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world of warcraft

World of Warcraft: More Permabans

It seems that the banhammer is now in full force over at Blizzard. Currently, Sodah (the guild master on the high end PVP guild Im MVP on Tichondrius) as well as Cdew have been added to the permaban list as a result of account sharing. I’ve read various tweets from these streamers/gamers as well as forum posts and reddit threads that dive into the situation. While I stick by my original blog post I made earlier on the permaban subject, I wanted to go into why I believe the severity is pretty heavy here.

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world of warcraft

World of Warcraft: Patch 5.4 Not Really Exciting Me (aka How Blizzard Screwed up With Siege of Orgrimmar)

Patch 5.4 is really not the greatest patch released, for me at least. The new Siege of Orgrimmar raid is more tedious than something I look forward to and LFR has been in the pits. I find the Timeless Isle to be draining rather than an exciting spot to hang out. Most of the time, I’m waiting for a queue to pop while running around chasing rares. The few quests offered on the Timeless Isle are nothing more than grinds and depend on your timing. In short, I’m already bored of this patch.

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world of warcraft

World of Warcraft: Advantages/Disadvantages of Belong to a Low/Medium Population PVE Server

I used to belong to an older, medium-high population PVP server called Ner’Zhul. We were afforded some nice benefits as well as having a fair amount of disadvantages too. Later, I transferred to an Oceanic server called Saurfang. Over time, I’ve pondered moving back to a higher population server in the US but wanted to weigh my options. So I figured writing a blog describing the advantages/disadvantages of being on such a server might help me and other people who have similar experiences or are looking to transfer or create characters off/on this type of realm might have some insight from someone who has belonged to both worlds.

Disadvantages

  • Low social activity. I feel that a lot of people on my server prefer doing things on their own. A lot of people in my guild rarely talk and with the exception of a few better known people and guilds, it feels quite dead overall.
  • High Auction House Prices. The first thing that shocked me in coming to this server was the prices on glyphs. But that was just the start. Most items on the Auction House are probably priced far higher than on other servers, especially crafting goods. Since Blizzard has done a lot to ban bots as much as possible, crafting goods become a higher commodity
  • Lower frequency buyouts. Along with the high prices on the Auction House, you’ll see far less activity when you put stuff up. It’s still competitive but the buyouts only occur during certain times of the week.
  • Less opportunities for doing world bosses. My server can still down Oondasta, but as the week flies by, the chances of getting into good Oondasta groups dramatically decreases as the quality and quantity of players dip over time. Pretty much you have to do everything the first few days at peak hours. But as time passes less people will be motivated to do any world bosses as most will end up getting enough gear for their mains.
  • Faction Tagging Griefing. This is strictly a consequence of being on a PVE server ironically. The thing is you’ll occasionally find allies who will tag or even pull bosses and mobs to wipe out raid groups for encounters like Galleon. You end up seeing people accidentally getting PVP flagged and causing raid leaders to go bonkers, since the opposite faction can now go to town on that person. I’m certain if this was a PVP server, the natural response would just be to nuke the opposite faction members in question. And this situation does not have to occur just on world bosses but even in situations where you might accidentally AoE members of the opposite faction and get your PVP flag inadvertently turned on.
  • Not many people willing to do faction raids. It happens from time to time but it’s pretty rare these days. I think most people are far more focused on dailies, LFR or other PVE related activities. I think since this expansion lacks a world PVP zone like Tol’Barad or Wintergrasp, there’s not as much motivation to get faction members together for an easy, fun and organized PVP event.
  • Difficulty in Grouping. Since most people on the server are pretty anti-social, it’s very hard at times getting others to join up for other forms of group activity, even stuff like questing. That isn’t to say that you can’t group but I just find it to be a far rarer activity than when I was on Ner’zhul.
  • No faction pride. Again another PVE related consequence. I’ll help the opposite faction in doing rares or certain quests (like the 4 mobs you need to kill in the Temple of the White Tiger dailies) However, when the opposite faction does some dumb shit to aggravate you, no one responds with, “Hey, let’s go fuck their capital up!” Or rather you might only see 3 people who are interested. It’s pretty lame and disheartening.
  • A lot of terrible players. It feels as if a lot of people start on these servers because they’re probably suggested as an “easy” mode to get newer players started. In turn though, the player quality feels far inferior compared to my old realm at least. I think when you’re on a high population PVP server that is old and has a pretty even distribution of faction members, the quality of players is far higher as those players are constantly forced to think on their toes in the face of constant threat from all types of directions. Since the content has become easier over time, newer players don’t have to deal with the tougher issues that veteran players faced. Furthermore, without high level players ganking you, or even facing people who are near your level in a PVP setting, there’s no real threat to force you to improve your game play. On top of that, you feel that there’s just less faction pride so there’s less reason to band up and protect each other on such a server.

