Golden Group

Wow.

I ran some Heroic Troll Dungeons last night with a guild (Carleys) as healer and the PUG we popped into was awesome.

Feral Druid (tank).
Arcane Mage.
Fury Warrior.
Restoration Shaman.
Awesomesauce Hunter.

We roll up to the first boss easily in Zul’Gurub – you know, the one with the poison maze that chases people through it during phase switches, shoots snakes at people, links them to explode… you know the drill, right?

Well, he didn’t get to chase us through the maze because we downed him before he could even run back up the stairs and do that phase.

You read that right. He died to our collective and massive 90,000 Damage Per Second.

Yours truly did over 30k DPS.

Next boss? Rofflestomped too. I don’t think his raptor managed to kill any of the spirits because he was only rezzed once. Once. True story.

We did the Archaelogy required boss after (in the area with the floating masks). Smoked him.

On to the kitty boss. Smoked him too.

On to the cauldron boss. Dead before he could animate any of the enlarged troll zombies and not a single green cauldron phase. In fact, the fire cauldron buff was still going when we looted him.

Last boss? Rolled it. We would have had it dead sooner but the Warrior wasn’t next to a chain when he was targeted for a Body Slam.

The group enthusiastically queued up for another except the Warrior who I’m sure left out of habit, caught the group chat asking for another and immediately began to cry for having left.

We added in a DK then got ZA. The tank pipes up saying, “Let’s go for the bear!” Sure.

We get to the lynx boss and down him with about 6 minutes to spare. I won the bear.

RAWR.

I don’t remember the time we started, but if it was around 10pm we were done both of the troll dungeons before 11:30pm. I still had plenty of time to do all my Firelands dailies and switch to enchant something for Carleys.

I finished the night 150 Valor Points away from my second T12 (I’m not wearing the first until I have two piece set bonus) which is a pain because it means another Troll and regular heroic or three heroics. I also ended with 122 or 123 Marks so I’m one or two quests away from unlocking the Dwarf (Armaments) vendor (upgrade Trinket and scope recipe there).

I should be getting a few upgrades tonight… if I weren’t going to see Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows part 2 tonight.

Good times.

(FWIW, my PUGs usually are four random strangers where I lead the DPS doing between 40-50% of the group’s total Damage Done (I’m lucky if I see DPS that does over 10k in PUGs) while struggling to keep the mobs on the Tank through Misdirection and Feign Death. It was REALLY nice to final get a group of solid PUG DPS and tanking skill.)

Dead Characters

I was just thinking about animations for characters and NPCs in MMOs and I realized the more successful ones (or at least the ones that feel right when playing) tend to have idle animations. Some are subtle (such as frosty breath in cold areas or actual chest movement from breathing) while others are somewhat more obvious and come with easy gains (such as head following nearby targets or people). Without some of these (and even with some of these done wrong) the character seems more a like a doll than a character.

When thinking about WoW; I can easily visualize a dwarf running in it’s awkward manner over the snow and leaving foot prints behind. The arms move back and forth over top its girth while the legs almost scamper quickly underneath. When they jump, I see their comical jump filled with start and finishing motions that are smooth and fluid.

I an also easily imagine the Night Elf female idle bounce and ears flopping when they run. The twirl when they jump or the mid-air somersault that is sometimes there. I can see the combat stance and strikes easily and without extra effects.

Thinking about other games, there is nothing really positive that stands out.

For EQ2 the models are very doll-like. They do seem plastic and lifeless – lifeless being the bigger turn off. This is further worsened by their use of the head tracking targets to the point you’d almost think they were owls. In some cases this makes them look like marionettes controlled by someone that forgets they have to control the head too. The system of morphing the armor to the models and the similarities in the majority of the models means they all run and jump pretty close to the same. The females look like they’re in a rush to get to the washroom while the males look like they walk on their heels and flap their feet down.

In LOTRO the models don’t really fit the world. They seem far more removed because the game world is just that good but also because they don’t impact the world in small ways – like leaving footprints in the snow (maybe that’s something only Elves do as the lore suggests – but I can’t recall my dwarf characters leaving footprints either). The run animations are nothing exciting or memorable and the jump animation… it has to be the worst I’ve seen so far. The combat animations might stand on their own, but it’s hard to tell because of the white flashes that accompany an attack or ability (these are really jarring and unnecessary).

