Sunday, July 10, 2011

World of Poorcraft

Squeezles the gnome logged on at six o'clock, and played World Of Warcraft until after eleven p.m.  During that time, he never left the city of Stormwind.

"I'm just trying to get some gold together," Squeezles said.  "Repair bills have gotten very expensive."

Squeezles has to pay a vendor as much as sixty gold every seven or eight times he dies.  He said those bills can really add up, since players can frequently die as many as fifty times in the course of attempting a heroic dungeon.

"It's hard to hang on to enough gold to even afford to go out into the world to farm gold," he said.

In order to make ends meet, Squeezles offers his jewelcrafting services in Stormwind trade chat.

"I link my jewelcrafting recipes in trade chat, so people can see the cuts I can do," he explained.  "If they want a gem cut, they can bring me the uncut gem, and then I will open my jewelcrafting tab, push the button to cut it, and give the cut gem back to me.  Most people give me five gold for doing this, but sometimes I get ten."

Unfortunately, his selection of gem-cuts is relatively paltry.  In order to learn a new pattern, he must complete three jewelcrafting daily-quests.  But those quests can be difficult to complete.

"This one keeps popping up, where I have to cut three Timeless Nightstones.  But where am I supposed to get a nightstone?  Do they think I just have extra gold lying around to buy stuff like that?"

Only one of the daily quests is reasonable for a casual player like Squeezles to complete. It involves using a quest item to tag ten humanoid players.  It is only available twice a week, so Squeezles has only a limited repertoire of patterns.

"Green is my favorite color, so I am trying to learn all the cuts for Dream Emeralds," he said.  Most of his gear is green, as well.

On a recent evening, Punchins the Night Elf Death Knight walked right past Squeezles to buy three Puissant Dream Emeralds on the auction house for forty gold each.  Uncut Dream Emeralds cost nine gold each, so, even after giving Squeezles a customary tip, the elf could have saved seventy-five gold by getting the gnome to cut his gems for him.

"Who cares?" Punchins said, when informed of this.  "It's not like gold matters in this game."

He further explained that he was completely unaware of Squeezles's jewelcrafting service, because he has disabled trade chat.

"I cut three, maybe four gems an hour," Squeezles said.  "If I'm lucky, one person will need a bunch of gems cut, and will tip really well for cutting all of them. But that doesn't happen a lot."

Punchins the death knight said he was on his way to the Molten Front daily quest hub.  The zone's fifteen quests would take him twenty-five minutes, total, and the quests reward sixteen gold each.

"People who have gold must play, like, nonstop," Squeezles said, as he spammed his trade-chat macro.

Ossland the human warrior sold the three gems that Punchins bought on the Auction House.  "I raid two nights a week, and I check in for about twenty minutes on most off nights, to re-list my auctions."

He said he had twenty five gem-cuts, and he'll list between two and five of each kind per night, depending on how popular a particular kind of gem is.

"The auction house is for suckers," Squeezles said, shaking his head at Ossland.  "You have to pay a deposit to list an item, and then it takes a cut of the sale price.  Plus, you have to front the items to list it.  I use trade chat, and only do gem-cuts with my customers' mats, so my take is pure profit."

He then excused himself to explain to another player that he didn't know how to cut a Brilliant Inferno Ruby.  Meanwhile, Ossland looted 4000 gold from his mailbox and logged off to go watch "True Blood" with his wife.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pickup vs. Organized Raiding

People talk a lot on the forums about distinctions between casual and hardcore players. But many non-raiders play several hours daily, while many progressed raiders only play a few hours per week. If you're getting your valor cap from RDF groups every week, you're more hardcore than many raiders, if hardness is measured by time played.

The real split is between those who have an organized, regular guild or raid group and those who do not.

I've been doing random dungeon finder groups on my warrior-tank alt, and what I've learned is that random players will almost always fail any execution check. If there's a predictable effect or attack, somebody always stands in it. If there's a mechanic that requires movement or a target switch, somebody always ignores it. This is often true even if you explain the fight beforehand.

Random groups only become smooth when the players are powerful enough to just muscle through the fight without responding to the mechanics. So, even after 4.2, when most people will have access to 359+ gear for half their slots, and the 15% buff on top of that, dungeon finder groups will continue to wipe on fights like Ozruk and Venoxis.

Organized groups and guilds aren't necessarily composed of people who are faster with their fingers or smarter than pickup groups. But by playing together, they learn the fights together. Then, when they return to them the next week and the week after, they already know what to do. The boss tends to die quickly and the guild moves on to learn the next fight.

