Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Liebster Award

Delirium, author of Thrill of the Wild, has nominated me for a Liebster Award. Even though I've honestly never heard of the Liebster, I'm flattered. Delirium's blog is far superior to mine, and I really appreciate the endorsement. It works like this:

    Write a blog post about the Liebster Award
    Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
    Display the award on your blog
    Answer the eleven questions that the blogger who nominated you gives you
    Give eleven random facts about yourself
    Nominate five blogs that you think deserve the award
    Create eleven questions for them to answer
    List the rules in your post
    Inform the bloggers that they’ve been nominated and provide them the link to your post

Blogs I Nominate:

Hunters Rhok

*Not to break the rules, but it seems everything else I still read has already been nominated. WoW blogs aren't what they used to be. I blame the rise of streaming. I'll update this accordingly if I have forgotten someone. And I look forward to finding some new blogs from this whole Liebster thing. Alright, on to Delirium's questions for me.

1. What's the best (and/or your favorite) blog post you've ever written, and why?
I think Lone Wolf is a Terrible Idea is my favorite. I like how the writing turned-out, it generated some discussion, and proved to be at least a little bit prescient. I have since calmed down a little regarding Lone Wolf.

2. If you could take any moment from your life, and relive it, what would it be?
A certain first kiss I had many years ago. We were on a bridge over the Willamette River with the whole city's lights behind us. I haven't seen or heard from the woman in years-it was that great of a first kiss. I look forward to having a better one some day.

3. What was your favorite tier in WoW?
Tier 4. It was far from the best designed tier, but it was the most meaningful for me. It was the first tier I raided all the way through, my first (only) participation in a realm first kill, and the first armor set I completed while it was current. I still run with some of the friends I made during T4.

4. Where would you, and where would your characters, like to grow old, once they're finished killing dragons?
My hunter would retire to the woods of Ashenvale, where he learned to hunt and tame back in the day. My priest would go to Stormwind. I would/will retire on Vieques, a tiny island next to Puerto Rico. If you ever get a chance to go there-do it.

5. What book are you reading right now (or the most recent book) and why did you like it?
I'm currently reading Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie. If you like science fiction I definitely recommend it. I read almost entirely non fiction, so this is a nice change of pace. It's the right balance of pleasure reading and a challenge (which I enjoy).

 6. If you could have any super hero power, what would it be?
 Flight. It's boring, but true.

7. If you could change any one thing in WoW, what would it be?
Access to the entire hunter stable anywhere. I only play a few classes, but I can't think of any other class that can't use all of their abilities or buffs out in the world.

8. What was your favorite lore moment in WoW?
The end of Dragon Soul. The whole idea that we are now in the age where mortals are the caretakers of Azeroth is awesome. Talk about a great big picture reason for all your characters to still be adventuring (and me still playing). For me, that was a much more satisfying ending than Wrath or Pandaria.

9. If you had to be stranded on a deserted island with on NPC from WoW, who would it be?
Love this question. It was tough to chose one, but I'm gonna have to go with Rexxar.

10. What other games do you like to play?
Oh boy. WoW is the only video game I play with regularity, but the list of games I play is quite long. D&D probably goes without saying. I'm way into Fantasy Football during the season. Cards Against Humanity, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Dominion, Caracssone, Settlers, Jenga (that's our back from the bar game), Dominos, Cribbage, Chess. This list could get really long so I'll stop there. As a native Midwesterner I have played a metric ton of Euchre in my life and recently discovered a variation called Wizard. Wizard is amazing.

11. What's your inspiration for writing WoW blogs?
I write regularly for my day job so I started my blog just to have an outlet to regularly write for an audience (even a tiny one). I would have to say my inspiration were the first WoW bloggers I read. I'm talking Big Red Kitty, Frostheim, Euripides, and Allison Robert. Special nod to Allison. She is just hilarious. I always read her druid column just for the humor, even though I've never ever played a druid. If LOL Survival ever contributes 10% of what these bloggers have to the WoW community, I will consider it a total success.

My Questions for Them:
1. What was harder, 10 or 25 person raiding? Everyone has an opinion.
2. What's your favorite non WoW blog?
3. Which country that you haven't visited yet would you like to?
4. Who really killed President Kennedy?
5. Should we get flight back? If so, when?
6. iOS or Android?
7. Your favorite hunter pet? Even non hunters have one.
8. Where should we go in the next expansion?
9. Favorite artist in any medium?
10. Do you PvP? Why or why not?
11. Could WoW support another class, or are we full?

Random Facts about JC:
1. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan and now live in Portland, Oregon.
2. I teach high school history.
3. My main is still the very first character I ever created when I bought WoW in 2006. Hunters are just that amazing.
4. I was lucky enough to be an exchange student in Spain when I was in college. Siesta may be the single greatest human invention ever, but it's probably the semiconductor.
5. Eminem owns the house across the street from where I grew up. He's pretty much never there.
6. I hold the world record for number of boss kills with a Riding Crop equipped.
7. I've never watched someone stream or unbox anything ever. Probably never will.
8. Sometimes I mess around with turntables. If you like dance music, here is one of my mixes.
9. A dream of mine is to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It predates Wild I swear.
10. I raid with a 2-button trackball. On a Mac.
11. I was a terrible older brother. My sister still brings up the time I handcuffed her to the Canadian Border.

