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  • Scott Clark
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Heart of the Aspects video and giveaway {WoW}

Feb 15th 2012 10:54AM Do want!

Officers' Quarters: The plight of 25-man raiding guilds {WoW}

Jan 30th 2012 2:16PM Let's set aside the issue of whether one raid size may be inherently "better" than the other. Let's look, instead, at how actual players are actually making decisions.

1) 25-mans are harder to organize. For all the reasons listed in the article, it's easier to manage a smaller team. It stands to reason that - as per the article's thesis statement - those willing to lead are increasingly likely to lead a smaller group. Put in context of Blizzard's philosophy, 25-mans are therefore less accessible than 10-mans.

2) When raiders could do 10-man and 25-man in the same week, many players felt compelled to do both raids in order to maximize their gear. In 25-man raiding guilds, the groups could break up for 10s. In 10-man raiding guilds, players would try to find PuGs. In Wrath, our 10-man core would host a PuG; this combined the worst elements of playing with people we didn't know and a raiding style we didn't like for a consistently miserable experience. Blizzard doesn't want people to feel forced into doing both and (for this and other reasons) combined the lockouts.

3) Similar to the previous points, when 25-man raids provided better rewards (whether better gear, more points or more drops) players would feel compelled to complete the content that would maximize their returns. Blizzard normalized the rewards (Legendary shard drop rates excluded) in order to allow people to choose based on play preference rather than rewards.

4) Blizzard is constantly juggling the tension between being inclusive not just in social and gameplay aspects, but in technical aspects as well. Players want better graphics but they also want to play on aging machines. My system has never handled 25-man raiding well; the improved character models and game engine enhancements people expect are going to require further compromise. People with systems that could barely handle 25s pre-Pandaria may need to step down to 10s while people that could only do 10s may stop raiding altogether. Blizzard is already exploring ways to maintain the player base; players who would feel compelled to stay in 25-man raiding but need a system upgrade to do so, may just stop raiding altogether.

When we look at all of the above, we see that Blizzard is consistently removing the need for players to feel forced into 25-man raiding and, as was the point of this article, when players are allowed to choose their preferred raiding size, the majority of the population chooses 10-man raiding. Previously, Blizzard tried to shoehorn people into 25s through various incentives; the remaining incentive (faster Legendary progression) simply isn't enough.

I'm sure there are arguments that could be made, such as 10-mans being undertuned and therefore more attractive to some players, to support the idea that Blizzard is (intentionally or not) promoting 10s over 25s. I would argue that 10s are not inherently easier; I would also argue that, if 10s were easier, you're not going to find much success in a "harder" 25-man raid by forcing "weaker" players to step up to a harder level.

The bottom line here seems to be that, with a greater emphasis on player choice, players are quick to abandon 25-man raiding. I feel for those that prefer the larger raid sizes and, inconveniently, would require a larger player pool to choose from. This is evolution at work; 25-man raiding seems to have been kept alive only by Blizzard imposing competitive advantages, and I don't see it being in Blizzard's philosophy to go back to that model. In the absence of Blizzard's influence, player support simply doesn't justify further developer support, and I see us going exclusively to 10-man raiding post-Pandaria.

Arcane Brilliance: Adventures with and observations on the Raid Finder {WoW}

Nov 6th 2011 1:36AM @SamLowry

Voice chat isn't there to explain the strategy before the fight. Voice chat is there to communicate changes to the strategy mid-fight, to account for things going wrong (such as unexpected deaths or disconnections). Voice chat is there to make minor adjustments based on the flow of the fight. Voice chat is there to coordinate assignments, tank swaps, bloodlust and heroism.

The raid leader needs to be able to communicate with the raid. There will be raiders that need to communicate information to the raid leader, so that the raid leader can make decisions. Typing is strictly inferior to voice as a coordination tool when raiders are watching their rotations as well as their feet.

The thesis statement of this article was that a raid requires a) a (competent) leader and b) a raid that is willing to take direction. Not every raider needs to be capable of leading; every raider DOES need to be capable of being led if they are to be successful. You don't need a mic to follow directions, so long as you make sure you're never in a position where you need to communicate anything to the raid mid-fight. For you to say that you don't need to listen to the RL mid-fight, makes you the problem raider this article was written about.

Dev Watercooler: Ghostcrawler discusses massive changes to threat {WoW}

Aug 16th 2011 1:33PM If you read the post again, you'll find that your question (why Blizzard doesn't build tutorials to educate players on proper threat management) has already been answered:

The current threat system isn't fun.

As unfun as the current system is, how much worse would it be to have to go to school to learn the unfun system before you could use it? Why would Blizzard spend resources developing an unfun training module for an unfun system, when they could spend those resources on making the system fun?

Remember, developing a more compelling gameplay mechanic doesn't change the fact that for months or years, you understood the system and differentiated yourself as a good player because of it. You will still be able to differentiate yourself from lesser players in the future. Complaining that all players should continue to languish under an unfun mechanic just because that's the way it's always been, is just cognitive dissonance.

For the record, "cognitive dissonance" is never a good reason to maintain the status quo.

The Queue: Couch potato {WoW}

Aug 10th 2011 12:20PM The level-numbering system has nothing to do with the amount of time it takes to complete the leveling process; the level cap is independent of content.

