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Archive for January, 2015

Let’s have blitz LFR

Remember a few days ago when I said I’d try to be more positive? I still want to do that but today I’ll criticize.

The last wing of Highmaul has been released and with it the last boss Imperator Mar’gok which I had the displeasure of facing using the dreaded LFR. To be fair, LFR is not a fault here, it does a fine job of finding a group and getting them going which is after all its purpose. Don’t blame the tool, blame the one using the tool I suppose.  Which leads to the first question, why make a wing with a single boss in it? Seems a bit wasteful in terms of queue time, especially for DPS classes.

So Imperator Mar’gok in its LFR state is a pretty boring fight. It’s about 12-15 of button mashing and hoping your group is smart enough to switch to adds whenever they show up. My group wasn’t that smart so the place ended up taking nearly an hour to complete. A long and painful hour.  I had to fight falling asleep fighting a boss I met for the first time and resist the temptation of going afk and watch Youtube while the rest of the group was killing the boss. I have a nagging suspicion though that some of my fellow puggers didn’t resist that temptation.

I’d like to blame Mar’gok for being boring but the truth is that LFR has been that way for me since Pandaria.  Bosses takes too long, fights are boring and I have to fight off falling asleep. I know I’m not the only one feeling that way. We do LFR to round out gear, complete our legendary quest but we’re not in there for the fun factor.

It’s not big surprise either that it’s so boring. There’s no challenge involved in it. As long as you have one or two decent healers and at least one good tank, the fights become tank and spank and most if not all mechanics can be ignored.  In the worst cases they literally become the same as fighting a practice dummy. I don’t any players who find fighting practice dummies exciting and even less who find that fighting multiple dummies for over half an hour to be a productive endeavor.

Dear Blizzard, I understand the reason why we have LFR difficulty raids. It allows even the most casual players to see content and it’s a great catch-up mechanism for gear. I also get that you need to put incentives (Legendary quests) to get the more experienced players to go in there to help out. I think we’re not that far from perfection… except that it’s boring as hell.

I’m going to offer a simple solution. Make the fights go faster, a lot faster.  Why not aim for 5 minutes per boss and another 5 for the trash leading up to it. Every ten minutes, a dead boss. If you want to add mechanics to the boss because there needs to be a bit of challenge go for it but keep the fight short. Either the group masters the mechanic and is done within 5 minutes or they don’t and wipe.

If you want to steal this idea, I allow Blizzard Entertainment to use any suggestion contained in this post.

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Challenging yourself in MMOs

Back in October 2014 I started playing Word of Tanks again after a rather long break.  In the past I would play it by spurs of a few weeks and then leave it alone for a while and I figured this time I’d probably play until Warlords launched and not drop it again. But this time around the game seems to be sticking with me. I did play a lot less during WoD launch and the holidays but I’m finding myself playing a fair amount these past two weeks. I believe that this is mainly because back in October I had set for myself the goal of improving my play and this has kept me interested in the game more than trying to get new tanks.

Which leads me to today’s topic, wanting to improve your gameplay in videogames, something that I find is most relevant in competitive games and MMOs. For example, I’ve been trying to improve in WoW to keep up with my raiding guild which raids at a pretty high level. I’ve had to improve my healing in FF14 to get through Extreme Ifrit and Bahamut Turn 5. And now in WoT I’m trying to get in the  “bluenicum” range which equals roughly to the top 5% of players (blue is the color given by mods to the players in that range). There are also traces on this blog of my attempts at getting better at SC2.

Now these are all pretty high goals and I know that to enjoy these games I don’t need to raid at a high level, I don’t need to do extreme modes or be in a particular league or be a top tier player. For me though, it’s a matter of challenge and let’s be honest, pride. I play a ton of games and most of time I play on the harder settings. Games like the Soul series (Dark Souls, etc…) just appeal to me and I love playing them. Beating a hard game not only gives a great sense of accomplishment but most of the time I find them more interesting too. A lot of game mechanics are often not apparent on the lower difficulty settings and playing on a harder setting often allow you to appreciate all the depth a game has to offer.  In an MMO being able to play at a higher level often gives you access to more challenging content version of raids and boss fights which I find more interesting.

And let’s not forget pride. After playing games on harder setting for long I want to be able to keep doing so and when I find a game where I struggle it becomes a matter of pride to be able to “beat it”. In my mind, there’s no way I’m going to be beaten by mere lines of codes. I’ll figure out the solution and come out on top. When translated to MMOs or competitive games I know fully well that I’m not a pro player but I’m not satisfied if I can’t play at a high enough level. It might not be the best reason for wanting to improve but here it is.

Sadly I’m not always able to reach those goals especially when it comes to MMOs and games like World of Tanks.  Time commitment, opportunities and skills don’t always line up. When I tried to get better at Starcraft 2 I did manage to get in Platinum league which was my goal but by then it had become a source of stress and I’m not sure how much better I could have gotten even if I wanted to. Likewise, I can’t put in the time required by a lot of serious raiding guilds and even then, to improve to the required skill levels I’d probably have to put in way more time than is reasonable.

In the end though, I want to keep setting myself these kinds of goals. They keep games interesting which is doubly important for games likes MMOs who have no clear ending to them.

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Heading into 2015

It’s 2015 and tradition demands that I make a few resolutions. I used to laugh at people using New Year as an excuse to finally do something, my reasoning being that if they really wanted to do something, they wouldn’t have waited until the New Year to get started.  But these past few years I made resolutions of my own and it did help me to get started on stuff I’d been putting on for too long. This year, I want to make a conscious effort to eat better and also get back on the blogging train.

As to why I slowed down blogging last year it’s because mainly I made a choice some time ago to try to avoid being negative when I can avoid it and also, I know “better” when it comes to how videogames are made. This blog and my writing on a French newspaper blog opened a lot of doors when it comes to talking to industry people and after talking to many involved in the industry and after being told why certain decisions came about it gets harder to criticize. Don’t get me wrong, there are still quite a few things that I find unacceptable, especially when it comes to monetization of games but I want to be more constructive about these things going forward.

Lastly my attitude toward MMOs has shifted a lot in the past two years. I feel that I’ve finally found my footing and know what I want out of these games. If you’re curious, Dark Legacy really captured my journey of the past decade. http://www.darklegacycomics.com/471

So where am I right now? I raid in WoW with Business Times because it scratches my raiding itch and they have a great team over there that I enjoy raiding, add a few friends playing the game and it’s just a great game to mess around in with friends. I play FF14 because I love the setting and the old school rpg vibe it gives. I might be weird but I enjoy the grinds and the fact that combat is more about choosing the right abilities and less about hitting keys as fast as you can. Plus the content is more accessible while remaining challenging so that’s a big plus. Lastly, I’m playing a lot of World of Tanks recently and that takes care of my PvP itches.

One game to raid with friends, one game for the story and mechanics and one more for PvP. I’d love it if one game could do it all but until that magical unicorn appears, I’d rather be cherry picking than raging and just feeling miserable.

On that zen note, I wish you all a great 2015 and I hope to be around more this year.

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