and wanted to know if you had zone vs specific control of site activation; the 100 elite wolves in frostfire hurt at 92.
17 hr 19 min ago
Haha, those wolves. I will pass on that feedback to
(I already have, by including him in the tweet!)
16 hr 49 min ago
, Senior Game Designer
WoD Inscription: the recipe for the ordinary "Warbinder's Ink" is missing => Can't do daily research nor make the new glyphs.
2 days ago
It was added later to the book that teaches you inscription. We don't have an easy way to fix that for the PTR.
17 hr 30 min ago
, Senior Game Designer
If you change your garrison outpost , you'll get a new questline with a new follower, right?
19 hr 47 min ago
No, we didn't want you to have to "collect them all" by systematically replacing each outpost.
18 hr 18 min ago
, Senior Game Designer
At WCM we had a q: must you log in ALL accts under a master acct to get the Chopper on each? Sorry, wasn't sure who to ask :)
4 days ago
nope, it will be an account-wide mount
3 days ago
, Senior Game Designer
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Just How Epic Are Your Lewtz?
on 2008/12/27 at 12:00 AM Pacific
The scene is the
of Hellfire Citadel. A small group of adventurers lurks in the shadows, while
Grand Warlock Nethekurse
broods atop his throne. Suddenly, the heroes are spotted! A fel orc rushes at them with a roar, but a blast of flame from the party’s mage drops him in his tracks. More orcs have gathered their wits and join the melee. One is tackled by a druid who transforms into a panther mid-leap. The warrior hero is toying with Nethekurse, parrying blows and dancing circles around him. Enraged, the Grand Warlock doesn’t see the rogue who steps out of the shadows and plants a knife in his back. The evil orc falls with a thunderous clash.
Recognize that fight? How many of you have fought it as well?
Because I never did.
Try this one on for size:
The scene is the Shattered Halls of Hellfire Citadel. A small group of adventurers lurks in the shadows. Grand Warlock Nethekurse broods atop his throne over the bodies of his latest fel orc victims. Suddenly, an arrow thunks into Nethekurse’s chest and he rushes the heroes with a roar. The warrior intercepts him. Nethekurse deals him a thunderous blow, opening an enormous gash on his arm. In an instant the bloody wound sews itself shut. A ball of flame the size of a basketball rockets into Nethekurse’s face. It has no discernible effect, but Nethekurse brushes past the warrior to punish the upstart hero mage anyway, who sends another searing bolt of flame into his chest, again to no effect. The warrior insults Nethekurse’s mother. Enraged, the Grand Warlock wheels about. The warrior stands his ground, raises his magic sword, and with a mighty slash opens a cut in the warlock’s ornate robes. A rogue and panther materialize out of thin air and maul the villain from behind. Neither attack has any discernible effect.
They try again. And again. And again. Nethekurse’s blows, though delivered upon a warrior in magical plate armor, seem to break bones and pulp vital organs with every stroke. From the back of the room can be heard the sound of frantic prayers to the Holy Light. The warrior’s body is a grotesquely comic mishmash of terrible wounds that open and seal themselves from second to second. The rogue plunges his knives into Nethekurse’s kidneys again and again, twisting and gouging. Does this guy even
kidneys? The warrior seems only halfheartedly interested in killing the villain – He parries only about one blow in ten, and actually dodging Nethekurse’s attacks seems to be a chore. He’s more interested in using his shield to hit the warlock in the face than defending himself with it, and more interested in using his sword to cut up the monster’s robes than plunge it into his belly. The druid is trying to maul Nethekurse’s ankles, while his companions shout at him to go for the jugular instead. The mage has flung enough fire to set all of Stormwind ablaze. Is Nethekurse made of asbestos, or what?
After several minutes of this farce, Nethekurse suddenly and inexplicably drops dead. The party members look at one another in confusion; why did
blow kill him? Was it any different than the hundreds of others he shrugged off like fleabites? Oh well. Hey look, new
Greathelm of the Unbreakable
! Where did he
Okay, one more time: recognize
fight? ‘Cause that was the one
always seemed to be fighting.
