January 30, 2010

A "farewell" from Aion

Posted in Aion, Rant at 7:48 pm by Fedoldinn

Well, it would seem that our little Aion blog has come to an inevitable end.

We began with great enthusiasm for the game during the closed beta days, when Middea introduced Fedoldinn to the game and we spent much time online during the test periods playing. Come launch day, we had pre-ordered two copies and were excitedly awaiting the servers to come up. Early leveling seemed promising, even if it was a repeat of what we’d seen before, and we spent a lot of time online engrossing ourselves in the Aion universe.

It seems like no surprise that level 25 and the Abyss sparked even more enthusiasm for the game. During this time our little blog here had taken off quite well in its original WordPress.com hosted incarnation, with many hits per day and several successful articles written that were viewed by many people… many more than we’d initially expected considering we wrote for our own enjoyment and to entertain ourselves, clear our own thoughts, or rant on what was bothering us at the time.

Early in our Aion careers, this was next to nothing. As the game progressed and as time wore on, it seemed we were ranting more than we were enjoying the game. Several attempts were made to improve our overall enjoyment, from merging our original small friendly legion with another to experience more of the PvP aspect of the game, to moving back to our friendly legion to try and rekindle the sense of community that we had experienced before, and finally to moving to a more competitive, high end legion on our server to take fortresses and conquer content. In the end, none of these moves provided what we were looking for.

The grind was rough, but not the end of the world for either of us. The small legion provided a sense of community in many aspects; from people logging on and chatting while accomplishing their goals, to getting to know one another better and also to spending time on Ventrilo chatting casually. The high end guild provided a larger player base, the promise of regularly scheduled PvP nights for fortress raids and a supposedly greater chance at finding those ever elusive groups for conquering content while leveling.

The fact remains that none of this was enough. In the smaller legion we were faced with the constant issue of not having enough players in any level range to successfully run smaller group content, as well as the issue of legion management and recruitment which both take a toll on those responsible for them. The high end guild had many players, but it never seemed to be a friendly enough atmosphere to get people to head back to old content, or jump in and join others looking for groups instead of focusing solely on personal goals in game.

Aion holds a lot of promise as a game, and it has many positive aspects about it that most people overlook. There are many areas in which to group up and conquer content if that is your goal, there are also many opportunities to play alone. The game has a nice mix of PvP and PvE which should satisfy many. The grind is rough, not much is handed away for free, and it takes general effort to reach the level cap. However, without even the remote ability to find groups and play with other people, it hasn’t been what either of us is looking for in an MMO. The LFG channel is almost devoid of action, generally you see a few groups for areas that you are either too high or too low to play in. The experience penalties severely decimate the number of players willing to go back and help out, or those willing to accept help from people who are more than a couple levels above them.

Unfortunately, I’ve turned this into a semi-rant about what I found wrong with the game. A less severe experience penalty may help these issues, but its far from a solution considering there just doesn’t seem to be anyone willing to play the game for the sake of having fun and joining others in their conquests. To that end, our accounts have expired and neither of us has logged on much in the past month. Maybe that will change in the future if subsequent patches improve the game content or we decide to give it another try, but I know for me that chance is slim to none.

To those still playing, take care and enjoy the game. To anyone who’s read this blog or follows our writing on Aion, take care and farewell. Best of luck to you in the future.

– Fedoldinn and Middea

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December 14, 2009

Looking for Group

Posted in Aion, Rant tagged , , , at 8:11 pm by Middea

For being a group oriented game in both PvE and PvP aspects, it seems to be surprisingly difficult to actually find a group already. In the early leveling days, groups were everywhere, but as everyone’s levels have gotten more spread out from 30-50, groups that are pugging seem to be very rare. Most people seem to have a set group they run with, as did I for awhile. A set group is pretty wonderful as I’m sure we’re all aware, you know what to expect from everyone, what folks are capable of, and pulls are a fluid and continuous chain, you trust each other.

