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UI four three

There’s a nice article on WoWHead.com about UI improvements in 4.3. Let’s discuss, shall we?

First, bag search:

bag search in 4.3

Bag searching is for the weak! Well, everyone after 4.3 who hasn’t taken advantage of Void Storage, that is. Everyone should have clean, neat, and organized bags after their first visit, right? Hopefully, this feature will be little used!😉

Reforging

Reforging UI in 4.3

This is nice, I’m sure, but to be honest I don’t reforge enough to really warrant noticing a profound UI change.

Guard directions

Guard directions in 4.3

I actually use guard directions a fair amount. I can never remember where a profession trainer is for an alt, for example. And where’s the nearest general store? Can a guard tell me that? Having new things at the top and labeled is for people who’re new to the game, and this will help. Change approved.

Altitude

Altitude UI in 4.3

If this can be used for nodes and quest givers, I’m so for this. A dimmed dot means underground, sure, but right now there’s nothing for above. When one’s searching for elementium in Deepholm, it would be handy to know whether the node is on that shelf above or in the valley below.

Tracking

Tracking UI in 4.3

Submenus now for tracking. I wasn’t finding the current UI cluttered—but then again I rarely change the tracking. Mayhaps this is more important to hunters who, you know…can track things.

 

 

It’s our throne now!

Tonight, me and a friend ‘n’ fellow guildie teamed up as a two-mage fire team and took on the dungeons of Hellfire Peninsula!

Blood Furnace Throne

It's needs some padding…

It was a cake walk! Among other things, we took over this guy’s throne. I didn’t quite get his name. Whatevs!

The Tainted Forest

Guest post by Abwick:

The Tainted Forest in World of Warcraft

The only beauty in the Tainted Forest: a distant waterfall

This is the Tainted Forest, which my host, the mayor of Surwich, directed me. He asked me to rid the area of unwelcome guests, from animate trees to winged demons and “bog lords.”

The first two types of creatures were easy to spot. The winged demons had wings larger than they were, and made no secret about flying and hovering about as carefree as someone released from Hell would be. And any tree that moved against the wind was a strong candidate for elimination.

There were no beasts suitable for training about, so I depended on Meriwether to hunt for me. Alas, neither of us could find any of the aforementioned bog lords. They were proving elusive. I even checked a mountain top cave, only to discover it had been taken over by demons who seemed to be summoning something. I dared not interfere since only myself and Meriwether stood against them.

I was soon to leave when I espied a cops of titanic mushrooms far in the distance. I figured this must be the bog where its lords frequented. I swam in a small lake to avoid demons to reach the area and indeed found a gaggle of bog lords. I was able to ambush them successfully.

Upon return to Surwich I looked for a decent place to rest, but found nothing. So, I flew all the way back to Nethergarde Keep and took my rest there.

Not a long day, but an eventful one for Meriwether and I.

Some thoughts on the matter of Blizzard’s Class Balance and Design part two

World of WarcraftMore from Blizzard about the recent Class & Balance Q&A:

Mage
We offered some buffs to Fire mages to help them compete with Arcane. Frost is viable in PvE, but at high-end raiding we understand that its damage isn’t perceived as comparable to Arcane or Fire. The problem is that Frost has a lot of control and survivability, and if their damage were also identical, there would be no reason to choose Arcane or Fire. Note that the 5.0 talent design is partially to fix this specific problem, where specs have either higher DPS or higher utility.

Well, now, ‘no reason to choose Arcane or Fire‘ doesn’t sound too bad, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… Hee! Seriously though, I’m sticking to my guns that all specs should be equal in DPS for raiding purposes. How that comes about is almost wholly immaterial, whether this or that is buffed or debuffed or whatnot. What’s important to me is being able to frost bosses.😉

But one fix that, it seems, would be viable is having a separate “raid” configuration for each spec. That wouldn’t be too difficult to implement.

Unfortunately, that’s not what’s going to happen. As ‘specs have either higher DPS or higher utility‘ makes it clear that if you want to do X then you will choose Y spec. I’m assuming that if you want to PvP then your only-and-obvious choice will be Frost. Bleah. I’d much prefer that we all have the flexibility to raid or PvP with any of the specs.

Time will tell, but I’m not excited by this.

Plenty of time for me to get jazzed about it though! There’s a long time between now and 5.0.

Meanwhile, I’m quite excited for 4.3! O.M.G. can not wait a minute more. Word on the street is that it’ll be released on November 29th. Why then? This explanation right here seems reasonable.

Soles, roles, and hybrids

Looking For Dungeon role choice selection

Your choices are: Tank, Heal, or DPS.