Have you ever tried to write a
depiction of WoW combat? I have, and I’m pretty convinced it’s impossible. Really, how many
s can it take to kill a foe—let alone
s? Just how
hunters reload those guns so quickly? Have you ever thought about how weird it would look to be almost dead one second and good as new 2.5 seconds later? And don’t even get me started on tanking. Why is it more threatening to have your armor sundered than to have a poisoned blade thrust into your kidney, or be set on fire? For that matter, how exactly
you sunder a person’s armor without wounding them in the process? And
WoW combat isn’t intended to be a realistic depiction of western martial arts, but I’m pretty sure it
meant to be epic. Stop and think about that, though. What we see depicted on our screens isn’t epic. It isn’t even cool. It’s downright absurd. Yet, if you’re like me, the laugh-out-loud ridiculousness of it all intrudes upon your consciousness surprisingly rarely during actual play.
Why is that? It isn’t (thankfully) that we’re so naïve as to imagine real combat actually looks anything like what we see on the screen. And I doubt it’s because we're imagining a realistic battle (or at least what we
is a realistic battle) as we play. When I talked to
about this post, he said that when he’s tanking, he always has the vague feeling of holding the leash on a struggling dog until the dog finally decides to give up and go to sleep—and the feeling of combat isn’t much more authentic when he’s DPSing, either. As for me, no matter
of the three party roles I’m playing (tank, DPS, healer), I always have the same feeling that I’m playing
, punching buttons on a console to make distant problems go away. My mind processes the visual information on screen and parses it into “push that key, click that button.” Really, you could take away the WoW graphics, replace them with a fast-paced rhythm game (or even a bizarre typing tutorial), and it probably wouldn't change the physical activity much. In fact that actually sounds kind of fun. Imagine a DDR-style game played with the keyboard where you’re graded not only on the timing of your key presses but on
key you choose to press, and your choice of one key press alters the options for the
key press the instant before you have to press it. Set it to a funky, irregular beat, and you’ve basically re-created the gameplay of WoW.
Except … well, it wouldn’t be WoW, would it? I would never play a game like that and come up with a story like the one I opened this post with. But my fingers did the exact same thing, with different visual cues, and I
come up with that story. What gives? Why do we feel like we’re playing in Azeroth one way, and not another, if the actual gameplay hasn’t changed?
Graphics is an obvious answer, but I think it goes beyond that. Cool as WoW’s art and animations may be in isolation, watch two models going through their fight animations next to each other for more than a few seconds and they look like they’re
auditioning for Thriller
. Seeing fantasy characters and locations on the screen only tells me I’m in Azeroth. It doesn’t stop me from laughing out loud, and it doesn’t generate the tension of a good fight or the triumph of victory—that indefinable feeling of epic-ness.
It isn’t strictly the gameplay that creates epic-ness either. WoW’s actual combat mechanics, while an excellent example of Blizzard’s virtuosity with a spreadsheet, are not particularly
. I think to figure out why a fight feels epic we need to broaden our scope.
How can I even tell how powerful a blow is? What tells me that a boss hits harder than his trash? It isn’t the animation. It’s the user interface: how big a number appears over my head, and how much my health bar drops. Play an animation of a mob striking me with
over my head and I don’t feel threatened; play the exact same animation with
and I wince. Kind of odd, if you think about it, but true.
Why am I even
the fight? Is it the culmination of a quest chain I’ve been pursuing for five levels? Is it my first time to the instance? Am I just farming this boss for loot? It’s hard to feel epic when you’re killing a boss for the fortieth time (particularly if you’re on an RP server). After all the work I put in years ago to acquire my
, I will never fear
again (no, I never did get it—nor did I ever figure out why he wanted my skirt so badly). But boy did I feel awesome the first time I laid eyes, at last, on
How has the journey been to
to the fight? If it’s something I’ve been working towards for a long time, I’m likely to feel that it’s more epic. Waltzing back into
and clearing the pyramid event single-handedly is a very different experience from scratching your way to that point through multiple wipes at level 42. Surprising as it sounds to say it, the longer it takes me to get to a fight—be that because I’ve been grinding the necessary XP or the right gear to handle it, because I’ve had to penetrate deep into hostile territory on a PVP server, or even just because I had a hard time finding a group—the more epic I’m likely to feel when I’m actually
None of these things really have anything to do with the mechanics of WoW combat, or the quality of WoW graphics. Many of them are just as absurd, on their face, as the combat mechanic itself. But they all come together to make the experience we call WoW, and the whole of that experience is a lot more epic than the sum of its parts.
How about you? Are you ever jarred out of the experience of WoW by the oddities of the game?
