Sunday, February 28, 2010

Authenticators hacked?

No, but you wouldn't know that from the bro ha ha on the forum today as many uneducated people discuss the subject. WoWInsider has a fairly well written description of the new attack that is just now being seen in the wild, but it's essentially what has been said was possible since we all first started talking about authenticators. That anyone becomes, or remains susceptible to this type of attack is the same issue with those who do not use authenticators -- system security. If people would exercise proper security on their computers by keeping their virus and malware apps up to date (including updating definitions) on a routine basis most of this would blow away with the wind. If people would also look at things with a more cynical eye and not fall prey to phishing attacks that are always easy to discern, the same would be true.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

They are getting this dumb

Do I need to say anything about this other than to just look at the screen shot?

Blizzchat 2/26

Blizzard held their latest Blizzchat on Twitter yesterday. There are a few tidbits in there that were worth the viewing, or at least the reading today if you missed it yesterday.

Q. Are there any plans for more weekly quests (not raid but general) for the weekend only players?
I like weekly quests, because they get you to come back to WoW without making you feel like you have to log in every single night. Sometimes Ghostcrawler likes to go to the bar instead.
Q. Are there any plans to implement cross-faction/cross-realm mail(for BoA gear and such)?
A. We have cross-faction mail for BoA items now; cross-realm is a work in progress, but we hope to have it done “soon."
Now this would be totally awesome. Being able to mail items (not just BOA) between your characters on different realms. I hope they were not just talking about BOA items though....

Q. Has there been any thought of changing Eclipse to charges so that Moonkin dps doesn't suffer so much from moving?
A. Yes. Expect a major overhaul in Cataclysm that keeps the same basic idea (alternating from Arcane to Nature) but in a way that is more core to the class. Like everything though, there is the risk that we may decide this idea sucks once we see it in action.
I was just blogging about Eclipse a couple weeks ago. I'm not sold on charges for Eclipse, but I'm very happy to hear they definitely have plans to change the current implementation.

Q. Where is my moose? Did you see that Ghostcrawler?
A. That was so epic. I was sure the screenshot was shopped until we saw the actual video. I guess we're going to have to do a moose now...
One more day for the Olympics.... and never did get the mini-event like they did for the Chinese Summer Olympics.

Festergut is finally dead x2

I've been raiding with a friends guild on my Druid the past few weeks, but we've generally only done the first four bosses in ICC. The guild can't field a full 25-man raid on it's own so they've been relying on friends and a few pugs. Much was the case last night with a little more than half the raid being guild members and the rest being friends. We killed Festergut on the first night he was attempted. It took us eight attempts, but we got it done, but what really twirked a nerve with me was that we got him to 10% on the very first attempt. We had a few attempts where he was at 1% or less, and one attempt where he had 1800 life before we all died. We smelled blood and went for the kill on the next attempt after that 1800 health debacle. And boy did it feel good!

That just goes to show how important being able to execute is on these fights. My main guild has the same DPS we were running in last nights raid, so as I had believed, the difference came down to people not being able to handle the spores correctly. Pretty sad, but at least I've killed him on both characters now on 25-man.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The bugmobile

I decided to go back and have some fun this afternoon. To quote an old humorous phrase, I chewed bubblegum and kicked butt. Now why can't these be ridden anywhere else?

Festergut is finally dead

A day I never thought would come, came last night. Nine weeks to kill that guy, and in my excitement I forgot to take a screen shot unfortunately. The first and second attempts were our typical attempts, with the first getting him down to 39% and our second attempt only getting to 59%. Both attempts ended abruptly because people died. The third attempt though, got him down to 880k at the enrage timer with two people dieing at the beginning of the fight. We ended up replacing one Melee with another and on our fourth attempt we killed him either right before or right after his enrage timer. All I know is with like 2 seconds left I popped bubble and kept on DPSing. I don't think he actually enraged but there was some disagreement about that. I didn't bother checking my logs as I was too busy whispering friends that we'd finally killed the guy.

