Season 8 Delay... delay

Sorry, I really should have broken this story on Tuesday... I don't really have an excuse >_< Anyway, yes, the points were reset but the season wasn't. Next Tuesday will (likely) mark the beginning of season 8.

So far, we have had limited testing with the new resilience change, but enough to know that it will matter a little bit. Essentially, whenever more damage reduction is added to the game, I simply get beat up less while stunned. Essentially, Ferals have the added benefit of EVERYONE and their mother having stuns now, which means that Cat Form takes less damage from everyone while stunned... which is often.

The hilarious thing is that I had the Marks hunter we picked up try and Kill Shot me in a duel while stunned with Barkskin up... Kill Shot crits you for 2k... hilarious damage reductions with Resilience and Barkskin and stun damage reduction.

Guntir doesn't think there's anything in store for us besides the Resilience change... but I think that there MIGHT be something more in store Arena-wise. Something like a blanket PvP-healing reduction, but you never know. He's probably right.

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I have a problem

I can't help but argue with people... I'm combative and argumentative and equipped with logic and a vast array of knowledge on many MANY facts. Why do people insist on inciting my rage by stating things which are simply AND PROVABLY incorrect?

Case and point... someone on a level 1 alt comes into the forums and makes the suggestion that:

1) DKs are hit harder than any other class by the resilience buff.
2) The resilience buff will simply mean more dps classes wearing PvE gear in PvP [ostensibly devaluing resilience even though it has been buffed].

There IS a tipping point. We have seen it before... at level 70, there was essentially an amount of resilience which would allow you to easily overcome almost any adversary's attacks for a short amount of time. The change to resilience doesn't do anything except realize this situation yet again. That is, if DPS classes in PvP feel that by wearing full PvP gear, they are not doing enough damage to resil-capped targets, they will wear PvE gear to make up for the difference, then DPS will focus on DPS, as they will be more likely than healers to be stacking PvE gear.

This is exactly what seems to be intended by this change... healers will live A LITTLE BIT (not infinitely) longer under pressure and DPS will too, if everyone is wearing resilience. What will it mean if a DPS chooses to wear PvE gear to make up the difference in damage? He will be wearing less resilience, and thus explode faster than anyone else. INTENDED.

DKs getting hit harder than any other DPS class by the resilience buff? Clearly, DKs do not know how blanket buffs work. Everyone will be taking less damage, not just DK targets. I honestly cannot respond to this notion without becoming ill... it's just fuming by a class which has been overpowered for the majority of this expansion, finally brought back in line with all dps classes except mages and warriors, and is whining about no longer being the upper echelon of damage-dealers.

I have absolutely NO sympathy for DKs in PvP, their damage is still extremely strong given their control abilities.

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Great Googly Moogly...

Bornakk chimed in on a change to resilience that they are going to try and hot-fix in while we are between arena seasons:

We are currently in the process of applying a hotfix to buff resilience. While some modifications may be made, we intend to have this buff in effect for the remainder of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

The change will double the value of resilience in reducing damage done by players. So depending on their current amount of resilience, characters might experience a 10 to 20% decrease in damage taken from other players. The critical strike chance and critical strike damage reduction components of resilience will remain unaffected by this change.

We are also aware of the possibility that this change will make healing in PvP too difficult to counter. While we are not making any immediate changes to address this issue, we have prepared some further changes that will allow us to quickly deploy a PvP-only healing adjustment if we feel it is warranted.

We will be applying this change very soon while we are between Arena seasons so we can evaluate how it works in multiple PvP scenarios for the upcoming Arena season, and as we continue to prepare for Cataclysm. As we have mentioned previously, one of the goals for Cataclysm is to have a PvP environment where it is harder to regularly achieve so much damage and healing in relatively few global cooldowns compared to what we currently have in the game. (source)

There are still some maths questions left on the table... that bit about "The critical strike chance and critical strike damage reduction components of resilience will remain unaffected by this change" leaves me wondering if they mean "crit damage will still first be reduced by the flat damage reduction THEN reduced by the crit damage reduction" or if they mean "crit damage will still first be reduced by the OLD flat damage reduction THEN reduced by the crit damage reduction."

