MMORPGs have only been around for a little over a decade, and there have only been a handful of them that have really hit the mainstream such as Everquest and World of Warcraft where people have spent years not only with the same characters but with the same friends. When Everquest was threatened by Everquest II and World of Warcraft, I had already spent five years with my Wood Elf Druid. It was easy to continue on in EQ2 with the same character that found herself lost at sea 500 years later, but when I started having issues with EQ2 and moved to WoW, it wasn’t such an easy transition. Although the world is virtual, there were still real-world experiences in visiting them. Every new place you went to like North Karana or Velious had their own stories, just as if you went to visit a real-world location like Italy or the Alps. The types of experiences are different, but they’re experiences nonetheless, and pulling yourself away from the world in which these experiences happened isn’t always easy.
Leaving EQ2 for WoW was easy the first few months because WoW was done so well. Teldrassil was gorgeous and the people I found along the way were fun and helpful to be with. Over time, I started missing places like the spires of North Karana, and my home in EQ2 that I spent so much time on. I hadn’t actually cancelled my SOE account so I visited EQ1, porting around here and there like I was visiting a living photo album, but I really missed my house in EQ2 a lot. I started playing again and built up enough plat for a new home. Six years later, I still play EQ2 off and on, and EQ1 is just too grindy for me, but the SOE All Access Pass allows me to play all SOE games for one fee per month so I can visit EQ1 whenever I want. It’s almost like taking a vacation from your virtual world.
Now that two new big games are on the horizon (Star Wars: Old Republic, Guild Wars 2), I wonder whether people will be able to give up WoW cold turkey. I’ve seen some people do it already, some for Star Wars, some for just being burned out on WoW. There’s just way too much history with my characters to just simply move away from WoW. I don’t get attached to the characters themselves, but the stories I can tell with them. Some of the best stories come from the items I keep in my bank. The thought of moving on to another game and leaving this character behind makes me a little nervous because I feel like I’d be leaving behind the ability to continue on with those stories, even though I can create new ones in another game. The fact is, I’m not ready to leave WoW, and won’t. Blizzard puts a lot of energy into this game. They don’t always hit the bullseye, but they hit it more than anyone else. If you want to remind yourself as to the world that Blizzard created, take a look at the fantastic lore and artwork both Blizzard employees and fans have created over the years. Listen to the soundtracks and remind yourself how the music pulled you into the game and didn’t act like simple background music.
If you want to see just how much time you spent playing WoW, just do a /played on the character you’ve played the most. My mage has 186 days played. That’s over half a year, and that’s just one character. My druid probably has about 100+ days played. Put them together and add in alts, and that’s almost a full year of playing this game which is probably less than some people have played. New games come out and they’re the new “shiny”, but while a game may be visually pleasing, you have to see if it captures your heart. Will a new game do that, or will you be going back in a few months?
The one problem I have with alts is not so much learning their different abilities, but making sure that I feel as comfortable playing the game with one as I do with my main. You can never have the same abilities with different classes, but some similarities may help you feel better with an alt.
Map keys and mouse buttons to similar abilities – I mainly play with a Logitech MX810 mouse and a Logitech G13 keypad. Their buttons and keys are all set to specific keys in the game, so that when I want to map them for alts, I just have to put similar abilities in the specific spot on the hot bar. For example, on my mage, my Mouse 4 and 5 buttons are mapped to bar buttons 2 and 8. For my mage, bar button 2 is Arcane Blast and bar button 8 is Arcane Barrage. On my druid, those buttons are Wrath and Moonfire respectively. However, on my rogue, they’re set to Sinister Strike and Eviscerate. On the G13, key G3 is Counterspell for my mage, and Kick for my rogue. They both interrupt the target, so it’s easier to know that the same key enacts a similar talent across different accounts. Similarly, I have Dalaran Brilliance on my mage in the same spot I have Mark of the Wild on my druid. Professions are all in the same places as well.