I still think it's going to be difficult for us to repeat the kill, but now that I have my Acidic Blood off him I really don't care if I see him again for a while. Monday is our next raid night and we'll be moving onto Rotface.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blizzcast #13 is up

Check it out. All the latest news on Starcraft II, WoW, and Diablo

Balance updates in 3.3.3

What a coincidence! I was just thinking exactly the same thing.
There is a lot of rumbling that Starfall is not a good choice in order to up balance's burst PvP damage. To a point, that crowd is correct. Starfall is not directly burst damage in the sense that Lava Burst or Conflagrate are, but it is one of the few burst capabilities that a balance druid holds.
I am learning first hand how little burst damage Balance has in PVP. I've been switching out to Balance this past week in PVP and upgrading my suit to include Relentless and Wrathful pieces. I just do not have to the BOOM that Locks and Shaman do.

Take Shaman for instance. Flameshock, followed up immediately by a lava burst and then probably a chain lightning. Lava burst on a flameshocked individual hits really hard and whats more can be cone again in about six seconds. Comparatively if I just put up my IIS, then immediately follow up with Starfires it doesn't have anywhere near the impact on a per hit basis. However I can deliver multiple starfires on the target. The issue isn't that I probably get more DPS out of the engagement if we're all standing still and I'm unmolested. The issue is that almost never happens and my burst has very little burst to it. I cause no fear on the battlefield but paint a pretty big target for every rogue and caster out there. To make the situation worse, given Blizzard's decision to stick with the Eclipse mechanism I'm not sure how they actually increase PVP burst without giving too much of a DPS increase in PVE. It's a conundrum that I don't think will be solved tomorrow but one I certainly hope they devote more time to.

If anything buffing Starfall is a PVE buff -- especially on trash fights or on boss fights with adds. For that I am thankful and will take the buff gladly.

I give up

I've been commenting lately about the comparison between Druid and Paladin healing. And most recently about Paladin PVP healing. Either I am just dysfunctional, or I simply don't get it, but I can not for the life of me be as good at healing in PVP as a Paladin as I can with my Druid. And so I am throwing in the towel. I love Holy Paladin healing in PVE, but in the Battleground system of PVP it's just too simple to lock down.

And so, I give up. Henceforth I will only BG heal on my Resto Druid, and will instead only DPS as ret or Prot on my Paladin.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paladin PVP Healing

I've been to Arena Junkies and SKGaming, so I know there are very high level Holy Paladins rocking it in PVP. I just am not one of them. Throughout the weekend I jumped back and forth between my Resto Druid and my Holy Paladin and healed various battlegrounds. Admittedly battlegrounds are much more free form than are arenas, but the act of healing is the same in either case. I understand that there could potentially be more people beating on you in a battleground than would be in an arena, but one good Rogue can just ruin my day on my Holy Paladin. He can't -- or at least I haven't found one that can -- on my Resto Druid. Holy healing is fantastic if you're left alone because your bomb heals can quickly replenish someone who is nearly dead. And you can intersperse FoL heals amongst a group, keeping yourself healed with your beacon if need be.

But when you are not left alone, and when your being beat on by two or more people it really becomes an issue. I hate having to stop to heal, and with only one instant cast healing spell that has a six second cool down, you end up having to do that quite a bit. PVP is a exercise in mobility, and being immobile like that not only attracts more attention, but makes it easier for them to kill you. It also makes it harder to heal your team mates as they themselves move. In Warsong Gulch its a pain to heal them as they move back across the field as the act becomes akin to heal, then hop. Heal, then hop. Except in this case it's heal then run ahead a few seconds, then heal again. Too much can and does happen in those precious seconds when you have to move. Of course, if the group stops and is somewhat static for a bit that isn't the case, but in my experience I more often see the moving blob, than the immobile one.

