Today Ragnaros, tomorrow the Old Gods?

According to MMO Champion, Deathwing will arrive tomorrow, and depart in a blaze of glory about 4 hours later, most likely. Okay, I’m kidding.

I know that it’s like this every time we get a new content patch, but it sure does feel like the raiding guilds have about exhausted what the Firelands had to offer.

Poor Ragnaros has died many, many times now, hard modes have been trounced, and Legendaries have been dissiminated.

Lots of Legendaries, from the chart MMO Champion put out a week ago.

You know the Firelands have been out for a long time when even *I* have killed Ragnaros!

Strange Days.

Deathwing will arrive (officially) tomorrow, and we will begin the process of getting geared up and experienced enough in his ways to destroy him.

Seeing the entirety of the Firelands and taking down Ragnaros has led me to think about the various mechanics of the fights and all that is required to match them. How did we get here, and where do we go from here?

In looking back over the years, the one distinguishing feature of content releases is the Skill Level arms race.

When Vanilla WoW first came out and we hit end game, did anyone envision where we would someday get? Maybe we should have.

With every expansion or content release, the challenge for Blizzard grows.

The mission? Design content that is challenging AND fun.

It’s got to be difficult enough that it will take a while to learn, but not so difficult that it breaks the spell we are under when we pursue ‘progression’. If the difficulty includes too much grinding or random chance to succeed, then people lose interest.

It has to remain somewhat challenging even after the path to success is learned, to keep interest alive once mastered.

It’s got to be unique enough to be fun, for a given value of fun. Plus loot, new loot of ever higher ilevels.

Now, it’s got to be all that, plus it’s got to last long enough that the next content release has time to be designed, programmed and tested for release.

Sounds daunting, but that’s just one side of the arms race.

The other side are the players.

Over the years, I have watched in amazement as the player base has built tools to arm themselves in direct opposition to the Blizzard Design Team.

Granted, I’ve taken part in this myself, but it’s still amazing to me what has grown.

As fast as the content is developed, the players build tools to help them beat it.

Website forums for theorycrafters and class experts, individual blogs, web-based optimization tools like Ask Mr Robot or World of Raids, combat log parsing tools, addons, addons, addons, geez I mean Deadly Boss Mods represents a force-multiplying escalation all on it’s own.

As the content gets more challenging, the players rise to the challenge, get better prepared and more experienced. Teamwork, by necessity, improves.

The next round sees more complex mechanics… and the players improvise, adapt, overcome, and then craft new tools (or improve old ones) to speed it up and make it easier.

As with any arms race, there is collateral damage.

Oh yes there is. How would you like to have to design a brand new MMO in this landscape, where the majority of MMO players have been hardened in the fires of 7 years of Azeroth raiding?

And of 7 years of Trade Chat?

Blessing of Kings is taking part in the SWTOR Beta, and todays post highlights a fun fact; chat trolls using story point spoilers to try and ruin your game.

As an MMO developer, how do you arm yourself against this type of scenario, when your opponent (the player) has had 7 years (or more, counting how long the genre has really been out there with Everquest and others) of experience on you?

A new MMO nowadays has to come up with a solid concept, and then design a game not for what players expected and would have enjoyed 7 years ago, but for what people are used to seeing, and subverting, now. Within a week of launch it will have to face the test of the cynical and jaded MMO gamer, whose expectations get higher every day.

Deathwing is doomed, but even as the patch warms the servers in pre-load position, content developers are hard at work preparing the next payload for delivery, aiming at a moving target. They have to design for the players, as they think we will be at that future day, after we have absorbed the lessons we learn from the Deathwing raids.

Isn’t it amazing? This is what it means to be part of a game experience as it evolves, and growing with it. And we get to go back with our modern, up to date characters, and visit the content that was designed for the player of yesteryear whenever we’d like, to remind us of how far we’ve come.

I love it. Yes I do.

The new patch comes tomorrow, and despite the rise and fall of Deathwing, the one thing I think I am most looking forward to is the resurrection of raids to go into old content, to satisfy those transmogging urges. Getting friends together willing to do Serpentshrine Cavern or Black Temple or The Eye should be easier than ever before.

At least for a few months. 🙂

Where will the developers take us next year?

Who can say? It depends, at least in part, on how well we adapt to and overcome what Deathwing has in store for us.

You have to wonder, do the developers of other MMOs watch and even play WoW, just to get an idea of what the modern, experienced raider learns to handle?

Isn’t that a trip?