Load profiles from different addons – One of my favorite addons in Dominos. It’s an addon that allows you to arrange your bars in the game so that you’re comfortable with their position and size. What it allows you to do is save a profile for one character such as your main, and use that same profile for your other alts. That way, all your bars are in the same place across all your characters. Many other addons have global settings such as Titan Panel, but others may need coaxing to get them just right.
Set up the same window tabs – This is something I haven’t been able to figure out how to do automatically, but I have an extra tab in the game for whispers, and a whole window just for guild chat which doubles for World and Local Defense. This way, I won’t miss whispers and world event messages on any of my characters.
There are some settings you can’t copy over such as pets or mounts that one character has that the other doesn’t. You can fill them in with what suits one character better than the other (eg: Nightsaber mounts for Night Elves vs. a horse for a Human).
You may find that keeping your character’s UIs and keyboard and mouse settings more similar than unique may help with how comfortable you are playing an alt.
Naming a guild is not an easy thing to do. Lots of people have created guilds over the years, but does your guild name reflect you or your guild? Star Trek is at the top of the geek list and what better way to show your Federation pride than naming your guild after the Great Bird of the Galaxy’s TV show? Here’s a list of ten guild names based on Star Trek. Have any more? Post them in our forums.
<Make It So>
<It’s Dead Jim>
<Right out of Hell>
<Live Long And Prosper>
<Resistance is Futile>
<There Are Four Lights>
Recently, I became aware of a new game called Rift which is set to launch on March 1, 2011. When a new game comes out, the very first thing I do is check out its community forums to see what people are saying about the game. Sure enough, there’s a large group of people that blame WoW for all the problems that creep into new MMORPGs. One of the biggest threads on the Rift forums is the debate about Trion stating that the game will not have any addons of any kind, therefore no damage meters. I find this to be a detriment to gameplay simply because addons themselves don’t hurt the game, it’s how people use them. For example, Outfitter saves me a lot of trouble when switching gear, rather than having to do each piece at a time. There are seventeen pieces of gear in WoW, and if I need to switch between PvP and PvE gear, Outfitter can do it in one shot. Players see this as people wanting to soften the game and I strongly disagree with that. MMOs are games, they’re meant to at most entertain, and switching seventeen pieces of gear several times a day isn’t entertaining.
Remember, addons don’t kill toons, players kill toons.
This thread here which is now almost three hundred pages long debates whether or not a damage meter of any kind helps or hurts gameplay. Everyone on the side for keeping damage meters out of the game seem to come from the old school Everquest days when we would run 72 or 144-person raids and didn’t have voice chat; everything was done using the keyboard which made playing the game very difficult. If you think about it from a role-playing point of view, nobody in a 72-man raid would type their commands to people standing right next to them, they’d talk to them out loud. A side note: my grandparents used to walk uphill in the snow both ways to school. Things change, and if a game creates the use of damage meters to help a raid, then it’s up to the guild and its players to use it properly. If your guild uses the meters in such a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, maybe that guild isn’t for you.
I was in a high end raiding guild when Recount was first introduced. While it did cause a lot of drama, mainly because Recount didn’t report accurately at the time due to how WoW presented data based on distance, it did give good players the ability to improve themselves and it sparked discussions about ways to improve. Blizzard added target dummies in major cities so that players could practice their rotations and specs and see which worked better for them. Over time, and to this day, damage and healing meters still cause trouble, but in the end it all comes down to whether or not someone is pulling their weight or watching television while playing.
What amazes me is how people in that thread claim that they can tell that someone’s not performing well while watching. I have to say that keeping an eye on 24 other people while trying to do your own job is nothing less than impossible. If you don’t have damage or healing meters and the tank isn’t getting healed, do you blame the healer(s), or the tank for having bad gear? The fact is, both may be at fault, but without hard, immediate data, it’s impossible to tell. Rift will have logs that can be parsed outside the game, but who wants to wipe fifteen times and then look at the data afterwards? Meters give relatively accurate, immediate data so that you can fix up your strategy on the spot. Wiping for three hours only to find that healer #2 should have done one simple thing differently doesn’t sound like fun to me.