Part of the problem might be that I didn't focus enough on haste. I gemmed for Resil/MP5, but I could swap those out for Haste/MP5 or Haste/SP. My FoL heals are about 1.4 seconds now, and my HL heals are 2.2 seconds. But with a change in gems I could get much closer to my PVE cast times than I am now. That would certainly help with the interrupt situation and allow me greater healing throughput when I am standing still. I might try Haste/SP and see how it goes throughout the rest of the week.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bioware posts SWTOR fankit

Actually I'm surprised that hadn't done this prior, but now it's out there. Pretty standard stuff, but worth the download if you want the art for your site.

Patch 3.3.3

The full patch 3.3.3 notes are now up. There are the typical class changes, along with a few other things. But the biggest change, other than the PVP quest/honor changes is the announcements regarding the LFG system.

Dungeon Finder
  • The Deserter debuff given to players who leave a dungeon prematurely when queuing via the Random Dungeon option has been increased to 30 minutes, up from 15 minutes. The cooldown for using the Random Dungeon option remains 15 minutes.
  • The Random Dungeon cooldown is no longer displayed as a debuff. Instead, players will see the cooldown time remaining displayed in the Dungeon Finder window when Random Dungeon or Random Heroic Dungeon is selected from the pull-down.
  • If a player in your party has the Deserter debuff, or is on cooldown from the Random Dungeon option, his or her character name will be displayed in the Dungeon Finder window listed as "On Cooldown," preventing the group from queuing.
  • Anyone in a dungeon party can now re-queue their group for a dungeon, as players will still be prompted whether or not to accept their chosen role.
  • Players who use the Vote Kick option will now be prompted to provide a reason for kicking a party member. This reason will be presented to everyone in the party except for the person voted to be kicked.
  • When joining as a group, more generous level requirements will be used instead of Random Dungeon level requirements so that players of different levels joining together will be eligible for a greater number of dungeons.
  • World Event bosses (such as Ahune for the Fire Festival) will now be accessible through the Dungeon Finder. Players must use the Dungeon Finder to access these bosses.
  • Parties randomly created via the Dungeon Finder will always be arranged in the party interface from top to bottom in the following order: tank, healer, damage, damage, damage.
  • If a random party is created via the Dungeon Finder and a player cannot roll Need on an item, a reason will now be provided.
No more having to wait in order to kick players, but the biggest change in my opinion is that if you drop a group you will now be penalized with a 30-minute lock out instead of the current 15-minute penalty. Apparently people are still dropping group, and Blizzard is all set to punish them for doing it.

So lets talk about that a little bit. Why do people drop group? First and foremost people drop groups when dungeons pop they don't want to run. The two I hear most about are Occulus and the Culling of Stratholme. I don't mind Occulus, but I really detest CoS. Luckily

Culling of Stratholme
  • Players may now skip the initial introduction dialog to this dungeon once they have completed it at least once.
That might clear up the problem with people want to drop group for that instance, but regardless of what is done with Occulus no one can make people who play inattentively play any better ina three dimensional space. Nor can you make people understand the necessity of organization on the final boss. People quite rightly load into these dungeons (or others they don't like) and simply leave right then and there. After all, they're playing for themselves and not others.

The second reason people drop group, myself included, is when they load in and see either the tank or the healer horribly undergeared. I've commented in the past on this subject. Undergeared DPS is one thing, but critical elements of the party like the tank and the healer are quite another. I've dropped group when I see tanks load in that are still wearing heirloom items. I kid you not. At this stage in my characters lives I am not that much interested in the social side of dungeons and groups. I'm on a mission and just want to get in, get my badges, and get out. I find I have very little tolerance for anything that might cause wipes or significant delays. And quite honestly I'm not all that happy that Blizzard, knowing these two points, is taking the line that people need to be forced to group together.

