Great unwritten laws of MMOs (and possibly life)

I have been switching between MMOs at the moment, which gives me an opportunity to muse on truisms that seem to be valid for all guilds, all players, and all MMOs.

  1. Law 0: Murphy lives! (Redbeard.)
  2. Every guild or raid group you join that uses voice chat WILL use different voice chat software. It is inevitable that if one guild uses Mumble and another Ventrilo, the third one you join will require Teamspeak. (me). Your guild will use one of the Big Three – EVEN IF the game you all play has a voice client built right in! (Jonathon Barton)
  3. Whining actually does help. The more you whine about not getting that rare drop you want or never being able to get a group to some location, the more likely it is that the thing you want will actually happen immediately afterwards, thus making you look like a miserable whiner with no grip on reality.
  4. Unscheduled maintenance happens on your day off. (Tesh) Or, if you’re in a relevant time zone, right in the middle of your progression raid for the week. (Siha)
  5. Double XP weekends happen on the weekend you are best person at a wedding. (Nick Smith). Or you’re at a music festival all weekend. (Andy Horton)
  6. “You have a push to talk key for a reason. Use it.” (Oestrus). Similarly, at least one person will have their PTT key bound to something like Ctrl or Alt that they also use as a modifier in-game, usually for something they cast quite a lot. (caerphoto). Courtesy of a raid leader I knew – correct positioning of your microphone is not in your mouth and not up your ass. (kiantremayne).
  7. Joining a PUG always means you’ll have an interesting story to tell later. (Jeromai)
  8. Whenever you see one spam mail / message, rest assured, more are on the way.(Jeromai)
  9. The item that you’ve been waiting 7823578923 raids to get will not drop until the raid *after* you’ve bankrupted yourself purchasing an alternative. (Siha) Or that drop you want for toon X drops every time you are on toon Y or Z. (Thelandira/Sheeturself)
  10. If you pick a rare and little-played class, then next patch it will be buffed and everyone will assume you are one of the FOTM bandwagon-jumpers. (kiantremayne).
  11. Whatever class you pick, there’ll be seven others in the guild. Until you get fed up and roll a new character, after which none of the others logs in again. (Zoso)
  12. You like to think you’re a hipster gamer, and you genuinely don’t play a class for it’s power, but no matter what you do, you will end up picking the class Everyone Else plays and getting lumped in with the negative ones. Regardless if this class is ‘Warrior’ or ‘Milk Dud Tossing Basketweaver’, rest assured, everyone will want to play Your Class. (azaael)
  13. Whatever loot distribution scheme you think is equitable, someone disagrees. (kiantremayne)
  14. Your guild forum will only have important/amusing posts when you’re not checking it. (Mika Hirvonen (@Hirvox)
  15. When you’ve finally reached that chest at the end of the never ending tunnel, all the mobs around you will respawn (and pwn you hard with no res point close!). (Syl)
  16. 2 seconds after you finally reach that hard to find Shiny, you will pull unseen aggro that dots you heavily so you die an ignoble death while watching some casual passerby waltz over and pick up your rarely spawned Shiny. (gaspodia)
  17. Your game-friends are never portable, so you wind up building a whole new social circle from scratch in each title. (Jonathon Barton) Or if they do come to a new game with you, they will get bored and move on long before you do. (me)
  18. No matter what the topic in local chat, someone will bring up that WoW did X first, despite the fact that WoW did nothing first. (SynCaine)
  19. Also see: “wish this was like WoW” on day-one of any MMO release. (SynCaine)
  20. Don’t buy a new game at release, don’t log in on patch day. (Indy)
  21. 95% of your guild will not read the forums. (typhoonandrew)
  22. As soon as you decide to purchase a lifetime-subscription, the game will inevitably go F2P (or close down completely) within the next 6 months. (Moridir)

Feel free to add any great unwritten laws of MMOs that you have discovered and I’ll add them to the list.

