Realism != Immersability

It’s been around 3 months that I’m away from World of Warcraft. Not because I’m trying to give up my addiction or because I’m pissed with something Blizzard changed; the problem is that I don’t have a proper place to sit down and play for hours like I used to. Also, internet is not that good here, and latency is a problem with WoW. Due these problems, I kept thinking about going back to Guild Wars, the first MMO I played.

Guild Wars have a different movement model, which makes it easier to play without a mouse (and, thus, without a proper place to sit.) Also, some places (the outdoors, outside “outposts”) have their own instance, so you don’t need to worry about someone coming and messing with your game and, better yet, since you can enter those areas alone, you don’t need to worry about latency that much, since you’re running most of the area all by yourself (thus, solving the latency problem.)

There was another thing drawing me back to Guild Wars, though: The gorgeous scenery. I’m not kidding: There is one place in the first game (they had 3 expansions already, I own 2 of those plus the original game), which I could sit and just keep looking at the screen for hours. I may have taken a screenshot a long time ago and used as wallpaper, so gorgeous it looked.

This weekend, after fighting for ages trying to run on every way I could think of (VirtualBox, wine, free version of Crossover), I finally managed to make it run thanks to the paid version of Codeweaves Crossover (still on trial, but I may buy it.) And I spent a good part of my weekend playing the starting areas again, just to remember how to play (not to mention that I may have messed up my skills/talent points on my previous characters so better start clean.) And, after that long, one question that I asked myself while playing WoW never pop up:

Am I that character or a person playing that character?

I know it sounds weird, but I asked that myself several times: When I’m playing… Am I the character? Or Not?

Truth is, I never really found a good answer for that. Yes, I get immersed in the game and its story but I can’t quite make it if I’m that character running around killing things and getting gold for that.

Thing is, even if Guild Wars looks better and have a more natural look on everything (i.e., the characters have a more human look, the animals based on real ones really look like the real ones), it doesn’t give that impression of immersability that WoW have, even if the later have a much more cartoonish look.

In a thought, Guild Wars should provide a bigger immersability than WoW: It looks more natural, the events look more like real life, the locations are more real life but, in the very end, it doesn’t feel like the game “traps” you into itself. WoW, in all it’s cartoonish way with dwarfs, elfs and blue goats from outer space still is capable to dragging you out of this plane to somewhere else.

Experiment continues…

First you don’t read; then you don’t know how to do math

Note: This is a WoW related post. If you don’t like MMOs, games, think Blizzard jumped the shark with the “Wrath of the Lich King” expansion, rage quit the game after a paladin killed you in one cooldown or simply aren’t interested in WoW at all, you can skip this.

Today, reading WoW.Com (which is not run by Blizzard, I must say), I read this article about Prot Paladins outhealing Holy Paladins in PvP. As a protection paladin that does the healing job in PvP, I thought it would be worth the read. But the problem show up right in the first paragraph: The author’s solution is remove the Spell Power plate from the game. Wait, WHAT?

For those that don’t know WoW or don’t know how paladins work, here is a brief explanation:

Paladins can fill the three roles in a group, depending on the abilities (or talents) they chose: A healer paladin would take talents from the “Holy” tree; a tanking paladin would take talents from the “Protection” tree; and a damaging (DPS) paladin would take talents from the “Retribution” tree. Of course, there is always some mixing of talents from different trees (e.g., for PvP, a retribution paladin would pick some talents in the protection tree, to improve his survivability), but most points would go to the proper tree.

Also, there is the difference of gear. Since damage is what retribution paladins are going after, they would chose gear with more “Strength” and “Attack Power”; tanking would go with more “Stamina” and “Defense rating” and some “Strength” and “Agility” (I’ll not dwell on how those two attributes help survivability at this point); healing would go after “Intellect” and “Spell Power” (just to know, the more spell power a healing paladin have, the more powerful their healing abilities will be.)

At it’s core, the paladin is a caster. This means that most of it’s abilities are not normal attacks, but magic spells and since everything paladin related is magic, the “Spell Power” can help the class a lot. As the holy paladin is the only one that have gear with “spell power”, talents exist in the other trees to help them: The retribution tree have a talent called Sheath of Light, which increases the “spell power” based on “attack power” (which makes sense, since the retribution paladin would go after “attack power”), holy paladins have Holy Guidance, which increases the “spell power” based on total “intelect” (which helps them to have better heals) and the protection tree have Touched by the Light, which increases the “spell power” based on the total “stamina” (again, makes sense since “stamina” is the base survivability stat tanks go after.) Those talents help retribution paladins to make more damage, the holy paladins to have better healing and the protection to keep the enemy they should prevent running around and killing everyone else attacking just them.

Now that we put the basics down, comes the part that “don’t read”: The Blizzard forums point the problem of Protection Paladins using Holy Paladins PvP (Player versus Player) gear. The author’s solution is to remove the “spell power” plate from the game since holy paladins are the only class that have a use for it. First of all, removing won’t solve a thing, since PvP gear is “bought” with honor and, thus, doesn’t affect any other class. Every class is capable of getting honor no matter what (some may have some difficulties, but it’s not impossible.) But he seems to confuse the PvE part of the game with the PvP part. In a PvE (player versus environment), you go into what it’s called an instance (which is put as a cave, house, cathedral, building), kill some monster till you get to the big monster and, when he’s killed, you get your rewards in the form of new gear. Since holy paladins are the only ones interested in plate with “spell power” (the other plate wearers have no use for it, not even non-paladins) if there isn’t a holy paladin in the group, the gear is lost — it can still be sold, but it’s basically lost ’cause it comes to “it could be some gear that other class could use”. That’s the life of playing a game with random number generators: You can’t just say “I’ll go there and get that gear” ’cause you don’t have any control over the gear that will appear.

