Tuesday, 29 December 2009

End of Year Reads

I'll admit it, I haven't really thought about games in days and likely won't anymore this year. If I don't think, I don't come up with content and you don't get stuff to read from me.
Luckily, there's a lot more to read out there. Here are some things that might interest you.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas Fillings

I don't really have time for a serious post today - and to be honest, you should be out getting presents or decorating trees or whatnot as well. I handed in the thesis for my master's degree today, so you can expect some more focus on the blog after the holidays. (And after I've finished celebrating. Man I'm glad that that axe over my head is finally gone.)

Speaking of Christmas - Steam has a big Christmas sale that's worth looking at. I won't go into details, but what you should really do is get some of those ultra-cheap indie games. You can get Braid for €2,24 (you might remember that from the list of top games of 2009!), AudioSurf for €2,50 (I just played the demo so far but I'm definitely getting it now.), and World of Goo for €4,99 which was worth the full €20 when I bought it. Even if you don't like indie games, if you get these 3 that's going to be ten euros (or dollars or pounds or whatever heathen currency you use) you won't regret spending.

Also, you'd be doing a good deed by giving money to indie developers. 'Tis the season after all. Also, way more fun than a pandaren monk!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Monster Scaling

It’s been quite a while since I’ve played Morrowind, but there’s one thing I distinctly remember about the game: If you did a lot of sidequests and levelled through them, finishing the main storyline would become trivial. The game was designed as an open world and you could practically go anywhere in any order you liked. The opposite of an open world (or sandbox) game is a railroad game – one in which the player advances on a fixed path. In a railroad RPG, the player can never out-level the monsters because the game developers always know exactly how far a player will have developed at every point in time. The modern day solution of sandbox games for this problem is monster scaling.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Itemization 3.3: A New Hope (?)

Lately I've had a couple of people whispering me helpful hints on how I had forgotten to put my healing gear on. You see, my shaman is wearing two pieces of elemental tier nine gear in her healing set and her cloak has hit on it. This is far from uncommon with informed restoration shamans these days because in some cases the DPS gear is just plain better than that designed for healing, especially with the low emphasis on mana in current raid content.
Now I am seriously considering to get the elemental totem instead of the restoration one from the new tier of badge gear. Its bonus is triggered by Flame Shock - not normally a spell a healer would use - but is simply better than the bonus triggered by the restoration totem. The judgement is still out on which of these is better in the long run, but many shamans are already complaining about crappy itemization and how they shouldn't be forced to wear DPS gear when healing. I actually quite like it.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Where Would You Be Without an MMO?

2009 is drawing to a close and that means it's time to look back. Have you tried to make a list of must-have games of 2009 yet? No? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Icecrown Impressions

With all my ranting about 3.3 I was still interested to see how the new raid instance has turned out and was therefore actually happy to get selected for my guild's first foray into it. Well, technically our first two forays but Wednesday was, well, patch day. Advantages to patching a day later my ass.
Anyway, we actually got into the instance late Wednesday night and then without issues on Thursday. You'll find my first impressions from all four available bosses below the break.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Patch Tidbits

Patch 3.3 is upon us, or so they claim. I still haven't finished downloading yet and I would bet that the servers over here aren't even up. Reports indicate that the launch of Icecrown Citadel was riddled with lag and other server issues - as always when we get a new content patch.
With the patch we also get a new official cinematic, aptly called Fail of the Lich King.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Healing the Day After Tomorrow

World of Warcraft patch 3.3 is expected to hit the day after tomorrow (or tomorrow if you live on the other side of the Atlantic ocean), bringing with it the brand-spanking new Icecrown Citadel raid instance to entertain us for months and months to come. If you are raiding as a healer you will have noticed that healing is quite broken at the moment - even Blizzard has admitted that there are issues.
Some issues will be addressed in the patch, others will have to wait for cataclysm.

Friday, 4 December 2009

TOR: Hell is Other People

A selection of game journalists was invited over to the Lucas Arts HQ in San Francisco the other day to get some hands-on experience with their upcoming Star Wars MMO The Old Republic. You can find a list of articles with the experiences of those journalists here.
Aside from "revealing" two new classes (which had already been revealed to some magazines in Germany beforehand), the Bioware guys talked about companion characters.
That's right, just as in the Bioware single-player RPGs you will be able to meet NPCs that join you on your quest.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Mythos: Can This Possibly Work?