Having damage meters available to me while practicing on target dummies in WoW helped me determine the best spec and spell rotation for my mage while on downtime, I didn’t have to wait for raids to see if how I was doing was good enough. I could confidently go into a raid knowing that I did the best I could to help the twenty-four other people and not waste their time and then fine tune my gameplay as needed while in the raid.
Games evolve, as do the players. I raided in Everquest but felt like I was flying blind, and just because that game was a challenge doesn’t mean we shouldn’t evolve with the times. WoW helped raiding in several ways: fluid, accurate animations which no game has come close to doing (Aion came in as a close second), a customizable UI, and in-game voice chat. I’ve gone back to Everquest several times since my account is still active and I can’t believe how clunky the gameplay is. There’s no way I would ever want to raid like that again, just like I wouldn’t want to drive my ’72 Dodge Dart anymore. Addons are tools just like anything else, it’s just a question of how they’re used or abused.
For the last few weeks I’ve been having a horrible time with heroics. Speaking from the point of view of someone who started in vanilla WoW, the game no longer allows people to fly through heroics like in Wrath, and I find it refreshing. The problem is that some people got used to the ease of Wrath heroics, which really weren’t very heroic in the first place.
I wrote an article a few days ago about whether or not people have gotten soft about heroics. This is more of an an update to that article with ways to handle the issues of getting booted, bad groups, and other unpleasantries that come with today’s heroic problems.
Keep as many guildies in your group as possible. This will allow better communication outside the time when you’re running the heroic. You can all talk over Vent, or discuss on your guild’s forums. It’s a lot better to run with people that are more forgiving.
If you were pulled into a heroic midway, ask why. As a DPS, I find that if I was pulled in, chances are the last DPS wasn’t very good, or the group itself was so bad that a DPS left. Ask what happened and see if you can adjust your gameplay based on what they tell you. Of course, what they tell you can be a complete lie; it’s always good to be on guard.
Don’t blow stat food or flasks until you get a vibe for the group. This is a rule I started just two days ago. I used to eat stat food and die within two minutes of eating it. The fish I need for the food doesn’t have pools, so farming it isn’t easy and I feel like I need to conserve what I have. Time is money. The same goes for flasks. My flasks go for 120 gold on my AH, so I have to use another character to farm the mats. With a one hour timer on the flask and a 45 minute wait for another heroic, it’s like throwing money away.
Be friendly. If someone screws up, either blatantly or otherwise, simply take a deep breath and suggest different tactics. Offer what you can to help keep the group from wiping.
Know your class. I can’t emphasize this enough. So many times I’ve seen mages not sheep, shamans not hex, druids not group heal. It’s frustrating to be in a group with a mage while playing my healer and see them make blatant mistakes. Similarly, if you’re a tank, don’t AOE around CC’d mobs. The worst thing you can do is break CC on a mob that needs to stay out of commission.
Don’t ragequit. I have to admit that I’ve done this. I did it just now (which prompted me to write this) because the healer just wouldn’t heal and since he was a guildie of two others in the group, my kick vote didn’t pass. So we wiped two more times within 20 seconds of the first Heroic: TotT boss (which is so damn easy), so I left because I knew my time was better spent elsewhere. However, I have been in groups where we wiped, but not for stupid reasons (such as the healer being on the phone). It’s possible for PuGs to work together, but unfortunately it’s not the norm. A few days ago I was in a PuG where we went through five healers, two tanks, and a few DPS. We eventually finished, but it was tough. In another run, we stayed together and worked out the problems like a team. Had I quit, I wouldn’t have finished it. Patience is probably just as important as anything in today’s heroics.
Don’t take criticism (too) harshly. One thing I despise is when people tell me I wasn’t doing my job when I was. For example, told I didn’t sheep when I did, or that I didn’t remove a curse when I did. There are addons for that such as Big Brother and Recount. However, there are times when perhaps you didn’t do something right. Yesterday I blinked into an explosion that happened the instant I came out of the blink. My own fault. Giving criticism shouldn’t be harsh. Ask what happened. Everyone makes mistakes.