And the part that “don’t know how to do math”: As I pointed, holy paladins are interested in gear with “intellect” and “spell power”. But with holy guidance, if maxed to all available points, increases spell power by 20% of the total intellect or 10 intellect increases your spell power in 2. Since your gear also have spell power already, that’s a good trade off.

Stamina, for protection paladins, just turn into health and no other stat. But you may remember that talent that helps Protection paladins to have spell power based on stamina. If you put 3 points in that talent (which is the maximum), you get 30%, which basically makes 10 points in stamina give you 3 more spell power points. Things are starting to look clear, don’t they?

So take a look at this: Let’s take a piece of the PvP gear for holy paladins: the chest. It have 115 stamina, 50 intellect and 98 spell power. For a holy paladin, that means the total spell power of that chest is 118 spell power. For a protection paladin, that means around 132 spell power. And no, you can’t have both talents due the amount of points required to enable those abilities.

Also, just to add insult to the injury, you may notice that there are two “slots”, available for gems. The most powerful intellect gem gives you +20 intellect and the most powerful stamina gem gives you +30 stamina (the gem color is not important, in this case.)

So, removing the spell power plate from the game would help? OF COURSE NOT! If paladins where changed to use mail to have spell power, it would still gave protection paladins more spell power than holy paladins and the overheal would still be there.

The proper solution isn’t so easy, though. Reducing the stamina from the PvP holy gear would damage holy paladins survivability; reducing the spell power from the talent in the protection tree would hurt their ability to keep an enemy attacking everyone in the raid; increasing the Spell Power returned in “Holy Guidance” would make holy paladins in PvE too power to be compared to any other healers.

But there is one insightful comment in the article: Make the amount of spell power increased by stamina based on the total “defense rating”. That stat is only used in PvE by protection paladins and it’s not so helpful in PvP. Since the holy paladins have no use for that, the PvP gear have none and, thus, can be used as base to not hurt protection paladins (since their have large amounts of defense rating anyway) and not overpower holy paladins.

Announcing aoup

“aoup” (Add-On UPdater) is a simple application to keep your World of Warcraft add-ons up-to-date with the latest version in Curse. It doesn’t intend to have a nice interface or be completely up-to-date with the latest addons; for that, you can use the official Curse client.

This is the first release and I’m aware it’s kinda annoying to use it right now, but it works. The project page is in Google Code and the source code is available in this git repo.

Edit 1: D’oh, not “annoying”.

World of Blizzard

The year is 2010. To reduce production costs, Blizzard decided to join all its franchises into one single product. That’s when “World of Blizzard” was born.

On it, you can be a Protoss Zealot Hunter, in your quest to save the world from Diablo and his brothers.

One of the most popular races/classes is the Zergling Priest.

Blizzard plans to take over the world

(from the “it’s-funny-laugh” department)

Over the weekend, we had the announcement of “Diablo 3”, the new game from Blizzard. Blizzard is famous for its “World of Warcraft” franchise, which is about to get a new expansion, “Wrath of the Lich King” in a non-announced time. Blizzard is also working on “StarCraft 2”, so popular on Asian countries that they held competitions which could rival the Olympics.

Now… Can anyone imagine what would happen if Blizzard announced that those three releases would happen in the same day?

First of all, Asian markets would stop ’cause everybody and their mums would buy StarCraft 2 and start playing. American economy and parts of Europe would also come to halt due Wrath of the Lich King (and everybody racing to be the first reaching level 80 with their Death Knights.) The few pockets of resistance would be smashed by Diablo 3.

Governments, in desperation, would pay Blizzard to remove copies of their games from the market.

Lore vs (statistical) Data

As most of you already know, I’m playing World of Warcraft for a while. “For a while” means “time enough to create about 6 characters.”

Anyway, this morning, playing with my Blood Elf, I got myself asking “what the hell is this ‘dead scar’ in the middle of the map?” And the answer was easy to find on WowWiki. And, to my surprise, they have a pretty good explanation for that.

Which also made me think about the whole WoW lore. I mean, it is not the first time I got impressed by the richness of the lore. When I was playing with a Draenei and doing all the chained quests one right after the another, I got a pretty good idea of the events from the arrival of the Draenei to Azeroth, to the beginnings of the alliance between humans, elfs and dwarfs and the draenei. And the way the quests were designed makes this easy to get, as long as you follow them in order.

Before WoW, I used to play GuildWars. The way GuildWars works is quite the same way WoW works, except that the quests are designed to be done in just one place, then you have to complete a special quest, a “mission” in GuildWars-lingo, then you move to the next area, do more quests, open the mission and so on. It forces you to follow the lore, to learn what did happen in there.

In a way, like Gerald once told me, things get a complete different perspective when you realize that everything your character is is just a few numbers in a database. That’s the way I feel about most people who play WoW: they are just fighting the numbers in the database, not following a story where you play a character on it. They are munchkins, not RPGers.

PS: Isn’t it cool that the two androids in the Star Trek universe make a nice subject?