I for one am glad to be part of the journey, wherever it’s taking us. My concern is, in order to come up with ever greater challenges to fit the lore, someday soon we may find World of Warcraft has hit the same wall many of our long-term pen and paper RPGs hit, once the characters reached level 25 with all the epic items that entails.

Where do you go when the players are looking to kill the actual gods and usurp their place to find some kind of challenge? Do you face down the Old Gods, bring forth the terrors of the outer darkness, face an invasion of demons from space?

Oh wait, been there, done that, got the tabard.

Where do we go once we’ve killed Deathwing?

Apparently, once we’ve killed the gods themselves, the only foes we will have left to fear are the most powerful beings known to Azeroth; our former allies.

But in pitting Horde versus Alliance as the core of the battle… can there be any resolution at the end?

This is a drama post!

This post has the potential to unleash rage and drama in those that read of it. You’ve been warned.

Nooo….. it’s not about the new BOE Blizzard store pet. Well, not MAINLY about the new Blizzard store pet.

As Steven Brust might say, one word on the new pet.

It is a pet. It will be in the Blizzard store. When you buy it with real money, dollars, euros, yen, what have you, it comes to you bind on equip. You can trade it. You can presumably wrap it in that pretty wrapping paper and mail it to a friend.

You can sell it for gold on the Auction House.

Yes. A Blizzard-sanctioned method of turning real money into virtual gold. You pays your money, you gets your in-game gold. And, depending on pet prices on your server, you takes your chances.

My comment is; so?

A few years ago, I’d probably give a shit. These days, the only victim I see is the account hacker that wants his virtual gold to be the only option you have to buy with your real money. And really, screw The Hacker.

The only point of interest I have in the project is to see how much your $10 will eventually be worth in virtual gold, based on the demand for this pet by people who don’t want to spend $10 of their own real money to get it.

My wife is one of those folks who will pay 20,000 gold for something, and that’s okay, but she already pays $15 a month in real money on the game, be damned if she’ll pay more. And more power to her.

I’m sure your opinion will likely differ, and thus, drama potential one.

But no, that’s not the potential drama I really wanted to talk about.

I was reading Officers Quarters on WoW Insider tonight, and a comment Scott Andrews made touched off this little fireworks ‘splosion in my brain housing group.

The Raid Finder is not just for the guildless. Guilds can also take advantage of this new feature in several ways. The first and most obvious is that it will allow your raiders to get practice time on bosses for your own normal-mode raids. Since you don’t get locked to the instance using the finder, you can see the mechanics ahead of time and still raid with your guild in the same week.

I read that, and for a moment, the aforementioned fireworks went all ‘splodie. Then I felt my brain actually jump the track (over the shark, most likely) and spin aimlessly for a little bit. I failed my SAN check, I tried to disbelieve the reality of the text I had just read, but I rolled a 1. Epic fail.

Scott clearly has spent some time thinking about this topic, and already internalized this, but I’m slow and I’ve been busy.  So maybe I’ve missed the discussion somehow on my feedreader. It’s possible, my feeds have been whittled down to a bare smidgen.

Is Blizzard really just about to release a tool that hardcore raiding guild officers will be able to use to require their members to raid hour after hour after hour in ‘does not count’ practise sessions to fine tune their performance before attempting a boss fight in a raid ‘for reals’?

And nobody has said squat?

Sure, I know that the loot drops won’t be as good as a ‘for reals’ raid, and I know that it will be easy peasy lemon squeazy mode, but it’s still the bare bones of the real raid, and as the game progresses, it’s still a tool that will continue to grow with the patches and expansions.

How did this slip under the radar?

If you were an officer in a hardcore raiding guild, and your guild was shaky on the mechanics of movement, target prioritization or mechanic flow for a particular boss encounter, are you telling me you would NOT have your raid members get in a few hours practise where it won’t count against your weekly attempt?

I’m sorry, maybe nobody cares anymore, but it wasn’t that long ago that players in hardcore raiding guilds were complaining bitterly about having to run both 25 person raids AND 10 person raids every single week in order to maximize their possible loot drops and point/token earnings. I believe quality of life and balance between game time and real time were becoming factors.

This may not be in quite the same ballpark, but it has the potential, in the first few weeks of any new raid, to be even worse. That raid team that really, really, REALLY wants to smoke the raid bosses first week… well, how many hours are they prepared to spend running the raid on what will be, for all intents and purposes, Practise Mode?

True? Not true? Molehill that just looks like a mountain?

You tell me.

Transmogrifying – now with less Legendary

Just a quick update, on my last blog post I specifically rushed to the awesome idea of a Rogue being able to go back, get the Warglaives, and finally raid with them.

Nope.