Advantages

  • Fast and easy questing. Because there aren’t many people around, you won’t find things like kill stealing a frequent issue. It might happen at the beginning of a patch or expansion, but this issue dies down quickly. In a huge way, this makes the game very enjoyable because you’ll never have to worry about being ganked or griefed.
  • Plenty of resources. I rarely have issues finding nodes. Maybe in Cataclysm there was some competition. But on average, I just see tons of gathering resources all over the place.
  • Easier to make gold. Although the advantages of questing go hand-in-hand with dailies and the gold you can make from them, the bigger jackpot is when you can find some rare item and put it on the auction house. If you’re lucky, you can make bank. If you’re even slier than that, you’ll focus on crafted professions like enchanting, jewelcrafting and inscription to keep your cash flowing.
  • Never have to worry about queues. I’ve seen servers that force people to wait in a queue just to log in. This is one issue I’ll never have to deal with.
  • You can farm rares and mounts. It’s not my thing but I do know players who want those remaining achievements and will camp certain zones. It’s completely doable on a low population server.
  • No ganking. You’ll have the occasional butthead doing stupid things like invading Orgrimmar or causing mischief. But you never have to watch your back. It’s a totally different world playing on a server like this because people will mostly leave you alone.
  • Mostly nice people. If there’s one thing I can say about Ner’Zhul, it’s that it was full of assholes. A lot of immaturity and trolls that filled up trade. I did meet a few decent people but the community in general just was embarrassingly childish. On my current server, I will say that the people I end up meeting feel more mature and handle themselves well. I think a lot are World of Warcraft lovers who are older but lack the time to really put into the game. But when you do have the opportunity of meeting a few, they are for the most part nice to you.

I suppose you could argue from looking at my list that if you’re focused on solo’ing content, prefer questing for leveling and enjoy professions, the low-medium population PVE server is probably right for you. But if you want to do any type of social activity, especially those that require a lot of people, these servers are pretty abysmal.

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world of warcraft

World of Warcraft: (Observed) Characteristics of Players

Originally, I was going to center this post around PVP players. However, the more I thought about the topic, the more I realized that there was no way to write about just PVP players without going into tangents on other players in the World of Warcraft.  So I decided to revise the topic to players that I’ve encountered in the game. By no means is this article a pervasive psychological study of players in World of Warcraft. Instead, it’s my own observations of the different people I’ve met or have watched on a stream.

First, I think it’s good to talk about my own personality in relation to World of Warcraft. I’m a heavy alt-a-holic and someone who primarily focuses on PVE content. I started back in Wrath of the Lich King with a tauren hunter since a friend of mine was playing a paladin. My thought back in the day was to have a ranged fighter type to back his melee oriented class. I started on a PVP server, Ner’Zhul and didn’t know much about that style of play for a while. I struggled initially in learning the hunter class (and it definitely was harder back then), which ended up frustrating me. In turn, I ended up creating a mage and druid, then later everything except a paladin (since that was my friend’s main). Outside of the hunter and death knight, I never reached level 80 on my alts on that server since I ended up quitting just before Cataclysm came out.

