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Encrypted Text: Words from the wise

Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, an interview with acclaimed Rogue theorycrafter Vulajin.

If you have ever been to the Rogue section of the Elitist Jerks forums, chances are good that you've read one of the amazing posts by Vulajin of Mal'Ganis. His Roguecraft spreadsheet and Rogue PvE DPS discussion thread are amongst my most treasured resources. Still very active in the community, he's been involved in some of the recent work concerning boss crit depression and a possible change in a Rogue's chance to miss.

I had an opportunity this week to sit down with the very intelligent and self-effacing Vulajin and talk about a few different topics, and I wanted to share some of that discourse with you today. We talked a great deal about the current Rogue hotness that is Honor Among Thieves and also concerning the impact that we as players can make upon the design of WoW in the future.

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Filed under: Rogue, Raiding, Classes, Talents, Interviews, (Rogue) Encrypted Text, Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard seeks PTR feedback

If you're testing on the PTR to try and determine what changes patch 3.0.2 have on your character, take some time and give some feedback on these specific issues. Blizzard is specifically asking folks to note if they've lost any abilities they should have or gained ones they shouldn't, if the new token panel is functioning correctly, if mounts and pets are being properly learned from their respective items, if all of your bags and bank slots are working properly, and if you're gaining all of the Achievements you should have.

So, please help our blue overlords determine that everything is working smootly for the launch of 3.0.2 so that we don't all end up with abilities we shouldn't have or tokens lost in the ether. I would, but beta testers aren't able to.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Odds and ends, News items

Make your Mage magnificent!

Well, maybe not magnificent, but at least functional and viable in Wrath of the Lich King. Tipster Daniel alerted us to Ghostcrawler -- the blue of blues for Wrath, according to him -- blinking into the Mage forums to request Mages to give feedback about the different trees.

Although Ghostcrawler seems to post her call outs during the wee hours when people are deep in slumber -- or in a drawn-out raid -- we at WoW Insider believe that it's our duty to get everyone in on the action. If you happen to be in Beta and play a Mage, now is the chance to have your thoughts heard on the Frost tree, the Fire tree, and the Arcane tree. While you're at it, give the developers a pat on the back for the overwhelmingly enjoyable Mirror Image.

Filed under: Mage, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Metamorphosis feedback wanted

For all of you Warlock beta testers out there, Ghostcrawler is looking for your help! Since the Wrath Beta began, Metamorphosis has been one of those abilities that sound cool in theory, but the application was totally wrong, more or less. Ghostcrawler has put out a call for focused, constructive feedback on the ability. When you head over there, keep in mind that Ghostcrawler wants feedback specifically about Metamorphosis in this thread, and 'get rid of it' isn't constructive feedback. Those of you not beta testing may be interested in the thread as well, since it might be a pretty strong indicator of where Demonology will end up.

The most common feedback I've seen is that the ability renders most of your other talent points null and void for the duration of the transformation, rather than synergizing with them. I find myself agreeing with that wholeheartedly. It's an interesting concept, but no top end talent should nullify everything before it unless it's good enough to make up for all of those talent points you lost. Metamorphosis definitely does not have 51 talent points baked into it, and I'd say it would be impossible to even do that.

Filed under: Warlock, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

[UPDATED] Tankadins and Retadins! Speak!

While I effused about the great change to the otherwise lackluster Blessing of Sanctuary -- it should really be named Blessing of Badass -- Paladins have yet to receive the promised second pass. There have been massive changes to the class itself, but there's more to come. Hopefully on the positive side.

The Paladin community's new "Beacon of Light", Ghostcrawler, has popped up on the forums saying that the second pass is forthcoming. Blizzard is looking at making major changes to the Protection tree, stating that the developers feel that there are too many mandatory talents and mitigation talents that don't do anything interesting.

If you've got brilliant ideas about how to improve the Protection tree, now's your chance to speak up. Ghostcrawler is putting the entire Paladin community up to task by giving feedback on which talents are fun and which ones aren't; what areas feel bloated and what feels barren; and talents that seem mandatory, talents that seem fun but optional, and talents that often get the shaft. Head on up to the forums now and let Blizzard hear your thoughts. Given all the great changes to the Paladin class that have shown up in the Wrath Beta, I have a very good feeling that Blizzard actually listens. [EDIT: Ghostcrawler also mentions that the Beta forums aren't the only source of feedback they have, so head over to the Paladin forums, too, in the hopes of getting heard]

[UPDATE:
Ghostcrawler has made the same call to Retribution Paladins, as well. Jump over to the thread now...]

Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King

Forum post of the day: Moving moments

Since its inception World of Warcraft has been an evolving game. Someone who played only shortly after release would hardly recognize the game now. Blizzard has always welcomed feedback, but some changes have elicited more feedback than others. In a thread entitled "Epic moments in WoW QQ history," Gatsukaa chronicled some of the most upsetting events that have occurred in the evolution of our game:

Moment 1:
WoW is first released. Hunter and warlock pets could be one-shot. Hunter dps was pretty lackluster. Soulstones gave you rez sickness (I think). No soulshards from PvP. The first emo whiners in WoW were born: Hunters and Warlocks. World of Roguecraft video is released showing how a rogue in crap gear could wtfpwn people while warlocks were so gimp. Result is that warlocks went on to get buffed in nearly every patch as they were on their way to god-hood. No more world of roguecraft videos. Hunters saw substantial improvements as well, but weren't made into demigods.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Buffs, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

Breakfast topic: Why should you be in the Beta?

Not long ago Blizzard opened up the expansion content to selected friends and family. We've had a few days to sign up for the Wrath of the Lich King beta test. Blizzard has made it clear that assignment in the Beta test that aside from a better chance of selection among* World Wide Invitational attendees, the beta testers will be selected by a random lottery. But what is it that makes a good beta tester?

I've entered twice for the Beta, as I have two accounts. I'm not sure how many participants will be selected, but I really hope I get in. If I wasn't with WoW Insider, I probably would avoid the beta. I'm rather in favor of delicious surprised once the expansion is actually released. Recent iterations of the Public Test Realm have invited everyone to come and play. Many have taken that challenge to see nifty, new gear and test new mechanics. Blizzard has proven open to feedback through progressive testing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard asks: Have Arena wait times improved?


Back in February, Bornakk promised Arena queue improvements in Patch 2.4. Now that 2.4 has been here for a few weeks, Drysc is asking for feedback on the wait times.

According to Drysc, Blizzard has been making changes continually since releasing 2.4 in order reduce the wait times. He asks that you leave feedback in his post on the forums if you have played in the Arena within the last week.

Reading through, the feedback is all positive. Well, mostly. Poe jokes that the queue times are too quick now and would like a couple minutes to do a round of mining in Nagrand. Otherwise, everyone agrees that the queue times are now just a few seconds as opposed to several minutes. The only real negative comments are about how they would like Blizzard to crack down on Win Trading.

I am happy that Blizzard is soliciting feedback to find out what is really happening in the game. Do you think the Arena wait times have decreased?

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, PvP, Forums, Arena

The perils of progressive testing

After Skellum of Dalaran posts on the forums asking just where all these PTR changes are coming from, Nethaera sobers us all up about what the PTR is all about: progressive testing. She says that Blizzard has said from the beginning that there will be changes in the notes, and that things we thought were the end of the world in the beginning have changed or been completely removed. Welcome to the perilous world of progressive testing.

And it occurs to me that I've broken my own rule about patience on the PTRs. When those Shaman notes dropped with only a Stormstrike icon, it didn't occur to me (or almost any other players) that Blizzard wasn't done yet. And while the latest changes still aren't done (we're still waiting for an Elemental buff), things have been fixed somewhat since then.

But is this really just players doubting Blizzard? They posted the patch notes with just one small disclaimer -- would they have been able to quell the furor a bit more if they'd made it more clear that what's posted on the PTR notes has almost no connection to what will show up on the live realms? But then again, Neth never really answered the question of where these changes are coming from -- if Shamans hadn't QQ'd so much over the Elemental Mastery and Nature's Swiftness nerf, would it ever have been reverted? Blizzard seems to be simultaneously telling players to be patient and also give feedback. If players had been patient when the EM and NS nerf came down, and it hadn't caused such an uproar, would it have been changed back at all?

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Blizzard wants feedback on your class

With Wrath of the Lich King looming on the (far) horizon, it turns out that Blizzard may actually care what you want in it! They've just opened feedback threads for every class on the official forums, asking players to list one or two sentences about their top three problem areas, and their top five problem talents/spells/abilities for their class, along with what talent trees you tend to invest in and what sort of content you play most (PvP, raid, solo, etc.). It's a highly structured format, and you're also instructed not to engage in discussion with other posters or put suggestions on how things should be improved. Just point out what you have a problem with.

The posts note that when they feel they have collected enough feedback, the threads will be closed, so make sure you get your opinion in before that happens. Here are the links for the various classes on the North American forums: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior. And here are the European links: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior. It's possible that all the players speaking their minds have brought down the forum servers, since I can't get them to load, but I'm sure they'll be back presently. And you may not be allowed to have discussion in the Blizzard threads, but feel free to use the comments on this post: what's wrong with your class? What do you think they should do to fix it?