A Blue commenter has specifically remarked that Legendary weapons will NOT be allowed to either have their image be changed, or to supply their appearance to another item.

My editorializing will now begin.

How completely frakkin’ stupid! If the whole point is that you have to possess the item in your own inventory, then why in the hell would you NOT want to be able to display that you have a legendary? Why?

Are Legendaries SUPPOSED to rot unused and unseen in a bank?

Just… on top of the greatest news I’ve had in a few weeks about the game, to drop that bombshell of just STUPID is amazing.

And I don’t even have a Legendary!

Gear Gathering – It’s on like Donkey Kong!

I don’t even know where to begin, but since that’s a beginning, let’s roll.

Today, we are told, I’m still not believing the words I’m typing, that patch 4.3 will include Gear Transmogrification.

You’ll be able to change the current appearance of your gear to match the appearance of any other comparative type of gear.

Plate shoulder to plate shoulder, leather chest to leather chest. Possibly even two-handed staff to two-handed staff, and one-handed swird to one-handed sword.

This feature, no I swear to you I am not kidding it’s been confirmed by Blue post on the official forums, goes hand in hand with the new Void Storage, which apparently is intended to have about 150 inventory spaces… for the storage of your old gear.

Items you put in Void Storage, according to Blue posts, will have enchants, gems and crafting identifiers removed. It will be put in the digital equivalent of long-term cold storage.

The subtext here? You will have to possess, currently, an item of gear in order to be able to apply that gears’ appearance to your currently worn gear.

Maybe it will have to be placed in Void Storage to have the pattern be available at the Transmogrifier Vendor, that sounds very reasonable to me. It would make Void Storage a form of “recipe list” for appearance patterns.

Holy shit. Just, holy shit.

Do YOU want to PvP or raid in the armor sets, the MATCHING armor sets of yesteryear? Do YOU love role playing and having cool outfits, and regret having to wear a cobbled-together clown suit to achieve performance?

Well, kiss the clown suit goodbye, my friends, and say hello to a whole new game of planning your special outfit and then going out there and GETTING IT.

Did you always want the twin Warglaives from Black Temple, but once Cataclysm came out and the Legendaries were obsolete as effective gear, you lost the fire in your belly to get them?

Have you always loved the Blackened Defias set, and wished you could wear the whole thing and still be as effective as everyone else?

Just… holy shit.

I know that my first thought, my very first thought was, “I need to transfer my Rogue to my new server, so when this change goes into effect I can be wearing my full Dungeon Set 2 while raiding. With the twin Season 1 PvP swords.”

I know it probably seems stupid to you. Maybe I’m one of the odd ones, getting excited about this.

But just holy shit! I am!

I am excited as hell to go back and review the appearances of every set in the game, decide which appearance I would LOVE to have for my character, and then go out there right the hell now and start working on building it.

How about you? Are you like my Rogue, and have a freaking insane kick-ass set ready to go for your favorite character, just waiting for this to go live? Do you have twenty?

Are you like my Warrior, who intentionally leveled Blacksmithing and acquired every single recipe and built the full Imperial Plate set and kept it, just for a “Worgen about town” outfit, but it’s really nothing all that special?

Or are you like my Druid, who has nothing waiting in the wings, because I was always in forms and it didn’t matter if my gear looked like I failed clown school?

It’s such a simple thing, and yet, our view of the game is what we see around us. We see other players around us, all the time.

When every player you see will be able to look exactly how that player wants, I think it’s going to have a major effect on the world. Instead of people wearing random crap, everyone will have a choice, and who among us doesn’t want to make our own decisions and USE those choices?

Kick ass, Blizzard.

The tanks all said wha?

From out of the blue yesterday came a new Dev Watercooler blog post from Ghostcrawler, where he revealed that Blizzard has decided tanks shouldn’t have to worry about generating enough threat to hold mob aggro against crazy DPS.

Specifically, tanks on the starter end of the gearing grind shouldn’t be crushed under the weight of trying to hold aggro against raid-geared DPS going balls-to-the-wall in a pick up group.

Ready? This isn’t some “we think it would be nice to someday…” announcement. The hotfix apparently went live today, August 16th, and right now all tanks in their tank mode will have their threat generated from damage boosted, going from 300% threat from damage to 500%. They’ve also ramped up the rapidity by which Vengeance builds in the first few seconds of a pull.

Surprise!

When the announcement went out yesterday, folks I talked to had a wide range of responses.

Among them were that this was the end of the game as we know it, tanks will no longer have to know how to do anything, skill is dead, everybody dance now or quit in disgust, blah blah blah.