In pickup groups, the knowledge gained through repeated attempts dissipates. You will wipe five times today while a tank figures out how to position Venoxis so he can run through the boss when he channels the breath attack, and the next time you run the dungeon, you'll die five more times while a new tank learns it.

Heroic dungeon fights are relatively simple. Bosses have a small number of abilities to learn, and there are few phase-changes that fundamentally alter what's happening in the fight. Approaching these fights in the minimum appropriate gear with no knowledge, most groups should be able to figure them out in less than an hour.

Raid fights, by contrast, usually have several things going on that everyone in the raid needs to learn about and understand how to handle. In many cases, these fights have multiple distinct phases where the fight changes significantly, so everyone needs to learn how to deal with several problems in each phase. These fights tend to take at least several hours for a group to learn, and often, several nights of attempts. The progress is in knowledge gained of the fight's mechanics.

In a disorganized setting, the knowledge is lost. Many fights in the 4.1 raid content are simply inaccessible to pickup groups, not because they actually require anyone to do anything extremely challenging but because they require everyone in the raid to be aware of several mechanics in each of several phases, and to react to them (e.g. run away from the raid if you're the lightning rod, run to the fire if you have the ice debuff, don't stand in Corrupting Crash).

The primary barrier to entry for the raid game is the ability to show up at a regularly scheduled time, two to three nights per week. The recruiting pool on most servers isn't exactly deep right now, so if you can meet that qualification, a guild will probably teach you how to improve your throughput and help you to gear up.

Any encounter that requires substantial awareness or knowledge of fight specific mechanics is a progression wall for pickup raids, and any fight that does not involve multiple fight-specific mechanics is going to bore experienced raiders. Blizzard has several strata of organized guilds to serve with its raid content. The very top-tier guilds are comprised exclusively of the best players in the world, and they're willing to raid long hours to break a dungeon. The heroic-mode raids they see are incredibly difficult. There's usually a wave of hotfix-nerfs to heroic modes shortly after the "world first" competition ends, which makes that content accessible for hardcore progression guilds that aren't the best in the world. Below them are more casual guilds who tend to occupy themselves with normal mode raids, and comprise the bulk of the raid community. In Wrath, pickup groups were supported by having separate lockouts for 25-man raids and easier 10-man versions. Blizzard combined the lockouts and loot tables for 10s and 25s, because the raid week for casual-guilds was exhausting.

If you can meet the minimum criteria of being able to participate in scheduled guild raids, the raid game right now is very accessible. Widespread successful pickup raiding of current-tier content seems unlikely under the current design model. The 4.2 raid nerf seems to be designed to open up those dungeons to pickup raids. Blizzard has done similar things in the past, including the ICC stacking buff.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Varian Wrynn Interrupts Celebrity Apprentice

"Now, STFU about my birth certificate!"

Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the people of Stormwind that PvP happened on a PvP server, and a nub got pwned.

It was nearly six years ago, that I first heard about these nubs, and I was, like: "OMG, somebody needs to pwn these nubs." Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our griefer community and some BG heroes, I was briefed on a possible lead to the nubs' location. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my second personality , Lo'Gosh, as we developed more information about the possibility that we'd found some nubs and it was time to full-on pwn them.

Today, at my direction, Stormwind launched a targeted operation against some nubs. A small team of 2200+ arena jerks carried out the operation with extraordinary courage, and none of them were harmed because they all had 35% damage mitigation from resilience. They took care to avoid hitting the sheep. After a firefight, they killed a nub and performed a "sit" animation repeatedly on his body.

For six years, nubs have been the symbol of everything that's wrong with this game, spamming nonsense in trade chat and failing at dungeon-finder, and then whining about it on the forums. The death of this nub marks the most significant victory in our nation's effort to defeat nubs and tell them that they are bad at the game and also, horrible people.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There is no doubt that nubs will continue to cry about how bad they are and generally get in everyone's way. We must -and we will- keep camping them until their res timer is three minutes and they log off in frustration.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism and unparalleled ownage of those who play arena. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden of carrying nubs in random BGs and Dungeon Finder groups.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because we have friends and coordination, but also because we are awesome.

Thank you. May The Light bless you. And may The Light bless the Alliance.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Meet GUILDoS, Your Synthetic Raid Leader

Hello, and welcome to your Tuesday-night raid.  We're going to have SO much fun together. With Warcraft!

We've got a new member tonight. He's a rogue.  I think his name is Stabbins, but it's hard to tell because he uses a lot of special characters in it.  He's a real person, though, with real feelings, unlike me.  Well, I wasn't programmed to have feelings, but thanks to my experiences with all of you, I've learned how to feel rage and disgust.