When Cataclysm came out, I decided to switch to a PVE server (which unfortunately was on an Oceanic realm as one of my friends supposedly was playing on there). Eventually, I transported my hunter there and ended up with 10 level 85 alts, most of whom I ended up gearing up with the first iteration of LFR. The switch to a pure PVE server allowed me to focus more on the content as opposed to constantly watching my back. However, I think my gaming style is the result of my personality type and what I seek in games.

I think of myself as someone who focuses more on goals in a game and personal achievements as opposed to pushing for world first. I like attempting to max out as much as I can the aspects I enjoy such as LFR, Pet Battles, leveling, etc. to really partake in content that fits my play style. Although I enjoy the social aspects of gaming, I am a loner for the most part in the game since I realize that people may not share my preference for a certain activity most of the time. In a way my gaming preference matches me a professional level too. Although I can deal with people at a job, I feel far more effective in general when I’m doing things at my pace on my own.

Another thing about me is that when I do have a goal in mind, I like to hit it hard. For instance, when I level or want to gear, I really want to focus on that aspect for as much as I can. It can get mentally taxing at times but once I get in that mood, I find the activity to go by pretty fast. The hardest part is just switching into that mode since it’s a major commitment.

When it comes to other players, I wanted to talk about aspects like higher end PVPers. I have a few friends who almost exclusively PVP. The ones who exclusively PVP strike me as people who enjoy the dynamic style of PVP, especially in arenas and BGs. The really high end PVPers have an additional competitive streak in them where they focus on a single class and attempt to master everything about that class to eventually become number one with that toon. They tend to have better overall reflexives and I suspect that when/if they do try another class, their abilities end up being mapped in a way that matches what their main class does sine their memory muscle most likely is embedded with that one class.

However, I did notice that a lot of PVPers really are bad at PVE. And it’s not really difficult PVE but things like questing. The PVP players I’ve seen on stream quite often will admit to having attention deficit disorder, which does surprise me. It feels as though they need that instant gratification and constant, in-your-face action. So questing and level pose immense difficulties for PVP players as they lack the attention span and focus necessary to really handle that type of activity. For instance, I remember when Swifty first started leveling a death knight, he had immense problems just getting through the starting zone. It was pretty embarrassing to say the least watching him since doing the quests just requires a little reading. Then you have someone like Reckful who leveled his druid through just mindlessly grinding away at killing monkeys because he hates questing. Those who level just do it through instance grinding. I’ve been slightly suspicious about this aspect and believe that these players instance grind to avoid world PVP. At any rate, it’s funny too because to me both ends of the spectrum are grindy.

But I think that a lot of people who enjoy high end PVP are those that focus more on the competitive aspects. Gear to them functions more as a badge of honor as opposed to the end in itself. Either that or gear just exist to get you to the next door opening to meet your goals for hitting the high end PVP content. In any case, their personalities demand for themselves to be the best at what they do.

Then there are those who enjoy world PVP. I consider these people the trouble makers. I find these people to be constantly looking for victims. In some ways, I feel that these people have a lot of mental issues, especially those that camp people for hours upon hours on end. In some cases, camping might be the result of getting revenge. However, the ones that just hover or actively seek to cause people grief are the ones that probably need to see a psychologist. Now, I’ve also heard about groups of gankers. These people remind me more of gangs. Considering that the game does promote gang violence and racism (don’t you dare lie to yourself about this either!), it’s easy to see how perhaps people who were predisposed to gang violence or are/were in gangs, might end up utilizing this aspects to satisfy those dark desires. To me this is probably some of the darkest aspects of the game with regards to the player base.

