Death of an Old God #1

killedyogg

We killed Yogg-Saron in a 25 man raid this week. It was the second kill for the raid, but the first one in which I was there. So now I have helped to kill an Old God, and it’s time to move on. I missed all the 10 man kills so I’m very glad to have been in for this one. There is a sense of closure from clearing the instance, even on normal mode.

I enjoyed Ulduar very much, and the Yogg fight was fun to learn. It was busy, and exciting, and there was plenty for everyone to do and to remember. Phase 1 was probably one of my favourite tanking fights in Wrath so far (I just like kiting mobs around, picking up adds, and dodging environmental damage.)

If it feels bittersweet, it’s because this was my last remaining goal from patch 3.2. I’m sure we’ll enjoy the remaining hard modes, but somehow they just don’t ping me as goals in the same way.

I kissed a girl (and I liked it), oh and some stuff about patch 3.2

(No, it’s not a post about guys who play lesbian night elves, I think Brad Pitt said all there is to say on that topic.)

We snuck a few more 10 man achievements from this weekend’s raids, and scheduled more time on Yogg for last night. I dreamed of green clouds afterwards, but it was an exciting raid and we’re definitely making progress. To get the Kiss and Make Up achievement, you have to blow a /kiss to Sara in Phase 2 of the fight. She will be floating above Yogg-Saron’s head.

Aside: Are evil gals always called Sara? I remember there was a Sara in LOTRO too.

I don’t have any especially helpful tips for Phase 1; it’s all about control, watching the green clouds with the eyes of a hawk, and communication between tanks. I have found it useful to put Vigilance on the other tank, for taunting adds across the room. We have experimented with individual tanks bringing their adds to the centre to be killed as opposed to one person staying in the centre and taunting adds across to them. But I think our conclusion is that it depends on the cloud formation — so sometimes we do one, and sometimes the other. I think we have that phase nailed now though, and damn if it doesn’t feel good.

I know we’d hoped to get Yogg-Saron down before patch 3.2 drops. Which looks to be tomorrow. And that gives one more night of tries, which I won’t be able to make. (Obviously it’s not the end of the world and I know we’ll still be going back for more tries, but it would have made the timing very neat.)

Being in the EU, we get our Warcraft patches one day after the US. I am still not entirely certain as to why they can’t patch on the same day but I find it an advantage to be slightly behind. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. If there’s a really bad bug with the implementation, it’ll be hotfixed before we get it.
  2. Gives the addon writers a bit of extra time to sort out their addon tweaks for the new patch before we download them (be sensible, don’t download the next patch’s addon updates before you download the actual patch!)
  3. Americans/ Rest of World also have a few hours to find and document any other minor bugs or exploits, ready for our playing pleasure the next day.
  4. If you’re interested in playing the auction house, you get a chance to see how the markets in the US realms have reacted to the new patch. If you’re quick and the US writers are helpful, you may be able to snag some last minute money making opportunities.

It’s not so great if you are an explorer type and need to do everything first. On the other hand, if you’re that into it you probably have been hitting up the test realms and know all of these things anyway.

Warrior Changes in patch 3.2

Tarsus reviews the 3.2 patch notes for warrior info – aside from some general balancing of parry and dodge values (devs noticed that dodge is rather too good value at the moment and want to keep avoidance more manageable) which affect all tanks, and block value which affects pretty much no one, the warrior changes have one thing in common.

They are all buffs, aside from the Shield Slam damage cap which was mostly to stop people slinging on a shield block set and going off to one-shot people by slamming them in PvP.

I’m looking forwards to them. Rage on block/dodge/parry will make it much easier to tank heroics in my current gear. The devastate change will make it easier to abandon the Tier 7 2-piece bonus in favour of the Tier-8 one – I still don’t have four pieces of T8 though (insert whine about warrior token never dropping). Hopefully will also result in some more damage for us while tanking. The ATT buff will certainly help with that too.

So nothing game changing but a few tweaks that do address current issues. That’s all you can really ask.

And the Argent Tournament, we knew the doubling up of quests couldn’t last

Siha adds a Part IV to her awesome Argent Tournament guide, noting changes in 3.2. No longer will you be able to double up and complete some of the valiant and champion quests by killing the same mobs. Hope you all took advantage of it while it was live. Notably, Battle before the Citadel now requires you to kill 3 Commanders. Definitely group for it.