What keeps it immersive for you?
Just How Epic Are Your Lewtz?
2008/12/27 at 12:00 AM
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on 2008/12/09 at 8:00 PM Pacific
I have a secret. I don’t share it very often, because it’s the sort of thing that gets me odd looks. This is the kind of secret about which teenagers scream to their parents, “You just don’t understand!” before slamming the doors to their rooms. I am going to share this secret with you.
Are you ready? Do you promise not to laugh?
Do you at least promise to keep reading after you’re
Okay. Here goes.
I like PUGs.
You all know what I’m talking about. The dreaded Pick-Up Group, bane of repair bills and I-only-have-two-hours-to-play players everywhere. Five people (or more!) who have never met, heroically pooling their talents to conquer the dread evils of an instance in a Light-forsaken bog or enemy fastness.
At least, that’s the theory. More often than we’d like PUGs are just, well, p-ugly. Did I ever tell you about the
PUG where the priest committed suicide because he fell asleep at the keyboard, and the two hunters decided to start the
event without him? And then died because they didn’t get out of the first tunnel in time despite me
at them to run for it? And
insisted that the two remaining party members, at half health, with no pets, no tank, and no healer, could still finish the event? Yeah, that happened to me. The run went downhill from there. We’ve all learned through hard experience that if you sign up for a PUG, you (and your durability) are signing up for a beating.
Still, I love PUGs. This may be a surprise coming from the tank of Malgayne’s
static group. But it’s true.
The "M" in MMO
WoW promotes itself as a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game. But what does the “massively” part mean, in practice? I play on PVE, non-RP servers, so most of the time my servers are really little more than glorified
lobbies. It may sound good on paper to have thousands of players available at any given time to group with. But in reality oftentimes they’re just extra resources to pull in for a particularly difficult task, or stand-ins for the people you
wanted to play with. And what’s the point of even a massive pool of faceless expendable resources if nobody actually
to group with them?
Players avoid PUGs for good reason. The reason is sometimes articulated as a lack of coordination, sometimes as a lack of skill. I submit that the real issue is a lack of
I contend that groups run on trust far more than they do on skill. The tank has to trust the healer to keep him alive. The healer has to trust the DPS to mitigate what damage they can on their own. The DPS has to trust the tank to maintain aggro. And that’s only scratching the surface; there are a dozen other things the group has to trust its members to do—in some encounters, even more.
Guilds and static groups come with a healthy dose of trust built in. When I’m running with the Furious Five, I rarely even
at my health bar. I know my healer will keep me alive. The DPS unloads full-bore the instant I start the pull, because they know I will keep aggro. We don’t even use voice chat. Having instanced together for fifty levels, we can operate as a well-oiled machine in near total silence.
PUGs don’t come with this reservoir of trust, and you might think the result would be a more hesitant gameplay style. Sometimes it is; these are the groups that take six hours to complete the most basic instance. Oftentimes, though, when people don’t trust their group-mates, they unconsciously try to pick up the slack. I call this Lone Wolf syndrome. You’ve all seen it. The DPS tries to tank. The healer tries to DPS. The tank is a paragon of virtue and discipline (can you tell which role I play most often?). Ten wipes and two pulls later the group disbands in disgust, vowing never to do a non-guild run again.
Lone Wolf Syndrome
The prevalence of Lone Wolf syndrome in WoW is no surprise. After all, WoW is not a game about being one legendary hero in a world of ten thousand legendary heroes. Even though the world is
full of ten thousand legendary heroes, the
is that you are one legendary hero in a legendary world. It’s no surprise that when things start to fall apart people’s first instinct is to try to do everything. They’re trying to play the hero. It’s endemic to
multiplayer games, even the ones like WoW that strongly reward team players. Back in my
days, more games than I can count were lost because everybody wanted to be a hero. Never mind that nine times out of ten it resulted in humiliating and frustrating defeat, or that we were all playing
it was one of the first large-scale team-based games you could play on the internet. Mere game mechanics cannot conquer Lone Wolf syndrome.
taught me how a PUG of Lone Wolves can be turned into a lean, mean, killing machine. One particularly memorable run saw my group wiping nearly every pull, under the “guidance” of a particularly incompetent tank—until about halfway through, when somebody thought to ask the poor fellow, “Have you ever been the main tank in an instance before?” The hapless warrior answered, “No.”