Say what now?

I’ll admit, I thought that the days of there being anything tank-related for me to talk about here were gone, what with the high levels of knowledge and awareness I see among the players I run into every day, but I guess I was wrong.

Let’s talk about what this really means for you and me, mmm’kay?

Tank threat generation has been increased. Not just by a little, but by a metric shit-ton. Threat from tank damage has almost doubled. It’s close to TWO metric shit-tons now, and that’s a lot.

So, it’s all crimson blood spraying and rolling in the clover for tanks now, right? We run in, lay down a few quick swipes, then we can go stagger away from the keyboard looking for a Guinness while the DPS finishes the pull.

Right?

Well, maybe a teeny bit, but not really.

The big reason that it’s not going to work that way is that encounter design, even on trash pulls, has changed a lot over the years.

It used to be that the bread and butter, meat and potatoes pull (it’s lunch time, I’m hungry) was the tank runs in and hits the mob, the DPS burns it down. There would be minor variations on that theme, a few extra adds maybe, a healer or ranged spellcaster that wouldn’t come along for the ride, but that was pretty much it.

These days, just as GC points out, the design has changed.

Now, most fights in high level instances and raids have some kind of mobile component, a multi-mob component, and also what my wife Cassie refers to as a gimmick.

The mobile component is simply something to encourage people to move around. Tornados swooping in and out, rocks falling from the sky, mobs that start cleaving/flaying wildly, stomps that you have to jump to avoid being hit by, green or red shit to move out of, electrical fields to pull mobs out of, the list goes on and on.

A mobile component; Blizzard designing fights where the player needs to think about moving your ass instead of just standing and mindlessly pushing buttons in a fixed rotation.

The multi-mob component. This doesn’t just mean that there was more than one mob standing there.

This is where during the fight you need to be aware of the area around you, including behind you, because there may be roaming packs of adds wandering around, there may be adds that spawn periodically out of nowhere and come running in that the tank has to grab on the fly, there may be adds just like the old days that heal others or do evil debuffs and poisons that need to be killed first or locked down with interrupts, and there may even be adds like in Stonecore or Zul’Aman that, if not stopped, will run off and bring a LOT of friends to your fight.

And finally, the gimmicks. Ah, the gimmicks.

It seems like every encounter has some kind of thing that’s different. Bosses that will fixate on a target and charge them. Mobs that are frozen that need to be drug through fire, mobs that are on fire that will destroy you unless you hit a frozen mob first to get chilled out, mobs that will bubble and you have to go jump around flipping levers, all sorts of stuff.

Gimmick. It’s an unkind term for unique encounter mechanics, but it’s accurate.

Tank threat is buffed now. A lot.

So, how does this change the game?

It doesn’t. It simply smooths out the flow.

If adds come running in, the tank still has to tag them and do damage to them to generate threat. End of story. You will not suddenly, miraculously grab adds and hold them automagically without doing anything to make it happen.

You will not be able to charge in, blast up and tune out. You as the tank will still have to be mobile when necessary, be aware of your surroundings and actively grab adds and distribute damage/threat amongst them, and you will still have to handle the gimmicks of each encounter. 

What you can expect to change is that, if you are already doing everything you are supposed to, you will have a much stronger chance of holding aggro on all members of an AoE group, even if you are focusing on Skull, and the DPS are ignoring your marks to blow up whoever they want.

This change would normally encourage you to prioritize AoE threat generating abilities more. Since most AoE is on some kind of cooldown cycle now, you’re probably already using your AoE abilities whenever they’re up anyway, so, well, no big change there. Right?

It’s not like you can do Swipe spam, no matter how much you would have wanted to. But you can pop it every time it’s off cooldown, and expect it to have tastier results.

Likewise, for DPS players, this does not signal the death of Vanish/ Feign Death and Misdirection/Fan of Knives. Adds will still come in from wierd directions, and being able to send them off to the tank is always a good thing. Likewise, having an emergency “Get them the f&*(^ off of me” button never loses it’s value.

So.

In conclusion…. I don’t know where the hell all the panic I saw came from, or the rage about dumbing down the game, but I for one welcome our new threat overlords, and invite them to come tank at the pug table.

My Warrior and Hunter alts will be sure to make you feel RIGHT at home.

Ask the Devs; Irritation Factor Nine

The answers to Ask the Devs #9: Tankin’ went up this morning.

I’m gonna preface what follows by acknowledging that I am grateful that the developers take the time to tell us anything at all. In the early years of World of Warcraft, all we had were prognostications from tea leaf readers and drunk hoboes off the street as far as what the Devs were thinking, planning, or their reasons for changing things. I much prefer the amount of information they share with us now. I don’t want to go back.