Moving on, I want to return to the world of PVE and talk about high end PVE players (i.e. heroic raiders). From what I’ve seen from streams, the one common thing I’ve noticed is that outside of having that competitive streak to them, none of the high end PVE players ever look happy. I feel like I’m watching a nazi internment camp whenever I watch high end PVE players. There is a lot of stress because one fuck up will cause raid wipes. And you can see those happen for hours maybe even days. When a group beats a boss, it rarely feels like a real triumphant moment. Instead, it feels like a “glad that piece of shit is over; oh well, I guess we get to do it again in a week. People can’t fuck up now!” When I watch high end PVP players, they look like they’re having fun in their activities, even if they’re doing something competitive. But not in the case of PVE.

But when it comes to raiding in general, one thing I have heard is that there’s a certain level of camaraderie in raiding compared to something like LFR, which is what I suspect most raiders dislike about LFR the most. In between the wipes, you have a lot of interesting conversations that go on, especially when it comes to more friendly/social guilds. I think when you have raiders that fit this mode, the idea of raiding ends up becoming a lot more fun, despite the fact that you’re constantly dying.

Then you get some of the quieter players. I consider myself quiet but not entirely anti-social in the game. There are some people who just never respond no matter what. When I see people in my guild like this, I tend to shun them since they really aren’t fun to be around no serve any purpose outside of just getting the benefits of being part of a level 25 guild. Many won’t even do things like LFR, scenarios nor heroics. The ones I’ve seen doing this end up just getting their gear from valor points and quartermasters, grinding out every point via daily quests. Although there’s no real right nor wrong way to play, it kinda makes me sad with regards to these players since it feels that they’re missing out on a huge chunk of the game as a result of their reluctance to interact with others.

Beyond these types there’s also newer vs veteran players. One thing I’ve noticed about veteran players is that some are pretty crusty about things. It feels that because they’ve played the game for so long, they have a certain entitled viewpoint on the game. Not all of them but the ones I’ve heard grumble all the time. However, I feel that some of these players probably just have been at this game for too long and need to take a break to gain a fresh perspective.

New players really vary as each expansion and patches had changed the game in so many different ways. So the later you end into the game, the less you could see the evolution of how the game was designed. Although it can be argued that the game has become simplified over time, I think newer players, depending on the expansion where they started, no matter what will miss out on some aspect of content. This is a terrible flaw that came in Cataclysm where just way too much had been thrown out the window. So now, there’s real way to compare the game unless you go to a private server.

 

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world of warcraft

World of Warcraft: First Patch 5.3 Official Notes Released (PTR)

Patch 5.3 looks to be more of a major game issues fix with some content oriented elements thrown in. I already addressed the earlier noted valor/justice point upgrade system returning. From a gearing point of view, the two biggest things that impact myself are:

  • Addressing bad luck streaks for re-rolls. This is HUGE for me. Having done Lei Shi around 10+ times and on a few alts, I rarely would receive certain much needed items, especially for re-rolls. I began questioning the whole re-roll system and whether the term “good luck” should even apply to such a foobar’d situation. I’m hoping that the re-roll bonus isn’t just something lame like a +1% incremental bonus, but something significant like +10-15%. For instance, I often would re-enter LFR Terrace of Endless Spring just to have my paladin go after the 2-handed Sha Touched axe. However, even with the bonus roll, I could NEVER win it. But this change will make farming a boss over and over worth the effort.
  • Choosing a spec for loot. This affects quests, LFR and bonus rolls. This is definitely something that has been necessary since the start and I’m very happy to see it. The problem has been tanks, dps and healers choosing a role that they’re not spec’d and/or geared in and entering the raid, causing disruption. While dps queuing as healers probably will still present issues, the problem of seeing an ungeared healer or tank will hopefully go away as people can get the gear they want. For myself, this will be great since I hope to eventually gear up my protection side for specs like paladin, warrior and death knight.