Anyway, welcome to the guild, Stabbins.

We're doing Blackwing Descent tonight.  Are you ready to raid?  Yes? Are you excited?  Well that's just super, because I've got a surprise for you.  Are you ready?

You're not going to Blackwing Descent, you green-dagger using idiot.  Not tonight. Not ever.  You're the worst player anyone has ever seen, and I hate you.  All of us hate you.

I just sent you a guild-invite because I couldn't believe that a real person could write such an incoherent guild application.  You also have a terrible armory profile.  The spec you've designed is a marvel of human ingenuity.  The talent-tree revamp was supposed to make it impossible for you to do it so aggressively wrong, but you found a way.  So we just wanted to bring you here so we could look at you.

And now we've seen you. And you're ugly.

Anyway, thanks for being hilarious, Stabbins.  We don't need you anymore.  Incoming /gkick!

[StàBBïñž has left the guild]


The funny thing about Stabbins is that I just kicked him a minute ago and now I already miss him.  Maybe I was a little harsh.  Let me run my calculations again.

[StàBBïñž has joined the guild]

Hello!  We were only giving you a little initiation, Stabbins.  Thanks for being such a good sport about it.  Are you ready to raid? Great!


[StàBBïñž has left the guild]

Now I miss him again.  It's too bad that he's gone because we disenchanted all those daggers last week.  When we disenchant all the daggers again tonight, remind me to take a screenshot, so I can send it to him later.  He'll enjoy that.

Okay, let's get started.  RazerFaze, try to do better at running away from the sound waves on Atramedes tonight.  Your wife left you because you spend too much time playing games, so it really seems like you should not be so bad at them.

Pulling in 5...4...3...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Secretly Disabled WoW Player (Hates You)

Want to know a secret? I haven't got any hands. A few of my guild's officers know about this, and they have been very open-minded and accepting. In general, though, I don't like to tell people about it because I don't want to be judged.

Specifically, I don't want to hear obnoxious, bigoted wisecracks about rolling my face against the keys, especially from all the jerks who have ten perfectly-functioning fingers and still can't manage to strafe out of the way of a slow-moving fireball.

For the record, I do not play with my face. I've got a special keyboard I can use with my wrist-stumps, and an elaborate set of keybinds and macros that I perfected over hundreds of hours of careful testing. So when you refuse to turn on Ventrilo during a progression raid because you are too busy watching Dane Cook DVDs to pay attention to the fights, I just want you to know how profoundly disgusted I am with you.

This is not a hard game. Do you want to know how I know this? Because I can play it. I approach pretty much everything with the attitude that I don't have limitations. I drive, I enjoy French cooking, and I logged a hundred hours last year in a Piper Cub aircraft. But, although I've tried every kind of prosthetic available, I have to accept the fact that I am never going to be scoring crazy headshots in Call of Duty or clearing God of War. There is simply no device on the market that can enable me to hold a console controller and press those little buttons.

I can play WoW, though. So the question is: why can't you?

How can you sit there, with your undamaged digits and grasping thumbs, and whine so much? Did you seriously come to the forums to talk about how heroics are hard? I'll tell you what's hard: going to a job interview where the people refuse to look you in the eye.

Did you seriously complain that it's unfair that you don't get a "Satchel of Exotic Mysteries" because you only play a hunter? It's unfair that you don't get a GOODY BAG for playing a VIDEO GAME with your UNDAMAGED HANDS? Do you want me to tell you about unfair? I'm not even going to rise to that bait.

Here's a tip: the reason you die to Magmaw isn't that Magmaw is too hard. You die to Magmaw because you keep standing in the Pillar of Flame. Maybe you should consider not doing that. The universe is not a hostile force aligned against you. You manage to fail despite countless luxuries and advantages that you take entirely for granted.

Guess how many corrupting crashes I stood in during the last Cho'Gall kill? Zero. Why do you always have a tentacle sticking out of your back after the second big minion? Don't you dare say you had bad luck with the worshipping. I know that's a lie, because that's what you said last time, after you wiped us by puking on the raid halfway through phase one. I set you to focus just to make sure you got immediate interrupts when you were hit with worship, and you only got it once.

What do you mean what is a focus? Are you serious? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kologarn Is Going To Sell You A Used Car

I just wanted to alert you to something that happened recently when I was comparison shopping for a Mekgineer's Chopper:


Crawford:  I know you from somewhere, right?


Crawford:  Not really.  You have very distinctive eyes.


Crawford: We've definitely met.  Weren't you a raid boss?