Blizzard, you provide the tools to us and leave the rest of it to us to work out.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blizzard announces big Battleground changes

Well, not to the individual BGs themselves, but rather to the daily quest system and how much honor you get from them.

We have several changes planned for Battlegrounds in the next minor content patch and would like to share them with you now. This patch will be available for public testing and we encourage you to participate, queue up and provide some feedback on these changes.

  • Firstly, say goodbye to Battleground Marks of Honor. We feel this currency system is a bit outdated and are getting rid of it. Any items which require these marks as currency will have their costs adjusted appropriately to remove this requirement. The quest NPCs will still be available to award players Honor for turning in leftover marks, but this is only to help players clear this expired currency.

  • Next, the Battleground holiday weekend will now be denoted as "Call to Arms" in the Battleground tab and Calendar. If you prefer a specific Battleground over all others, look for those words next to its name to determine whether or not you'll receive bonus Honor. The bonus awards for Call to Arms Battlegrounds have been adjusted.

    • Winning a Call to Arms Battleground for the first time in a day will award players with 30 Honorable Kills worth of additional Honor currency.
    • Additional Call to Arms Battleground victories after the first win for a player that day will award them with 15 Honorable Kills worth of additional Honor currency.
    • Losing a Call to Arms Battleground will award players with 5 Honorable Kills worth of additional Honor currency.

  • To bring the rate at which players obtain PvP rewards with Honor more in-line with the rate at which players obtain PvE rewards via the Dungeon Finder, we'll also be increasing the amount of Honor awarded for an Honorable Kill by 100%. In light of this, the amount of experience provided from an Honorable Kill, and the amount of Honor awarded for completing the Wintergrasp weekly quests, have been reduced by 50%.

    It's important to note one thing about these 50% decreases. All Honor awarded for completing objectives in Battlegrounds and Wintergrasp is actually based on an Honorable Kill conversion rate. So if you destroy a tower in Alterac Valley for example, the Honor you're awarded is actually based on a flat number of Honorable Kills. Since Honorable Kills will now award 100% more Honor, completing such objectives will also award more Honor. This is why experience gains based on completing Battleground objectives and Honor awarded from the Wintergrasp quests are being decreased by 50%.

  • Now that we hopefully have your attention, we're pleased to announce the implementation of the Random Battleground system! This system will work virtually the same as the Random Dungeon option in the Dungeon Finder. Players can queue with a group of up to five players for a Random Battleground in the Battleground tab. As with the Random Dungeon option, the Battleground chosen will not be revealed until players zone into the Battleground for which they are selected. The bonus rewards for this system are identical to the updated Call to Arms bonuses.

    • Winning a Battleground using the Random Battleground option for the first time in a day will award players with 30 Honorable Kills worth of additional Honor currency.
    • Winning additional Battlegrounds using the Random Battleground option after the first random win will award players with 15 Honorable Kills worth of additional Honor currency.
    • Losing a Battleground using the Random Battleground option will award players with 5 Honorable Kills worth of additional Honor currency.
    • When using the Random Battleground option, players will not receive additional rewards if the Battleground chosen is under the effects of the Call to Arms bonuses. In other words, the bonuses do not stack. In addition, if a player has been rewarded 30 Honorable Kills worth of bonus Honor currency from either the Random Battleground system, or the Call to Arms Battleground, he or she will be rewarded 15 Honorable Kills worth of bonus Honor currency that day for each additional victory. This applies whether the Random Battleground system is used, or the Call to Arms Battleground is chosen specifically, as a player cannot be rewarded the full amount of bonus Honor more than once per day.
All of these features and changes will be available in the next minor patch which should be hitting the public test realms in the near future. Please help us out by testing this system and providing your feedback so we can make some fine-tuning adjustments before the patch's release.
I'm not entirely sure I see the reason behind removing the marks. No one uses them now except for the turn in quest, but beyond that I'm surprised they actually devoted developmental time to do all this when there are so many other things I can think of that are in greater need of attention. So anyway, marks are going bye bye.