Very disappointing but also true to Turbine’s other games. I don’t think they quite get this.

DDO seemed somewhat lifeless as far as characters go. They only got a part of it and didn’t follow through with Tumbling (or Acrobatics) – higher points in that skill made things look a little different. They seemed to stand about and do little else.

Some of the NPC actions are nice. I give them credit in LOTRO for that guy in the first town whot sweeps the dirt but I have to take it away when I head up the road and see the NPCs standing around at a farm gate with no animation. They just stand there doing nothing despite the quest they want to give you.

Vanguard suffered from this (among other things) as well. The models, short of the heads, were much the same and followed the same animations making the animations seem quite bland. At first you might not have noticed as much because most of the class ability animations seemed different (though some of it was reused with some different colored sparkles), but then if you saw more of the same class, you realized the animations were much the same (if not the same) no matter the race.

WoW isn’t perfect but they made the decision to make the races attack different giving the races more separation and personality. You get more of a feel for playing them. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Eviscerate finisher for a Rogue; try it on different races and then try it on the same race with different genders. Watch the attack animations of a Blood Elf (female with a two-handed weapon is pretty cool) or a Tauren or a Dwarf. All really different.

Rift also had an element of this. I noticed the facial expressions, eyes blinking and some of the idle attitude the characters had. But a lot of it was too subtle and you were more likely to notice it on the character select screen rather than in game where the character’s back is to you. I don’t remember as much about the combat animations but I do remember a different feel for the classes (so far as animations went). The casters seemed to have animations that drew on magic, the rogues felt sneaky and the warrior types seemed to stand taller.

These weren’t dead characters.

Hai Blizzard, Me Again

A thought just occurred to me as I looked at my Hyjal Avengers rep – it’s going really slow.

I understand you don’t want people to farm the rep from trash mobs, but here’s an alternative idea for you which prevents people from farming the rep but also rewards people for killing bosses.

Pool.

Pool the rep gained from killing trash in Firelands then once the boss is defeated, the trash leading up to said boss has the pool of rep dumped applicably on the raid. This forces people to kill the bosses for the rep, not just the trash.

 

Ganking Gone Wrong

I popped on to my Troll Durid (I’m working to get the class name changed, watch out Rouges, you’re next!) for a bit to crank out a few quick quests and check auctions (up to over 400 gold and climbing). As I was questing I saw a flagged Worgen Warrior run by.

I just had to track him down.

I found him in a small building so I hid (Prowl /rawr) by the door to wait for him to come out. As he was switching to four-legged run mode, I attacked.

And realized those gimp ass looking shoulder items he had on were… Hunter PVP BOA gear.

Shit.

The guy was a twink. I suspect he had several other items as well that I couldn’t see because I wasn’t doing a whole lot of damage to him. I got low and bailed, popped a potion along the way. Unfortunately, I could stealth up again… but hey, he could Charge!

So he caught up with me and finished me off.

My bad for attacking a twink. I’ll pay more attention to the gear people are wearing in the future. I had forgotten what the PVP heirloom gear stuff looked like.

Just to rub salt in the wounds, the Worgen popped over to an Alliance alt and suggested I don’t attack him again (in a cheerful chuckling way).

Guess which channel was used?

Guild chat.

I was pouncing on a guildie’s Alliance side alt. I groaned and realized the guy probably had every piece of BoA twink gear possible on him since the Horde guild I’m in is level 25 and has been for awhile. Also the guy sending me a tell was a level 85 Durid.

Good times!

I’ve since gained a couple of levels and actually trained up some useful abilities. Who knew a kitty durid that hadn’t trained and skills in four levels and who was wearing level 21 gear (at 32) couldn’t beat a kitted out warrior.

I’m going to hunt that guy down now… mouahaaha. I has Track Humanoids as kitty mode! And I like a challenge.

Resigned

Awhile ago I resigned to focus on WoW and for the most part I did that. I didn’t get distracted by very many new MMO releases, passing up on several while remaining focused on WoW. I had one slip up which was Rift and I regret it. Oh and DC Universe which was neat, but also a pretty big let down (I almost forgot it).