What's the difference?

Well, the latter example, it means that crit damage will not have changed. However, the former example has crit damage going down by a multiplicative ~10%.

I'm going to lunch right now... but more maths after the break.

OKAY, back...

At the moment, I have 1025 resilience in full relentless gear... my guess is that I will have more in Wrathful, but we'll have to wait and see. The point, however, is that I currently have 10.87% damage reduction from resilience, and 23.92% critical damage reduction.

Example Before Resil Change:
5,000 damage conflag.
4,457 damage after resil (10.87%).
10,000 damage conflag crit.
6,629 damage after resil (10.87% and 23.92%)

Example After Resil Change:
5,000 damage conflag (0 resil).
3,913 damage after resil (21.74%).
10,000 damage conflag crit (0 resil).
5,968 damage after resil (21.74% and 23.92%).

Anyway... as you can see, that's a pretty big damage reduction change... I'm wondering if playing burst isn't going to be a little bit harder once this change goes through and people start wearing 8/8 Wrathful (since going from 8/8 Furious to 8/8 Relentless was ABOUT 150 resil... we expect this to be the same... 1175 resil on a dps class, much?)

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Guntir, You're Insane

My brother, Guntir, is absolutely nuts. I just realized how insane he is when I was viewing his armory... he has 6660 achievement points with the Loremaster title. I think it's his personal goal to be the second player to ever "beat WoW" (the first who isn't Korean).

CELEBRATIONS ARE IN ORDER. That's right, we hit 2200 in our final push of the season last night. It was short-lived, as we tried to get our Rogue to 2200 as well (he was 19 rating behind us), and ended up tanking it back down to ~2150 (I think... it was late and the armory hasn't updated yet... end-of-season patch day I guess). So, Guntir got his 2200 dagger, I didn't get my staff because I didn't have the points for it (I'm going to get chewed out for this one, but I had ~4500 points on Saturday, and we didn't think we'd actually play again this season, so I bought a bunch of resto off-set gear for funsies... boy is my face red!).

Next season we're going to try and balance between Rogue+Feral+Disc and Hunter+Feral+Disc. We haven't yet heard what the next season has in store for us update-wise, as the patch hasn't been made public yet and no official word has been made except that today marked the end of the season. This is really rather odd as by now, we have usually data-mined the next season's gear and the blues have reported any changes we expect to see, but maybe they are trying to turn over a new leaf and make things more proper. When I think about it, it DOES make sense from a developer's point of view to keep things hush-hush until they're ready.

My prediction is that by 11 AM PST, we will have more information about the next season by way of a small patch and a blue statement. I would be VERY surprised if the patch (with the next season's arena gear) did not drop until next week, they usually put the game files in early and activate them late... but again maybe they're trying things differently.

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Armory and other updates

Well, I think I reported it late last year, but it looks like Blizz finally pushed through the Armory changes. Along with a new layout, better javascript, faster load-times, they also added a model viewer. I kind of like it, but I also think it would be nice to be able to save a setting to turn it off... it kinda bugs me from time to time.

Also, Zarhym (a relatively unknown blue) suggested that Resilience may be getting a much-needed-love-tap in the direction of damage reduction for season eight. I'm in the middle of an on-going battle to try and get a differential system implemented to better incentivise players to use PvP gear in PvP... it's an uphill battle since many mages simply refuse to acknowledge that PvP gear in PvP is the design intent. Feel free and weigh in on the issue here. Additionally, he posted the following concerning the state of PvP and why it still feels "bursty":

We think everything is a little too intense right now, almost like playing the game on fast forward ... On the flip side, we could tone down damage and healing, but that has huge PvE ramifications and we're not ready to re-balance the entire game -- though this is the intent for Cataclysm. What we'll likely do for the next expansion is ramp damage up a little as players advance, but have health pools increase greatly and healing increase by marginal amounts. The same change would have benefits for PvE too because mana then becomes a consideration for healers -- they must make a more determined choice between an efficient strategy and a spamming strategy -- and tanks won't constantly face dying by two unfortunate strikes. In PvP, you'll ideally see more players in a wounded state, and they can eventually be worn down rather than blown up in a couple of global cooldowns. (source)

So, the idea for the next expansion is to up health pools by a lot, damage by a medium amount, and healing by a little... the idea is that health will slowly drain out of a trained-n-healed target, rather than sitting in one spot, or bouncing from empty-to-full. Essentially, the idea for PvP at 85 is that everything will be "smoother" by design... less "bursty" feeling and less healing throughput, so players won't get ghosted from 100% anymore.