Blizzard could have made the level cap 90 by cutting the amount of XP required per level (from 80 up) in half and giving you a talent point every other level until the cap. This would not have required any additional content and the amount of time it required to reach the cap would remain the same.

Conversely, they could have doubled the amount of pre-cap content in the new zones while cutting the XP rewards in half. This would have extended the time required to reach the cap without increasing the cap.

The level cap and the amount of content required to reach it are completely independent variables. If you wish there were more pre-cap, content, great! Complain about that. Arguing that the leveling process is too fast because the level cap is too low is like arguing that your DPS is low because the alphabet is in the wrong order.

Officers' Quarters: Silent revenge {WoW}

Jul 4th 2011 11:30PM Downvoted for an unnecessary comment on an article you didn't read. Also downvoted for an unnecessary reply containing an unnecessary comment about not reading the article - we knew that already. Further downvoted for belligerence in the face of the consensus that it probably isn't worth posting comments on articles you haven't read. That's what your blog is for.

Spiritual Guidance: How to become a better priest, starting with your UI {WoW}

May 30th 2011 5:45PM 80% eh? That smacks of a made-up statistic to me.

Many add-ons, including (almost) all of the ones Dawn discussed, are about presenting the information the game always gives you in a more accessible way. In fact, that was her thesis statement: "How information is arranged is what really sets each raid frame apart, and the default UI doesn't allow you to customize that information enough". The game presents information in a generic way that is reasonably appropriate for all classes during solo and small-group play, but it is up to the individual to customize the flow of information to their role, playstyle and learning preferences.

Now, Dawn does suggest that it will "take some practice to get used to reading all this information in combat" in reference to her grid setup; however, this is information that the game does give you already. The default UI makes you click through your party members to see a lot of this information, however, while third-party raid frames will show you the information in parallel. Given that it is all information the healer requires, I don't think you can reasonably argue that clicking through your raid frames between each heal to make decisions is "less distracting".

The only addon I see in this discussion that provides information not available in the default UI, is Ingela's Rapture; tracking the internal CD on Rapture will make most Disc Priests more effective. So are there four addons here we need to turn off to justify keeping it?

As for eschewing raid frames that show incoming heals in favour of discussion over voice chat, that's just crazy talk (literally!) If healing is so trivial that you have time to micromanage casts over Vent then you probably don't need to coordinate at all. Once you know how to read your raid frames properly, you can triage heal targets at a glance; I can't see what would be gained by requesting that information verbally.

The point here is to take all of the information that you need and arrange it for faster and easier assimilation. Suggesting that replace the information with guesswork and committe-based healing is counterproductive.

The Queue: Firelands questing and more {WoW}

May 25th 2011 1:42PM @Amaxe

Your comment can stand! While there may be a grace period for getting the names on the tickets confirmed, changing the names at the event requires you to have access to the credit card used to purchase the tickets. This would allow to, for instance, give up your ticket to someone you trust but will leave scalpers (or, realistically, those who buy scalped tickets) out of luck.

The Queue: The Golden Crown {WoW}

May 24th 2011 2:19PM @Xan

The issue with people sounding tinny over Mumble is on the speakers' ends, not yours.

Again, this is the Mumble philosophy: if one player sounds lousy, isn't it easier for that one player to fix their setup, rather than asking the entire raid to fix theirs?

One of the strategies Mumble uses to reduce latency is dynamic compression. If your outgoing bandwidth becomes limiting, the system will increase the compression rate; this optimizes transmission speed at the cost of transmission quality. However, there is a default compression rate which is user-configurable; people that don't understand the settings during the setup process often end up with an over-compressed outbound stream that sounds awful. None of the listeners will be able to make the adjustment on their end; the solution is to ask the speaker to run the Audio Wizard again and fix their settings.

Here, Mumble suffers from a common open-source software issue: Excellent functionality meets a hit-or-miss UI. The Ventrilo client sacrifices quality for ease of use; most people will find the service good enough. With Mumble, users can get phenomenal quality but there is enough room there for an incompetent user to really screw things up. This paradigm is iterated throughout the design: you can get secure encryption but a user who doesn't understand security tokens is liable to lock themselves out; the default password gives limited access to non-registered users, but many of those users accidentally log in with a user ID that matches the default password.

The bottom line is, anybody that sounds terrible over Mumble either has connection problems or can't figure out how to use the software. You should ask yourself whether you want to play an online computer game with people who have poor connections or who are not computer savvy. Ventrilo is a great choice if you have to pug spots often; we have found our Mumble use to be a barrier to recruitment since we can't pug in players as easily. However, if you're ready to put in a little more effort for a significant improvement in communication, Mumble may be the way to go. Upgrading from Vent to Mumble can be as big an improvement as the upgrade from the in-game voice server to Vent was.

The Queue: The Golden Crown {WoW}

May 24th 2011 1:16PM The biggest advantage of Mumble over Vent (imo) is the reduced latency. Calling out abilities over Vent, our guild made a practice of subtracting two seconds from every callout to account for transmission delays; we now call out accurate times over Mumble.

Once complaint about Mumble is the lack of an option to adjust individual users' volumes on the listener's end. Mumble, however, does a better job of normalizing volume and customizing levels on the speaker's end. Vent users, keep in mind that every adjustment you make to individual levels costs CPU cycles; doesn't it make more sense to have the speaker make the adjustment once, on her end, then for everybody to make the same (costly!) adjustment themselves?