Surviving April Fools Day

In the interests of allowing people to make total tits of themselves, I won’t post up links to any of the bloggy April Fools I’ve found so far until this afternoon. Feel free to suggest good April Fool links in comments.

(Big admission, I was going to write an April Fool about some big game company apologising for not including EU participants in something or other, because we know that never happens. But Bioware actually did that yesterday.)

Until then:

Guardian reports on Gordon Brown’s new electoral campaign

The Brown team has been buoyed by focus group results suggesting that an outbreak of physical fighting during the campaign, preferably involving bloodshed and broken limbs, could re-engage an electorate increasingly apathetic about politics.

In other election related news, BMW debuts its new Political Roundel Attachment Tag (PRAT) technology. They have some pictures of it on the homepage. (Thanks, Twoo.)

Kotaku is linking gaming related April Fools as they find them here.

Google introduces a new Animal Translator, bridging the gap between species.

A few more April Fools

Tobold reports that we’ll soon be able to play WoW on Facebook

And We Fly Spitfires has news of paid class changes in the works

TAGN reports on all the official Blizzard April Fools

Tanking Tips has news about a new legendary shield in WoW (about time too!)

Kill Ten Rats offers the one off chance to send ten dead rats to your favourite developer

Troll Racials are Overpowered has seen the light! He’s starting a new incarnation as a gnome paladin.

wow.com has had a change in direction to become Mass Effect Insider (or Leer at Taylor Lautner Insider?) (note: I will laugh if the Twilight stuff sends their hits through the roof.)

More from Bioware: They’ve announced a new 9th class for SWTOR, the Sarlacc Enforcer

Massively.com introduced new premium member services (Thanks, Wilhelm2451)

And props to Andrew Doull who totally had me fooled with his series of posts about Dwarf Fortress 2

As he says himself:

The typical reaction to falling for a hoax is outrage. I want you to put aside that emotion as much as you are capable of and celebrate another – imagination. If you fell for my story, it is because the seeds I planted fell on the cherished soil of fertile and optimistic dreamworld. This should be something you should be proud of. You have the capability to rise above the mundane and cynical, escape the clay around your boots and float away on boundless escapism. You are a gamer.

Epic Loot Rants

Who knew that benching players could lead to such bursts of undistilled brilliance? One of the hunters in our raid captured his recent loot frustration into a couple of epic video clips. The mood will be familiar to anyone who has ever raided, ever.

And he’s kindly allowed me to link them here. (Warning: Minor swearing, lots of Nazis.) If you like them and are on EU servers, feel free to hop onto Argent Dawn to give some feedback.

Grokhaar’s Epic Loot Rant about ranged weapons

Grokhaar Rants Again

Of course, all this creative activity does have a downside. Maybe if we bench him some more, he’ll make more videos ….

The long distinguished roll of pick up group disasters

This post marks the end of a long week of posts about WoW and particularly about the new random dungeon finder that came in with patch 3.3. What can I say? It’s been a jolt in the arm for an aging game. It’s been a reminder that the instanced content was always WoW’s strongest selling point. And it’s reminded a lot of people who thought they disliked grouping that what they mostly disliked was all the associated hassle in getting the group together.

The most brilliant thing about the dungeon finder from Blizzard’s point of view is that no one else running current gen games can copy it. In order to work, a tool like this needs a massive user base. For example, I woke up at 2am this morning and tried to get a group on my death knight out of morbid curiousity. 10 minutes later *BAM* smooth as silk Forge of Souls Heroic run. Now think about how many players you need active in order for there to be a 50% chance for any single person to only have to wait 10 mins to get a group at two in the morning.

My new Death Knight who conveniently hit 80 the day before the patch is also looking rather sleek in her new gear, thanks to some lucky drops.

In any case, we’ve all been running a lot more instances, and getting to grip with a lot more PUGs. I feel as though I’ve been in a permanent sugar rush when logged on. And it’s also not all perfect – what’s more, even those of us who are usually paragons of perfection occasionally make (say it in whispers) minor mistakes.