This is something I can get behind... given that Feral has to ramp up for damage (by design). Essentially, Rip is the single best dps button in the game... in terms of resources per damage, Rip is better than almost any 2 abilities combined by any other class... Rip is borderline-OP, as I have stated before. What does this mean? Well, for one, it means that sustained play will be more favored in the Xpac... it also means that burst will be less useful since it won't guarantee a kill.

Unfortunately, it ALSO means that, unless something changes, an MS effect is going to be 100% necessary in meaningful PvP. The problem with this is that MOST classes with an MS-effect are also of the "bursty" variety. That is, Rogues and Hunters are currently rather bursty and all about cooldowns... once they have run out of buttons, their dps wanes slightly and their survivability falls off the planet.

THEREFORE, I am calling it now... one prediction for Cataclysm is that healing reduction effects will EITHER 1) be spread around to more classes or 2) they will be done away with entirely. Only time will tell, however...

Which brings me nicely to my next paragraph. Blizzard has announced that they will likely be moving Cataclysm into the Alpha stage, soon. What does this mean for you and me? Not a damned thing... except that we MAY start seeing trickling factoids and abilities seeping from the word-work. HOPEFULLY, I can get into Beta sooner than I did last time around, but it's hard to tell by what criteria Blizzard uses to determine if you get into Beta or not. My friend at work, has a buddy who got him into the Friends and Family Alpha last year, which meant he got into Beta as well (from the start... I'm jealous), but he's stopped playing WoW all together. I have asked him to tell his friend (who works as a developer for Blizzard on the WoW expansion team) to try and get him into the FAF-Alpha again, but to just pass ME the invite since he will not want to play it. I'll keep my fingers crossed, I guess.

In the next couple of posts, I'm going to discuss Cataclysm-specific changes that have been confirmed, and start rolling ideas around about what that could possibly mean for PvP, Ferals, and WoW in general. Stay tuned!

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Damn you Blizzard... damn you...

Blizzard announced late Monday that the 2v2 bracket would not award ANY titles, not just every title but Gladiator... it only took them the ENTIRE SEASON to come up with this announcement even though every day somewhere around 15 threads were started with nothing except the question "Can I get Duelist from the 2v2 bracket?" Way to drop the ball there Blizz. Sigh... going to end up 2200 in the 3v3 bracket and be a Rival... I won't lie, it's going to bug me.

So, here's a fun little story. Guntir and I have been saying all season that we think the best partner for a Feral+Disc team is Hunter. The reason for this is that the options are fairly limited to begin with; the partner needs an MS and the ability to not get gibbed or locked down. Warriors can work when they have Hand of Freedom, but without that they are pretty lackluster. Rogues have good damage output, but if they ever get targeted, they get exploded... plus their survivability is directly related to their cooldowns. Hunters have the ability to kite all day and night, they are ranged so they can stay out of the mix in pressure situations, and they bring a couple CC effects on different diminishing returns than Priest and Druid... and MS...

Anyway, we put up a listing on ArenaJunkies, mainly to see if there are any good Hunters on our server looking for a 3s team. Nothing happens for a while, but one day some level one alt whispers Guntir out of the blue explaining how he has a hunter on some other server with full relentless and he's looking for a new server to PvP on. Guntir's starts explaining how we have a rogue currently, but next season wouldn't be too hard to swing. The Hunter says "brb", logs off, and logs back on in ~10 minutes, then tells Guntir the following:

"Okay, my hunter should be xfer'd here in ~1 hour."

