance things out, at least, right now. Emphasis is definitely on crit, but I do feel like I've been lagging behind the other STORNG HEALARS of Waypoint; something, up until just yesterday I was very concerned and worried (worrycerned) about.

Now, I suppose I need to tag someone for this, and I SHALL! I HAVE! I MUST. Liala, of Disciplinary Action, was the biggest influence in sticking Disc as a priest, and I would like to see what she has to say on the matter. So. Uh. Tag, yer it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fiction: "Interrogation"

The guards shuffled, nervous, idling standing diligent watch over the prisoner's door - flanking it on either side. The Stormwind Elite guards stood at the ready, buried in the deepest recesses of Stormwind city... and they were bored.

"Listen, so," the first guard spoke, breaking the long silence, "The captive... would you?"

"Would I what?" the second responded, sighing, knowing the answer.

"C'mon, man. A blood elf. You know what I'm talking about," the first chuckles, "It's them ears, man. They bounce when you-"

A clearing throat interrupts the conversation, and from the shadows ahead, a warlock approached, escorted by another guard - the Captain himself, who's frown wore heavy. "We don't have time for idle chatter when we're fighting a war against Hellscream's Horde, boys. If you've time to talk, you've had time to watch the prisoner."

The Captain gestured, parting the two guards, and raising his keyring, opening the door, revealing a darkened room, with lights upon the blood elf inside - she slumped in her chair, and her eyes narrowed as she stared out, details hard to make out as she cursed in tongues, the warlock chuckling - she was tiny compared to the guards, and the robes she wore hid everything about her figure, as her voice broke the silence, stern and condescending. 

"If you could hear the things she was saying about your mothers, you'd be red in the face."

The Captain cleared his throat, "The warlock is on loan from the Stormwind military - Sergeant Hale here will be-"

"I will be interrogating the prisoner," she says, taking the keys from the Captain, as she stepped into the threshold of the doorway. She paused, turning back, and pulling the hood back a bit, revealing cold blue eyes, and a comma of black hair that fell in front of a smooth face, as she pointed forth - and from the shadows, a stomp - a second. A third. The Doomguard marched forth from the shadows, and the warlock laughed, "This is Enrico; he will be my... Guardian, shall we say. He'll stand post with the guards outside the doorway, to ... keep you all honest. Now. Do be good for him, won't you?"

The warlock grabbed the door handle, closing it behind her, and securing it as well as she could... the doomguard moving into position and crossing his arms before his chest as he glowered down at the guards and the Captain. 

One of the guards raised a hand, idly, and his voice quivered as hey spoke, "H-hello... Enrico."

"Bonjour," bellowed the demon, in tongues unknowable.

- - - -

The warlock reached into her sleeve, pulling out a number of candles, and setting them upon the floor, in a circle about the elf - and as she placed one, moved to set the next, a quick twitch of her finger set the candle alight with green flames, until she moved and circled all the way about the elf.

"I've always enjoyed a little mood lighting, myself," she joked, reaching up to her hood. "The Ashen Verdict robes, with its hood, made quite an imposing appearance, but you, certainly, are beyond such simple intimidation. Instead, why don't you tell me a bit about yourself?"

She pulled the hood back, letting it rest behind her head - and shaking her head, the ebon locks fell about her face, until her hands reached - tying it back into a simple, single pony tail. Her face was cute - surprisingly. And the elf could only growl her anger, muttering a curse about being interrogated by a child.

The elf spat at the woman's feet, cursing in Thalassian, "I'll die before I answer to your insolence! I fight for the Horde!"

"Oh, but you didn't always," the woman responded in kind, her own tongue returning the elves' language, as she moves in close. "Do you remember your races' part of the Lordaeron alliance? I was regaled by stories of your race, about how masterfully you all drew your bows and arrows - turning every troll, orc, and ogre into a pin cushion of arrows." She reaches down, pulling the elves' chained hand up forcefully, and leaning in close to her wrist, "Look at this. This is the musculature of a master archer. You aren't just some toy the Horde plays with. You're important. But in this cage, you're mine. Lucky for you, I love elves."

The green flames danced and the light shone bright upon the elf, her long blonde hair hanging in a mess about her face. The warlock reaches out, brushing the blonde strands back behind the elves' long ear, and she smiles, "Listen, I'm not going to hurt you. But I need you to tell me what Hellscream is planning next. Where is the next Horde offensive?"

The elf laughs, and spits in the warlock's face, her grin wide, her eyes narrow, "I'll never betray the Horde! And you'll never make me speak!"