This was incredibly fun to write. Many thanks to Delirium for the nomination and the great questions. I had to restrain myself from adding a bunch of honorable mentions to my answers.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Communication Breakdown?

It's been quite a patch week. I wasn't really going to write about the patch because I hate just repeating things I agree with from other community members. But I've been wondering about the state of the WoW dev team's communication ability for quite a while. After this week I am really concerned. I can confidently say in my 9 years of playing this game I've never seen worse communication between the developers and the players than I have this week. And it didn't even start this week.

For a while I have thought Blizzard's timing for patch 6.1 was a misstep. Why on earth did they feel the need to drop it so close to the opening of Blackrock Foundry? The timing has created all kinds of confusion for players. Is BRF a new tier or not? Where are my BRF follower missions? Do we need the new +125 food to stand a chance in Blackrock? I've seen all these questions and tons more over and over again since the date for 6.1 was announced. I really believe a ton of confusion could have been alleviated if they had waited to release 6.1 until all the LFR wings of BRF were open. The division between the raid tier and that patch would have been obvious. And why the rush for a "features patch" (that's a new one to me)? Did we really have to get 1-click work orders (should have been in at launch) and a selfie camera (who cares) asap?

To make a bad situation worse Blizzard communicated patch details horribly. I don't know why they used such a convoluted system for spawning the new crafting vendors in the first place, but it became clear by Wednesday that the players did not get it, including myself. I'm rarely the smartest guy in the room, but I do my homework. I didn't fully understand the "system" until today, and that required a great explanation from Blizzardwatch. Not Blizzard. It goes on and on. Players didn't understand the changes to follower missions and equipment levels. Or professions. Or the Twitter-Real ID issue. Now, why someone would be comfortable with completely open Twitter but not Real ID is baffling to me, but that's a different topic. So much confusion! Like no other week I've ever seen, including the launch of five expansions. Thank god I play a hunter. I can't imagine how hard it might have been for support classes to get good information on their class changes. Something has deteriorated in Blizzard's ability to communicate with its customers. I'm not going to pretend to know what it is. Ghostcrawler was awesome, and we don't have him anymore. Maybe it's the scatter shot approach (see what I did there hunters?) to where info goes. What I mean is sometimes it's a blog, sometimes it's a blue forum post, occasionally it's twitter (and about 500 different accounts to track), rarely it's redditt or twitch or a podcast interview.You get the idea. I don't know what it is, but after the last three days I'm convinced of the existence of a big communication problem. There was a clear pattern of players feeling like things they were promised were not delivered. Even if that is perception and not reality, it's an incredibly dangerous situation for a company relying on happy subscribers to sustain their cash cow of an MMO. Especially at a time when a big chunk of them already feel screwed about the lack of flying in Warlords. I don't think anything sums up the communication problems related to 6.1 better than this twitter thread. Somebody down in Irvine needs to take charge of the message and how it is disseminated. And probably soon if they want to keep subscription numbers up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Favorite Raiding Glyph

Let's talk about glyphs. Frankly, let's talk about anything other than how the three specs sim and which talents we should take. For good reasons, that's about all the hunter community has been discussing since the launch of WoD. Now that we can play any spec we want, and have more talent options than any time I can remember, I feel ready to talk about something else.

I really like Glyph of Endless Wrath. I love Glyph of Deterrence. But hands down my favorite glyph for raiding is Glyph of Animal Bond. I've talked to many hunters who don't use it. The reasoning is always along the lines of, "It doesn't do anything for my abilities, so why bother?" And yes, it is more fun to enhance one's personal game play. But it's also pretty damn fun to down bosses, and Glyph of Animal Bond is amazing for downing bosses. A 10% increase to all your healing received is going to really add up over the course of a boss fight. At least for me it does. When I'm learning a new fight (or new role in it) I will end up in the bad stuff at some point. I don't think I've survived Tectus yet without a battle res. And even if you're way better at avoiding damage than I am, so many fights have unavoidable, raid-wide damage. At those times, when your healers are doing everything they can to just get the group through a high damage phase, the extra 10% healing could mean the difference between life or death. It will at least give your healers a little extra breathing room. And that's never a bad thing.

To me, this is the real cost of going with Lone Wolf for your level 100 talent. Now, my inherent bias toward the talent is well documented, but that's not what I'm talking about today. I have actually backed off a bit and have used LW in raids a few times. It turns out I'd rather not have a pet then have a long cast time Focusing Shot. I'm trying to like FS, but that's a topic for another time. But when a hunter chooses Lone Wolf they are not going to get the benefit from Glyph of Animal Bond. I really, really hate giving that up in a raid. Any time I consider going Lone Wolf for a fight I ask myself if I should give up that extra healing. If my group needs to squeeze out every drop of damage we can to beat a timer, it's probably worth it. On the other hand, if your healers are struggling to keep up and your group's damage is in a good spot, Lone Wolf might not be your best choice. It will depend on your specific situation, but for me, more often than not the healing benefits of Glyph of Animal Bond are more useful than the 1k dps increase I get from using Lone Wolf.