I can always use more honor per unit of time, but I have to wonder what this will do to the honor requirement for pieces in the future. Will it inflate it, or not? We'll simply have to see when the time comes, but I do know I am not at all happy about the 50% reduction in the honor gained from the weekly quests in Wintergrasp. They'd already been nerfed from daily quests to weekly quests several months ago, and I'd be hard pressed to see how you could make up 1500 honor from each quest.

Despite that one misgiving, I'm taking all this to be a positive change. I like the idea of the BG queue system being revamped, but would like it even more if it were integrated with the LFG and LFR so that I could queue for whatever I wanted like I used to be able to do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comparing healing Paladins to Healing Druids PT 3

Back in January (and) I had been discussing the differences in healing capabilities of my two main characters – my Paladin and my Druid. And at the time I had said I preferred my Paladin for raid healing and my Druid for PVP healing.

I enjoy both styles of healing very much, though I'm leaning toward the Holy Paladin as my preferred Raid healer and my Resto Druid as my preferred PVP healer. If you are new to healing either would be a terrific choice to start out as.
But after getting some additional opportunities to raid heal on my Druid where I concentrated to a greater extent on just keeping HOTs up on as many people as I could, keeping Regrowth and Rejuv up on the tanks, and throwing Wild Growth out whenever it was up, I may have to change my mind about that. In those instances – like in a 10-man run – where you only have one or perhaps two other healers, the greater heal over time and AOE healing abilities of the Druid class really come to the fore. I topped out at over 5.1k HPS on Koralon and Emalon in VOA-10 yesterday for example. Admittedly those fights offer a lot of AOE damage and for the most part, everyone is in groups during both of those fights. But the other healer was a Resto Shaman, so I would have thought he’d have been closer to me healing wise, yet he was only getting up to around 2.5-2.7k HPS on both of those fights. I’ve healed those fights on my Paladin and topped out around 4-4.3k HPS.

I think the biggest difference really comes down to mana efficiency though. In heroics both of my healers are geared well enough where I hardly have any mana issues. With my Paladin judging I never go below 95% mana in heroics and generally have zero issues healing anything that is thrown at the group. Likewise with my Druid I usually just keep the tank Rejuv’ed and throw Wild Growth up to cover the group. Occasionally I might have to throw a Rejuv on someone else, but even keeping Rejuvs up on everyone in the group and keeping Wild Growth up on the group as well doesn’t run me into many mana issues. However I do notice a difference. Whereas I can almost heal with total impunity to mana usage on my Paladin, I do have to exercise greater discipline on my Druid. I definitely notice whether there is mana regen coming from the group or not. In those groups where there is mana regen I will only occasionally have to use my Innervate, but in those groups where there isn’t mana regen I’ll have to use Innervate on those fights that cause a lot of group damage and require me to keep heals on everyone.

It’s a fairly stark difference in that I pay almost no attention to MP5 on my Paladin, gemming almost entirely for either SP, or SP/Haste. Whereas on my Druid every red slot is a SP gem, and every blue slot is a SP/Spirit gem. I pay great attention to my mana regen stats like Spirit and MP5 and I’ve compared what I have with other good Druid healers. I’m very comparable, so I know the difference isn’t a case of me gemming incorrectly. I haven’t run myself out of mana either in heroics or in raids, however I could definitely run out of mana in a raid if I did not pay close attention to my mana usage and use my Innervate whenever it was up. While I love healing on my Paladin, I think that’s simply an issue that Blizzard really does need to look at to a greater extent. Especially if you look at mana efficiency across all healers. In my raids it’s always the Priests that seem to run out of mana first, or come very close to it. When running as Moonkin in my raids I’m forever having to give my Innervates to our Priests. Now I’ve never healed as a Priest, however I’ve raided with enough over the years to see they definitely have mana efficiency issues, so I know it’s not just my imagination when I speak about it comparatively between the Paladin and Druid. In the greater scheme of things, healing capabilities across all the healing classes are somewhat the same, but mana efficiency is not.