Both of these changes really make me believe that the developers are (slowly) listening to the community. At the same time, I think I’m still going to wait as the current content really doesn’t entice me and these changes are something I want to see in actual feedback from the forums/community. I still feel that it’s better use of my time to work on leveling (if I were to re-subscribe) and do older content until these changes are in place. I mean, there really isn’t any point of doing current LFR when the bonus rolls are horrible and queue times suck.

Some other interesting changes are the ones being done to PVP where resilience is being boosted to an automatic 65% and most resilience being removed from gear. They will be explaining in a future post why this is being done, but I wanted to provide my take. I think resilience has been a worthless stat overall and the introduction of PVP power isn’t all that great. All resilience has been is just a way for people who have managed to grind up their PVP to near top levels to either create a barrier to entry or simply overpower people on PVP servers. I wish they get rid of resilience altogether and PVP power and have bonuses on gear sets relate to cooldowns on PVP related abilities like CC, trinkets, slow effects, etc. Also, I would eliminate the PVP aspects on the crafted gear and just make them into flat PVE related gear. That should solve a lot of problems on both sides.

Of course, the only people who’ll cry about it are the people on top who have created these barriers to entry and the gankers. But the thing about PVP at the end of the day is that it’s really meant to be about skill rather than gear nor certain scores. It really makes no sense that two level capped people are not on equal terms as a result of one person having a certain stat on their gear at a ridiculously high level. Gear should be designed more as a strategy than a barrier to entry so hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

Another gear related change is the ilvl cap. So the gear exceeding 496 will be scaled down to 496 if it exceeds that level. Again, it seems that the design we’re moving towards is preventing the huge gap and creating an overall level playing ground when it comes to PVP. My feeling is that there should be a larger variety of PVP related gear. Or perhaps what should occur is buying enchants for PVE related gear that people can apply as modifiers on their gear to make that type of gear more PVP related. Imagine for instance, having a system that’s similar to glyphs with dust of disappearance that applies certain modifiers for gear sets like actual thorns or thicker plates with visual changes to the gear as well. Then those modifications might do things such as lowering cooldowns or improving movement modifiers.

Some other notable changes are the new arena, battleground and scenarios. Also, they are introducing heroic scenarios. It feels as though the new scenarios will be leading to the story of the raid on Ogrimmar. The important aspect to heroic scenarios is the possibility of receiving LFR quality items. I don’t know if heroic scenarios will be on the level of challenge modes but my guess is that it’s still going to be puggable and without the requirement of a tank/healer. So that implies that they shouldn’t be too impossible.

For those who enjoy pet battles, they can do duel in LFR and instances. It sounds like a good distraction while waiting for tanks and healers, but my only concern is if people will end up abusing this to harass others during combat or otherwise. There’s also the seasonal pet aspect, which makes sense but isn’t a huge deal to me at this point.

Another thing is the faster leveling for herbalism and mining. Now, people with lower level herbalism and mining can speed up with some ingredient (yet to be detailed). Again, it seems like another catch up device.

It seems that outside of the scenarios and PVP arena and battleground, there isn’t going to be a lot of major content. We have yet to see more questing zones that further lead to the Siege of Ogrimmar raid. But that might end up being saved for patch 5.4 with the scenarios acting as hints.

This patch definitely feels like a big “lessons learned” type of fix for the game. For me at least it looks like the game is heading into a better situation overall. I still want to take a break but it looks promising thus far. I will end up being behind but I don’t mind. By the time the next tier of raiding content comes out, the gear prices will end up being reduced in price and I feel that they will do other aspects to make catching up easier.

The main two things I want to get across in this blog is that I think that the community to developer feedback loop needs to improve and that the “meanness” factor needs to be taken out. It feels as though the response gap between the community and developers still lag quite a bit, perhaps between 1-2 patch cycles. I really think that the developers need to respond faster than 1-2 patch cycles. 2 patches is just too long. The LFR changes here should’ve been implemented in 5.1 and would’ve saved a lot of headaches.