Are you looking forwards to anything in particular about patch 3.2?

My exploit; your lateral thinking; his emergent gameplay

The game I am most looking forwards to playing at the moment (yes, even more than Diablo 3!!) is Scribblenauts. It’s a DS game that has been described as an emergent puzzle action video game – the slogan on their site is Write Anything, Solve Everything! The big lure is that you can use anything you can think of to solve the game’s puzzles. It’s set up to reward pure out of the box thinking.

Like many gamers, I love this kind of challenge. If I’m presented with an in-game world, I don’t want to be limited by the programming as to how I can interact with it. If I’m in a bar, I want to be able to pick up a chair and throw it at someone.  Or how about bribing the bartender to spike their drinks. Or maybe sneak into the cellars and engineer a power cut. Anyone who has played pen and paper games will be familiar with this kind of thinking :) I don’t want to be told – err, you can’t talk to the bartender, we didn’t think of that! Or – you can talk to the bartender but only if you want to ask for a beer.

Obviously, video games have their limits. They are limits that can only be stretched by very creative programming, or letting you interact with real people who are able to hop outside the box with you. The strengths of these games is in the way they can model games with very fixed rules like chess, Tetris, or MMO combat, or let you explore a virtual environment as long as you don’t want to interact; and probably not in how they model AI or human NPCs.

Well of course hardcore guilds find exploits!

One of the big news stories out of WoW at the moment is that Exodus, the guild who got the first ultra-hard mode Yogg-Saron kill have been banned for 72 hours for finding and using an exploit. Here they talk about it in their own words.

The ban looks to me to be punitive, setting an example to the rest of the hardcore guilds. It’s also rather arbitrary – as they say on their site they aren’t the only guild to have used questionable tactics on the first kills in some encounters. Blizzard really should sort itself out and get these bans under control. All they had to do here was fix it and remove the achievement from Exodus (or change it to something thanking them for finding and reporting the bug, which is what I would have done if it was my decision).

In any case, it’s not surprising if hardcore guilds find exploits. They explore the raid content deeper and more thoroughly than anyone else, especially when they are searching for a world first kill. Yes, the exploits shouldn’t be there in the first place but no test team in the world is as motivated as a ultra-hardcore raid guild.  Part of exploring new raid content is trying to think outside the box, trying to second guess the devs, trying to figure out what you have to do to solve the encounter.

So the games encourage people to use lateral thinking. But  not too lateral because that might be an exploit.

Having said that, these guilds are perfectly aware of when they find something that makes the encounter a lot easier than intended. And again, I think this is where the temporary ban is meant to send a message. If you find something and you know (with your experience of being a hardcore guild) that it’s not right, then you shouldn’t use it. That’s a rule for people who thrive on breaking rules, in games that encourage you to break rules cautiously to solve new puzzles.

I’m reminded of a hardcore guild leader in DaoC who noted that when he was leading a new raid, they’d do whatever it took to get the boss down (that was Gideon of Servants of the Lake, if anyone played Alb/Prydwen and remembers them). That’s what being hardcore means.  They weren’t cheaters – just they liked to win, and they liked to think outside the box and prided themselves on being good at it.

So do they want us to think outside the box or not?

The answer is not really. But players clearly have a strong appetite for being given more freedom in how they solve puzzles.

I thought it was interesting that there have been a few ‘exploits’ involving people using adds from one encounter to help beat another one (usually by stealing buffs or something like that). It’s not completely without precedent. In vanilla WoW there were raid encounters which could be made easier by using encounters outside the raid (remember the fire resist buffs from UBRS and the various world buffs from Onyxia and ZG?). I’ve always thought it was a shame that they never really followed up on this.

Why should an instance basically be a load of corridors leading between rooms with bosses in it, with each boss encounter totally self contained? Wouldn’t it be more fun if you could use something from earlier in the instance to help solve a puzzle later on? Might make the raids more coherent storywise also. That hardcore guilds keep trying to do this should be a sign to designers that there’s a hunger for it as a legit tactic.

So, bans aside, I hope that designers do look hard at the exploits and get ideas for new raid encounters from them. Because if there’s one thing that players are very very good at, it’s doing something totally unexpected.

And until then, I’m looking forwards to seeing if I can break Scribblenauts (wonder if it knows what ‘great cthulhu’ is).