But what happens when you get behind in levels to your group due to whatever circumstances and are no longer within 2-3 levels of them and you are abandoned? You are forced to resign to wading through the spam that is the LFG channel in the desperate hopes that someone, somewhere, needs you. Even if not for the instance you need/want. And heaven help you if you want to go to the middle deck of SR – the red headed step child deck that almost no one anywhere wants to touch with a ten foot pole.

Levels 42 and up are a plethora of group quests but not many solo quests, I have literally 27 group quests in my quest log at the moment at 43. Grinding solo is a dangerous activity with all the Elyos gank squads running through Beluslan. So what’s a cleric to do? Suck it up and grind alone, running to new grind spots each time the 4+ Elyos wreck you whilst locking you down? Troll LFG while crafting? I have tried many combos of these basic ways of passing the time in game, and it’s been over a week since I have found a group to run anything at all, from Fortress guard grinding, Steel Rake, Alquima, to anything at all. Heck, I’d even go to Mist Mane again if anyone would take me.

What’s to happen with the alts in the future, or players late to the game… If it’s already this difficult to find a pug group, and grouping is pretty much needed to effectively level at certain levels due to a lack of solo questing options, at least for players like me who refuse to grind for hours on faceless mobs, what’s a solo player to do?

Panhandler Cleric
I feel like a panhandler. Instead of beer, I just want exp.

Anyone else having issues finding a group to go anywhere?

October 30, 2009

Mind if I Have Your Tasty Fortresses?

Posted in Aion, fortress, Rant at 5:27 pm by Middea

Rather than taking over the comments section over at Flying Bishounen on the post about 1.5.1 incoming patch details, going to make a new post.

Fortress sieges at the present moment are definitely zergs. What makes them zergs? Well, if you break it down, a zerg is a large force that overwhelms whatever they are attacking by way of large numbers rather than strategy and/or gear. A zerg does not require skill, just a massive force that cannot be turned away.

Currently in the patch notes:

You now receive contribution decorations as reward for successfully defending a fortress under the control of your Legion.

This is different than live. On live, you receive nothing from defending a fortress from enemy capture. Or, do you? My argument is that you do receive something from defending. Owning a fortress gives all players of that faction access to the dungeon.

This is important to remember because access to the fortresses gives ALL members of the faction that owns it access to the dungeon inside. The fortress dungeons give access to AP without the opposing faction’s interference. You can get medals, icons, seals, crowns, etc from the chests which are worth even more AP upon turn in. More on the fortress amenities can be found on the Powerwiki.

Currently on Lumiel’s Asmodian side, small legions and pugs coordinate with each other and some of the bigger legions in /joinchannel fortress to defend and attack fortresses. We band together to form a zerg and most times we are successful in what we’re attacking/defending/preventing Elyos from gaining.

It is however, notably harder to muster forces to defend fortresses. A few legions that actually capture the fortresses do not appear to even bother showing up to defend their own fortresses at all. Why not? It’s not as profitable for them, they get no medals for defending, so why spend the kinah to keep it out of the opposing factions hands?

Fortress

Keeping the easy AP from the opposing faction is worth defending in my humble opinion. Not bothering to even show up to support that while you have almost all members on? But showing up en mass to regain it? Even just picking off stragglers or something would help the puggers/smaller legions that are defending it for their chance at medals/icons/easyish AP.

A zerg does require participation and attendance to work. If this part of the patch goes through, I don’t see the pugs/smaller legions working together to defend a fortress for a legion that never bothered to help them get easier AP/exp early on via the fortress dungeons.

I personally wouldn’t want to help a legion that right now likes to win trade the lower abyss fortresses. Yes, you don’t get anything by way of medals for defending at the moment, but you do help your entire level 30+ faction by allowing access to the fortress dungeons.

I don’t know that the patch changes for rewarding the owning faction are necessary but I bet that the rewards will help encourage the owners to show up and help defend.