On the other paw, when something like Ask the Devs comes along, and the membership is asked to submit their questions for consideration, this is an exciting moment.

The Developers are knee deep in the gore, they swim in the chum-slicked waters of “what is, what may, and what will never be” all week long. They are engaged in the active process of updating and improving the game all the time. They consider new ideas, revisit old ideas, continue forward progress and face obstacles all the time.

When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it can be real hard to remember that you were hired to drain the swamp, and a whole bunch of folks are waiting behind the construction fence, wondering how you’re doing getting their new swimming pool finished.

The players are enjoying the game they’ve got, but they can see your blueprint for the proposed structure, and they’re curious how things are going on the other side of that big fence. They can’t see the alligators the Devs are fighting, so it’s possible they have a different vision of where things are now, and might come up with surprising questions on what the pool will finally look like, and what features they hope to see.

Asking the players to submit questions is awesome, it gives an opportunity for the Devs to really see what people are thinking and wondering.

So, questions got asked. The Devs chose which to answer. 

In that context, question #2 and it’s answer pissed me off. Yes, I am a Grumpy Bear right now.

Q: Have you considered normalizing initial Rage for feral druid tanks? For example, when a warrior uses Charge, it generates 15 points of Rage, which lets them use another aggro generating ability quickly, something that Feral druids tend to be a bit short on. Why in Cataclysm was the bear bonus health pool was reduced, as well? Their survivability always depended on the amount of health since they don’t have parry or shield block. Do you have any plans to improve bear tanking in the future? At the moment, it’s considered to be the weakest tank. Have you considered giving druid tanks an additional tool to pull casters at range? It’s the only tank class that doesn’t have a talent or spell to help in those situations. – Pødêrøsø (LA), Вирко (EU-RU), Амелья (EU-RU), Condenacion (EU-ES), Whitewnd (KR)

A: Bears are getting a significant mitigation buff in 4.2 and we’re retuning their damage such that it’s a little easier to hold aggro at low gear levels, and a little harder at higher gear levels. While we definitely don’t expect the community to ever agree on anything, we’ve seen little evidence of a widespread concurrence that druids are “the weakest tank.” There are plenty of druid tanks out there, handling everything from Grim Batol to Sinestra. Tank balance overall is in a really good place. Players may focus on potential problems that could arise in the future but we also have ample time to address those problems should they occur. Gone are the days when we would just release a class into the wild and refuse to touch it again until the next expansion.

Oh, that irritates me so much.

First up, the question was a bad question to answer in one wall of text. That is not ONE question, there are four questions in one paragraph, each asking something different. But it was presented as one question, and so the answer was provided as one big rolling answer.

Let’s break that wall o’ questions down some and insert the applicable answers with my comments.

Q1. Have you considered normalizing initial Rage for feral druid tanks? For example, when a warrior uses Charge, it generates 15 points of Rage, which lets them use another aggro generating ability quickly, something that Feral druids tend to be a bit short on.

A2. (and) we’re retuning their damage such that it’s a little easier to hold aggro at low gear levels, and a little harder at higher gear levels.

This tells us there will be changes to how fast we initially build Threat, but the way it’s phrased implies that whatever they do will NOT be giving us normalized tools to build initial/instant Rage as was asked, but instead will be some kind of change to the threat generated by our instant cast abilities that start strong but don’t scale with AP on a 1 to 1.

Q2. Why in Cataclysm was the bear bonus health pool was reduced, as well? Their survivability always depended on the amount of health since they don’t have parry or shield block.

A1. Bears are getting a significant mitigation buff in 4.2 

This does seem to be how they are answering Q2. I’m willing to believe this is meant to acknowledge that Bears need a little tweaking to improve mitigation, possibly because our health is normalized but we can’t Block or Parry. I do wish that the reason for the ‘significant mitigation buff’ was more clearly revealed. I don’t feel there is an issue, myself. If they feel Bears need some buffing, I’d love to know why or what the data says as a cause.

Q3. Do you have any plans to improve bear tanking in the future? At the moment, it’s considered to be the weakest tank.

A3. While we definitely don’t expect the community to ever agree on anything, we’ve seen little evidence of a widespread concurrence that druids are “the weakest tank.” There are plenty of druid tanks out there, handling everything from Grim Batol to Sinestra. Tank balance overall is in a really good place.

If they have seen “little” evidence, then I’m going to trust them. Anything I’ve seen personally would be anecdotal evidence unsupported by server-wide research. A solid, non-waffling answer.