Here’s a list of some of the dumb things I have done this week:

  1. Ran a whole instance with my Death Knight in the wrong presence. I didn’t realise until right at the end when the tank asked why I kept getting aggro.
  2. While manoeuvring a mob in Forge of Souls, I fell off the platform.
  3. Told a death knight that it was fine for him to use Army of Souls on Loken, following which we immediately wiped.
  4. While trying an experimental short cut in The Nexus, I fell off the platform (incidentally, EVERYONE who has ever run Nexus has fallen off that platform at some point but it don’t half make you feel like a noob when it isn’t your first run.)
  5. Let far too many people die while healing on my druid because of being a bit out of practice.

By the way, every single one of those runs was actually successful (except for the Loken one because my friends logged on and I left the group). The only one that even caused a wipe was when I fell off Forge of Souls, because I was tanking at the time.

The oddest complaint I have had from another player was that I killed the bosses in the Nexus in the ‘wrong order.’ I told him I hadn’t received that memo.

I’m not the only person who has been cataloguing personal PUG failures (aka “I was THAT guy.”)

Link hard, with a vengeance

  1. Tarsus explains why we should always blame the tanks and gives a reason for just about every situation.
  2. Blizzard’s new petshop has inspired KIASA to sing. Katy Perry had nothing on this.
  3. We’ve seen a lot of other blog reactions to the petstore. The majority accept that the pets aren’t a big deal, but there’s a pervasive sense of sadness – as if we’d seen the future and people aren’t sure if they like it (ultimately if it’s more profitable for devs to make social games and sell pretty pets than make big expansive virtual worlds with complex teamplay, then well …). Green Armadillo sums this up, asking if RMT is the third Trammel. Copra also expresses sadness at how the game is changing, philosophically.
  4. The Rampant Coyote wonders if too much choice is a good thing in games. Or is it too easy to get lost or distracted and actually miss the game’s goal. I’ve recently started playing both Uncharted 2 and Dragon Age Origins and sometimes being on tracks is awesome fun as long as the view (and, more importantly, the gameplay) is that good.
  5. Naissa (welcome back, by the way) has extensive lists of things she misses about WoW from times gone by, but also things she loves about the new content.
  6. Speaking of Uncharted 2, Kotaku posts an interview with one of the designers, discussing how achievements (trophies) can actually add to the gameplay of a game and how they deliberately structure them. It’s so much more directed than the random ‘lets make an achievement out of everything’ scattergun approach we see in MMOs.
  7. It’s not just zillions of people in the western world who are hooked on farmville. Farming Games are extraordinarily popular in China too (probably where Zynga nicked the idea from).
  8. Game By Night analyses some of the problems with guilds as a concept, especially in games which have levels. And suggests some possible solutions.
  9. It’s much easier for people interested in WoW raiding these days to just run a PUG for the Coliseum. Altadin discusses the problems this raises for raid guilds – if you ask someone to be on reserve for your raid, you’re actually asking them to save their locks and not to even go grab some badges in a PUG. Matticus takes another angle and notes that it’s much easier to recruit and gear up a newbie now, so why not widen the recruitment net?
  10. So your guild is breaking up, everyone is all out of enthusiasm, and even the officers are wishing they could just quit. Ferrel discusses how to neatly put the guild to sleep – not a situation anyone likes but these things happen.

And my wtf of the week is wow.com’s post this morning about paladins which notes:

paladins are forced to pay the hybrid tax three times over — because they can do it all without limiting themselves, they can’t do anything as well as other classes

Does anyone seriously think that paladins can’t heal or tank as well as other classes (hint: they’re probably ahead on both right now).? Or that their dps is way behind … e.g. warriors? It’s not. Everyone whines, but that was a silly thing to say with any editorial weight behind it.