Should hybrid DPS equal or outmatch pure DPS classes as a matter of course (all things being equal)?

No. Pure DPS classes should out DPS hybrid classes. Since pure classes can only do one thing, they should be best at that one thing.

Hybrids have their advantages. Pure classes should have theirs.

From the World of Warcraft Getting Started Guide by Blizzard:

Some classes are designed specifically for one role, while other classes can perform several. The best example for a “pure” healer, for example, is the priest class (although shadow priests are a notable exception), while druids are a good example of a “hybrid” class that can effortlessly fill the role of tank, healer, or damage dealer.

Who should lead DPS?

It’s a bit of an unnecessary question in an ideal world—did the monster die? then your DPS is high enough—but it’s not an ideal world and people cling to damage meters like planks of wood after the ship’s sunk, so, they matter.

Here’s how the order should be:

  1. Pures.
  2. Hybrids.

More detail (alphabetically within each rank):

  1. Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Warlock
  2. Death Knight, Priest, Shaman, Warrior
  3. Druid, Paladin

What separates the ranks is the number of roles each class can select in the Dungeon Finder.

Why differ?

If a class can only do one thing, it should be best at that one thing. It’s the expert at that thing to the exclusion of all other things.

Otherwise, the reason to have a pure class is weakened. If there’s a desire, particularly in raids, to have room and a reason for all classes to participate and be invited, then there needs to be a reason for pure classes that matches the advantages of hybrids. That reason is superior DPS.

Advantage

What’s the advantage to choosing either a pure or a hybrid? For a hybrid, it’s being able to perform more than one role. It allows more contribution in the guild, shorter wait times in the Dungeon Finder, and of course more variety in day-to-day playing of the game.

What’s the advantage of a pure? I think it should be performing that role better than a hybrid. It’s analogous to any specialized verses general occupation. An ear doctor should be better at diagnosing and treating ear maladies than a general practitioner. The GP has the advantage of being able to work in a wider variety of places, but the ear specialist is better at ears.

Speaking of the Dungeon Finder, not only does DPS have a long wait—but pures are doubly so since there’s nothing they can do about that wait, since they can’t choose any other role at any time, regardless of circumstances or preference. Also, during a raid or even forming a raid, being able to fill two roles is twice the advantage over pure classes in terms of role/compensating for sudden roster change (drops), &c.

The Fix

Complaining isn’t good without a solution. Here are a few:

  • All classes should have more than one role. This is the most difficult and unreasonable fix, but it would address the problem by putting everyone on a nearly even level.
  • Eliminate meters. Wouldn’t it be nice if the math behind everything was so well hidden that we were left to concentrate entirely on how we wanted to play? Alas, this is even less likely to happen.
  • Give pures some love. They need it!😉

Class Balance and Design Q&A

World of WarcraftThe Developer Q&A is out, and with it some dark thoughts on whether it’s “worth it” to be a mage any more at all.

But first, some mage-related questions followed by some reactions to the answers.

The first selected question is near-and-dear to my heart, since Abethany began as a Frost mage:

Q: Is the Frost Mage ever going to be competitive in PVE? (I know it is within about 10% but it’s still the lowest DPS spec in the game at the moment)
A: Part of why we are changing talents in 5.0 is to let every spec have a shot at getting good utility. This means we can abandon the current (and tired) model where some specs (Frost, Subtlety especially) have to trade off dps because they have good control/survivability/escape. The biggest difference between Frost, Fire and Arcane in 5.0 will be which spells (including procs and other mechanics) you use to do damage.

I support this decision. As I’ve said many a time before, the choice of spec should—in a completely ideal world—purely an RP decision. I’d like Abethany to use Frost because that suits my conception of her. That she can’t because of her reduced damage output in a dungeon is quite unfortunate.

Also, it would be keen if the water elemental was an ice elemental instead. Something crystally and bad-ass.

Anyway, on to spell rotation (squee!!):

Q: Hey there, since the arcane mage playstyle is a bit “simplicistic” nowadays (one button spam in burn phase and two button use in conserve phae) can we hope to see other, more engaging ways of spell interaction? Would it, for example, be possible to get a resource system out of arcane blast stacks or can we get more spells into our rotation?
A: Arcane Mages’ rotation (or lack-there-of, depending upon your point of view) is something we have plans for in 5.0. We still want mana management to be a major part of their gameplay, but we want to mix up their rotation a bit beyond that. Additionally, their rotation being entirely immobile is debilitating for them at times. We’re currently planning to include Arcane Barrage in their PvE rotation, so that they at least have an instant GCD that allows them to move small distances without losing DPS. Arcane Missiles while moving is something that we’ve considered several times, but currently aren’t planning to use (that may change though).