What are your thoughts on fortresses/ownership?

  • Would you help defend for a legion that participates currently in win trading?
  • Do you participate in fortress defense?
  • Are you part of a larger legion that captures fortresses but doesn’t defend them?
  • Do you see the value in owning a fortress and what all it provides in terms of access/options for your entire faction?

July 23, 2009

Changing Gears

Posted in Rant at 8:18 pm by Middea

Due to Middea’s recent wow quit and now Fedoldinn’s departure, this blog will be focusing on the upcoming release of Aion and will continue after it goes live.

Middea's WoW Obituary

Posted in Rant, WoW tagged at 1:03 pm by Middea

Distinguished holy turned shadow priest for the Bloodhoof server, wowquit last night due to lack of interest in the future of WoW. She was 169 days /played. Gutter-minded and obsessive, Middea never looked the part of one who would give up on WoW. But, in the final days of her life, she revealed an unknown side of herself. Rather than re-roll to perform at the levels of other caster dps or re-embrace her role as a healer, Middea has given up the grind. Sadly, her home in Mental Atrophy was no longer as they retired from raiding, and after a brief stint of trying to make a new home or join one already established, she realized that neither could replace her home in Mental Atrophy or reignite the spark of desire to play WoW.

Yet even in certain defeat, the courageous Middea secretly clung to the belief that mmo gaming is not merely a series of nerfs aimed at placating the casuals or that epics ought to be handed out like candy. Uh-uh. But rather, it’s a tapestry of moments and people that culminate in an exquisite, sublime experience. Without her home, Blizzard’s newfound ways of selling out/homogenization, and lack of acknowledgment of scaling problems related to priests, things were clear to Middea. Ultimately Middea concluded that if she were to lower her expectations of the game to live in harmony with the universe, she very well may enjoy the game more, but decided against such a course of action.

TLDR: Middea /wowquit.

July 21, 2009

Performance Issues…

Posted in Rant, WoW tagged at 5:08 pm by Fedoldinn

No, not that kind of performance issues… the computer kind silly.

After returning home and raiding on my desktop this past Monday night again, I’ve realized that my computer isn’t handling World of Warcraft as well as it once did. I’ve known this was the case for quite some time now, but it seems to be exceptionally bad in 25 man Ulduar. Monday was the first time I’ve been in a guild raid since I took a break from WoW in my old guild back in early April, before patch 3.1. I’ve done a few 25 man pugs since then, but a high level of performance wasn’t really necessary there.

It turns out that the opposite is true for hard mode Mimiron. Let’s just say that it’s highly unlikely I’ll be of any benefit to this guild’s progression attempts for Heroic: Firefighter while raiding at 2 FPS. Dodging rockets, running from laser barrage and trying not to stand in the fire isn’t exactly easy when your camera turns at 90 degree increments and your character doesn’t respond all too quickly to the commands you’re giving.

I’ve had issues with my in game performance in raids since the launch of Wrath of the Lich King. Sometimes a reboot right before raid time helped my framerate, othertimes I just dealt with it. I raided most of Naxxramas around 10 FPS on good days, and 5 FPS on not so great days. I managed to avoid dying to Sartharion 3D (for the most part) and still be able to call out flame walls in time in this range; I also managed to heal the Immortal achievement with no problems whatsoever. Malygos? A non issue.

Ulduar on the other hand seems to be the last straw for my poor desktop that has gotten me this far in the MMO that I’ve come to love and hate on a daily basis.

As a Balance Druid, I’ve gotten used to being roughly the bottom of the DPS chart over the past few weeks, but the prerequisite for doing any damage at all is that you have to stay alive. Not being healed through Napalm is one thing, but dying to fires that I can’t even see is another thing entirely.

And before you ask, yes I’ve done the registry hack; no, I do not raid on Vista.