Remember Mythos? What started as a network code test for Hellgate: London was turned into a multiplayer action RPG eventually, developed by Flagship Studio's Seattle branch. If you don't remmber the game, that's because it was never actually released. Hellgate: Lodon flopped and Flagship Studios went broke during the closed beta of Mythos. Most of the guys from the Seattle branch went on to form Runic Games and eventually make Torchlight (which I've written about extensively.)
Well, it turns out that Mythos isn't quite dead yet.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Playing Single

I love MMOs. I greatly enjoy working together with other people to either beat a mighty computer controlled opponent or another (team of) players. I love the feeling of persistence and accomplishing something that will last and can be witnessed by my peers - even though I know the distinction between virtual accomplishments and real ones. Have you ever dismissed a game because it didn't have a multi-player mode? I know I have and I know others who do so regularly.
Why would anyone still make games without a multi-player component these days when there are so many advantages to having it and the internet is widely available? I'm glad you asked; here are five good reasons to make single player games:

Friday, 27 November 2009

Friday Filler #5: Savings, savings, savings [Updated]

I have to be at the dentist's (ugh) in half an hour and still I'm here writing this post for you because time is somewhat essential. As usual, the friday post will be short - today we have a collection of games you should try right now because they are cheaply available in one form or another.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Role-playing is hard

I have an admission to make - I can't play the evil guy in RPGs. I simply cannot. I think I first realized this in Knights of the Old Republic when I tried to do a play-through of the game as sith, see how the storyline works out if I do so, and see an alternate ending. Now it is usually quite obvious what the evil (or "dark side" or "renegade") options in these games are, making the whole task trivial from an intellectual point of view. Emotionally, however, I just couldn't bring myself to be such a dick to the NPCs, even knowing that they were just a collection of pixels. (Or, more accurately, bits.) Somehow, Bioware RPGs seem to immerse me so much that I can't actually - you know - role play. While I'm not thinking about the player character as myself, I will always behave as if it was myself in that situation.
(Warning: The paragraphs below may contain very slight spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins.)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Christmas Raiding

Blizzard poster Datth posted the following on the tech support forums a couple of days ago, hinting at the release date for World of Warcraft's newest patch:

"We only provide mirror links for full client patches. Background downloads do not count. You have around 1+ month to download this file so we're not really worried about your speed. :)"
-Datth (emphasis mine)

This doesn't really tell us a lot. MMO Champion's Boubouille doesn't believe it will take that long, and if it does, 1+ month is still very inaccurate. This could mean, however, that we get the patch right before Christmas. That got me thinking - who would want a content patch at that time?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Like Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread

If you are anything like me, you have probably been playing the last few months in World of Warcraft bored and annoyed with Blizzard's decisions but didn't stop playing because there was a shimmer of hope in Icecrown Citadel at the horizon. The issue with horizons is that, the more you travel towards them, the faster they move away from you.
The lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft, Scott "Daelo" Mercer, posted yesterday on the topic of Icecrown Citadel access progression.
And, merlin's beard, it sucks.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Downloadable Cashcow

A grand day in early 1999 - Tales of the Sword Coast was released, the addon to Bioware's hit RPG Baldur's Gate. Obviously I got it as fast I could, installed it and added 20-30 hours of game play to the already fantastic Baldur's Gate. That was the common way back then to milk your customers for more money for an old game. Er, I mean to provide your fans with an extended and enhanced game experience. Today, things work differently - at least in part. Sure there are still expansion packs, be it Wrath of the Lich King or Shivering Isles, but broadband internet has enabled game companies to provide additions to their game in the form of downloads.
It's common for game companies to provide fixes for their games through downloads, and sometimes they are so kind to actually add some new content as well. The more common form of dowloadable content is paid for, however. Just how much downloadable bang do you get for your buck?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Dragonhate?

So I've been playing Dragon Age: Origins pretty much every minute that wasn't filled with thesis work, birthday celebrations, or raiding. It grabbed me right at the start, I'm immersed into the story and I care for some of the characters.
That's huge for a game that I had relatively low expectations for. Sure, it isn't perfect, but who is?
Imagine my surprise when I find (with the help of Spinks and Google Reader) A barrage of blog posts damning the game into the ground.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Where has My Voice Gone?