Why non-waffling? Because for the little evidence they have seen, they have announced they are implementing significant mitigation buffs in 4.2 and a change to low level initial threat generation. So maybe there is a little evidence, but they’re doing something about it. Can’t ask for much more than that. I still haven’t seen problems. Only thing I heard people bitch about was the Swipe cooldown issue, and they fixed that. Matheo who raids as a Bear says it’s made a huge difference.

Q4. Have you considered giving druid tanks an additional tool to pull casters at range? It’s the only tank class that doesn’t have a talent or spell to help in those situations. 

A4. Players may focus on potential problems that could arise in the future but we also have ample time to address those problems should they occur. Gone are the days when we would just release a class into the wild and refuse to touch it again until the next expansion.

Oooo! Just, grrr! Do you see what I see here? How is that in any way an answer to Q4? “Potential problems that could arise in the future”? It’s a problem that exists NOW, insofar as it is a problem. Was there any real mention whatsoever to Bears getting a method to deal with ranged casters in a group pull like other classes have?

NO. Completely ignored.

And THAT is the source of my irritation and general feeling of pissyness. Sure, the questioners stuffed the box full, but the Devs chose this questionwall to answer, cherry picked which parts of it to address, and then completely ignored the only bit of it I would really want a direct answer to!

Devs, If you don’t want to answer the question, then don’t put it up there in the wall o’ text! If you put it up there like that, and then completely ignore it, it feels like you are intentionally dodging a question like some politician accused of being a weinie wagger.

That just pisses me off. It shows us you know we’re asking the question, and tells us you aren’t WILLING to answer it.

What are the options here?

Either you know there is an issue and don’t WANT to address it, or you know there is an issue and you don’t know HOW to address it, or you know there is an issue and you don’t consider it important enough TO address for the cost in development time, or you don’t agree there is an issue there at all.

None of those seem like a shameful secret that must be concealed. This ain’t a stiffy in your shorts you want to hide in class, it’s a question on group management tool planning for the development team, and who else would you ask about that but the Devs?

Why can’t you just pick one and tell us!

*Crickets*

Amazingly, I’ve been so busy DOING things, I haven’t really had much of a chance to process anything into a blog post. Sorry about that.

Since I feel bad, I’m going to bundle up the last week into the cheesiest of the cheese; a first impressions post.

Hey, I said I felt bad, I didn’t say I was going to give you a quality post to make up for it!

My first impression of the expansion is that this totally confirms my original suspicions;

Mages, possibly with the connivance of a turncoat Priests’ Mind Control, have gained extraordinary power over the developers.

I’ve warned you of their dark plans before. Many of you doubted me, I know. When I told you of their plans to form a Supreme Mage Hegemony, you laughed.

Some might have even jeered.

But now do you finally begin to see? 

If Kael’thas and Killrog trade chat is anything to go by, the removal of Dalaran and Shattrath portals are throwing the world into a tailspin of confusion.

The bleating of surprised players wondering where the portals went has STILL not ceased, and possibly never will.

We may be logging in next summer to find someone in Trade chat ask, “Where did the portals in Dalaran go?”, to be followed quickly with the reply, “They vanished when the Ice Stone had melted!”

It’s all about selling the Mage ports.

“Mage selling ports, will come to you for an extra fee, pst.”

At least this proves one thing; there are few things a Mage won’t do for money. 

I warned you, and now it’s too late.

Okay, before the Mages start taking me seriously, there is a flip side to this.

My poor level 66 Mage can’t move two steps in a capital city without getting whispers demanding Mage ports somewhere else.

Normally, I don’t mind a whisper here or there. I am a Mage after all.

I do expect a complete stranger that comes to ME begging for a port to offer a tip. I don’t ask for one, and I won’t get snotty without one, but if I don’t know you, and you’re not approaching me to hang out or get to know me but just straight out wanting to use my unadvertised services as “generic portal machine 1 each”,  then I expect the offer of reimbursement for my time and mats.

If you don’t offer anything at all, then I give you the portal and put you on ignore. One shot to be polite, you had it, bye.

I’ll probably refuse the tip when offered… the point ain’t the money, the point is that the person takes the time to show that they appreciate I’m helping them out at their request.

I do have one extra level of crankiness, though.

If the person whispering me literally mispells every single word in the request, then I’ll probably refuse.

I guess that makes me a spelling nazi, and if so, okay. But I’ve gotten whispers that look like “nead u 2 prt me 2 sw pl k”.

I wish I were joking.

If I see that come across my chat, I just add to ignore and move on.