That’s pretty good for me.

However, I will be pre-ordering Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s been on my list of possible exceptions for awhile now.

Why?

I’ve been long waiting for a suitable space type MMO because I am growing a little tired of all the fantasy ones. There is only so much you can do with fantasy and most of what gets done isn’t really new, it’s just a slight variation on some common historical mythos.

Sure Star Wars is based off existing IP, but it’s IP I haven’t invested in short of the movies and some of the games that came out awhile back (KOTOR, Dark Forces, Tie Fighter – much older games). It’ll be a nice change for me and (hopefully) a chance to explore different things.

That doesn’t mean I’m cancelling WoW and I don’t see myself cancelling in unless ToR ends up being totally awesome. Even then…

Pennies.

The cashier handed me back my change, $4.04, but fumbled with a penny. That got me thinking… do pennies matter?

What does a penny get you anymore? (aside from a weighted down pocket or exasperating wait in line as someone counts them out)

Why not just round everything off?

 

Little Boys Put Stuff in Their Pockets.

I’ve said this numerous times to TheWife and her mother (who sometimes does laundry at our house in an attempt to be helpful).

When doing laundry for boys (or men), realize that they have pockets in their clothing and they use these pockets instead of a purse. That’s right. Men and boys don’t uses purses so we have to put stuff somewhere. Pockets have worked well since the days of Bilbo Baggins, no need to change that now. So check the pockets or pat down the article of clothing to ensure nothing is in there.

If I were to add up the cost of items lost in the wash because someone didn’t check the pockets, the amount would be about 500$.

500$.

That was the cost of three Express Adult Bus Passes and an 8gb iPod Touchscreen Nano (which was a week old).

I know, ladies are thinking, “If you don’t take your stuff out of your pockets before dumping it in the {hamper/laundry area} then it’s your fault!” or maybe even some of you saucier ladies would say, “Don’t like it? Do the laundry yourself.”

To which I’d respond that TheWife has OCD when it comes to laundry. If there is an article of clothing not hanging up in the closet or in a dresser, she immediately tosses it into the laundry. I have gone to bed, dead tired, at 3am and left my pants on the bench in our room only to wake up at 5am to find them in the laundry.

I kid you not.

So remember… if you’re doing laundry, little boys (and big boys) have pockets and they use them.

Check the pockets.

 

 

Hunter Survival (pt. 1)

No, I don’t mean Survival Hunter spec, I mean surviving in general. Your survival greatly depends on the raid healers’ love for you and what you bring to a raid. I highly recommend not shying away from critical raid tasks (outside of awesome DPS) as you’ll be more important to the raid success, thus a higher priority for healers. Failing that, convince them that you’re the best DPS in the raid so you should be prioritized above the other DPS. Humor helps, if they like you and find you funny they’ll want to keep you around longer. It also helps if you suck up to them or name your favorite pet after one of the healers.

Truthfully, picking up extra and critical tasks will help gain healer focus and as a Hunter, you want that and you’re capable of doing extra tasks. Our self heal capabilities really don’t help us much in a raid setting where mass amounts of damage is flying around, sometimes unavoidable – you need your healers when raiding.

Positioning and awareness are more critical than most of our abilities. You need to be aware of what’s around you, what openings are available, if ‘bad’ is placed near or on you and where the edges of the battlefield are (nothing is more embarrassing than Disengaging off the platform during the Lich King fight – not that I’d know). Keep an eye open for where your healers are to make sure you don’t end up out of their range.

You, the player, are the key component in the survival rate of the Hunter you play.

As for tools available to help you survive? Well, we have several generally available max-level Hunter abilities; Deterrence, Disengage, Feign Death, Ice Trap, Misdirection, Scatter Shot, Master’s Call and your pet. Possibly Camouflage.

For talent spec related abilities, there are several abilities or talents per spec; Intimidation (BM), Bestial Wrath (BM), Silencing Shot (MM), Concussive Barrage (MM), Readiness (MM), Wyvern Sting (SV), Survival Tactics (SV), Entrapment (SV) and Trap Mastery (SV). BM spec might have Tenacity pets with Intervene (thanks to extra points available) or any Hunter may have a pet with a snare or root ability.