Everything being the same with that I’m not so certain I prefer Holy Paladin healing in raid settings over Resto Druid healing any more. However I definitely still do prefer Druid healing for PVP. Mobility is everything in PVP, notwithstanding the 12-second total immunity a Paladin’s bubble gives them. I’ve found it’s just too easy to lock down a Paladin in PVP. Even locked down for a matter of seconds, HOTs ticking on my Druid have saved me so many times that it’s simply too great to ignore. Coming with an ability to get out of most roots/snares, and the speed advantages of travel form make a Resto Druid a dangerous healer in PVP.

Mana efficiency is even more of a problem in PVP than it is in PVE, as your gear does not generally favor regen stats or survivability stats. However, once you get into what I would call good healing gear, and by gemming with Resil/Spirit gems, you can get to very acceptable mana regeneration though you will still have to use innervate regularly as well. My PVP healing set is all Furious/Relentless, with three pieces or Wrathful at the moment. Though my weapon is a PVE staff. As with PVE healing, I have to pay no attention what so ever to my mana efficiency on my Paladin, so the only differentiation comes down to mobility in my mind.

We’ll call it a draw for PVE healing, but for PVP I’m all about Druid healing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

No Olympic event in WoW?

Two years ago the Summer Olympics was greeted in WoW by a mini-event which had you run PVP Battlegrounds in order to earn an Olympic tabard and a special in-game pet (Chinese dragon). I made the mistake of only running do that on my Warlock whom I now don't play, and didn't do it on my Druid and my Paladin, whom I do play and do achievements with. So I was looking forward to the Winter Olympics for the past two years in order to get the Olympic pet. I wasn't expecting the Chinese dragon of course, but rather something a little more Canadian -- a Moose!

Blizzard, for whatever reason, didn't start an Olympic event with the games yesterday. Nor did it start this morning at midnight, so it appears Blizzard is sitting out the Olympics this year and I find that very disappointing. Why create an event for the Summer Olympics and not the Winter Olympics? Some are speculating on the forums that it was simply because the Summer Olympics were held in China and Blizzard was simply ingratiating themselves with China.

Whatever the case it certainly looks badly that no event was launched with the start of the Winter Olympics yesterday and I find that very disappointing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Meltdown city

I mentioned yesterday that we've hit a wall in our raiding progression. Well lets just say that I had a bit of a tiff on vent toward the end of yet another failure of an evening. But first let me set the setting to put this a bit more in context. As I had said, the guild is going through another round of recruiting, and one of the newly recruited healers didn't get an invite to the raid last night. And he ended up leaving because of it. There were a handful of comments in raid chat about "here it comes" and the like, to which I replied on vent that they shouldn't be blaming the guy. After all he was recruited to replace people who don't show and he had every expectation that he'd be raiding. Not treated like a stand by. He left and it died down, yet I don't think that most understood exactly what the principles involved were. I've commented before that we have no idea what raid group is actually going to show up from night to night. Our rank structure is based on attendance (loosely) and full raiders are afforded the first opportunity at raid invites. Since we only have about 12-15 full raiders it normally isn't a problem making sure everyone gets a spot, and anyone that falls below the attendance level to become a full raider is termed a casual raider and is given second option at raid invites. People who rarely raid are members and are afforded third option at any remaining raid spots, however there have been plenty of nights where we've not had enough people to fill a raid with raiders and casual raiders, and have taken everyone and anyone that was available. So the issue with what happened to the healer last night was that it makes it even more difficult to recruit new people in unless you can actually give them some semblance they are going to actually get to raid. It's a double whammy that is just vicious from a management perspective. Factor in that anyone we do recruit, and is actually a good raider might leave because they see our struggles and deem it for what it is. That's happened at least five times that I can recall in recent months.