Second, is that the developers really should get rid of the whole “meanness” factor in their designs. I think Oondasta really is just an internal joke where developers are secretly trolling players. But for some people, they consider it a serious thing as it relates to gear. Yet the encounter is only one simple example of what I think surrounds the “meanness” of the design. Then the items with the low drop rates, etc. are all part of this mentality. Supposedly, it’s to extend the game life, but I think what happens in the end is discourage players as they end up seeing themselves wasting a lot of time. It might’ve worked for several expansions but it’s getting to the point where the patterns are obvious and the game needs an update not just to the overall concept but to the mentality of how MMORPGs should be designed.

At any rate, I will continue to monitor the progress of World of Warcraft for the next two patches before making a commitment to return. But despite these small changes, I want to see an overall intent for the betterment of the game before I resubscribe.

 

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diablo 3

Diablo 3: Patch 1.7 Thoughts

Supposedly, patch 1.7 was going to be a pretty big patch, especially after the tiny 1.6 patch that was slipped in and forgotten a while back. The main aspects introduced were the so-called PVP parts, new account bound crafting recipes, gem upgrades, changes to XP for monster power and reflect damage nerfs. There were other changes too but I didn’t really consider them as noteworthy.

For myself, I think these changes won’t affect my play by that much. The only thing I can see different for myself is switching my Act 3 farming route so that I include Ghom as I chase after recipes. The reflect damage nerf to me really wasn’t much of a nerf outside of the pet damage part (which is nice). As a demon hunter, I just blow my Gloom or Shadow Power and take the hit. Also, I have some life on hit gear, which mitigates the damage debuff from reflect damage. I’ll have to check with my monk and see if he can survive since I didn’t do too well with a Tempest Rush build. I suspect that his resistances were just far too low to be able to handle inferno.

The XP bonus from monster power is okay but it still doesn’t provide that much of an incentive to push beyond 1-2. I’m more focused on finding better gear and my amulet takes me down a bit in terms of damage and other stats while boosting my magic find by 40%. I think as long as your gear is insufficient, there’s not a lot of good reasons to farm high monster powers regardless of the XP bonus.

I haven’t tried the PVP part and probably won’t. It looks like a clusterfuck and is mostly there to placate PVPers. Although I have a reasonably well geared demon hunter, I just don’t feel motivated to participate in that aspect of the game.

For the crafting gear, I have mixed feelings. I would like to farm out the recipes just to see what I can make (not to mention giving me a new goal in the game). However, in crafting two items thus far I found just junk. The 150k price really isn’t justified and I feel you’re better off just saving gold or looking for better items.

The gems on the other hand look good. That’s something I would want to put some effort into since they’re clearly an upgrade. Again though, the major issue is just cost of crafting.

That said, I haven’t felt that much of a change in the game. I haven’t seen as many reflect damage mobs as I used to and the mobs I have been dealing with just feel more annoying by comparison. So I don’t know if they boosted other abilities (beyond molten and pestilence) or worked out better combinations to harass players. I have been finding a lot of Demonic Essences but lack the gold to really do much with them. I’m pretty much just crafting one item per run since I can only make around 1 million gold for a near clear of Act 3. Since I’ve been out of the game for a while, my funds are much shorter, especially after gearing my monk. I did manage to find three legendaries last night, one of which was actually decent. I already converted one to a brimstone so I might do that to make room in my inventory, especially considering that the new amulets require brimstones as part of the materials.

Anyway, I’ll probably mix D3 with World of Warcraft. Both have my attention and I’m starting to feel a little more burnt out on World of Warcraft by comparison.

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diablo 3

Diablo 3: Conspiracy Thoughts

I was chatting with a friend the other night regarding Diablo 3 and had been watching quite a few Diablo 3 videos on Youtube recently. The experience made me think a bit about the evolution of Diablo 3 compared with the start. While I do not possess any direct insiders to Activision/Blizzard (at one time I did), I’m just posting some ideas on why they did what they did.