Befriend a tank. Tanks get in instantly, so making friends with one is probably a good idea.
Until people get better at heroics, we’re all going to have to handle things the way they are. I hope this list gives some good ideas to help your experience. If you have any other ideas, post them in the forums or in the comments below.
Has this happened to you? You’re in an instance or hanging around Stormwind and you hear this revolting noise which sounds like a cross between a bear sniffling snots and someone chewing with their mouth open? That’s the idle sound of a Worgen. Since Cataclysm has come out I’ve hated that noise. Now you can get rid of it.
There’s a mod on Curse gaming called Sniff-B-Gone. It’s not a true addon since it doesn’t modify your Interface folder. You have to do the work manually. I still need to do some research on this, but apparently Blizzard is allowing users to change the sounds in the game by putting their own in the <WoW>\Data\Sound subfolder. There was a post about it on the old forums which I can’t find now. I’ll link it if I can find it. There’s a hierarchy to these sounds which I don’t have in front of me right now, but the contents of the Sniff-B-Gone mod will remove the Worgen sounds for you by placing empty custom .wav files where the Worgen male and female sounds go.
A warning about this .zip file: DO NOT replace your Data folder with top-level Data folder in the .zip file. For some reason the .zip file’s top folder is “Data”. If you overwrite your Data folder, you WILL lose important files. You want to use the Sounds folder that’s one level lower.
Uncompress the .zip outside your WoW install and double-click the Data folder that was from the decompressed Sniff-B-Gone .zip file. Inside there you’ll find a Sounds folder. Copy THAT Sounds folder to your Data folder under your WoW install.
So, if your install is in C:\Program Files\World Of Warcraft, you’ll put the Sounds folder from the .zip file inside C:\Program Files\World Of Warcraft\Data.
Mac users can put the Sounds folder inside your <WoW Install>/Data folder.
If you already have a Sound folder, just follow the hierarchy from the .zip file.
I’m going to do my best to make this not sound like a rant.
I’ve been playing MMORPGs for over ten years now, WoW for six. One thing I liked about Burning Crusade was how the devs made the instances much shorter than the previous vanilla instances like Dire Maul or UBRS, and Wrath allowed players to do what they need in under an hour (and less as we got better gear).
Let me say this: I like the new heroics, but I’m getting tired of people leaving them in the middle because someone didn’t play perfectly. I think that Wrath made people soft. Blizzard designed some truly amazing instances in Cataclysm such as Vortex Pinnacle, but the attitude players seem to have is that if they don’t finish the entire instance in 45m or less, they get impatient and leave. This has happened to me several times already where a somewhat decent group of people falls apart because the tank isn’t pulling the boss outside the column of fire far enough, or the healer is running out of mana. These are problems that can be corrected in certain ways such as paying more attention to the boss’ position or getting spirit food. There are always ways to correct problems, and the game doesn’t allow you into certain dungeons without minimum average item levels anyway so there should be some responsibility on the players.
I did a Heroic Deadmines run this weekend which took almost three hours because instead of getting all pissy at each other, we learned from our mistakes and finished it. Unfortunately, this isn’t the norm. I’ve finished a total of two heroic instances after trying almost a dozen because teams simply fall apart in frustration.
I don’t want Blizzard to nerf the instances, but I have a feeling that’s what’s going to happen. I’d instead like people to be more patient and understanding in these new instances. I admit, I left two groups because people simply did not learn their role after six attempts and for that I feel that my time is better spent waiting for another group than wiping every three feet on trash or bad boss fights. Last night I was in a Deadmines group where we wiped on trash six times simply because the tank kept breaking my sheep or the shaman’s hex. At that point, I have to thank everyone and bow out gracefully.