I was hoping I had ironed out the hardware issues I was having after the last round of fixes, but I guess I’m not quite there yet. So, a couple weeks after joining a new guild, I’m looking at taking a break from raiding already until I can figure out what is wrong and hopefully fix it. If that can’t easily be done, then I think it’s about time I parted ways with my favorite past time for the past three years and moved on.

I can only hope that I can find a solution by the time Aion is released…

July 14, 2009

A Quick Note on Tier 9 Models

Posted in Rant, WoW tagged at 12:42 am by Fedoldinn

Tier armor sets. These are the rewards that players receive for their efforts from raiding. In the past, these sets were unique and distinguished those players who were able to conquer the end game raid content from those who were not. The only way to acquire these pieces was to go into a 40 man raid instance and defeat the bosses. They were not available for sale from a vendor for badges. They stood out. They were worn with pride.

MMO-Champion recently posted a preview of the Tier 9 models from the upcoming 3.2 patch and unfortunately, this is really no longer the case with the latest sets. Although they may not be complete as of yet and a few classes were missing, a few initial observations can be made from looking at them.

First, let’s take a quick look back at the past tier armor sets in World of Warcraft, shall we?

Tiers 1, 2 and 3 were all available before the first expansion, coming from the early 40 man raid instances. They were distinct, each set had its own style and looked nothing like any other. The Tier 3 set specifically was a status symbol among players, identifying those guilds who were able to reach and defeat bosses in the original Naxxramas.

When The Burning Crusade was released, although the sizes of raids changed from 40 man to 10 and 25 man instances, the tradition for designing the Tier armor sets continued. I can’t say I really liked the look of Druid Tier 4, but Tiers 5 and 6 more than made up for it. Again, each set was unique and distinct.

In those days, you could recognize the individual pieces and identify which Tier armor set a player was wearing when you crossed paths with them in Ironforge or Shattrath.

Priest Tier SetsDruid Tier Sets

Enter Wrath of the Lich King. The first raid dungeon we have is a reused Naxxramas and with it comes a reused Tier 3 armor set posing as our Tier 7 gear. Tier 8 introduces a new design, but the set itself looks rather bland and pales in comparison to the work done on Tiers 1-6. You can still make a distinction between classes, but you can see the beginning of the end as it now stands.

To put it bluntly: Tier 9 is terrible. I’m not even looking at the stats, the set bonuses or anything else to do with the gear at the moment (but I may have a rant on that from a Balance druid perspective at some point), I’m just looking at it from a model perspective. All of the sets look similar between classes, to the point where the only real distinction I can make is in a subtle color change that I will never remember later on. On top of this, we firmly believe that each set looks like plate armor. Where is the distinction between cloth, leather and mail? There is absolutely nothing about any of these models that looks nifty, cool or even remotely interesting that makes me want to wear them.

Although a few classes are missing, I’ll fill in the blanks for you. Take one of the models for another class, any of them will work really. Let’s go with the Mage one for fun. Open the file in an image editor. Find that blue color that distinguishes it from the other classes and replace it by: orange for Druid, green for Hunter, yellow for Rogue and a darker blue for Shaman. Voila! You’re now well on your way to becoming an artist for a certain gaming company we all know.

Welcome to Blizzard’s latest expansion and new motto: reduce, reuse, recycle. They reduce the amount of work they need to be doing by reusing what they’ve done before and recycling raid content. Instead of designing new armor with new stats and everything else that goes along with it, they’ve homogenized as much as possible across the board to make it easier to design new gear. This now includes the models of our beloved Tier sets.

Soon enough Dalaran is going to look like a scene out of Brave New World where the main difference between the gear players are wearing is its color which denotes our class…

July 9, 2009

It's the principle

Posted in Rant, WoW tagged at 3:54 pm by Middea

The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology. ~Red Auerbach

Pugs. Love them or hate them, mostly everyone in the WoW community has been in one at some point or another.