When I came back home on Sunday, Dragon Age: Origins was lying on my desk, waiting for me. (Thank you Amazon! Cross country shipping in 2 days and €15 saved.) I haven't had a lot of time for it, but I really liked the time I did spend in the game. So far it is quite linear, plays a bit like the interactive movies of old, but not in a bad way. I'm really immersed in the storyline and love talking to the various characters around.
One thing, however, irks me. Where is my voice?

Monday, 9 November 2009

You Say That as if It's a Bad Thing

One of my favourite (not) arguments against achievers is "They play the game to compensate for their lack of success in real life." Statements like that can be read in many discussions and even blog posts and I always fail to grasp the argument behind it.
Yes, I play games that include advancement because I like advancing and life doesn't give me enough of it. That doesn't mean that my life sucks, it just means that life is more reasonable than games and can't fully provide me with what I want.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Friday Filler #4

It's Friday again! Today's filler comes from wordle.net and gives you an overview on what my blog is actually about. (And what words I really use too often.)


In other news, I ordered Dragon Age: Origins (from the UK, €14 cheaper than buying it here or via steam. Thank you weak British pound.) with mixed feelings. There are many glowing reports but also quite a few reviews that put it in the "meh" and "nothing new" categories. Even some of the glowing reports describe it as "Baldur's Gate in 3D" and I'd personally much rather have another Mass Effect than another Baldur's Gate. I liked the first Baldur's Gate, but didn't play the second one for very long (even though I owned it) because there's just so much Baldur's Gate I can take. Well, we'll see.
If my fears come true, you can probably expect some sort of review here (or well, a loose collection of things I dislike more likely) if not... probably not.

Have a nice weekend.

[As you can see, no more "read more" links on posts that don't need them. That makes this footer superfluous.]

Thursday, 5 November 2009

10 Bad Things About Torchlight

As promised, here are ten things that are bad about Torchlight. This doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy playing the game or that I wouldn't recommend buying it. The purpose of this post is to find things that could be done better in the future. It also concludes my mini-review of Torchlight that isn't really a review.
Without further ado, like yesterday in no particular order - 10 bad things about Torchlight:

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

10 Good Things About Torchlight

I wanted to write about Torchlight for a while now, but there are game reviews enough out there that you don't need me to write another one. Instead, I'll focus on highlighting good aspects of Torchlight today - as a lesson for future games - while talking about the bad sides tomorrow.
Quick intro for those that don't know Torchlight at all: Torchlight is a (at the moment) single player only Diablo clone by Runic Games. Runic Games has a lot of the people in it that created the original Diablo and later Hellgate: London. The game is available for €15 or $20 on Steam where you can also find a free demo.
But enough of that, here are 10 good things about Torchlight, in no particular order:

Monday, 2 November 2009

Servers, What's the Point (Part 3)

On Wednesday I talked about the splitting of MMORPGs into various servers ("sharding") and why it is done. In Thursday's post - which nobody read, incidentally, go do it now - I pointed out reasons against sharding.
Now, creating a single-server world for millions of people isn't easy. Not only do people have different interests, as pointed out in part one, but the world would also, quite literally, get too full. Imagine World of Warcraft's Dalaran (or worse, Ironforge in vanilla WoW) with a hundred times as many players or more. Or imagine the amount of loading time for your capital city in Aion several times more personal shops around than there are already. Below I'll discuss several ways to alleviate this problem, to actually make single-server worlds possible.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Real Life Goblins

Yes it's a weekend post, just because I'm so annoyed.
My headset broke the other day. Well, it's been breaking for a couple of weeks now but tape could keep it together somehow. On Wednesday it completely stopped working and it was again that time of the year in which I buy a new headset. Some research later, I decide that the Logitech G35 is a decent choice, closely followed by the (cheaper but unpronounceable) Razer Carcharias. With a raid coming up on Sunday it seemed better to just go to a store and buy it instead of ordering it online. Online is usually cheaper, but how much of a difference could it be?

Forty fracking Euro is how much. Amazon will ship me the G35 on Tuesday or Wednesday for €89,97 while my local electronics discounter wants a whopping €129,99. That's $132.50 and $191.50 respectively. Naturally I went to the next sales clerk and tried to get him to drop the price to an acceptable level. I understand all the stuff of retail stores having higher running costs than online businesses but he seriously tried to explain a €40 difference with that.