So I implore everyone to please be patient and not rag on people that screw up. These new instances are longer than in Wrath and possibly more difficult. Some people aren’t used to the tricks that we have to now learn. As a mage, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to pay this much attention to trash in an instance since most tanks were able to handle most of it without CCing anything.
Let’s get those valor points!
A few weeks ago someone in my guild got the [Loremaster's Colors] title. I figured it would be easy since I leveled two characters to 60 before Burning Crusade came out, but when I looked at both of their Loremaster achievements, I found that I’m about seven hundred quests away from Loremaster on my main. I also realized that I’ve been neglecting some items in my Achievements window that I could have been working on. We got to talking in guild chat about what things we all want to do before Cataclysm comes out.
This requires you to finish almost 3,000 quests in the game on Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, Outlands, and Northrend. I’m currently so far behind that I’m wondering if I’m ever going to be able to do it all. It’s by far an easier title to get than “The Insane“, but still tough.
In the comments section for this achievement on Wowhead, someone suggested using the addon “Everyquest” which will list all the quests you need to complete. I may try it out.
Get those factions up
Despite my work on “The Insane”, there are some other factions you may want to get up to Revered or Exalted. The Timbermaw comes to mind for their professions-specific recipes. Raising factions can help get achivements as well. The Diplomat, They Love Me In That Tunnel, Ambassador of the Alliance, Ambassador of the Horde, and The Argent Dawn come to mind.
There’s one raid that my main character hasn’t finished yet – AQ40. When AQ40 was new, we made it all the way to C’Thun, but never killed him. Naxxramas beckoned, and everyone wanted to go there, so we abandoned C’Thun for Kel’Thuzad. So this gray achievement sits in my unfinished list, taunting me. I’ve seen people try and get a group together for AQ40, but not until I’m about to go to bed. These dungeons may be level 60, but don’t underestimate how hard they may be to clothies. A Holy Pally and Warrior/DK tank may be able to dual it, but it won’t hurt to bring friends, especially a lock for the Twin Emperors. If your guild doesn’t want to do it, spam trade chat. I’d bet people are willing to run old dungeons, even if its for rep. Don’t forget your [Onyxia Scale Cloak]!
Take pictures. Lots of them.
Once Cataclysm is released, there will be no way to go back to the old world. There’s no phasing as far as the old world is concerned. What I’ve been doing with Alachia and other friends is taking many pictures in an entire area one day a week. The entire photowalk is being archived on Flickr here. You can see some of my other pictures here. If you have a favorite spot, take movies using Fraps in as high a resolution as you can.
Do some of the easy achievements
Some of the General achievements can be done by simply running around Azeroth, killing some critters and showing /love on others. Once Cataclysm comes around, chances are you won’t have time for these little nuggets until much later. If you’re working on Loremaster, you may be able to do some of these along the way.
Create a bank alt
One of my biggest problems is that I horde (no pun intended) a lot of Soulbound items. It’s gotten to the point where the items I don’t need to keep around (Netherweave cloth, Nexus Crystals, etc.) take up room. Why keep them? There’s always someone who’s leveling up an enchanter, or you have some leftovers to make bags. In fact, a lot of the herbs I had lying around were used to level up my alchemist. If you have the character slots, create a bank alt. Give the alt some cheap bags to start, buy some bank slots, and send them all your old stuff.
I said over and over again that I suck at RTS games. I did when Starcraft first came out, and I still do. However, after playing Starcraft 2 for the last few weeks and getting the hang of it, I can say definitively that I still suck at RTS games, but I’m getting better and appreciating why people love them so much, just don’t look for me in any tournaments soon.
Speed is one of my biggest issues. All the strat guides I read say “macros, macros, macros”, but don’t actually say what kind to make. I’m still researching that. I’ve been slowly going through the commands list and finding things like F1 to find an SCV that’s not currently active, or some key command for building an engineering facility. However, I find that I’m still not proficient in moving around the map. Oh, sure, you can just point your mouse to put your camera where you want it, but I’m talking more about the nuances in positioning SCVs where they need to go. For example, if there’s an inactive SCV, and a mineral deposit just past the edge of my camera view, I have to move my camera over a bit to tell the SCV where to go. I’m sure there’s some faster way of doing that. In fact, I’ll bet there’s a macro to find an inactive SCV and tell it to start mining again once it’s done building.