I would argue that mana management is not a part of gameplay. Not enough to be a “thing” that one “does.” Here’s why: I virtually never run out of mana, even in raids. I keep to my rotation and it just never runs out. Every now and again, when I’m not paying attention, I’ll have to throttle back a bit. And I consume a mana gem when I get down a bit—but that’s because of the damage bonus it gives, not really to restore mana.

So I’m not really clear on what they mean by ‘We still want mana management to be a major part of their gameplay’.

Major? No…not major.

As to immobility, I heartily support this. Being able to move around a bit more would be tremendously liberating.

Next question is about Fire RNG:

Q: Sometimes it seems you try to fix ‘underpowered’ class specs by increasing numbers, rather than trying to solve the underlying issue (like RNG in fire spec: you just increased numbers rather than making the dps more stable)
A: RNG is what you are signing up for when you play Fire. We don’t view that as a crippling problem that needs to be fixed. Now there is such a thing as too much RNG, but we don’t think Fire is in that spot. Sometimes you’ll get a lot of Hot Streak procs etc. and sometimes you’ll get less. Our design intent is that if that bothers you, play Frost or Arcane instead. (Obviously the DPS needs to be similar overall for that to feel like a real option.)

And that’s exactly what I do. Fire was way too random for me. Way. I very much prefer predictability in what I do as myself. Having a monster behave randomly is fine, and I would even enjoy something like that under the proper circumstances, but random things from me? No, thank you.

Hybrid-vs.-Pure has been a long standing concern of mine:

Q: If there’s no hybrid tax, what’s the point of playing a pure DPS class? Raid/pug leaders will always prefer players that can fill multiple roles. When hybrids like Boomkin and Shadow Priests are out DPSing the four pure classes across most parses, I think something’s wrong.
A: We want to make sure there are pure DPS classes in raids. That doesn’t mean that hybrids just have to be support classes as they were back in the BC days. But it does mean that you should neglect mages, locks, rogues and hunters at your peril. There may very well be more hybrids, because they just have a chance at more roles, so you can’t just look at popularity of classes, but we will take steps to make sure the pures don’t vanish.

‘Mke sure the pures don’t vanish?’ What? I’m assuming I’m reading too much into this, but it sounds like hybrid classes are the way to go from now on. In short, the answer to the complaint “hybrids are outpacing pure DPS” is: “Yes.”

Well, that pretty much sucks. It’s tough enough getting included in things as a DPS at all—and it sounds like it’s going to be tougher, not easier, in the future.

‘Neglect mages […] at your peril.’ Why? Why is that perilous? Pure DPSs are there to provide DPS. Why take a pure DPS if a hybrid is already doing as much DPS?

This is a sore point for me. And there’s more about it later. Meanwhile…

This question is the bomb:

Q: You mentioned at Blizzcon that all mages will be getting Living Bomb. How will this along with talented Scorch be balanced so that it is not too powerful for fire and too underpowered for other specs? Because certain spells like Arcane Blast and Frostbolt will be only available to their respective spec, does this mean the specialization bonuses such as “your fire spells do X% increased damage” are being removed and the extra damage worked into the spell itself, so that cross spec spells such as Living Bomb do the same amount of damage no matter which spec you are in?
A: Mages don’t really need their +fire, +frost or +arcane specializations in 5.0 because only Fire mages will have Fireball. So Fire mages won’t do more damage with LB or Scorch. They will still feel like Fire mages though because of Fireball, Ignite, Combustion and Hot Streak.

Adding Living Bomb will mean something additional to do during combat, which as stated above, mages can use a little bit of. More toys is better at this stage.

And this question isn’t about mages specifically, but is something of import nonetheless:

Q: I’m glad to see you guys are still interested in making the talent system as unique as possible, but it seems like by giving so few choices that cookie cutter specs will be even MORE easy to come up with then now. i know there will always be “the best choice”. but if you guys do all this redesigning just to have the same outcome, what do you have in store to try and fix it from there? and are you concerned the new talent trees might not offer the unique build options players want to have?
A: Since so many of the talents focus on survivability, movement, and utility we are skeptical that there will ever be a talent build that is the perfect build for every PvE fight in the game. It is likely that as players learn specific encounters, each spec finds an ideal set of talents for that encounter. Those will be the “cookie cutter” builds. However, that will mean that players are interacting with the system and picking a unique set of customizations on a frequent basis. This is a vast improvement over a system that is solved once by a dps spreadhseet and then everyone copies that build once and ignores their talents for the rest of the expansion. In addition, there will be likely disagreement over which talents are best for which encounters.