You also have some racial abilities that could help out.

And finally you may have some profession related items that help out.

Not all of these are ideal or have a decent return on investment because the cost is often damage output. Some might have more value depending on what you’re doing; Entrapment, for example, is decent to have for PVP but not so much for PVE, at least not over Trap Mastery.

How does this all fit together?

I’ll cover that off in some follow up posts.

Ding 30!

I hit 30 on my Troll Durid (yes, that’s intentional) last night while in Ashenvale.

Wot?

No Wot is my Shaman.

I mean, you hit 30 in Ashenvale? Isn’t that a little low level for level 30?

Definitely. The mobs were actually grey near the later parts of the quest chain. I was a little disappointed to see I’d out level the content so fast even without any XP enhancing gear. Really all I had was the Guild Level XP bonus… oh, and I ran maybe two and half dungeons.

Not a single opportunity to PVP out in the world (despite being on a PVP server) short of someone that was clearly way above my level. Maybe it’s the fact that the server is only Medium population, maybe it’s phasing or maybe people are just at the higher tier of the game. I only ran into other people doing quests a few times and they were on the Good Team – mine.

I’ll likely let up for the next few days as the Valor cap resets and I should get back to doing the Firelands dailies. I think if I cap Valor this week I’ll either have my two-piece Tier 12 or be just short of it so I should get on it especially since my Wednesday night D&D (or Pathfinder) group is starting up again after a summer break.

Raid night tonight. I suspect we’ll clobber Shannox and Beth’tilac again, maybe have some time left over to work on Lord Ryolith, maybe clobber Occu’thar again.

Tough part is going to be picking who sits tonight. We seem to have a surplus of DPS showing up lately. I’m reluctant to sit people that have missed recently due to other events or who had to sit recently. Heck on Sunday we were over by one and that was without two of our more consistent DPS players being away.

Fun times.

There are a couple of tweaks to my spec I want to make. I’m reluctant to give up Silencing Shot (which I tend to use as an interrupt more than a silence ability) but it might be for the better. I admit having 100% chance (off Chimera/Arcane Shot) to automatically place Hunter’s Mark on a target without actually casting Hunter’s Mark is nice.

Such a tough decision – a little more focus at the end of a target’s life or the ability to interrupt. The interrupt is key for me because I PUG a lot of heroics, sometimes having no guildies in the group at all which means I get some pretty bad groups where I am the only one that seems to know how or when to interrupt.

Maybe I’ll run with two MM specs.. hehe

Good Break

I took a bit of  break the over the weekend from the regular WoW Valor/FL Dailies grind and other things that have been popping up and I have to admit, it was refreshing.

How so?

Well, I just got to run around as a Troll Feral Druid, have some fun, earn my way since that character isn’t on a server where I can easily transfer a full kit of Bind On Account leveling gear and stop to smell the Peacebloom. Or pick them and sell them on the Auction House.

At about level 20, I decided I’d take a look at a casual guild and join it for a number of reasons (faster movement, XP and rep benefits aside). When I got into one.. er.. two actually, I joined one with my Goblin Shaman who duos with the LBO’s Goblin Hunter, I was quickly reminded of a number of things.

  1. It’s nice not being in charge sometimes.
  2. We’ve got a pretty good raid team in PS *eyeballing the LK 10 man kill this other guild did in February of this year and zero progression on any Cataclysm raid content*
  3. Raid kills should be worth FAR more Guild XP – it’s sort of sad that we’re just pushing 20 now while other guilds that barely raid are all capped out at 25 because… they have a ton of members.
  4. There are a lot players out there that just play the game for fun; and that’s a good thing to do sometimes.
  5. Fresh starts can be pretty fun.
  6. Durids are overpowered.
  7. Shamans are weird to play… especially ending up soloing as Resto because your son who is supposed to help has disappeared underwater pretending his Goblin Trike is a submarine.
  8. I hate Ogrimmar’s new layout – elevators to the Flight Master? Ugh. I miss my flying mounts.
  9. Azshara quests centered around that Mage are horrible to do – ew. Not your typical go here, kill this quests (yay) but lots of gimmicky mini-game-like play (which is god-awful to do with over 300ms latency).