Hale reaches up to her cheek, and with a single gloved finger, wipes the spittle from her face, smearing it upon the elves' forehead, gloved palm pushing the woman's head back. The elf growled and reared her head about to bite, but the warlock could only sigh, "I said I am not going to hurt you. I never said I don't have ways to make you beg for mercy and talk. I really wished we could talk, and open a dialogue, really friendly like."

The Warlock moved, and walked about slowly, and the elf struggled in her chains, pulling at each arm roughly, distrustful, and struggling to escape. The gloved hands fell gently upon the elven shoulders, holding the lithe woman down into the chair she was chained in, and she leans close. Her hair brushes against the long elven ear as she whispers, "It's okay. You're afraid. Fear," she pauses, and speaks rapidly in a demonic tongue, before slipping as easily back into Thalassian, "Is healthy. Look ahead, little one, what do you see? What are you afraid of?"

The green flames danced and sputtered, and the elf stiffened in her seat, staring ahead into the murky darkness beyond the candle light; she shook her head, slow, muttering just below the range of hearing, and quivering slowly. Shadows before them shook and danced, and the warlock sighed, shaking her head. She never knew what people feared the most, but most of them had been infinitely more vocal than this - Hale was bored, and she slumped upon the elf's shoulders, leaning close and looking ahead to the murky depths as the spell began to wear off, the elf shaking and quivering hard and violently in her seat, panting heavily as sweat beaded on her forehead.

"Are you still here with me? Good," her hands reach in front of the elf, and she slowly peels one glove off, then the other, her bare hands working and rubbing the elves' shoulders up to her neck as she leans in close, her voice firm, a whisper. "Tell me what Hellscream's next offensive is."

The elf shuddered and shook, her head slowly shaking in defiance as her voice whispered, "Never."

Her fingers wrenched into skin, and the warlock nodded, "The coils of death are terrifying, aren't they?"

The green flames stoked and burned hotter, and as Hale looked out into the blackness, and she thought shaped were forming before her. She smiled, as the reaction was visceral, as the bead of sweat turned thick, turned cold, the woman in her hands writing and squirming away, as if something was coming at her in the darkness, and physically pulling back - retreating from the shape. The black mass of shadows seemed to reach out towards the elf, and she struggled to move away, backing into the warlock's chest, as she waved her bare hands forward the shadows dissipating into a fine miasma, before she lowers her hands, cradling the elf against her.

"I told you, I'm here. There's a lot to be afraid of, but not while I'm here, little one," she says, Hale's smile turning wry, "I'm here, and I'll be here, and I'll keep you safe from that what's hiding in the shadows."

"I-It was-! It was coming for me, and it was going to-"

"Shh," Hale interrupted, "I know it was. And I made it go away, didn't I? It's all gone. All of it. Now, little one, all you have to do... is talk to me. Do you want to talk to me? I'll listen, you know. I'll even ask questions. But if you don't answer, they'll come back... you'll be all alone in the dark and everything will come back for you."

The warlock leaned close, her lips to the elves' ears. Her breath hot, her words dripping with maliciousness. "It's not the dark that's scary, you know. It's what's hiding in it."

- - - - -

The door opened slowly, and the warlock stepped out, as the Doomguard moved aside slowly, the warlock replacing her gloves and adjusting the hood obscuring her face. Behind her, a single candle remained lit with a green flame, and she spoke tersely, her words directed at the Captain, "She knew nothing. Wandered too far south from her guard post. High ranking, yes, but most of what she knows is the defense of Silvermoon City," she moved forward, the Doomguard following close behind as she returned the way she had arrived, pausing to look back. "Move her to a better lit cell. That candle will burn out in about an hour. Do it before that, please."

"She told you everything, then?" the Captain asked, "We spoke with her for DAYS before she would even say a single word!"

"I... love elves," she responds quietly, turning to leave, her slippered feet quiet upon the stone ground.

Left behind, the Doomguard bows forward, arm sweeping in front of himself as he speaks in that hellish tongue, "Bonne journée."


Monday, May 23, 2011

Fiction: "A quick meeting"

In a darkened corner, of a twisting alleyway, of an ignored side street of Stormwind City, the building stood, plain and unadorned except for a simple flag hung in the window - blue and white trim, a golden compass in the center.

The rains fell, hard, and the cobblestone stood fast against the clanking of Obsidium plate boots... and as the rainfall continued upon the cold steel, freezing slightly about the man, the simple building remained closed - the doorway wider, taller. And a simple sign, printed in plain common: "Knock."