I never did say I was a nice person, but sometimes life is just, ahem, “2 short”.

The whole situation does do exactly what I’d hoped it would. It’s made me appreciate my Mage that much more, and it’s encouraged me to think about how to travel around the world carefully and efficiently to get to where I want to go.  

As for the rest of it… hey, leveling on both Horde and Alliance sides seems wonderful. The smoothness of the transitions between quest areas and even zones is great. I’ve been having lots of fun.

And next week, it all gets turned up to 11!

Isn’t this the best of all worlds? The folks that love to both play on alts AND raid get two weeks to mess around in the new leveling content before the draw to hit the new levels of end game quests opens up. Pretty cool.

I wonder just how many actual hardcore raiding guilds are still out there burning with the desire to blast through to level 85 so they can start pushing for a world first raid clear?

I hope most folks are going to get the chance to take the amount of time they want to level before hitting 85, because that first time through the zones only comes around once… and it’ll be a long time until the next content patch.

Enjoy it while you can!

Okay, it’s official… I’m an idiot

Ever since Patch 4.0.1 went live, I’ve had this minor annoyance while playing my alts.

I’m gonna tell you what it is, and as soon as I start, you’re gonna slap your forehead and say, ‘Wow, what an idiot.’

But I’m gonna tell you anyway… because I was put on this Earth to amuse you, and to give you someone to feel superior to.

Here we go.

I’ve been playing these alts, like my Warrior and my Death Knight and my Mage…

… and I’ve been wondering why, all of a sudden, the tooltips that pop up when I mouseover spells are worthless, vague crap.

No specifics, no stats, just generic advice.

Like, oh… say, for example, the Warrior spell Charge.

When I mouse over the ability on my bar, the tooltip pops up, and it tells me that it’s Charge, it gives me the basic stats for when I can use it, and then gives advice on what it does.

Like so;

Now, seriously. Are you for real? This is what you consider a useful tooltip?

So sure, I’ve been going along like this, not really paying too much attention, because I figure I know what these things do from my own researches out of game.

But tonight, finally, I just kinda got a wild hair up my big ol’ Bear butt, and I decide I’m going to get to the bottom of this “can you vague that up for me” tooltip bullshit.

I hit Escape and pull open the Interface menu, and I start going hunting. Something changed somewhere, not even Blizzard would remove useful information like that, and if they did, I figure the howl of nerdrage could be heard through the vacuum of cold, hard space.

Low and behold, what should I find but some new options in the Help tab, options I sure don’t remember ever seeing before;

So, just for the sake of being a bold, brash adventurer into the unknown, I remove the checkmark next to “Beginner Tooltips”.

Now, this seems counter-intuitive to me. What do I know, right?

To me, if I was a beginner, what I’d want is an option to turn on tooltips for beginners like me, that would tell me clearly what the abilities do… exactly.

Like, in precise terms. So I KNOW.

Once I’m experienced, hell, I can turn em off altogether, or maybe just a little single sentence to remind me of ranges and such. Won’t need the whole big verbose thingie anymore.

But I remove the checkmark, and this is what I now see;

Wow. What a world of difference a single checkmark in an options menu can make, isn’t it?

Generates rage, huh? Stuns the enemy? Oh boy howdy, that’s pretty cool.

As a beginner, lord knows I wouldn’t need to know something like that.

I mean, seriously folks. W. T. F.???

Am I the only one to get hit by this as a new default?

Best of wishes to all attending Blizzcon this year!

I had a cranky post all set to go up, and then I really thought about it.

If you’re excited about WoW and you’re attending Blizzcon and you’re really feeling up and happy, the last thing you need is some schlub being pissy and dragging the room down with crankiness.

Hey, go, have fun, enjoy the weekend, meet people and see things and capture that feeling of excitement and fun.

I hope everyone has a really good time!

I’ll say this; Cassie played her Hunter, and trained a beautiful rare blue parrot as a combat pet, and it looks great. She’s very happy.

Even when I’m feeling in “write a really tired cranky post” mood, there is still something positive that we can find to think about.

So, even though there are still issues and irritations, go, have fun, enjoy the weekend, and accentuate all the positives the day (and the game) brings.

Time enough to be cranky when you’ve got the hangover on Monday. 🙂

Bug Hotfix – X-Perl UnitFrames right click dispell buff workaround

This is a very specific, focused blog post to address one specific issue.

I, like many others, do not like the default WoW user interface.

I prefer, no, scratch that, I LOVE the X-Perl UnitFrames UI addon.