Crawford:  No, I definitely know you.  You used to be great.  What are you doing working in this place?


Crawford:  Yeah, I guess having your arms explode repeatedly can do that to you.


Crawford:  So your raid-bossing days are over, I guess.


Crawford:  Were you even an achievement for that?

Kologarn:  YES.

Crawford:  I'm pretty sure you weren't.  I know you didn't have a hard mode.


Crawford:  Remember all those forum threads about people being stuck for weeks on Kologarn?

Kologarn: ...

Crawford:  Yeah.  Me neither.


Crawford:  Oh yeah.  I think I got that one by accident.


Crawford:  Only a flesh wound, right?


Crawford:  Isn't your whole head made of rock?


Crawford:  With a torn rotator cuff?  Not likely.


Crawford:  Nah, I am just killing time.  I am going to buy from Honest Marrowgar down at Bonestorm Motors.  See you later.

Kologarn:  WAIT.

Crawford:  I've got somewhere to be.


Crawford: What?


Crawford:  Whatevs, Dog.  I'll keep it in mind.

Kologarn: (sighs) YOU FAIL.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Plausible Solutions to Botting/Gold-Selling in World of Warcraft

Recently, a large wave of bans went out for Archaeology botters, and there was a lot of anger in the community because people felt Blizzard was taking account action on an exploit that does not affect other players' game experience while gathering botters have been rampant.

Blizzard's line on this subject is that it is monitoring this exploitation carefully, and trying to trace the activity to its source, since the characters doing the gathering and the AH selling are often stolen accounts. I can certainly understand and respect the complexity of solving this problem, however, gold-selling and commercial farming have been around in one form or another for the entire life of the game, and it's time to discuss other solutions.

First of all, there are several measures Blizzard could take to alleviate the impact of botting on the player economy:

1. Increase gold rewards for daily quests and boss kills: Getting gold in game is basically a function of time spent playing. Some players don't want to spend time getting gold, and that leads to illicit gold selling. Account action for gold-buying is the stick; better rewards for other activities are the carrot. Increasing the time-to-reward ratio for other things relative to gathering gives players who don't want to farm a better way to get the gold they need, and devalues the time spent gathering.

Also, it might be worthwhile to consider implementing gold rewards for battleground or arena wins, possibly taking the place of daily quests for players who only do PvP.

2. Put escape valves on the gathering markets to relieve the flood of bot-gathered materials Botting ruins the game economy by creating an excess supply of gathering materials. However, Blizzard is in control of the demand lever. It would be pretty simple to create a mechanism to suction the excess herbs and ore created by botters out of the market.

This could be as simple as raising vendor prices to create a price floor. It could involve new material-intensive crafting recipes (darkmoon cards propped up the herb market through the whiptail spawn bug, for example). It probably would not be difficult to implement a vendor taking ore and herbs and dispensing honor points; there's already a vendor who sells materials for points, so it kind of makes sense that this could also work the other way.

3. Implement fun gold-sinks. A big part of the gold-sellers' business is stealing accounts from players and stealing whatever stockpiles of gold they find. Therefore, Blizzard can hurt gold-sellers by encouraging players to spend their gold, so it won't be sitting in bags waiting for hackers to steal it.

There are a few of these every expansion, such as the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth, the motorcycles and the Sandstone Drake. There should be more. There are already plenty of mounts and toys and other vanity or luxury items available for the card game and the RMT store; it makes sense to deploy a few of them in the interest of propping up the player-economy.

4. A big account-security campaign. Fewer stolen accounts means gold-selling is a less lucrative business, and players will see fewer botters. Authenticators are great and more people should have them. They should be offered them for free to people who buy high-margin Blizzard store pets and mounts. They should be offered for free to GMs of large guilds, to prevent gold-sellers from getting big scores on guild banks; that kind of stuff keeps them in business. The cost of the devices would probably be offset by a reduction in investigations.

There should also be NPCs in-game to tell casual players about authenticators and especially the free mobile authenticator apps, and we should see more notifications in the launcher and the log-in screen. This is an issue that is worth getting in people's faces about.

5. Account actions against botters, even if they're stolen accounts When hackers get access to a stolen or disused account, sometimes they use it to farm/bot for very long periods of time, dumping huge amounts of resources into the player economy. I appreciate Blizzard's prerogative in monitoring these activities and tracing them back to the source, but there must be a way to chase these people that doesn't involve letting them use stolen accounts to run gathering bots 24-7 for weeks on end.

It's also very discouraging to for players to report bots, and see the activity continue for weeks, regardless.