So, we played with him for the first time yesterday... I love hunters. He brings a lot to the team that I have simply never thought of but which makes a lot of sense in retrospect. For instance, we went against RDruid+Warrior+Ret and we usually just train the Warrior and try to CC-off the Druid while we apply pressure, but he made a good point in that he has a dispelable CC in Freezing Trap, so we should be using our CC on the Ret since he would simply dispel it off the Druid or Warrior. Anyway, we went something like 10-4 or something, nothing amazing but it definitely felt stronger than any other teammate we've tried, so I'm looking forward to playing that comp again.

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Ugh... yet again...

So here we go again. Another few short months, another arena season coming to a close. That's right folks, in case you haven't heard yet, the seventh arena season in WoW history comes to a close as soon as January 19, 2010.

Guntir and I are back where we started, looking for a teammate who has what it takes to reach high ratings. We keep finding players who are more than capable of playing well... they know their class, they know their opponents' class... hell, a couple of our teammates even knew our classes and how to play with them as a teammate. What we cannot seem to find is a player who knows all these things and how to speak.

That's right, in case no one has mentioned it before, the key to success in the arena is being able to verbalize what you need to your partners. When we play with someone... Guntir would REALLY like to hear that someone needs a dispel or an abolish disease. If you get rooted by a frost mage... don't just sit there and assume that the priest knows you got rooted and need a dispel, you have to say something.


Some months ago (at the beginning of this season, specifically), we picked up a Blood DK (remember my tirade about ArP being ridiculous? It still is, just not for Ferals in PvP). This DK's name was Dreadplate, and he was exceptional. Unfortunately, Feral+Disc+ does not work well past 2k if that last dps does not have an MS-effect... which DKs obviously do not. HOWEVER, Dread is a skilled player and has taken many classes above 2k, a few above 2.2k... so we were sad to replace him. Dread has now gotten his Hunter to 80, however... so I'm trying to see if we cannot get him to rejoin our ranks for a 2.2k push next season.

Switching directions:

So, the last post was made with a longing for my younger days, when FF9 was still new to me and the world seemed a larger place. I remember now why I picked up WoW in the first place - it wasn't for PvP, it wasn't for PvE... it was because it was labeled as a Role-Playing Game. Personally, I don't think that it could be further from the truth; sure, in WoW everyone assumes the role of some character, but that is not all the genre is made up of (by this definition, Call of Duty: World at War is an RPG). I have a very distinct understanding of what I believe an RPG to be, and what makes an RPG great.

About a year ago (maybe two), my brother, Guntir, was in his senior year in college (we're both computer scientists) and working hard on his senior project. He was building an RPG framework which could be used to design role-playing games for the masses. I liked his idea, but ultimately the school's bureaucracy got in the way - simply making a game frakework wasn't enough, he had to use a new technology to do it (an unfamiliar technology, that is), and he had to also spit out a game to prove it worked. Well, mix in "build the best" with "you've never used before" and "oh and do this other unrelated thing as well" and you have got a recipe for disaster.

What is my point... after all this rambling it is still reasonably unclear, I am sure.

I started writing my own RPG framework in a language which I have mastered (Java), and have no deadline that need be matched. Already, this is starting out under better circumstances than Guntir's experience. The idea is to create something that is generic enough to make any type of RPG, regardless of the look and feel.

(My boss just had me do some work here that really pissed me off, so I'm going to cut it short)

No promises yet, but I'm working on this framework for building RPGs, I'll keep posting updates until I have something worthy of screenshots.

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Welcome Back!

I kept meaning to put a notice up along the lines of "no new posts until January", but for one reason or another, it just never happened. My apologies to the Druidify faithful. I'm back, I had ~2 weeks off from work, and truth-be-told, that is where I do the majority of my blogging (if any of my bosses are reading, trust me its only ~10-15 minutes and I lump that time into my lunch hour, though lunch and blogging rarely overlap).