Filed under: Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Polling players on new content

There's an interesting discussion going on over on the forums about whether or not Blizzard should conduct player polls. Antiquity from Lightning's Blade can't see why they don't-- it's an easy way for them to get quick feedback about different aspects of gameplay. But Nethaera disagrees. She says (and I can see her point as well) that polls are commonly inaccurate, which is definitely true, and while she doesn't exactly come out and say it, she seems to be implying that Blizzard would rather hear player feedback in terms of discussion rather than in numbers. Just hearing that 70% of players will use voice chat doesn't tell the whole story-- more important to know would be the reasons players would use voice chat, and in what situations they would use it.

So it's not really likely that Blizzard will implement in-game polling anytime soon-- for now, they're content to get their player feedback from the forums (and, I suspect, from sites just like this one).

However. We here at WoW Insider have no such compunctions, and we love to hear your feedback in terms of numbers just as much as in the comments. And I especially like Antiquity's poll suggestion, so here it is. Yes, this isn't really a solution to what he wants-- he wants to hear in-game voices, not forum voices or WoW Insider reader voices. But it is an interesting question, and I would like to see what you all think.

What would you like to see Blizzard develop as future content?
More solo content1656 (36.3%)
More 5 man content1008 (22.1%)
More 10 man content1516 (33.2%)
More 25 man content381 (8.4%)


(I did leave off the "All of the above" choice-- if that was on there, I don't see why everyone wouldn't choose it. This way, you're forced to choose your preference.)

Filed under: Polls, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances

Add-On For Leaving Player Feedback

You know the feedback system on eBay? Where you can leave a scathing comment if the guy in Timbuktu who just sold you that life-size cut-out of Billy Dee Williams turns out to be a scam artist, and just sends you a 1/2 scale Billy Dee Williams instead? Well, a WoW player has apparently taken it upon himself to create just such a system as a UI add-on, so you can leave nasty feedback for that Human Warrior who bailed out on your group in the middle of Molten Core.

The system is still in development, but I see a huge margin for abuse & error with a system like this, especially if anyone using the add-on can see comments left by others. There's not much to stop someone from doctoring up a bad rep for people they don't like for one reason or another. Then again, it is just an add-on...it's not like it will be mandatory.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Add-Ons

Breakfast Topic: Have your say about our ads

We've had a few discussions here about gold farming, and we're well aware that thanks to some of the keywords on this site, the Google AdSense ads displayed here can be incongruous with the message we are trying to get across. While we've had to leave the adverts as-is so far, we want your feedback on this issue, and we're prepared to act -- how important is the content of our advertisements to you?

Technologically speaking, we can block certain ads based on their URLs, but as more sites spread and more domains spring up, this isn't going to help too much. Of course, we know that most of you aren't going to buy gold, so if you do click on the adverts you're costing the gold sellers money -- doing this, and making advertising expensive for them, could be one way to combat the problem.

What would you do in our position?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Insider Business, Breakfast Topics

User feedback in MMOs


The sheer number of players in WoW means that you'll run into a variety of people while levelling and otherwise passing the time in-game. Currently, the in-game feedback mechanism is one-sided, and limited: if a player is unbearable, then they can be welcomed to your /ignore list, but if they're worth remembering then they get a place on your friends list.

Depending on how you play, these lists may be sparse or full, but if you're anything like me then you wish there was something more to it: the ability to see what others think of a player, and the ability to help others stay away from bad players or gravitate towards good players.

This soapbox piece over at Gamasutra goes into the ins and outs of character rating systems as applied to MMOs. It brings up some important points; people will try to game the system, by creating characters solely to leave ratings, and there should be further requirements such as having to group for X minutes. Also, there would have to be a RP explanation for ratings, and a decision would have to be made over whether to use user-specific or character-specific feedback. The former means that everyone can be forewarned you're a jackass; the latter means you can RP a jackass without harming your other characters.

Personally, I'm not sure I want a disgruntled group member harming my reputation for life just because we disagreed on the best way to heal -- nor do I want the person who called me a n00b because I wasn't specced the way he wanted to have much of an impact on my ability to find instance parties. On the other hand, I'd definitely like to be able to avoid people like that.

It's unlikely a system like this could be shoehorned into WoW by Blizzard, but it's certainly fair game for an addon, if enough players would install it.

[Image credit: Fan art by George Tutumi]

Filed under: Odds and ends

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