Troops seem to have unpredictable results. Firebats spew out major damage, but you pit them up against certain Zerg and they explode like a Pop Rock in water. I found that until I learn what the strengths and weaknesses are of each troop type, I’m going to have to create a bunch and send them all out like a wave of angry teabaggers (with guns).
In the mission “The Devil’s Playground”, I had to run the mission three times before winning because I found myself at stalemates every time. I’d mine and build as fast as the Zerg would take my stuff down, and had to stop the game and restart, going faster and faster each time. I’ve been getting better at it, but the micromanagement isn’t much fun. At all. Audio cues are there for when units are finished with their work, or have been completed, and I’m so engrossed in getting my SCV units to high ground that I forget that I’ve got a whole group of troops done with training. Or worse, I’ll send them all to higher ground, wait for the lava to drop, and then forget that a whole group of SCVs are sitting there waiting for me to tell them what to do.
One big problem I have is selecting a group of SCVs when they’re mixed in with a group of troops. This happened a lot in “The Devil’s Playground” because when I quickly moved the SCVs up to high ground, they’d be mixed in with ground troops, and sending them back down to mine took a while because I didn’t know how to split them up. I’m sure there’s a way to apply units to groups, and then select them, but I haven’t figured that out yet.
This brings me to me vs. the A.I. I suck even more at that. I took what I learned from playing the campaign and applied it to the vs. game I was playing. I’m happily moving along, creating, upgrading, training, and BAM! starships from the A.I. start pounding me. With tanks. And other cool things I’d never seen before. I adapted by branching out fast to mineral deposits in the field adjacent to mine, and then once again. That helped, but eventually I got my ass handed to me again, it just took longer. Games four and five both ended in stalemates where I was producing as fast as the Terran A.I. was ripping it all down. So I have yet to beat the normal A.I., but I’m still trying. There are so many little things to learn about this game. What to build first, how to manage your resources, how to patrol without getting your ass kicked, and how to protect your SCVs. Looking at the post-game graphs, I see that the A.I. builds just a bit faster than me. When that accumulates, it leads to me ending the game.
I’m not sure how long I’ll play the game. Once the campaign and story is over, it’s all multiplayer. Unlike WoW where you have a world to virtually live in, Starcraft doesn’t, so the only allure is to continue to kick Zerg ass in multiplayer. It also seems like one of those games where you have to play it continuously or you’ll lose your rhythm. I don’t think this is a game you can put down for a month, come back to it, and play as well as you did at the top of your game the month before.
I’m also trying to set up my Logitech G13 to work with Starcraft. I read that you can do it, and I read that you can’t. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I want to assign certain tasks to the G13 so that I don’t have to hobble around the keyboard so much.
As far as the story goes, that’s really the only thing that compels me to continue on. The Raynor/Kerrigan story is pretty damn interesting and I really want to see how it all plays out. Also, the in-jokes are hilarious. I stopped counting them, but the ones I found so far are:
Iron Maiden: “Be Quick Or Be Dead”
WoW: Night Elf dance in the cantina
Army of Darkness: Achievement with the same name
Star Trek: Voyager: “Please state the nature of the medical emergency”
Zero Hour: Possible reference to the movie “Airplane!” was based on
Guns ‘N Roses: Appetite for Destruction, Welcome to the Jungle, It’s So Easy
Freedom Rock: “Is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up, man!”
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “You Shall Not Pass”
Beavis and Butthead: “Fire, Fire, Fire!”
There are a lot more, but this isn’t a Wiki entry
So for now, I’m enjoying it. I have yet to play against an actual person because I’m sure I’ll die fast. Maybe one day, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the game.