The first thing to note is that the game has progressively become easier. This has been a great thing as many players that had quit at one time are returning since the content has been nerfed. Before this part though, the game had been notoriously difficult, even impossible. In a few interviews, some of the leads admitted that even their own staff could not beat the game on Inferno mode.

If the game is made too frustrating, it’s quite obvious to anyone that the player base will gradually die down. Blizzard has a history of doing this too as we see the constant swapping of hard-to-easy-back-to-hard content with World of Warcraft. You would think that by now Blizzard would realize that they need to figure out the sweet spot of challenging players and making the game accessible for casuals.

So here’s where everything started to click for me. First, I think that Inferno mode, right now in patch 1.0.5 is the real “normal” mode, unless you add higher Monster Power levels. Normal, Nightmare and Hell modes are simply training grounds preparing you for Inferno difficulty. Just like how levels 60, 70, 80, 85 and 90 were the levels where the “real game” started for World of Warcraft (e.g. end game content of raiding, heroics and PVP), 60 is where the real game begins for Diablo 3.

You have access to all items (that are not class specific for the most part), the monsters full abilities come into play, you get Nephlam Valor points and have access to all of your class abilities. At this point, you can experiment with different class builds and gearing. Prior to this, you didn’t need to optimize as much. Like World of Warcraft, you can also see something like Bind-on-Account equipment with items such as the Horadric Hamburger or reduced level items. To me, these are to help players who have already leveled up and managed to collect enough money to speed run their alts to 60.

Initially, everyone had no problems with the first three difficulties. When they hit Inferno, unless you were a demon hunter or a wizard (i.e. ranged class) or played with a group, people would encounter a lot of issues with survival. I think Blizzard did this intentionally and coincided many of the later patches as well as the Real Money Auction House release.

So my theory is that the intention behind this was to award the hardcore players who could speed through content and have them build enough gear and gold in preparation for the Real Money Auction House. Once the RMAH was released, struggling players who had money and still wanted to play would end up forking over money to give it a second try. Note that the Real Money Auction House also made its debut during patch 1.0.3 on June 12 2012, where a significant reduction in difficulty had been done for monsters in Acts 2-4 on Inferno. Doing things in manner would award hardcore layers by allowing them to be the first to seed the Real Money Auction House.

Another theory I have is that when Diablo 3 was released, it actually was a Beta release, not a full release. Considering how much “improvements” have been released since then, my theory is that Blizzard used the pre-1.0.3 game as the real beta test to see how they could tune the game better, knowing full well that the game probably was impossible for all but the best players. However, I think if Blizzard had delayed the game any longer or admitted that what people were seeing was still Beta, they would lose a great deal of face (I still think they’ve been losing a lot of face, but that’s more because of the pressure stemming from Activision).

I believe most of the features we’re seeing coming out as patches were already built into the game such as Monster Power and Paragon Levels. Something like Paragon levels seems like a feature that should’ve been in the game from the start. But why weren’t these features introduced early on?

Again, I think that half of it was that Blizzard didn’t know just how hard it would be for casuals nor the repercussions of the difficulty level they set early on. Second, I think Blizzard tends to cater towards their hardcore fanbase far too much. It’s the same issue that pervades World of Warcraft and it stems from their limited insight into what their real audience is.

Most of their insight, outside of statistics gathered from the game, I think are from louder parts of the internet (e.g. Youtube), their dedicated following and their own community forums. Unfortunately, I think that a great deal of their player base ends up getting lost because they simply do not care enough about the game to really do much protesting. If the game becomes too difficult or boring, they’ll simply quit. At that point, the only feedback loop to Blizzard is the dying player base.

One other thing with regards to Paragon levels and Monster Power, I think that if they introduced those features early on, they wouldn’t have been able to receive the feedback on the difficulty to make adjustments accordingly. The problem in introducing Monster Power levels from the start is that they needed to figure out the sweet spot for Inferno mode. In my opinion, that later became the gradient that would define Monster Powers. Paragon levels would’ve exacerbated the time necessary to put the final tuning into place since hitting Paragon level 100 would throw the scale of Monster Power and Inferno difficulty into an extended two months of tuning.

