Thursday, June 18, 2009

Patch 3.2 - Arena Changes

There are alot of big changes coming so lets get down to brass tacks.

Edit: How did I miss this one?

Resilience: No longer reduces the amount of damage done by damage over time spells, but instead reduces the amount of all damage done by players by the same proportion. The other effects of resilience (reducing critical chance, critical damage and mana drain effects) have not changed.

Wow. Just. Wow. This makes resilience HUGE. This also makes long term classes like Melee/Warlocks much stronger if matches can be drawn out long enough through defensive play. Inccoming Season 3 all over again? Hrm. Time for everyone to reroll Druid imo.

3.2 Arena Changes

-The newest season of Arena gear can only be purchased if you meet the requirements with your 3 or 5 player team rating. Rating requirements form 2 player teams can still be used to purchase previous season of gear.

This is probably the biggest change as the 2v2 Arena bracket has been the go to bracket that most of the Arena population plays due to the ease in which people can come together to get games in. Naturally, 2v2 is inherently imbalanced as many comps live and die by the comps of their opponents. A renewed emphasis on 3v3 and 5v5 will likely encourage players to compete in a seemingly less Rock/Paper/Scissors type of environment. However, this is only conjecture as it seems to be harder for casual PvPers to coordinate some of the larger team sizes as evidenced by the complete dearth of teams in 5v5. In addition, casual players may continue to flock to 2's as they may see the Season 6 (Furious) gear as 'good enough' and as such, keep the 3v3 and 5v5 ladders relatively bare.

Remember, the strength of a bracket is completely dependent on the number of active teams. Only time will tell to see if the casual crowd embraces these other brackets and if Blizzard lowers the rating requirement of the next tier of gear to tempt causals. My best guess is that Blizzard would create 2 tiers of Season 7 gear, one that the casuals can easily obtain and one that the pros will want, much like the tier 8 and 8.5 gear from the raids. Let's see if I'm right.

-Dalaran Sewers
--The Entire Arena has increased in size by 25%

Good. This should give people more room to work with both on top of the platform and while running around the edges.

--Mounts can now be used in this Arena

Great. Not being able to charge into combat sucks. Not being able to catch up with a travel form Druid pillaring you with the entire map sucks.

--The position and collision of the crates on the central platform has been modified

Awesome. There have been times where, due to the geometry of the crates, I've had failboat fears or had others LOS my cyclones while still blatantly in LOS. This should help eliminate those issues and make it less random or prone to the effects of latency.

-Ruins of Lordaeron
--Alcoves have been removed from the starting chambers

This is an interesting change as it prevents players from kiting between the two starting chambers, LOS'ing and drinking. Naturally, this will make RoL a faster map and reward teams that seize control of the central tombstone.

--Two line-of-sight tombstones have been added to the slime pool on the southern side of the map

I'm not sure how large these tombstones will be, but it seems they will be a good place to run towards if the other team dominates the tomb with AOE snares.

--The collision around the central tomb has been smoothed out to prevent players from becoming stuck on the terrain as often.

I have mixed feelings about this change as the current tomb showcases experienced players from complete nublets from the way they move across the tomb. This change will likely allow melee to stick to their targets easier, speeding up the match even further. I think in the end, this will be a positive change as people will likely complain less with regards to the map geometry.



Staying True?

Upon meeting a fellow WoW player, the first question that is invariably asked is "What class do you play?" Many of us become identified by the classes we play to the point that we know that Joe is the Paladin, Bob is the Warrior and that mysterious Blood Elf mage named HermioneX, but never talks on vent, is probably a guy masquerading as a girl.

Sad, but true.

To get to the point where we players become identified or self identify as a particular class, we spend countless hours playing that one character and/or favoring one class over others. Typically, we call this character/class our 'Main' and refer to others as 'Alts'. However, with the cyclical nature of class strength, there are times in which our favored classes outperform others and times where a raid spot is more of an active charity than of actual need. The same applies to the world of competitive Arena PvP where class success for an average player can vary drastically from season to season. As an example, back in Season 5, Survival Hunters were absolutely ridiculous, but after a heavy round of nerfs, have dropped back down to obscurity.