The visitor laughs, before pushing, slamming the large door open, as he pushes in, the rainslick armor frosting over as he enters the building, leaving the door open. Inside the main room, bookcases stood tall, yet half empty - the walls were covered, plastered in various maps of Azeroth in a number of different stages of completion, varying in detail and size, of areas all over the world... and domineering the room, the number of desks in the middle, and the draenei woman sitting at them. She moved, her head low, her horns tilted forth. She shuffles about papers, and stops speaking abruptly, without a pause to look up towards the man. Silently, she continues poring over document after document, before the man breaks the silence, clearing his throat rough.

"You didn't knock," she states, calmly. "It's a simple instruction. If you cannot follow it, I will not help you."

Rain water runs fast, the sounds of it splashing from the rooftop upon the stone streets echoing, and the man raises one gloved hand, shaking frost and water from it, before sarcastically cracking his gloved hand against the door, one rap of his gauntlet against wood. The woman raises her head, eyes raised and locking onto the man - her eyes shone bright, yet, wrong. And when her eyes met his, she sighed slightly. "I'd hoped I'd fallen out of interest of the Ebon Blade after I refused to enlist in the Alliance army."

"Then you know why I'm here," the man spoke, his voice quivering with an unearthly reverb, "Rumor has it there's a little group about here that spends it's time chasing dragons... and I figure, if these stories are true, then the rag tag little band of misfits ought be plying their craft where it really matters - the island of Tol Barad needs skilled warriors defending it."

The woman pauses, her face unmoving as she watches him speak. He shakes his head, and continues to speak, "You're wasting the talents of good men and women, dragging them along on your little hunts. And for what? Because you can't face an enemy that stands eye to eye with you? Because you've become a coward? Visper Almaasy, what do you offer the world? Before, you were something, you were a force to be reckoned with, but now? You waste your unlife with your little maps and pictures, and silly little hunts. What do you get for it?"

"Sometimes, I get to wear armor. I like armor," she says, her tone flat, her speech controlled. None of the unholy energies that scar the death knight's voice echo, though her attention wanes, and she returns to the papers before her, "I shall pass."

He crosses the room, and his gloved hand smashes the papers out from her hands, before throwing everything off of the table - at his full height, he stands above the woman, his eyes narrowing, as he locks his gaze with hers, "You'll get every single one of your little fools killed, and for what? A bit of honor? And what happens when you've finished, left standing alone while every one else who put their false trust into you has died, Almaasy? WHAT WILL YOU HAVE THEN?"

The woman finally looks up from her papers, her face still stone solid, her eyes unmoving, except for the flash - the hint - of a twitch. Her voice strains, and she struggles to hide her own touch of death in her voice, "You'll say whatever you wish about me. You can. And you have. And you will. But you will not speak ill of-"

"Or what, Almaasy?" he grins, "Don't tell me The Butcher went soft..."

The draenei exhales, turning to another batch of papers, before the death knight continued, his laughter harsh, "I suppose that's why you never finished Shadowmourne. I hope your laziness isn't catching up to the rest of your people," he stopped to laugh again, leaning forward on the table, closing the distance between himself and Visper, slapping the other batch of papers from her hand.

"You could stop anything I'm doing here but you won't - you won't go to war with the Horde, because you've lost your taste for it. Why do you even continue to exist?" 

She turned, and her hand shot up from the table, grasping the man's jaw. Her face remained emotionless, unreadable. He pulls back, frantic, but her grip tightens and she pulls him back to the table, pushing back her chair and raising to her full height, towering over the man. Her hand clenches tighter and harder, cracking ice and growing wet with the rain water falling upon it...

Her voice cracks, and the hint of unholy energy was shattered, unable to feign otherwise, as she speaks, "Say anything. Anything you want. You can say whatever you want about me. I will not be upset - no, really," she says, her grip tightening, as if to say otherwise. The death knight struggles, trying to skitter away.

"I know the idea of a death knight who doesn't want to go to war is odd," she continues, "But I do not intend to waste my unlife on old hatreds - instead, I am going to defend - it is like you do. Only instead of standing at a safe point and screaming at my allies for not performing to my standards, I am going to stand shoulder to shoulder with them."

She releases him and raises, crossing her arms in front of her, breaking her stern countenance for a sneer, "How is it, you say, in common? Get out of here, you nerd." 

He staggers back, grimacing, and growling.

"And close the door when you leave. I do enjoy having the living here once in a while," she says, pointing to the doorway, before settling back into her seat, crossing her legs as she watches him leave, abrupt - unflinching as he slams the door hard enough to knock papers and maps free from the walls...