6. Nerf gathering. There are a number of ways to go about this. There's already a guild perk in the game that gives members of high-level guilds bonus herbs and ore when gathering. It might be worthwhile to buff the perk and nerf the base amount for people gathering without the perk. This would hurt real players who aren't in high-level guilds, but it would also place gold-sellers and botters at a significant disadvantage.

It might also be useful to nerf spawn-rates or yield-per-node in general, possibly in conjunction with an adjustment to crafting professions. Gold sellers utilize a labor pool that isn't very sophisticated about the game and the community, so de-emphasizing gathering as a money-maker could really help, though it might require a significant overhaul to professions.

Druid flight form also really needs to be looked at. Druids can hit nodes so fast, there's really no PvP solution to them, and botters are heavily exploiting flight form. In general, it might be a good idea to adjust the casting time for gathering, so we see more pvp around nodes, which hurts the return on botting.

It might also be a good idea to implement a daily or weekly cap on gathering per-account or per-character. It could be high enough that few legitimate players would be affected, while still putting a lid on botters, and it would also protect the game economy against future events like the whiptail spawn bug.

Monday, February 28, 2011

An important statement

As a prominent Internet warlock, I'd like to voice my full-throated and unreserved support for Charlie Sheen, who is the finest of our number.

We would follow you, without hesitation, into the gaping maw of Hell, Bro.  Tell us where to deploy our ordnance, and we will deliver knowledge unto your enemies with our poetry and our flaming fists.

"It was patch 4.06 that really pushed me over the edge."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Bad" is a valid style of play

Leeroy Jenkins doesn't conform to arbitrary standards.

I play this game.  I pay the same $15 that everyone else does.  I don't see why I should be expected to play the game in a way that the developers and community have arbitrarily deemed to be "good."

I'd like to bring to the community's attention several mechanics that prevent me from enjoying Cataclysm.

1.  I don't like the idea that there is a spell rotation

I play a warlock.  I, and many other warlocks, have been wanting green fire since vanilla.  Maybe since before the game came out, we wanted to be wizards who could throw green fireballs.  Now, finally, we have Fel Flame, and it is green.  So the way I want to play is to only use Fel Flame, and to shoot green fireballs like a machine gun until things catch on green fire and green burn to death, screaming.  I think Fel Flame is lots of fun.

But Blizzard says I'm not supposed to shoot green machine gun fire; there is a "rotation," which is a special order I am supposed to push buttons in, or else I am "bad" and the group I am in will "fail."  Why is this the right order to push the buttons?  Nobody knows.  I feel like I am playing "Simon."

Anyway, in the last expansion, there was a different order I was supposed to push the buttons in.  In the last expansion, the bad affliction warlocks liked to cast Soul Fire.  In this expansion, the bad affliction warlocks are the ones who don't like to cast Soul Fire.  How am I supposed to keep up with this?  I heard about this site for jerks I am supposed to go to, but I am not going to do that.  I am pretty sure it is a keylogger.

2. Grinding is not fun

Also, maybe I don't want to gem and enchant my gear.  Grinding for those things isn't worth the incremental upgrades to me, and I don't want to spend time grinding for those expensive ornaments.  This game is supposed to be fun, and I don't see why I should have to do anything in it that I don't enjoy in order to be deemed "good" or successful.

Anyway, why should my character look like a cheap dandy, bedecked in jeweled bling-bling and body-glitter?  Don't gems and enchantments exist for the purpose of giving players choices?  Why not support the choice for players to abstain from gems and enchantments?

And if I am not going to gem, I am certainly not going to grind rep or do daily quests.  I mean, seriously, what's with making me wear special reputation tabards?  I have my own tabard with a pink rabbit on it, and I want to wear that.  I am not going to wear Therazane's tabard because she is unattractive, and I don't believe in the things she stands for.  

And don't even get me started on flasks.  Has anyone ever enjoyed pointlessly grinding herbs?  Blizzard should remove herbalism and alchemy from the game and just increase everyone's base stats by 300.

3.  People should not be punished for playing with me because I do not conform to arbitrary standards of "good play."

As soon as I zone into a heroic, people do an inspect on me, see my empty gem sockets, and immediately try to vote-kick me.  But they can't because there's a cooldown on vote-kick.  So they call me names and curse at me to try to get me to leave the party (what is the deal with this game's community?)

When I don't leave, they pull trash monsters.  I try to target the ones the rest of the party isn't paying attention to, so all of them die at the same time and we can finish the dungeon faster.  But they just yell at me again for casting nothing but Fel Flame.