Well, long story short I'll have to raid without a microphone for a bit and I'll never buy electronics in retail ever again without checking prices first.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday Filler #3

I've been playing a bit of Torchlight lately after seeing Spinks write about it. It's quite a good Diablo clone with a few nifty features. There's a free demo available and the game itself is only €15 or $20 on Steam.

I might write more about the game on a later date, but for now here's an important rule for your game design: Don't put monsters directly on the entrance of a level if your game has loading screens. I don't know how often I've already died in Torchlight due to alt-tabbing or going AfK on a loading screen only for some random monster to eat my character while I'm away. If you have to have loading screens, at least make the entry zones safe. Not everyone has the patience to stare at a rotating hourglass until your game is done loading.

Enjoy your weekend, your regular scheduled content returns on Monday.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Servers, What’s the Point? – Part 2

In yesterday's post I talked about the server structure in MMORPGs, why it exists and why it isn't necessarily necessary anymore. Today, we'll have a look at the question of why it would be good to get rid of isolated servers.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Servers, What’s the Point? – Part 1

We have had cross-server battlegrounds and arenas in World of Warcraft for a long time, now we’re getting cross-server pick-up-groups for dungeons and raids. Games like Aion (and Tabula Rasa and I’m sure others) show us that you can subdivide the population of a region into different channels to make it less crowded while still allowing players to play together. Why are MMORPGs split into servers at all? Why aren’t we all on one big server like in EVE?
Today’s post will deal with the advantages of the traditional server model and try to find solutions for the problems that a one-server world would bring with it. Tomorrow’s part two will then talk about why we would want to condense to one server in the first place and part three (if there is interest in one) will talk about my idea on how such a world could be set up.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Defining Content

There's been a lot of talk on the optimal difficulty level for raids, I even had my own post about it a few days ago. One argument on the pro-easy side is "everybody should be able to see the content." I've countered this in the past with the question of why you would need to see new content while there is so much old content you haven't seen yet. Maybe it's the definition of content that's actually the core issue here.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Friday Filler #2

Another week is over, another trafficless weekend lies ahead. Here's something to read until we see each other again on Monday. Just like last week, don't bother clicking read more. This is all you get today.

  • Klepsacovic over at Troll Racials are Overpowered has interesting ideas to improve WoW's crafting system.

  • Spinks tells us about losing gear progression in WoW and has some very good arguments there.

  • Also check out this slightly older post over at Dragonchasers on the topic of convenience vs immersion.

  • As always, the blogs on my blogroll are the bee's knees. Go have a look.

  • If you need more to read than blogs, I just finished Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, quite a nice piece of contemporary science fiction. Be warned though, it's quite dark and somewhat explicit.





  • Thursday, 22 October 2009

    Healer Burnout

    This is a post I've been meaning to write for a while, yet other stuff always got in the way. Casual Raid Leader Starman wrote a post a while ago on why wrath is burning out healers and why healing in wrath isn't fun. His main reason: Fights are too hard for healers. Seriously.
    Now, I just had a post on difficulty and I won't go back into discussing whether boss encounters in Wrath of the Lich King are harder or easier to heal than they were before. Instead, let's have a look on why healers really burn out and whether that happens more often in Wrath than before.

    Tuesday, 20 October 2009

    Levels of Difficulty

    The discussion about whether WoW has become too easy or not is hardly new, but Mimetir, a guest poster over at World of Matticus brought it up again. This prompted LarĂ­sa to write a strong post on how she's sick of hearing people claim that WoW is too easy these days if they haven't beaten all the content yet.
    She is correct in many points and I'll address that below, but here's one thing I am sick of: People claiming that just because there is something left that I haven't managed to do yet, the difficulty is fine.

    Saturday, 17 October 2009

    Endgame Killed the Levelling Content

    Keen over at Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog wrote an interesting post on how current MMO design is too vertical. Content is bypassed quickly in order to get closer to the endgame. When is the last time you have actually cared about gear while levelling?
    A huge part of current MMOs is only there to guide the players to the maximum level where the real game takes place. I know I myself usually rush to the new maximum in WoW whenever an expansion hits. I don't care about the content in between; I don't care about crafting (other than getting that to max level too,) etc. Keen calls this “concentrated action” in a follow-up post. Instead of having a lot of things to do all over the place, we are funnelled into a linear progression path to the endgame.