The changes it implements, on the surface, seem relatively minor, but there is a ton of power lurking under the hood. I like minimalist designs that provide me with tons of tools, designs that leave the majority of the screen real estate for me to actually see the game. If I wanted to see a ton of text describing the action, I’d play Zork.

With the introduction of Patch 4.0.1, there is an existing known bug with Raid UnitFrames addons in general.

The problem is that if you try and right-click onto buffs to dispel them in your addon, it will introduce what is called a “Taint”, and that causes bad things.

In X-Perl UnitFrames, the ability to right-click to dispell buffs has been temporarily disabled to prevent “Taints” from occuring.

If you use X-Perl, it also currently prevents you from right-clicking buffs displayed by the normal UI.

For just a second, I’m going to quote a description of Taints, just so you know I’m not talking ’bout “Taint one thing nor the other”, ’cause I know my audience.

From a discussion on WoWwiki;

When WoW starts executing lua code, the execution starts off ‘secure’, and able to run protected functions. Execution remains secure until it encounters ‘taint’ – which is an indicator that a function or object came from an untrusted (AddOn or /script) source. The basic idea is that execution becomes ‘tainted’ as soon as it reads tainted data or executes tainted code, and any data written by a tainted execution is itself tainted. Protected functions refuse to operate when called from an execution path that is not secure.

When the UI first loads, all code and data from Blizzard signed FrameXML and AddOns (plus their saved variables) is secure, and all code and data from user provided AddOns (plus their saved variables) is tainted.

 Okay, so right now, if you love and want to run X-Perl UnitFrames but run into buffs you need to be able to click off, you have to either logout your character to disable your addon, use another addon that allows you to temporarily disable addons from within the game without logging out, (such as Addon Control Panel), or specifically cancel the buff by using a line item command such as “/cancelaura Buffname”.

Is this earth shattering? Of course not.

At least, not unless, oh, they did something like release a All Hallows Eve holiday event a week after the patch that includes Trick or Treating, and the tricks gave you buffs of costumes that last an hour… some of which prevent you from mounting. Or spellcasting. Buffs that… needs to be canceled. Right click style canceling.

Oh wait… Doh!

So, for you few peeps out there that love your X-Perl as much as I do, and want to keep using it, but are sick and tired of having to disable the addon in order to right click your Tricks to dispell them, here’s a solution that finally works.

First, make sure you have the very latest beta build of X-Perl. To do this, you have to visit the project page for X-Perl UnitFrames at WoWAce. They’re posting fresh builds constantly as they make corrections.

Second, with your current X-Perl UnitFrames Options open, go to the Player Tab. Within the Player Tab, look at the Player Buffs section and UNCHECK the “Hide Default Buffs” checkbox.

What this has done is display the default WoW UI buff panel, in addition to your X-Perl setup. Yes, a second set of buffs. For me, it’s worth it.

Now, this alone has not fixed the problem. There is one extra step you have to take.

Remember the description of a “Taint”, from above? It all comes from running code that isn’t “secure”. Code that is secure comes from Blizzard’s FrameXML data, then takes input from addons.

Well, as a purely short term fix, here is what you can do;

Go to the official Blizzard download site for the Interface Addon Kit, and download the appropriate version for your language. In my case, that’s US-English.

When you unzip that file, you copy the FrameXML folder, and you place it in your World of Warcraft game folder, at C:Program FilesWorld of WarcraftInterface (or whatever your destination folder may be, ending within the Interface folder).

This establishes the correct baseline FrameXML data for you to fall back on when right clicking those buffs on the default WoW UI buff bar.

Now, this is strictly a short term solution for JUST until there is a new patch.

The reason for this is, FrameXML is establishing a set of frame data specific to the game build it was created for. If a significant patch is released changing the frames (or actually fixing the core issue causing the bug in the first place), leaving this FrameXML in there will cause you lots of headaches.

BUT… for the pure short term, it will correct the problem. 

Can you believe the bug has annoyed me so much I went to these lengths to find a solution?

Wanna know what really annoys me? I start writing this, go to various websites looking up links to copy to send you to the right reference locations, and what do I find? A poster named Twintails over at WoWAce posted this solution already, just hours before I started the post.

I hereby proclaim this entire idea as belonging to Twintails, and I thank them very, very much for their helpfulness to the community. Especially since I don’t really know anything about addons, and I was only guessing at things to try and make it work, and clearly they actually knew what they were doing and went to the Interface Addon Kit intentionally.

I just wish I’da seen that before I started writing.

UPDATE: This post was correct as of X-Perl UnitFrames beta build r448, and the patch status as of 10/20/10.