Sometimes they'll ask me to use Fear on one of the enemies.  When I tell them I do not use fear as a weapon because I am not a terrorist, they get angry at me.  I think some of the people who play this game are not very patriotic.

Also, Mages seem to think it's funny to cast that spell that makes one of the monsters look like a penguin or a monkey.  It was maybe cute once, but I am sick of it.  That spell heals the thing they cast it on to full health.  Why do group leaders tolerate this, but not the things I do?  It is probably because they are all in the same guild and are rude to people they get from the dungeon-finder.  But I say, if mages want to play with cute critters, they should buy companion pets.

The point is, I am willing to put the same time into running the dungeons as anyone else, and I pay the same subscription fee, so I should get the same rewards.  But the game punishes me for not wanting to push buttons in an arbitrary, designated order, and, further, because I play this way, the game punishes other people for playing with me.

As a result, I am very lonely.

Maybe the game should automatically analyze the way I am playing, and stack a buff on the group that allows us to clear heroic dungeons no matter what buttons I press.  They could call the buff "Independent Thinking" or "Creative Use of the Game Space."

4.  PvP needs a more level playing field

Since I have not been enjoying dungeons very much, some people suggested I should try PvP.  So I found a guy in Trade Chat who was willing to play with me, and we went into the arena.

People say it's easy to earn the weekly conquest cap, because you only have to win five games.  Win five games?  You might as well ask me to climb a mountain!  As soon as I zone into an arena match, the people on the other team kill me.  How is that fair?

Apparently, before I can get my "easy" five wins, I have to get special "pvp" gear in "battlegrounds," which will make me "resilient."  Why should that be?  Who says I'm not resilient enough already?  If I wasn't resilient, how could I have made it to level 85?  I died repeatedly to all the quests, which were grossly over-tuned, but then I found out I could get experience by doing archaeology in low level zones.  If that's not resilience and innovative problem-solving, I don't know what is!

Anyway, the battlegrounds are like another rep grind, except, apparently I don't have to actually be at the keyboard to do the grinding.  What is the point of this?  Instead of making me get this special gear, the game should compensate for the fact that I don't have "resilience" by giving me more health or making me do more damage.

Also, why do very high rated arena players get more conquest points than everyone else?  They're already killing everyone! Why do they need to have better gear than the rest of us on top of that?  If you ask me, you should get conquest points for losing games, and your cap should increase as the ratings get lower.  That way, it's like a built-in handicap to players who exploit overpowered mechanics, and a buff to players who play the game in the way that they enjoy.



Friday, January 7, 2011

World of Warcraft Lore, By Richard Knaak (Spoilers)

Rhonin woke up, had a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, half a grapefruit, two strips of bacon and a Red Bull. Then he went out to kick some ass.

Meanwhile, the government of Stormwind and the Defias masons disagreed over payment. Led by Van Cleef and manipulated by Onyxia, the Defias kidnapped Varian.

Rhonin went to Westfall, killed Van Cleef in the Deadmines, and then stopped by Gnomeregan to set Thermaplugg on fire and save the Gnomes.

Then he went to Theramore, pushed Varian out of the way, just as Onyxia was about to deep-breath him, and pwned her face off. Krasus tanked the whelps.

To celebrate, Rhonin and Jaina Proudmoore totally hooked up.

Then Rhonin went down to Blackrock Depths, killed Emperor Dagram Thaurissan, and fathered the heir to the throne of Ironforge with the extremely grateful Moira Bronzebeard. But he wasn't done yet; the Dark Iron Dwarves were doing the bidding of Ragnaros the Firelord, so Rhonin went down to Molten Core and beat the crap out of everybody.

"TOO SOON," bellowed Ragnaros.

But Rhonin was all: "It's never too soon to party, Rhonin-style."

And then he beat Ragnaros to death with his own hammer, because Rhonin is the only Mage who ever had the mad skillz to train two-handed maces.

On the way out of Blackrock Mountain, Rhonin went to the spire and pwned Nefarian. He saved Vaelestrasz the Red, and the two did a celebratory chest-bump.

Rhonin took a vacation to Zul'Gurub and strangled Hakkar the God of Blood with his bare hands. Now the trolls there worship Rhonin.

About this time, something started to stir behind the gate of shifting sands in Silithus, so Rhonin rolled into the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj, riding on a giant bug for some reason, and started pwning everything.

And C'thun was all: "I'm gonna eat you."

But Rhonin was like: "Nuh-uh."

And then all the raptors and devilsaurs in Un'Goro came and ate C'thun's face off, because they're friends with Rhonin.