Also, I’ve seen a lot of rather tedious tank and healer questionnaires going around? Who the hell cares what your favourite spell is? *facepalm* It’s the whole package you should be looking at and how they fit together.

But for the record, my favourite tank type to team up with are bears. Warrior/druid is just a nice combo with a lot of finesse, I find. Or maybe I just know good bear tanks.

How to fail! And 20 ways to fail at tanking!

Blog Azeroth has a shared topic this week about Fails.

If I listed all the mistakes I’ve ever made in MMOs then (aside from needing a photographic memory to recall all the details) it would be the longest post I have ever written. ie. even longer than the one about why all MMOs will either need to implement a massive change or slowly die after about 4 years — feeling quite good about that prediction vis-a-vis Cataclysm right now so that’s not a fail.

Here are some of the main ones. I hope someone can learn from my mistakes.

Fighting for ownership of a guild when I was an officer and not the GM

I spent far too much time and energy trying to help direct one of my first guilds. I’d put a lot of time and effort into it. I’d been one of the first members and I was an officer. I didn’t understand why the GM and other officers weren’t interested in promoting guild activities or organising anything. I should have left before I really clashed with them. Even though I was probably right, it wasn’t worth it. I was much happier after I did leave and they probably were too.

As a general rule, never be afraid to leave a guild and find a new one if you realise that it isn’t working out for you … and probably never will. If you find yourself arguing a lot with guild leaders, that’s a good sign that it’s time to go. If you know you are playing more than you really wanted to, it’s a good sign that it’s time to find a guild with a more relaxed schedule, you owe it to everyone.

Fretting about picking a non-optimal class

You know how this one goes? You pick a class (or build, or whatever) because you find it fun. Later on, it turns out that it just isn’t as strong in its niche as other classes or you aren’t happy with it for other reasons. This is the point at which you should just reroll or find another game. There’s no point hanging on in the hope that devs will wave a magic wand and sort it all out for you, and that you’ll be rewarded in any way for sticking with an underpowered class. Just go play the bandwagon class for awhile and have fun, it’s a better use of time. I was much happier in DaoC when I left my minstrel and started a new sorceress — both classes were fine but I had been grumping for awhile about how badly I wanted to play a sorcerer. It would have saved a lot of time if I’d just done it.

Similarly in WoW, I knew I wasn’t enjoying tanking 5 man heroics in TBC. I’d have been happier if I’d switched to my resto druid sooner in that expansion.

I do think WoW at the moment in particular is more balanced than it has ever been, but MMOs in the past haven’t been as quick to balance the classes.

Taking someone on a raid because you couldn’t bear to say no

As a raid leader, your main goal is a successful raid — however you want to define that. If you know for sure that taking one person along will either make everyone else miserable (ie. because people hate them) or seriously affect your chances of a good raid, then grow a pair and find a polite way to tell them no. This is also a useful life lesson, you can’t always say yes to everyone and people actually don’t mind being told no as much as you think that they do. If you want to be productive, tell them what they can do to turn that no into a yes in future … unless you actually have taken an irrational dislike to them in which case try to persuade another raid leader to take them instead.

If you really want to do something, step up and lead

In every MMO I have played, I was much happier when I stopped bitching about people always organising raids or groups at times I couldn’t make  and just started organising my own. True, I don’t always want to lead. But being willing to step up from time to time means that you’ll always be able to make the raids and always be picked (unless you want to sit out). It magically becomes easier to do whichever content is on your mind at the time.

Know when to ditch a fail group

I was so happy when I found a Deadmines group for my alliance warlock. How foolish I was, how quickly I had forgotten the many ways in which a Deadmines group can fail from the past. We got lost on the way to the instance entrance and wiped three times while searching for it, then two of the group went afk for several minutes at different times.

It wasn’t as if I knew the way to the instance entrance either so I can’t say I was much help. But at least I knew when to say goodbye, for the sake of my sanity. There was a time when I would have felt honour bound to stay until the rest of the group split up, I have learned better now.