    Friday, 16 October 2009

    Friday Filler

    My Friday posts (not even to speak of weekend posts) usually get read by a very small minority only - so you won't get a full post today. I have a question for all you healers though - and a blog for everyone to read if they do need more stuff to read on the weekend.

    If you are or ever have been a healer you likely have been bored with that role at some point in time or another. Please post a quick comment on why that was. Well written comments have a good chance to land in a post next week.

    And here's your weekend reading: Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog. I stumbled upon this yesterday and it seems like a good collections of musing on MMO game design. Enjoy and have a nice weekend. See you all on Monday.

    Tuesday, 13 October 2009

    Ze Items, Zey do Nothing

    No, I'm not suddenly a subscriber in the blue Ulduar theory. Clearly gear has a strong effect in World of Warcraft, both on performance and as a motivator. What it isn't, is interesting.
    Most people I've talked to dislike the incredibly unimaginative Trial of the Grand Crusader gear, but the issue I'm talking about is as old as WoW itself. For one, gear isn't very varied (and will be worse with Cataclysm.) But even if it was, the stats would just be very boring and unimaginative.

    Thursday, 8 October 2009

    Utility is Dead (or is it?)

    We've all heard of "bring the player, not the class" and are getting used to the fact that virtually every class and spec in WoW brings some kind of buff to the raid. Not all MMOs handle raid utility this way and in fact WoW didn't always either. I distinctly remember the time where you absolutely wanted a shadow priest or two in the raid for their mana regeneration, even though their DPS was sub-par. Survival hunters were only taken for their debuff and shamans switched groups mid-fight do chain Heroism on a DPS group.

    Wednesday, 7 October 2009

    When Casuals go 2D

    Much talk can be found on the blogosphere about the meaning (and lack thereof) of the words casual and hardcore. Euripedes of Critical QQ wants to abolish these terms altogether while Arioch over on Clearcasting proposes a scale of seriousness instead. There used to be a discussion over at WoWRadio that casual and hardcore don't exist anymore because guilds like Ensidia often spend less time playing than your average raiding guild - just because they are so good.
    Do you see the issue here?

    Monday, 5 October 2009

    Honesty Does Apply

    I've said before that, unlike many other blogs, I will have strict quality control on my blogroll. Well, you might have noticed that the Greedy Goblin just disappeared from it. I used to think of that site as a clever businessman sharing his insights on the WoW economy. In today's post, however, he is proud of using lies and deceit to cheat a competitor out of his money.
    His post, and the comments below it, got me thinking again about what anonymity does to people in online games and how one should behave in such situations.

    Friday, 2 October 2009

    Of Elephants and Tigers

    I linked to an article by Tobold a while ago in which he argued that the MMORPG market might be saturated. It is true, we see various new MMOs launch with reasonably high sales numbers but a very low amount of long-term subscribers. Is Blizzard god and everybody else just fails at making games?

    Sunday, 27 September 2009

    So long, Ghostcrawler, and thanks for all the fish.

    We are gathered here today to bid farewell to our beloved Ghostcrawler, who will always be remembered for bringing customer interaction at Blizzard to a new level. Yesterday, at 8:51 pacific daylight time he passed away into the land of the silent.
    Alright, obviously Ghostcrawler didn't die or I wouldn't make such a cheesy opening. He did post this, however:
    "I always said that when my posting was doing more harm than good that maybe it was time to stop. I think I'll at least chill it out a little. I will continue to read the forums though. If you want to make sure the WoW developer see your feedback, this is still a good place to post."

    Wednesday, 23 September 2009

    The Wolpertinger Must Stay Free!

    Those of you who live in the US and have a mind for seasonal events will likely have had encounters with pink elephants - excuse me, elekks - and maybe even the elusive wolpertinger. Some lucky Europeans had that opportunity too - for a few hours after the weekly maintenance. After that, these Brewfest quests were disabled again as it is apparently intended.