The question that begs to be asked is: What makes one stick with (or abandon) a certain class when it's average success rate is consistently average to below average across multiple seasons (or raid tiers)? In this case, I'm not talking about weak classes that are being piloted by pros to the top of the ladders, as pros will succeed regardless of class strength. I am referring to an average player comparing themselves against other average players.

I happened to choose two classes that have been perennially strong since Season 2 (Priest/Druid), however, Season 5's Paladin dominance made me question the choice of my classes. The 3.1 buffs to my classes and nerfs to Paladins have rekindled my desire to continue playing my characters, but I was on the precipice of rerolling if the demographics didn't change. Unfortunately, I have friends who have been affected by the dominance of other classes over their preferred class across multiple seasons and some are to the point that they are struggling to find the fun in the game. Yes, there is probably an overemphasis on class comps and on Arenas with it comes to determining class viability in WoW, but shouldn't there be parity when it comes to having fun regardless of the activity that is chosen?

It just so happens that my friends are staying true to their relatively weak classes because they enjoy the gameplay of the classes more than the gameplay of their alts, but I suspect that without positive changes to their classes, this may be a subscription cancelling point.

I hope it doesn't come to that but from my experience with Season 5, I can see where they're coming from.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why I'm Not Going to Blizzcon

I thought about trying to nab a ticket to Blizzcon and taking a trip out to California, but for whatever reason, I couldn't justify it. I am, however, completely cool with not going because my twisted imagination has me thinking that the random conversations out there would resemble something like this:

Me to neighbor prior to the PvP discussion panel: Hey, nice to meet you! This panel should be pretty interesting. I hear Ghostcrawler has some interesting points to bring up about the weakness of casters against melee.
Neighbor: Eff that, ganker. I hope they announce that they're removing the Arenas and BG's. You griefing assholes ruined my game!
Me: ...


Me to dude wearing a Boomkin costume: Nice costume! What are you? Some kind of demented WoW Furry? You know there's no real life achievement for pretending to be the product of a Pigeon, Deer, Bear 3 way, right?
Boomkin: ...


Ghostcrawler: We're buffing melee!
Me: ...

Regardless of the possible exchanges with tardtastic WoW nerds, the underlying sentiment that completely nullifies any possible justifications for buying a ticket is that the game as developed a pattern in it's production/development cycle. Due to that established pattern, there is no real anxiety for me to go as I can pretty much anticipate what's coming next in WoW. To explain this, let me give a broad and reasonably vague example.

In the world of software, a typical business model for generating a continuous revenue stream consists of 3 phases: Implementation, Maintenance and Renewal. The implementation phase is where the software company installs their software and trains the end user how to manipulate the program to their benefit. Teething issues are worked out and eventually the software goes into the Maintenance phase where the software company supports the continued use of the product. When the next version comes out, the company works to secure continued use of the product (via the upgrade) and the cycle repeats itself: Implement new version, Maintain new version, sell next version. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

WoW has gone through this cycle once already from Classic to TBC, and now from TBC to WotLK. Heroic 5 mans? Check. Badges for Gear? Check. Entry level 10 man? Check. Entry level 25 man? Check. Completely borked first Arena season? Check. Completely stupid Honor grind? Check. How many people suspected that there was going to be a 'New Isle of Quel'danis' in WotLK? I know I did.

The bottom line is that the formula for Blizzard's last two WoW expansions works. It's generated record sales and subscriptions and has consistently produced excellent consumable content for a variety of gamers. To me, this formula is also stale and unexciting. As Blizzard is the master of taking what works and building upon it, I can already predict how the next expansion will play out and unfortunately, going to hear presentations on their upcoming content (ie: how they're tweaking their established business model) doesn't excite me or make me anxious for future releases.

And that is why I'm not going to Blizzcon.

Actually, that's all a big fat lie. I could justify it, but I totally forgot that the tickets were going on sale and happened to be away from the computer.

... Sorta.

P.S. I would totally wear a Boomkin costume for some hot cosplay action.