Archive for 2008

WoW Talent System

I like WoW’s talent system, a lot more than I thought I would in fact. It’s so simple and clear compared to EQ2s AA system which is now becoming bloated and messy after so many expansions. I really like the definitive nature of the WoW talent trees, each offering a different way of specialising and playing your character. Unlike other MMOs, in WoW you are a ‘Shadow’ Priest or a ‘Restoration’ Druid and your talents really make a difference to your character and the way you play.

The big downside to all of this though is that you’re severely shoehorning your character. For instance, my Warrior is Fury spec’d which, while a lot of fun, means I’m focused on DPS and I’m completely unable to tank for groups. I’d face the same problem if I went down the Arms tree so the only viable option for me is to spec Protection if I want to tank. And the problem with that is if I spec Protection I’ll be dramatically reducing my DPS and making my solo questing sessions incredibly slow and painful.

Coming from EQ2, this is all a new experience to me. I’m used to tanks being tanks regardless of their AA spec – sure some might be more DPS orientated than others but all are able to tank regardless of how they spec. Same goes for healers. I don’t remember anyone ever challenging me on my AA specification or refusing me a group because of it yet this is common place in WoW. Guilds only recruit ‘Holy Priests’ or ‘Restoration Druids’ and groups have tremendous difficulty finding tanks and healers because everyone specs DPS to level up quickly via questing.

I’m very much looking forward to the dual talent system which will hopefully arrive in the next update. I think it could make a huge difference to the lack of grouping WoW at the moment. I’d love to be able to switch between a DPS spec for soloing and a tank spec for grouping and I’m sure others would to.

EQ2 Screenshots

I was feeling kinda nostalgic about EQ2 (playing for 3 years will do that to you) so I decided to look through some old screenshots. Here are some of my favourites:

Arms or Fury? Battle or Berserker?

I’ve been leveling my Warrior with an Arms spec but when I finally hit level 60 yesterday I decided to re-spec and try out the Fury tree. OK, I admit it, as much as I loved Arms the lure of Titan’s Grip was too much for me – I just had to give dual wielding two-handed swords a shot… and yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

The problem is, I’m not sure which spec is better or what they are both meant to be used for. Seems like Arms is designed for using two-handed weapons whereas Fury is for dual-wielding as the abilities do fixed damage based on attack power (Bloodthrist) rather than percetange based on weapon damage (Mortal Strike). I can’t help but wonder if I’m actually shooting myself in the foot and losing dps by switching to Fury.

Arms also seems to suit Battle Stance perfectly which was good for soloing. Rend was improved to do increased dmg plus allow the activation of Overpower. Overpower was boosted to have a 50% crit chance (plus I used a glyph to allow it’s use if my enemy parried) and all my critical strike bonuses were increased and caused bleeding dmg. Throw in an instant attack with Mortal Strike and Sweeping Strikes and Bladestorm for handling adds and you’ve got some very nice combinations going on. I think I’m going to miss Arms.

Fury seems more complicated and confusing to me. Should I use Battle Stance or Berserker Stance? I’m kinda reluctant to use Berserker as I lose out on Charge, Rend and Overpower, three very useful skills. Rampage doesn’t seem to be as good as Mortal Strike because it’s dmg isn’t based off weapon dmg (not so good when using two-handed weapons) and I can only using Cleave or Whirlwind for multiple opponents, the latter requiring me to switch stance mid-fight, something I’m not used to.

However, I have the feeling that Fury will become incredibly powerful after level 70 or so as I start putting points into Arms alongside it. Dual-wielding two-handed swords with Impale and Deep Wounds seems pretty sick.

PUG Comic

Having just made my post about PUGs yesterday, I found this excellent comic on the EQ2 forums – familar stuff to any MMO player I’m sure! :) It’s also beautifully rendered and really shows off EQ2s graphics.

Funny EQ2 comic depicting pick up groups

Click on the image to view it full size

The comic series is called ‘FTW’. Click here to view the EQ2 thread with all of the details.

iPhone and WordPress

I downloaded the WordPress app for the iPhone yesterday and thought I’d give it a shot today and write a post using it. I have to say I’m very impressed with it so far – very easy to install and setup and seems pretty simple to use.

Is it just me or does the iPhone seem to be everywhere now? I’m surprised at their popularity considering that they are locked to a single service provider in the UK, O2. Guess they made a smart move with their exclusivity deal with Apple.

For me the big success of the iPhone has to be it’s ease of use. I’ve had a few PDAs before but never used their features much cause they were so fiddly but with the iPhone it’s all a breeze. Accessing the Interweb is seamless (it will either use 3G or wi-fi), getting the mail app to hook into my Exchange mailbox was cake and downloading games and new apps is easy… too easy – I’ve bought way too many things.

My only complaint with the iPhone? The battery life is absolutely terrible…

When did groups becomes PUGs?

A new post on Keen and Graev’s about Pick Up Groups (PUGs) got me thinking about how grouping with unknown players seems to have changed over the years from being the acceptable and common experience to something that people seem very negative about and reluctant to do. I first encountered the word ‘PUG’ about 2 years ago and since then it’s never been used with affection but more as a derogatory term or in-joke. I’ve even had guildies who stated they would never, ever join a PUG.

Is this outlook justified? Are random groups really that bad or have we just gotten ourselves into a whole lot of negative thinking?

Before the term PUG was invented, I never had any negative predisposition to joining a group of strangers. In fact, I considered it quite normal and enjoyed it and I could now spend hours relating fun stories about random groups I had in Everquest, DAOC, SWG, or any other MMO I tried. Sure, they didn’t all work out, but that was just accepted and it never seemed to put as people off as it does now. Even during my recent time of playing EQ2, I was always a big advocate for PUGs and never hesitated to join one or create one and I never regretted it once. I didn’t want to spend hours waiting for the right number of people in my guild to log on or free-up, I just wanted to get stuck into something and meet new people. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t joined PUGs, I would never have met most of my online friends so I cannot consider it a bad experience in any way.

But  the outlook towards PUGs seems to be becoming more and more negative all of the time and I can’t help but wonder if WoW, in a round-about way, is responsible for starting it all. You see, Warcraft offers a huge amount of solo content and is very black and white with it’s talent builds which means that people tend to take the easiest approach to leveling – DPS soloing. This, of course, means that players aren’t experienced in grouping and are more likely to make mistakes when they do finally group. I also think the WoW player base is less hardcore and MMO savvy than in other MMOs. Don’t get me wrong, I think WoW is a great game but when it created an accessible focus on soloing, the inadvertent side effect was that groups in it are less likely to be successful than in other games.

Combine the lower chance of success with spiraling negativity and you end up where we are today. Everyone seems to hate those ‘PUGs’ (even though every member in one is a member of another guild and has successful guild groups) and goes into them with a predisposition for failure. Sure, maybe it’s a little harder to get good groups in WoW than it is in EQ2, but that doesn’t mean we’re justified in writing them all off. I think it’s time we were all a little more sociable and forgiving and championed the PUG a little more. You never know, you might make some new friends.