I wonder if anyone has ever noticed that I get a little bit sentimental after taking breaks... I end up writing a little more poetically, a little more fondly of times past, and basically a little more depressed-sounding than when I have been working non-stop. I would like to talk about my break from the world for a moment. I had December 24th through January 3rd off from work, which is a very nice vacation (better than I'm used to, anyway). The first two days were filled with family matters, from wrapping presents to decorating the house (and my parents' house). My girlfriend and I made cookies for a party, it was all good times.

The rest of the week, I spent time grinding arena rating... which became a burden... so I stopped playing WoW for the rest of my vacation. As weird as that is to think (given that I haven't really gone a day or two without a few hours of WoW thrown into the mix since Vanilla).

For Christmas, I got some new clothes, and I got a new 5.1 Dolby tuner (I had a Sony Hi5 from ~20 years ago which worked fine until ~6 months ago when it finally stopped picking up radio stations and essentially became 100% inoperable). I hooked up my TV/DVD-player/CD-Player/IPod-Player/VCR(lawl) and anything else with an RCA jack to this monster tuner. I bought a 3-set of speakers ~15 years ago (KLH, good quality, not great) when the Hi5 still worked and (since it only had 2 audio outs) I had all speakers working functionally as a giant room-wide stereo system. I bought a subwoofer, and I HAD the 5 speakers necessary for the 5.1 setup... baller.

Anyway, I was playing with this new beast instead of WoW for the better part of the beginning of my break, but once I had it set up and tested and it was working to my liking... I realized that I didn't really have anything to do unless I was playing WoW. As it happened, earlier in the month, my girlfriend had been moving stuff around while doing her finals and unearthed a cd-case I had not seen in a LONG time.

What was in the cd-case, you might wonder? Well, I thought the same thing, opened it up, and saw my collection of PSX games (PS1 for all you second-generation-types). I cannot, with words, due credit to the feeling, but suffice it to say that it was overwhelming many of my senses. I wondered if it still worked...

I went into the "elektroniks klosit" (must be said with a Russian accent), which interestingly is in the room with the washer-dryer unit so it MIGHT get a little bit wet in there, and started looking. After moving a single box, I found what I was looking for. My Playstation - a first generation PSX with pop-top loading, gray exterior, big enough to bludgeon a man to death, ridged side to make said bludgeoning that much more effective, and a slew of outputs, including an RCA output (which I never used as a child... our TVs were never cutting edge so I almost always used the coaxial connection).

Before I knew it, I had the PSX hooked up through the new tuner and was sitting in front of it with my cd-case thinking about which game I should play... like the words of some unseen entity:

"Final Fantasy"

But which one... there were 3 (that I own) for the PSX, 2 worth playing. That makes it "7 or 9?"

As a quick aside here, I loved FF7, it was a game that turned an entire generation into role-playing-game-loving-freaks such as myself... but I didn't fall in love with it the way many did. I am from a half-generation before the FF7 crowd... I fell in love with the Final Fantasy series on the 3rd American installation (that's FF6J for all you fanboys out there) and, to this day, consider it atop the list of greatest games of all time. No, FF7 was for my younger-brother's generation (though not for Guntir specifically, since he also loves FF3 above all else, having grown up with me playing it religiously). Guntir would, likely, not have known of FF3's existence until AFTER playing FF7, which would have left him in that generation.

No, for me... FF9 takes the cake. It wasn't as dark, it wasn't as down, it wasn't as steam-punk-esque (though it did have SOME steam-punk qualities which I enjoyed... airships, duh)... there were no characters with guns for hands, the quality of the English was hand-over-fist-better... the list goes on and on.

I put the first disc into the console and instantly my world was changed; my hands steadied, my back stopped hurting, my eye dilated, my ears perked up and my eyes, which are horrible at seeing (hilarious prank played by either cruel fate or some omnipotent entity who happens to fancy himself an asshole), instantly focused. That song which had haunted my youthful days had again returned after a many-year hiatus. To put it into perspective... I haven't played a Final Fantasy since before my girlfriend and I started dating NINE years ago, this May 4th.

How fortuitous... nine years since I played Final Fantasy's ninth installment. I will be playing some WoW this week for arena points, but I will be focused on FF9... there will be more to come, this I can promise. In closing, I will leave you with one of my favorite songs of all time.

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