    Tuesday, 22 September 2009

    Comment Issues

    Just a heads up - my comment provider (damn third parties :/) seems to have server problems. So if you don't see comments or an option to comment with - check back later.
    When I have some spare time I will move this thing to my own server and be done with such stuff. Until then, please keep looking for comments- there are actually some good ones under my latest post ;)

    Monday, 21 September 2009

    There Goes my Head Start

    So I preordered Aion, collector's edition even, and yesterday was the head start for preorders. According to past experience I should have spent the night without sleep and should be level 20 by now or something. Well, I haven't even touched it yet and I likely won't for a while.

    Friday, 18 September 2009

    Motivating Raiders: Part 3 - Respect

    This is the third (and for now final) part of my series on Fear, Love, and Respect. Check out parts one and two as well as the original article if you like.
    Today we will talk about what I consider the most important tool of a raid leader, respect, and how to achieve it.

    Thursday, 17 September 2009

    Motivating Raiders: Part 2 - Love

    Welcome to the second follow-up to my Fear, Love, Respect post. Since the first instalment was about fear, it should be quite obvious that today I'm going to to talk about love. There are many definitions of love, but I will only refer to a very specific subset here. But don't worry, the post is still longer than anyone would like it to be.

    Wednesday, 16 September 2009

    Motivating Raiders: Part 1 - Fear

    I got feedback from a few people that they enjoyed my Fear, Love, Respect post but missed a part about practical application. The following sequels will attempt to remedy that by detailing ways in which you can achieve each of the three and what consequences that may have. I originally meant for it to be only one sequel but well, it got somewhat big, so we are only dealing with fear today. Love and respect will follow.
    If you haven't read the post I linked above, please do that or wait for the other parts of this series before you imply that I suggest ruling by fear alone - I don't.

    Sunday, 13 September 2009

    Fear, Love, Respect

    Some of you may be familiar with the works of Italian philosopher Machiavelli and others will at least have heard of him. I'm not going to argue for or against machiavellianism here, but his below quote will get us started on the discussion of how a raid (or guild) leader will get her raiders to do as she says. This is a similar topic to the one I tackled in 7 Different Shades of Stupid but this time I'm approaching it more from a philosophical point of view than a hands-on one.

    Saturday, 12 September 2009

    Locke and Demosthenes

    I promised you a real post, this is not it. In my defense though, this is far too true (and good) not to post. Randall over at xkcd has really hit the nail on the head about blogging. It's sad really, but so funny. (Hint: Click for full-size)



    If you don't get it, go read Ender's Game already, you slacker.

    Next post will be for real, I promise!

    Back in the Rain

    Just a quick update: I'm now back in good old rain country after a fabulous two weeks in southern Italy. Man I will miss the food and the wine. Especially the wine.
    Looking forward to seeing sane people on roads again though, Italy's roads are nuts.

    Expect new posts soon, after I've found out what actually happened in the gaming world since I went away. I doubt anyone is actually interested in posts about my holidays, or are you?

    Thursday, 27 August 2009

    Vacation time

    Everyone is coming back from their holidays, I'm starting mine. I will be in sunny Italy for two weeks, starting tomorrow.
    I hope I will have some sort of internet access there, so do expect some posts. But if I don't post, don't give up on me and check back on me in two weeks. (Yes I'm talking to all three of you, my regular readers ;))

    Oh and don't miss my newest post below over this. This is just a PSA.




    I, Vork

    It's been common knowledge for ages that there are different types of players in MMOs that want different experiences. Richard Bartle already published his paper Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs in 1996. That paper defines four central types of different gamers: achievers, explorers, socializers, and griefers.
    A more recent distinction that has come up in the community is, that between hardcore and casual players. Recent events, such as the Cataclysm discussion, lead me to believe that there are far more categories than that.

    Tuesday, 25 August 2009

    Blizzcon Dissected - Part 3: Martial Arts and Caprica Six

    As promised, here's part three of my Blizzcon Dissected series. This part will deal with the upcoming games Diablo III and Starcraft II. Sorry WoW fans, go reread parts one and two instead.
    I will start out with Diablo as the new information on Starcraft is somewhat sparse. If you only care about Starcraft, click here.

    Sunday, 23 August 2009

    Blizzcon Dissected - Part 2: Dumbification

    Welcome to the second part of my Blizzcon series. You can find the first part here. Today I will look into various bits and pieces that we got from day one and then go deeply into the itemization disaster they announced. No, it won't be pretty.