Now, at that point a lot of groups would have thrown up their hands and reached for their hearthstones (Stratholme is not an easy introduction to tanking even now, and this was long before The Burning Crusade). As luck would have it, the group declared it was willing to stay on if our tank was willing to be taught how to perform his role. I taught, he listened, and people started to play their assigned role instead of trying to be one-man tanking/DPS/healing machines. It was a struggle, but with careful communication and some patience on the part of the group we successfully downed Baron Rivendare, completing the second half of the instance in half the time it had taken to do the first half. After the run, the other group members whispered me, thanking me for saving the run.
That run opened my eyes, and since then I’ve had a lot of experiences “saving” disorganized PUGs. Let me tell you, I have known no triumph in WoW greater than this. My first epic, my first raid clear—nothing compares to standing over the corpse of even a lowly five-man boss knowing that the group succeeded because of
Not because of your 1337 skillz. Because you
A Recipe for Averting Disaster
We’re human beings (yes, even WoW players). We build trust through interaction far quicker than we do by watching some hotshot prove how good he is. Here are some of the ways I’ve found to save a failing PUG:
Know the three roles in a group: tank, DPS, healer
. No amount of talking will save a group if you don’t know what to say! You don’t have to be an expert in every class. It’s fine if you can’t tell a hunter how to optimize his shot rotation. It’s
fine if you don’t even know what universal qualities make a good DPSer, or why groups benefit from tanks.
It sounds obvious, but if you’re going to get a group of strangers to trust each other, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and talk!
. Remember that you’re
trying to get people to do what you say, even if you do know best. Your goal is to get the party to
each other. Calling somebody a n00b or telling the party they suck probably isn’t the best strategy for building trust.
. Oftentimes when PUGs fall apart the other members of the group are
for somebody to step up and take charge. Sometimes just the relief of knowing that somebody is “in charge” can work wonders. This is often informal—I rarely ask PUGs to elect me "PUG Leader for the Duration" or anything like that. Simply being the calm voice of reason will often do it. I find that complete sentences, with proper grammar, go a long way here. I don’t care how good is your gear, or how high your pvp rating—the instant I see 1337-speak in your chat, you’ve lost credibility with me. If you don’t
trustworthy, you aren’t going to be able to promote trust in your group.
. Things are not going to get better in a failing PUG if you just speak nicely to people and smooth ruffled feathers. Take the time to explain, politely and completely, what you want people to do and why. Try to identify the assumptions you make about execution and lay them out. For instance, if you say, “Hunter, chain trap square,” you’ve only yourself to blame if the hunter does it wrong or doesn’t know how to chain trap at all! Better to ask, “Hunter, can you chain trap square?” or “Hunter, do you know how to chain trap?” The point is not that you need to tell everybody how to do their job—the point is for everybody
to hear that the party actually does know its stuff, and is going to deploy its skills according to some sort of plan. As trust builds amongst the group you can shorten pre-pull communications and maybe even dispense with them altogether, but to build the necessary level of trust it’s important to talk things out rather than just assume everybody knows what they’re expected to do.
. Remember that your leadership is not magic. You cannot instantly eliminate all of a group’s problems. But if the group is showing progress, stick with them. If you want people to trust each other, you can’t bail at the first opportunity.
Be willing to teach
. More often than not the individual members of a PUG have all the skills they need to pull their weight, but sometimes they don’t. If somebody is open to hearing what you have to say and you think you can offer good advice, be willing to do so! 90% of the skills that make a great instance player are not taught by Blizzard. We all learned from other players; don’t get frustrated if you have the opportunity to pass on what you know.
It may take a while to get everybody to calm down, listen, and form a plan. But the results are often worth it. For one thing, it’s often the difference between a complete run and hours of wasted time. For another, it will make you feel incredibly awesome.
And for another, it’s a chance to form a genuine human connection, however brief, with real people—turning those faceless expendable resources in the glorified lobby we call a WoW server into fellow players and adventurers.
Don’t get me wrong—I love my guild, and I love the Furious Five. But when I run with them they might as well be the only people on the server. Playing with them is merely playing a Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game. PUGs—and especially saving failing PUGs—are often the only time I feel like the
aspect of WoW actually matters.
Has anybody else had experiences like this?
When do you feel most connected to the people on your server?
2008/12/09 at 8:00 PM
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