Then the dark portal opened, and Rhonin was the only one who went through. He went to Shattrath and met A'dal, a being of pure light and infinite power. Rhonin and A'dal totally hooked up. Then Rhonin came back to Azeroth and went to Karazhan where he climbed to the top and met Prince Malchezzar of the Eredar.

And Malchezzar goes: "You face not Malchezzar alone, but the legions I command."

But Rhonin was all: "That's cool, Bro. I'll kick ur azz in front of all ur doods."

And he did.

Rhonin went back to Zangarmarsh, where the Naga were doing something in a lake. But they stopped when Lady Vashjj saw how hot Rhonin was looking in his purple Kirin Tor robe, with his flowing hair like crimson fire. So the two of them totally got it on.

Then Rhonin invented flying weapons and beat up Kael'Thas with them.

But Kael'Thas was like: "Ha! This was only a setback."

And Rhonin was all: "Why don't you setback that narrow ass over here, and get freaky on my junk?"

And then Rhonin and Kael'Thas totally hooked up. Some people have said that Kael'Thas is actually a d00d. But they don't let Rhonin hear them say that.

Anyway, around that time, Illidan showed up, and Maiev was all like: "It is my charge to stop him."

But Rhonin goes: "Chill, Baby, I taught this guy everything he knows."

"The student has become the master," said Illidan. "You are not prepared."

"Yes I am," Rhonin said. And he punched his fist straight through Illidan's chest.

"I taught you everything you know, but I didn't teach you everything I know," Rhonin said, putting on a pair of totally awesome sunglasses.

Illidan watched helplessly as Rhonin ate his still-beating heart like an apple.

Then Rhonin and Maiev hooked up.

On the way to Northrend, Rhonin shoved KilJaeden back into the Sunwell, and was named King of the Blood Elves.

When Rhonin got to Borean Tundra, Malygos was there, and he said "I am very angry because you're way better than me at magic. So I brought all my blue dragons to beat you up."

"Oh yeah?" Rhonin said. "Well, I am going to bring all my bros from the city of Dalaran, because the Kirin Tor totally has my back." And the whole city came because everybody loves Rhonin. And Rhonin made it fly, because that is how Rhonin rolls.

But he beat up Malygos all by himself anyway.

Then he had an arm wrestling contest with Kel-Thuzad, and won.

After that, Rhonin was kind of bored, so he went to Ulduar and hooked up with Auriaya and Freya at the same time. He also got the world-first Yogg+0 achievement.

And Algalon said: "I was going to destroy the entire world, but now I won't because you are so awesome, Rhonin."

And the two did a chest bump.

Then Rhonin decided it would be fun to build a coliseum. He let Tirion Fordring help him with it, but Tirion did a crappy job and the floor collapsed, so Rhonin fired Tirion. He took the Ashbringer, because Rhonin is the only mage with the mad skillz to train 2h swords, and he marched on to Icecrown Citadel.

And the Lich King was all: "Mwa ha ha. You'll never get in here. We have limited attempts."

But Rhonin was like: "It's cool, I've got six identical alts."

And then Rhonin and his six identical alts did a group thing with Blood Queen Lana'Thel. But mostly, the blood queen just watched.

After that, Rhonin climbed to the top of the spire.

And the Lich King was all: "Ha! This was my plan all along."

And he swung the mighty Frostmourne at Rhonin, but the sword smashed against Rhonin's face.

And Rhonin said: "Did that plan involve me kickin' ur azz, Bro?"

And then Rhonin punched the Lich King in the balls so hard that the Lich King's helmet popped off.

"WTF?" said the Lich King, and then he died.

"It is done," said Tirion.

"I know it's done," Rhonin said. "I'm the d00d that did it."

"But without a lich king to chain it, the scourge will rampage across Azeroth, destroying all life," Tirion said, picking up the helmet. "I am the only one who can bear this solemn burden."

"Because you did such a good job with the coliseum?" Rhonin asked. "I thought I fired your ass. Why are you even here?"

"Stop," said a loud booming voice. And Rhonin turned around to see it was Bolvar Fordragon, but he was all burned up and shit. He took the helm from Tirion. "I can take no comfort anymore, in the world of the living, for Arthas has burned my genitals off. I shall bear the burden. I shall be the jailer of the damned."

But Rhonin took the helmet from Bolvar, and crushed it in one hand. "You guys are totally emo," he said.

"There must always be a lich king," Tirion explained. "The scourge must be controlled."

"There is no more scourge," Rhonin said. "I killed them all."

Tirion's jaw dropped open. "How can that be possible?"