So, yes, still cookie cutters—but different ones for different situations, thus leading to more variation than there is now, which is almost none. Therefore, I approve.

Next: They listen, see?

Q: Why did you pick Blast Wave, Dragon’s Breath, and Slow as the level 90 mage talents? Most every other class has gotten new skills at 90. Why put spells we mages get a lower levels at 90?
A: You know, that’s an excellent point – we’ve heard from several people that Mages could use a few more new talents. We’ll take a look.

Good! Looking forward to the change!

A Frost talent question next:

Q: I love ring of frost AND Cone of Cold, why will i have to choose ?
A: We think choosing between two powerful things is a lot more fun and interesting than choosing between a no-brainer and pile of poo. In this case specifically, we thought that mages and Frost in general have too many CC abilities and we didn’t want to keep adding more and more with every expansion. But if you have to choose which CC you want, then it gives us the design space to keep adding potentially interesting alternatives.

Agree with every word.

And, finally, another hybrid question:

Q: A lot people are worried that with druids being able to do well at our other roles, we’ll see the return of the “hybrid tax”. It’s the same old story: if we can perform any role when needed, raids will stack us, unless we don’t do as well in our specific roles, in which case we’re bad at what we most want to do. What assurance can we get that we won’t have this problem?
A: We are very interested in opening opportunities for more hybrid gameplay in druids, as you can see in the level 90 talent tier, while still allowing an option for players who want to never do anything outside their role. We don’t intend for that added hybridization to be offset by any sort of DPS nerf. While DPSing, a druid’s DPS will be entirely competitive with other DPS. We hope to see druids that do things like, “DPS in Cat Form most of the fight, but during one phase, when healing is super difficult, pop out of Cat, hit Heart of the Wild, Tranquility, and spam heals on the raid to help top everyone off, then go back to Cat and resume DPSing.” In that sort of the situation, the Cat will have spent less time DPSing than other DPSers, but his/her DPS while DPSing would have been competitive, and in exchange helped save the raid when healers were falling behind. You can probably think of many situations where this would be useful in raid content, or in some 5man content, and frequently in PvP. To clarify a bit further on how the druids will perform at their off-roles: Ferals and Guardians will have Nurturing Instinct, which increases spell power based on Agility, and Balance and Restoration will have Killer Instinct, which increases attack power based on Intellect. They will have a smaller toolbox of spells for their off-role, but the strength of those spells will be competitive, when under the effects of those hybrid talents.

Coming from a pure class, it’s easy to overlook hybrid concerns, and one of them is being competitive with pure classes if all you do is one of the available roles. What such a player is looking for, then, is not a hybrid class but a different style of DPSing, and there’s nothing (shouldn’t be) anything wrong with that. Shouldn’t DPSing be supported in the game?

Yes, but one result of that is stomping on pure classes. As mentioned above, why would you, as a raid and all things being equal, pick a pure over a hybrid? As the answer to the last question points out, there could very easily be a situation where you DPS all the time—except for this one time when you help out with another role.

But pure classes don’t have that option. They can’t “except this one time” so if you’re picking, why not pick a hybrid? Even if they’ve not put as much emphasis in hybridization as other players have, they at least have some capability with it and can  help out a bit in an emergency. More utility means having greater flexibility.

So I’m left wondering (particularly vis a vis the answer to the other hybrid question) whether or not it makes any sense having/being a pure DPS class at all.

If other classes can DPS as well and bring other roles…why be pure?

What does pure bring?

Grabbed

Sometimes, the Archaeology profession leads to some amusing moments, like this one:

Archaeology victim

It looks so peaceful, like it died drinking something out of that dwarves vase…

It died clutching my prize.

Bonus thing: Look carefully at my face there and you’ll see I’m still wearing a mask—after Hallow’s End has ended. I logged off wearing a mask and when I logged back in, there it was!

I do not plan on taking it off until Transmogrification becomes a reality. This way I can wear the world’s ugliest hat and not look like I’m wearing the world’s ugliest hat.

Win-win!

Discarded stories

I enjoy the miscellaneous objects Blizzard places hither and thither in the world.

Take these bones in the Molten Front…

Bones in the Molten Front

What is it? Is this a makeshift shrine? A hasty memorial to fallen comrades before survivors had to flee?

Will their friends ever return to claim those bones?

Or is it a victory pile, meant to celebrate crushing invaders or exalting defenders?

We’ll never know for sure, but I enjoy thinking about the possibilities.

New magic table

Here’s my new magic table, I’ve decided. Do you like it? It’s kinda goth, but I can live with it…

Magic table

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