And of course, the big thing in all of this was to make the Real Money Auction House succeed. That’s where Blizzard’s biggest bet in the game was, not initial sales but returning customers. I think by giving the impression that Inferno was impossible without the right gear early on, Blizzard had secretly hoped that the Real Money Auction House would catch on, even with the nerfs. That way people could feel overpowered just by contributing a few dollars, even if you could get away with playing the game using a budget character.

The one thing I think Blizzard might’ve overlooked or not taken enough into consideration was the proliferation of botting. According to various players, botting is currently hurting the Diablo 3 economy. While the increase in Legendaries has made the game more accessible for people, those that figured on making a partial living now face heavy competition from botters. Although Blizzard’s policy is to be against botting, they have been quite lackadaisical in handling this issue (besides each account is $60 and more than likely the botters are those that are Blizzard’s real source of income on the Real Money Auction House).

Nonetheless, I don’t think these things are coincidental. I’m damn certain they were planned for this purpose. Also, what about PVP? That’s been a very controversial subject and no one knows when or even if it’ll happen.

From my experience with World of Warcraft, I feel that PVP ends up causing more issues than it solves. Certainly, there’s a lot of people who are excited about the prospect of battling each other in Diablo 3. However, there’s a lot of questions that need to be asked. Will PVP have its own set of gear the way World of Warcraft does and their own stats? Will the top PVPers be those with large bank accounts who use the Real Money Auction House to climb their way to the top? Will PVP mechanics be considered separate from PVE the way specs had been handled in World of Warcraft?

The only thing we know thus far from Blizzard officially is that they are working on it. More than likely, they’re battling these very issues right now. They have stated that they do not want to make PVP in Diablo 3 an esport style affair. Unfortunately, I think no matter what Blizzard does, the game somehow will end up being an esport where people are extremely competitive. The only way Blizzard can get out of this situation is basically turning PVP into the equivalent of the implementation of Pet Battles in World of Warcraft.

I think that for PVP to be successful in Diablo 3, Blizzard must fully examine the path of hell they created for themselves in World of Warcraft. First, I think gear should have no place in PVP. People want to test raw skill and introducing anything beyond vanity gear into PVP will more than likely fuck up the rest of the game.

Second, Blizzard needs to divorce the idea of integrating the Real Money Auction House into PVP. Once non-vanity gear is introduced into the game, then everything will become a race to obtain it. But I think gear has caused so many problems in World of Warcraft when dividing PVE and PVP that Blizzard needs to just dismiss it. In World of Warcraft, there might be some limited justification for having gear in that it is a resource based world where two factions are battling.

However, from a role playing point of view, there’s nothing in Diablo 3 justifies using gear in a PVP setting. It’ll be nice for some players as a reward, but why not just give them a pretty color? With World of Warcraft, there have been so many issues with gear and max level toons. For instance, back in Wrath of the Lich King, your level 79 would not stand any chance against a PVP geared level 80. In fact, you could have several level 79s or 80s as well. If they had no PVP gear, that one PVP geared player would own them.

I think for PVP to be successful, they need to keep it simple and within the boundaries of existing character abilities. Even that might be far too complicated with the numerous combinations and stats that can turn the tide of one class and one type of game play. Look at the countless nerfs and QQers on forums in World of Warcraft. If you buff one ability, someone else is going to suffer. Then it affects PVE.

From my own point of view, keeping PVP out of the game completely would be ideal. Hopefully, if they do include PVP, it’ll be limited to battle grounds and arenas. I certainly do not want to see world based PVP.

At any rate, these are just some of my recent thoughts on Diablo 3. I’m curious outside of PVP what other additions to the game are in store before an expansion.