Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Life after Death

So not all of Massively/Joystiq/WoW Insider died. Specifically the WoW Insider portion is being kept alive. Or even more specifically, transplanted, or even more technically correct (which is the best kind of correct), removed from its host and growing in a petri dish.

The staff from WoW Insider have decided to stick together and form a new site called Blizzard Watch. I really wanted a weather pun about it as my title. I’m from Canada, I love the weather, but nothing came up that didn't make it sound like I was also a part of it. Look out, we’re on a Blizzard Watch! See, had to use the word we’re, and neither I, nor 99% of you who read this, are on it.

To fund themselves, they've turned to crowd funding on Patreon. The site is kind of like Kickstarter for ongoing projects. While Kickstarter says ‘Give me $1000’ to make one thing, Patreon says ‘Give me $10 per month to make a thing every month’.  Like the donate banners from webcomics in the internet of old before ad revenue. I've personally pledged $10 a month, it’s not much. But with everyone else who also pledged, Blizzard Watch is now looking at a monthly budget of over $9000 not even 12 hours after its founding. Well over their old $8000 budget they were given by AOL for WoW Insider.

I’m personally excited about this. This is not a site that will be click baiting for Add Revenue, I mean, there will be ads, but their money comes from the very people who want their articles. It’s not a parent company who looks down and says ‘Kids like x, write about x, here’s a budget that it better make back’ It’s 300 kids running up to the author and saying ‘here is money, please write about x for us, do what you can with what we can provide’. Perhaps the metaphors don’t hold up, this could be incredibly flawed. Perhaps I’m losing sight of reality in the novelty of the moment. Perhaps $7000 of funding is cancelled before Blizzard Watch even gets any money because $7000 worth of donators thought they would be sneaky and cheat the system to trick them into hitting and promising milestones without actually paying. 

We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out, but I think the community is actually coming together on this one. Like City of Heroes, the internet just refuses to truly let some things die.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Encrypted Odes to Massively

So as of today, Massively/WoW Insider/ Joystiq is gone. It may have been opinionated, the comments may not have been the best quality, but you know what? They spoke about games, and everything relevant to them. They spoke about the status of all the pre-alpha games, issues with current ones, updates to old ones and even had a segment about what it was like to go back to previous ones. Ever wondered what Age of Conan is like today? They probably have the most up to date piece on it.

I will miss that network, the network that did not follow the press kit formula of IGN and others consisting of:
-Announcement trailer
-Analyze Announcement trailer
-Hype interview with little substance
-New Trailer
-Article about 5 reasons to be excited about X
-Possible article on scandal afterwards (Ubisoft Unity)

In memory, and in not mentioning how long it’s been since the last post, I am going to do a piece about rogues in WoW not unlike the old Encrypted Text series from WoW Insider.

Fellow Rogues,

We need to talk about Burst of Speed. You use it, I use it, but like flying it is a detriment to our game. Burst of Speed opened a can of worms better left shut. Non-rogues, this affects you too, as the sprint/snare arms race ever rages on.

If you don’t know, Burst of Speed is a talent that rogues can pick at level 60. And by can pick, I mean do pick. Sure Shadowstep has its place in raids and arenas, but for questing, battlegrounds and world pvp there just isn’t another option. For 30 energy, you move 70% faster for 4 seconds, removing all effects that slow your character. There is no cool down. Use Burst of Speed, get snared, use it again, wears off, use it again, anything at all, use it again. Rogues pretty much just run 70% faster than everyone else at all times. That is faster than the travel form of a druid or ghost wolf for shamans.

There is another talent rogues can take at level 15 called Nightstalker, move 25% faster while in stealth. This STACKS. A rogue using Burst of Speed while in stealth is faster than someone on an epic mount, and it works indoors, where mounts can’t be used.

Fellow Rogues… this has to stop!

We already move unseen, past enemies, past players, past all defenses. We already bring quite a bit of crowd control with stuns, silences, blinds, crippling poison, bleeds that prevent other rogues from entering back into stealth. We also have great defenses in the forms of Evade, Cloak of Shadows, feint, the talent combat readiness, and the talent choices between Cheat Death, leeching poison and Elusiveness. Oh yeah, AND STEALTH.

Is it any wonder the other classes find us so annoying even without a constant 70% speed increase? Now to be fair, Blizzard IS applying a nerf in the next patch. A 3 second cool down on what is otherwise a 4 second ability. Basically, we will still be able to be slowed 3 seconds at a time. But frankly the entire ability needs to be overhauled in my opinion. Something more reasonable would be a standard 30% speed increase like feral druids get in cat form. Or perhaps a burst of 70% speed whenever we exit stealth. Or instead cuts the duration of snares in half while also giving a speed boost whenever a non-snare crowd control effect ends. This would still be great for catching people and running flags in battlegrounds without the exercise in frustration it is for others to deal with. To me that feels more like a rogue. Getting an opportunity to do something, rather then what we have now, constantly running marathons in stealth because we have no use for ground mounts.

Feel free to disagree, but to me the feeling of the prepared methodical assassin is gone. We don’t wait in stealth for the moment to strike. We run faster than anything else in the game in stealth into someone’s face to continue running faster than anyone else in combat. I’d like stealth to be a bit slower, and to have more snares. I want it to be about striking and disabling my opponent.  Some may say no one is forcing me to use Burst of Speed, but that’s like the pre-expansion talk of no one forced me to fly.

No, no one forced me to fly in WoW but it was still bad for the game overall. Blizzard removed it in Warlords of Draenor. Rogues, this is the same. While no one is forcing us to use Burst of Speed, it is there, and it is bad for the game. Frankly, the entire stun/snare arms race needs to be looked at, but that's for another time.