The server on which we play has many regular Naxxramas 25 pug runs, and I have run one of those for a few months now. Over the last couple of weeks we have lowered our playing time quite substantially, partly due to travel, partly due to Aion betas, and partly due to lack of interest.

Loot distribution seems to be the worst part of it, but in my runs we tried to keep it simple. One purple item per person for roll one, and if no one rolls it goes to a roll two which is open for anyone to receive the item for whatever talent spec they wish. All BoE’s are held until the end to be rolled on in case someone did not receive loot, and if all did, free for all rolls win them. If you have received a purple/epic, you no longer can roll in roll one. Plain and simple. Got something shiny? Great! Now wait for roll two if you want anything.

This concept, while simple, still eludes some of the regulars and trade channel pug pickups. The rules are clearly stated both in Ventrilo and in raid chat. People who have won something still roll in roll one. “But it’s for my main spec” is the most common argument as to why rolling after winning something is still okay for them. Rules are predetermined and there for everyone to know and judge prior to killing anything, even trash. They are free to leave without any hard feelings before they get saved and then find out they do not like the rules. I do a ready check as well typically, “Hit ‘Yes’ if you understand and agree with the rules.” Everyone hits yes, we proceed to own Naxxramas in ~3-3.5 hours, and everyone leaves with something purple and shiny.

Having stopped running these pugs, Fedoldinn and I decided to tag along with some alts and mains of our soon to be and now new guild along with some pugs from trade channel. No loot rules were shared, so we figured it was the roll if you want it and hope you roll high method. This seemed to hold true until we reached the third wing. Grim Toll dropped. Most of the melee rolled. Suddenly, raid leader comes on over Ventrilo “Main toons and main spec priority, grats *guild mate*”. What? Seriously? I am not melee nor do I care about the loot really, I was just bored and wanted something to do, but honestly? That pissed me off, but I let it go, we were almost done. None of the others seemed to mind and the loot pertained to them, so who was I to raise a stink about it?

Well we get to Kel’Thuzad and this special priority loot system designation hasn’t kicked in for any other number of possible Best in Slot items or as close as most could get without Ulduar Hard Modes, including Sapphiron’s necklace. We kill Kel’Thuzad and Signet of Manifested Pain and Cape of the Unworthy Wizard drop, both really great caster/healer items. Rolls go out for the ring, and over voice chat a mage gets really excited because he is winning; suddenly, he loses to an alt for their main spec. Low and behold, it is now “Main toons and main spec priority, grats *mage*” with a precursory “*Alt* you will be passing this to our main raider, right?” in a tone that did not really offer much of a chance for said alt to say no without coming across as an ass. Sigh. Next up are rolls for the cloak. Myself and a few others roll; I lose to another main that was a trade channel pick up and then an alt from the guild ends up the final winner. No *special* rules apply, grats *guilded alt.*

Now, we all know life is not fair so how can we expect a pick up group to be any different? But everyone enters into it with the expectation that the loot rules will not change and flex depending on the whims of the raid leader based entirely on how the roll is going. There is no call prior to the roll going out that this item is considered best in slot, so please, only mains and main specs roll, but rather the rules changed when the person they wanted to win did not win.

Back during Sunwell trash farming days for the chance at BoE’s and Sunmotes, some loot was predetermined, raid leader will always get a sunmote, rest will be rolled on along with gems and gear, patterns are free for all or just to that profession that can make them. That is fine in my book, you can run with whatever rules you see fit so long as the group understands and acknowledges them. You have explained them and everyone agrees that they are fair by staying in the group.

It’s the rules that change during the run to suit the needs of those in charge that drives me bonkers. How is it fair for a raid leader to walk into an instance knowing ahead of time that item x will be going to player z without telling the rest of the group? What if others are only going along for a chance at that same item? Why give them the illusion of hey, you can roll, but, we’re going to change the rules to let player z win.