    Saturday, 22 August 2009

    Blizzcon Dissected - Part 1: Goblins and Worgens and Titans, oh MY!

    The first day of Blizzcon is over and man do we have some news. Some people have had their faith in Blizzard renewed by these. My faith still is shaken, but it's definitely not all bad. In this multipart series I will dissect the announcements and let you know what I think about them. This is a blog after all.
    Check out World of Raids and MMO Champion for full details of the changes.

    Thursday, 20 August 2009

    Button Real Estate

    Today is the last day before Blizzcon so I will likely have to post about Worgens and Goblins and Naga - Oh My! But today is not that day.
    I recently stumbled upon this post by Hafengrim over at NoStockUI that deals with using keybindings to save screen real estate. While not bad, I find that saving button real estate is far more important.

    Tuesday, 18 August 2009

    7 Different Shades of Stupid

    If you've ben raiding at all, you've probably been yelled at by a raid leader at some point in time. The yelling, cursing, and blaming raid leader seems to be very common these days. I've heard multiple comments by people who joined our guild that they didn't think raiding was possible without this kind of behaviour.
    The good news is: it is! You can lead raids successfully without being a total jerk. Alas, there's a downside to being nice to your raiders in that at some point they will not learn from their mistakes anymore because these are not followed by repercussions. In the following I will discuss how I think a leader should and how he shouldn't treat his raiders.

    Wednesday, 12 August 2009

    You can pry these 40 bucks from my cold, dead hands

    If I, of all people, am channeling Charlton Heston in the title of my post, I must be really mad. And I am. I just found an announcement on wcradio.com that their live BlizzCon coverage has been cancelled. Blizzard, in an obvious attempt to get us to buy the DirectTV coverage of the event, was so kind to inform the brilliant volunteers over at WoW Radio ten days before the con about this.

    Tuesday, 11 August 2009

    Thirty-One [updated]

    World of Warcraft's lead systems designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street seems to have confirmed that there will be at least thirty-one bosses in the next raid dungeon, Icecrown Citadel. This number seems huge and somewhat surprising, considering the recent half-assing that has been going on. If this really means that we will get thirty-one boss encounters then this is great news. The lackluster Coliseum was clearly just something to keep us amused until we get the bomb in Icecrown Citadel.
    Alas, that might not be the case.

    Saturday, 8 August 2009

    Patch 3.2 - Halfassing Deluxe

    So patch 3.2 hit and I can't say I'm disappointed with the new 5,10 and 25 men content.
    I would like to, really, but my expectations were so low that Blizzard has pretty much managed to hit the nail on the head. The Coliseum, as far as it's accessible, is terribad. And here's why.

    Two Worms Salute Buffd on TV

    It's time for a mixed bag post. I will do these from time to time to adress issues that I don't have to say enough about for them to have their own posts. Topics today:
    - Two Jormungar Moon shirt available
    - A salute to readers
    - buffd.net
    - Never stay tuned 4

    Friday, 7 August 2009

    Second-guessing Yourself

    Matt, over at World of Matticus, tells us the following:
    "You never, ever, ever second guess yourself when you’re the boss. You can’t afford to."
    To which I say "Nay!"
    If you don't have someone to second-guess you, you will make the same mistakes over and over again. Yes it is important to stand to your decisions as a guild or raid leader, otherwise people will lose all respect for you. But you can't do everything right. As much as you think decisions through beforehand, you have to accept the fact that you will make mistakes. Making mistakes is human and isn't a problem at all, the problem is when people don't learn from their mistakes. But how would you ever notice your mistakes without being second-guessed? You can't.

    Thursday, 6 August 2009

    A Theory of Small Steps

    "I won't get that item, it's only a few more attack power."
    "Why do I need epic gems? Nobody died when I healed with blues!"
    "I'm not moving from the lightning because I can easily heal through it."
    Who hasn't heard things like the quotes above in their World of Warcraft career? The idea that little improvements don't matter is widely spread. I realized this the other day when discussing the merit of the Tuskarr's Vitality enchant on boots with my guildmaster. WoW is a game of small steps and far too many people don't realize it. I will discuss the importance or unimportance of small steps in four cases below: Continuous improvement, improvement in discrete steps, improving the random number generator, and futile improvement.

