Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Operation: Gnomeregan

There's a lot of different aspects of World of Warcraft. If you break it down, it really is made up of a ton of different mini games. There's a mini-game where you go and kill 15 rabbits; another one where you have to collect poop (okay... there seems like there's a few of those); another one where you craft items; and another where you kill bosses, etc. I enjoy a lot of these mini-games, but what really draws me in is a good story.

Yes, I know... since the introduction of QuestHelper and the like, most of us have gotten quite used to ignoring quest text, clicking accept, and simply following the arrow. I'm sure it's something that Blizzard is very well aware of. But Blizzard has been pretty creative about telling a story even if you don't read the text. Take the newer starting areas of either the Death Knight, Dranei, or Blood Elf. Even if you don't read a single word besides "Accept" they still tell the story.

At some points, they even did a good job in the old world.. the job of sucking you in. Back in vanilla, we had a small guild, so we didn't raid much. I think we all had a great investment in the quest chain to upgrade our dungeon armor to the Tier 0.5 armor. It was a huge investment in time, and to get those 45-minute Baron runs down was a Feat of Strength in and of itself... with appropriately geared toons.

Blizzard has even started refocusing on the ambiance, realizing that the whole story is also told while listening to other things. Look at how they did the ambient music in Karazhan? Sure, it's annoying the 1000th time you listen, but there's a certain ambiance that pulls you in to the story of Karazhan as well.

Case and point to all of this is the new quest line that was introduced yesterday. I can't talk to the horde side with the Trolls, but I do know that the Gnome side attempting to regain Gnomeregan is just wonderful. Engaging quests, fun stuff to do... none of them feel like a time sink. A story that pulls you in. And also, some music that simply has an epic feel to it... like you're about to retake a city that has been lost for years.

Bottom line: I'm looking forward to all the changes in Cataclysm. I'm also looking forward to all the new quests... and every other mini game as well. From what I saw in the Operation: Gnomergan questline, and what I've heard from Beta testers... we won't be grinding to 85; we'll be enjoying a wonderful story that will take us to lvl 85.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Difficulty of Gearing a DPS

I have been out of the blogging loop for so long now, I had to practically re-learn most of my blog. I changed my comments right in the middle of my hiatus, so I'm still not sure if they're working correctly. I try to respond to most comments, but since I also haven't been writing much, I can't expect many comments. At any rate, if I don't respond to a question posted, just e-mail me.

Now, on to the current subject.

I've been playing my Resto Shaman for quite some time now. I had pretty much retired Leiandra, my mage, and even dabbled a bit with my druid tank. For a change, (and to be able to attend both GDKP runs we've been holding), I decided to pull the mage out of moth balls, and gear her up for ICC.

And amazingly, it's not as easy as I remembered or thought it would be. For all of you Gear-score people, she's about at a 2500 GS. Not horrible, but certainly has a lot of upgrades to get. Heck, she can even get a ton of upgrades out of the ICC 5-man instances. Heck! There's still about 250 Emblems of Triumph that would finish out her 232-ilvl gear. But it is absolutely insane the amount of time that I have to wait in the dungeon finder in order for me to get in an instance.

With both my healing shaman and tanking druid, I may have to wait up to 1 minute to get in an instance. Now, 1 minute is usually only if I have chosen specific dungeons to run. The random dungeons is pretty much instant group. In fact, they might as well change the button for tanks and healers to be "Join Group Now".

DPS, on the other hand, seems to take a little longer. I've waited around for 15 minutes before finding something else to do, and that's for the random dungeons. I can't even think how long I would have to wait if I chose a dungeon that people don't want to run, like say.. The Nexus. (which I happen to enjoy, but that's a whole different post.)

And I suppose it all makes sense. 60-70% of most raids are DPS. 60% of 5-man instances are DPS. If there were equal distribution of specs for each class, then you'd probably have about 66% of players doing DPS, but... I'm guessing it's a lot higher. Just a guess (with no data to back it up), I'm guessing that it's more like 80-90% of people want to just kill stuff.

In a class like a mage (or warlock, or rogue, or hunter), this is almost the reverse hybrid tax. (If you're not familiar with hybrid tax, see here.) Any of the hybrids out there can simply change spec, run the 5-mans on one of the easier specs to get into 5-mans, and be out of the instance before the pure dps classes can even get in an instance.

So, what's the answer? Well, the fastest thing is to make friends with a non-hybrid. If you're really good, you'll make friends with a tank AND a healer, and have them run heroics with you. At that point though, you'll probably get swamped with whispers if you throw out in trade chat, "LF 2 DPS for...". (In all honesty, there's such an over-abundance of DPS, it doesn't really matter how you finish that sentence.) And this brings me to my final point. As an effective tool, and compared to how well it works for healers and tanks, I'd even go as far as to say that the LFG tool is almost broken for DPS.

Which really brings it back to the root cause of what's fun to most people. The majority of people don't like to tank and heal. So, is there anything that Blizzard can do to make these roles fun? I know they've taken a look at healing in this regard. As far as what I've seen from Cataclysm Beta posts though, it seems they've merely tried to make healers not stare at bars as much. You actually have to look at the environment around you as well. But we shall see...

To sum up: Gearing a DPS? Get a pocket tank and healer to do it quickly and efficiently. :)