A principle is a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption. It can be a rule or code of conduct. It can be a law or fact of nature underlying the working of an artificial device. ~Wikipedia

Everyone goes to the pug and puts in their effort. We all were there and did what we could in our abilities to down the boss, trash, what have you. The assumption is that the rules will not change on an item to item basis. This principle allows for the fair distribution of loot. Changing that code of conduct is a matter of changing the principle of the run and the fairness felt by the pug. I was not affected by the distribution of the melee trinket, but I viewed it as a kick in the balls for all the melee who, based on the rest of the run, should have had a fair shot at the item. If they won it was for them and for them alone to decide to pass it if they so desired. It was not the raid leader’s call to do that.

When I asked about the change in policy after the raid was over, I was told the decision was made because the items were the best in slot. As best in slot they ought to go to main raiders. The alts that won the rolls had the chance to say “No” that it was not alright with them. If they wanted to keep the item that was all they had to say. Righhhhht.

Needless to say, I will not be running with that group again, and I do not wish them future successful runs for pulling that shit.

Players will now be able to trade soulbound items with other raid or group members that were eligible for the loot. This system will work like the Item Buy Back system and allow 2 hours for players to trade an item after it has been looted.

With the upcoming change to loot systems, this issue seems only to have the chance to become more widespread and insidious. Players who do not want and possibly could  not even use an item will be able to roll and hook their friends up as long as they are in the raid with them. In a 25 man pug, how are the raid leaders to begin to evenly divide loot in a fair manner without reverting to a simple one purple per person type of system? Even that could be corrupted in the hands of those gearing up their buddies, alts, what have you.

July 6, 2009

Is WoW fun anymore?

Posted in Legion, Rant, WoW tagged at 4:46 pm by Middea

Do you even like playing World of Warcraft anymore? Step back and evaluate.

Do you log in with the zeal, that “wee, it’s time to go kill something and get something new and shiny” mentality that you used to? Do you log in wondering what will happen next? Do you spend the majority of your time trying to find a way to clear a raid more efficiently and still tackle the harder modes in order to improve your guild?

Personally, it’s all a grind these days. Recruiting players to raid even in a 10 man setting is difficult. When I get in, it’s the same old bosses the same old way. And what do I have to look forward too? The same instance with two different settings? Yay? Just what I want to do, raid like we can our 5 man dungeons. Boring!

And why keep raiding now? To get more badges that will be obsolete in the next patch? Perhaps obtain gear that has eluded my grasp so far? WoW is getting to be just too repetitive; the grind is not even fun anymore. Before, I could raid, say Black Temple, for months and although it might have gotten a little wearing, at least it was fun to raid it with my guild. Healing had some challenges and tested different skill sets, from mana conservation to balls to the wall spam healing, while even adding in mobility to the mix while healing. It had a bit of everything. Now I dps because healing was too easy and boring, and it’s still not fun. It’s the same old every night, and boss names are just about the only thing that are different.

I spent this weekend away from the computer and internet, I did not even carry along my phone. Probably the only thing technologically inclined that we used was a GPS system in the car, and that was just being used as backup as we already knew the route to go.

It was a nice, and much needed break. No Google Reader to keep up with, no patch notes to sigh at, no disappointing shadow priest Q&A to wonder why on Earth Blizzard thinks we scale well.

And when I got home, the first thing I did was not log into WoW, but to rush to get online for the Aion Beta weekend. Learning the quirks of a new game and what combinations are best for my new little cleric made it all the clearer to me that WoW is not the game it once was, and I am only logging in to keep up with friends in WoW and fulfill an obligation to our new guild.

WoW is just not that fun for me, and it’s not directly tied to any one thing I have issues with, but the overall picture. It is a mundane grind that lets me chat with folks I have grown close to in this virtual world. I’m treating World of Warcraft as my new Virtual Places. It’s a pretty interface that I can navigate while keeping in touch with folks while feeling a small bit of achievement.

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