    Tuesday, 4 August 2009

    Resto Shamans in 3.2

    The final patchnotes for 3.2 are out, as is the patch itself in the US. We over here in the EU will have to wait another day for our chance to fight not one, but TWO jormungar worms. Time enough to have a detailed look into what the patch changed for us restoration shamans.
    I will break this down into two sections - one for PvE and one for PvP. Changes that affect both types of gameplay will appear twice.

    Monday, 3 August 2009

    Aion Impressions

    Here they are, my Aion impressions. The post is very long but I've broken it down into sections so that you might be able to skip stuff that you don't care about. This beta weekend is over but there will be more. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I'll try to answer them. If I don't know, I'll try to find out in the next beta. For now, enjoy.

    Whenever a new MMO comes out ,the big question everybody asks is "Is this the WoW killer?" - and the answer is always no. So I got into the closed Aion beta and, well, it's not the WoW killer. That said, I don't believe there can actually be such a thing. A good MMO will start sucking subscribers from WoW a couple thousand at a time. If it's really good it might stabilize at 3 million or so subscribers but WoW will die on itself at somepoint in a slow decline, it won't just get killed by another game.
    Below the fold you'll find my first experiences in Aion and my ideas on whether the game is worth trying out or not.

    Friday, 31 July 2009

    Aion, Comments, and Stuff!

    First of all, a big thank you to all new readers and especially those that commented or buffed my posts.
    I screwed up on the comments, I was sure I had comment pre-moderation disabled. Turns out I didn't and some of your comments got delayed. My apologies.

    Summer Raiding And You

    If you've been in a raiding guild at all you've probably seen this. Everything goes great, your guild is progressing, people are attending, everything is fine.

    And then it gets warm outside.

    All of a sudden your attendance rates drop, raids don't happen and raids that do happen get worse. People start coming late or leaving early while others go AWOL for two weeks. Congratulations, summer got you and you're thoroughly screwed.
    Or are you? In the following I'll discuss why raiding is so difficult during summer and solutions to keep your guild together. If you have more, by all means leave a comment!

    Tuesday, 28 July 2009

    Applying to Multiple Guilds

    Matt over at World of Matticus just blogged about the question of whether or not applying to multiple guilds is a sin. His opinion is clearly that it's not an issue at all, I happen to disagree.

    Monday, 27 July 2009

    Investing in the Future of Gaming

    I first heard about this idea in the aforementioned ABC interview with Gabe Newell but got reminded of it on sunday evening by Octale & Hordak.

    It basically goes like this: Instead of having business people invest money into a game's production and players buying it when it is complete, why not have the players themselves invest into the game in the first place? Microinvestments if you will.
    Companies would pitch their game concepts to players and those could then purchase shares of that game. Not only would they get the game when it's finished but they would eventually get paid out a small part of the game's profits. For more details of the original plans, please refer to Octale & Hordak's excellent show.

    Sniping and Overhealing

    Sydera has an excellent post over at World of Matticus about healing meters and how to read them.
    I very much agree with most of what's said there, except for her views on heal sniping. The comments also bring up the topic of overhealing which I'll address below.

    Sunday, 26 July 2009

    Healing Vezax as Enhancement

    UPDATE: there are reports that this strategy doesn't work very well any more. I have not tested this in 3.2, but be advised that it may not be a good idea these days. It was fun while it lasted.

    UPDATE 2:
    It is confirmed, enhancement healing is dead.
    Enhancement shamans receive a healing debuff similar to the ones Retribution paladins have had since the encounter’s initial implementation

    I mostly play as a restoration shaman in World of Warcraft. In that role I recently found an interesting alternative way of healing the General Vezax encounter in Ulduar on hard mode.

    Piracy - is it really a problem?

    There has been a discussion over in the wcradio.com forums about piracy that I found very thought provoking. Personally I haven't pirated a game in years and refuse to do so because I believe in supporting development studios. That doesn't mean, however, that I think piracy is a problem at all.

    Launch

    Welcome to Procrastination Amplification, my personal blog about all things gaming. A number of these posts will be about World of Warcraft as that is the MMO I'm currently playing (and that I keep coming back to), but you'll also find me writing about any number of games that currently concern me for one reason or another and posts about the gaming industry in general.

    Thanks for giving me a shot :)

    scrusi