I cannot count the number of times in the past in which I dutifully stuck with a group where people weren’t even trying. You have to find a balance between helping a group work its way through an instance, even if it is slow and lots of people are learning, and deciding when people are just taking the piss and there’s something else you actually need to be doing (possibly in real life).

20 Ways to Fail at Tanking

Oh, this one is a whole category on its own! Unfortunately most tanking failures aren’t very novel or interesting and as you (and your friends/ guildies) get more practiced, you tend to recover from the failures quickly without even missing a step.

I’ve also noticed from reading threads on the official WoW boards that the types of tanking failures people report have changed in Wrath. There are a lot more cases of someone forgetting they were in an offspec or wearing the wrong gear during a pull. This used to happen previously but dual specs means that it’s a lot more likely to happen now. In Cataclysm, tanking gear will no longer feature defence as a stat. So it may be easier, like a druid, to do some emergency tanking while in the ‘wrong’ gear.

Paladins and DKs often fail by forgetting to have the right tanking buff/ presence up which has a huge effect on their threat (ie. no threat). This doesn’t really happen with druids (everyone else can yell at you if you aren’t a bear!) or warriors (who just switch stance quickly without really missing a beat — plus your tanking abilities won’t even show up on the quickbar if you’re not in defensive stance).

Classic tanking failures — I have done all of these in the past and probably will in future too:

  1. Pulling too many groups, probably by walking into one by mistake. (We call this the arse pull.)
  2. Pulling with the wrong ability, often resulting in the above. (ie. charging into a group by mistake instead of shooting at one.)
  3. Charging into combat and falling off a cliff (*cough* Kologarn)
  4. Forgetting that some crucial group member was afk and pulling anyway.
  5. Ditto for not waiting for healer mana, especially if they specifically asked.
  6. Forgetting my assignments in a raid encounter and trying to tank the wrong mob. Oops.
  7. Forgetting to repair.
  8. Messing up my macros so that my shield got unequipped and I couldn’t find it in my bags (while tanking) to switch it back in.
  9. Anything else connected with hitting the wrong button/ having a non-optimal hotbar layout such that hitting the wrong button did something more amusing or catastrophic than that would sound.
  10. Not noticing when my healer died. Or needed assistance.
  11. Ditto to not noticing anything happening to any of the other tanks.
  12. Not spotting adds in time to pick them up; particularly bad if the adds are large, brightly coloured, noisy, or eat several healers before I notice them.
  13. Not informing the rest of the raid promptly  if any of the above happens.
  14. Mismarking. Getting the kill order wrong in a pack of mobs such that the one you left until last kills everyone in an amusing way.
  15. Arguing about mismarking while trying to tank the next pull.
  16. Mistaunting. Oh no, you used your taunt by mistake and now it’s down and there’s an important tank switch coming up!
  17. Mistaunting off another tank.
  18. Taunting while targetting the wrong mob, oops.
  19. Not realising that your mouse batteries were running low until it goes dead in the middle of a boss fight.
  20. Not realising that your voice chat headset has become unplugged until you wonder why no one is responding to the VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION you just gave them in the middle of a boss fight.
  21. Getting a Papercut on your “Heroic Strike Finger” (Tarsus)
  22. Bleeding all over the place because you can’t stop hitting Heroic Strike in the middle of a boss fight. (Tarsus)
  23. Tanking a boss that requires an interrupt (hi, Auriaya!) and accidentally hitting Shield Bash about two seconds before you need it, so it’s still on cooldown at the critical moment. (Linedan)
  24. Mistargeting and pulling an extra group because you tab targeted into that group sitting across the way instead of the guy right in front of you. (Smakendahed)
  25. Showing your back to the mob. In this scenario, you are crittable, cannot dodge, parry, or block. (Pypsi)

Well I don’t know about you but I feel better for having got that off my chest. Feel free to add any suggestions!