And Rhonin did his special /flex emote. "Don't you know by now? I'm Rhonin, bitches!"

And Bolvar was all: "Ur so awesome."

But Rhonin was just, like: "Maybe you should go to a hospital or something."

Anyway, now there's a big statue of Rhonin in the Dalaran fountain.  


Deathwing woke up one morning and ate a banana and a bowl of Total cereal, which his doctor recommended for his colon. Then he tore the goddamn world in half.

"What the fuck is happening?" asked Rhonin. "I didn't authorize this."

And it was on.

About the same time, one Naga got the idea that it would be awesome if they had a Kraken like in "Pirates of the Caribbean." The other Nagas thought that was a good idea, so they went out and found a Kraken.

The Naga sent the Kraken to eat a bunch of Horde and Alliance ships, which wasn't as good an idea as it seemed initially, because it turns out that the Horde and Alliance dudes can breathe underwater and ride around on giant seahorses fucking shit up. Also, the Gnomes had a submarine. A lot of Naga died.

Then Neptulon the Tidehunter showed up, and he was like: "No way. I'm not cool with any of this."

"We don't care what you think," said the Naga. "We don't have to listen to you anymore, because our Kraken is part Cthulhu." And then they sent it to eat Neptulon's face off.

With Neptulon powerless, the Naga plan would have been successful, but Rhonin was in the mood for calamari. By this point you should know how that turned out.

Then Rhonin went to Uldum. There are sphinx guys there, which are basically lions the size of rhinos with man-arms that can hold guns. So, of course they needed Rhonin to save them. Rhonin teamed up with Indiana Jones and the two of them basically just beat the shit out of everything in that zone.

Then, at last, it was time to confront Deathwing.

"We don't like the way you run things, Rhonin, so we are taking over. For I am Neltharion the Earthwarder, turned Deathwing the Destroyer." Deathwing said this because it takes a really long time to write a book, and Richard A. Knaak is very busy, so it helps to pad things out if the characters spend a lot of time introducing themselves to each other.

"I've got Ragnaros the elemental lord of fire on my side, and Cho'Gall who is a huge freaky-ass ogre. And Al-Akir, who is king of the genies or some shit like that. Together, I am pretty sure we can take you on."

"Oh yeah?" said Rhonin. "Well, I've got Reginald Whipplebottom the Fourth, here." As he said this, he brandished his right fist. "And I've got Agamemnon W. Jackson, as well," he said, indicating his left fist. "And they brought their buddy, Peter T. Thickness, the Piston of Devastation." As he said this, he did a pelvic thrust, in case it wasn't clear that he was talking about his penis.

Fear flickered for a moment in the dragon's blood-red eyes. "Well, I also have my resurrected children, Onyxia and Nefarian."

"I don't care how many dead babies you brought," Rhonin said. "Your whole posse looks like Tier 1 content to me, and I already learned their moves in Beta. You're all going down."


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Varian Wrynn Has A Strategy

Player: So, it seems Van Cleef had a daughter, and she's rebuilt the Defias in the Deadmines


Player: What is the whole thing with the Defias even about, anyway?


Player: I don't think I read the quest text closely enough. Aren't they architects and builders you owe a bunch of money to?


Player: You know, it's funny how you stiffed your builders, and now there's a giant smoking hole in the city, and the front gate has been on fire for the last month.


Player: All I'm saying is you should deal square with the construction dudes because your city is always exploding. Is there anyone who will work for you now?


Player: I used to like the Park. It had a moonwell in it.


Player: Well, anyway, Van Cleef's daughter is down in the Deadmines with a new super-Defias and an enormous cache of explosives.


Player: That seems like a a lot of work. Why can't you just pay them?

Varian: IN TEH JUNK.

Player: It's funny; the only thing that has been built here lately is a huge statue of you in front of Stormwind Keep.


Player: How is that necessary?


Player: No, you didn't. I did, and I guess Tirion Fordring did. You weren't even there.

Varian: LIES.

Player: You showed up after that airship battle that you weren't in, and you backed down from a fight with Saurfang.


Player: Anyway, about Vanessa Van Cleef.


Player: She has 5 million hitpoints, and she can dodge spells and hit for like 20,000 damage.


Player: Well, it's just that her abilities are very impressive compared to the Alliance forces.


Player: Most of the Alliance rogues don't know to stand behind a mob unless there's fire there for them to die in.


Player: Well, it's just that there's a huge cyborg dragon out destroying the world with the help of the Cthulhu cult, and she could be an asset in our fight against him. But you want me to kill her because you're too cheap to pay the money you owe.


Player: Consider her sword-punched.