In any event we breezed through the first wing and cleared to Festergut where we spent the rest of the evening wiping until I blew up on vent and ended up leaving the raid. According to the logs we have the DPS to kill Festergut -- or at least had it last night -- but we only got him to 22% on one attempt with all the others being miserable attempts where we'd usually wipe around the 50-60% mark. We've actually gotten him to 14% once before just before we hit his timer, so last night's 22% attempt wasn't an improvement. So what is happening you ask?

First, people are still not stacking up close in behind Festergut. That despite being told repeatedly to do so by numerous people. What ends up happening is someone will invariably get the spore and either won't notice and not move inward so the tanks get inoculated. Or if they do move forward it's only after someone snaps at them to do so. Many people do pay attention and this isn't an issue with them, but for many others it is.

Secondly people can not walk and chew bubblegum at the same time. We leave two groups of ranged players out around the circle, each with their own healer. The healer is the collapse point for that group in order to minimize the effects on their healing. One group is on the north side of the circle, one is on the south and each healer is marked with their own raid symbol. If two spores wind up in melee someone needs to head out to one of the groups and this has been one of the issues in this regard as well. Despite my requests the raid has not made up pre-determined responses like whoever is the northern most person to get the spore in the melee will always be the one to run out to the group that didn't get it. The way we do it now is the raid leader has to determine who got the spores and make a determination who needs to run out and also needs to tell the individual which group to run to. Because he's also DPSing its been a issue of lost time while he concentrates on that effort and one of the ranged groups not getting inoculated. Don't get me wrong, he's not doing it that way because he wants to be controlling, rather he's doing it because it's become a necessity. And it all boils down to people not paying any attention at all and are basically raiding rather lazily. They've come to rely so much on the raid leader that they've lost the ability to think quickly and make proper decisions in a fluid situation.

The other big issue, coupled with the problems of determining who is to run out, is that people can not remember which way is which when they are told to run out. The raid leader will call out over vent that so and so needs to run out to the north group. We have people regularly going south instead. Heading in the wrong direction, even if you do recognize the problem on your own, often leads to the ranged group not getting the inoculation because of the few seconds lost determining who was to run out to begin with. This is particularly frustrating as well because as we run into Festergut, the tanks simply turn him around so he faces away from the door. Therefore the direction that was north (right) is still north when you are looking at Festergut's back. Even if you move around somewhat while behind him, I completely fail to understand how anyone can lose their bearing. I'd expect that on a fight like Rotface perhaps, but not on Festergut.

Then we have the issue of people still -- after seven weeks of working on this same boss -- of not always lining up at range 10 yards away from someone else. At least two of our wipes last night were caused by at least two people in one of the ranged groups getting the vomit. This is simply inexcusable as it means they either did not have their range finder open or were not paying attention to it. As this is hardly the first fight that required spacing it's very frustrating.

We'll ignore the fact that many people have had at various times low DPS, as I think it's become abundantly clear that our issues are all relating to personal performance. Its the spores and our handling of them that are killing us and have brought our progression to a screeching halt. And please note that this week marks the seventh week we have been working on this same boss.

Now, to the tirade. After seeing this repeatedly last night I finally blew a gasket and didn't really yell, but did speak very sternly over vent. I didn't call anyone out by name but did let the raid know what I thought of the situation. And ended up leaving group and logging off. My friend who had already planned on leaving the guild did just that right then and there. He was giving the guild an extra week to try and replace him with another tank but I guess he'd had enough too. My wife was still on vent afterward and told me later that many people didn't understand why I was upset. Clearly they just don't understand and I find I just don't care enough to try and explain their attitude **IS** the issue causing our progression problems over the last year.

Even now I have grave doubts we could go back into Ulduar and actually kill Yogg, let alone do any of the hard modes in there. We've never killed Yogg. Nor have we ever completed any hard modes in TOC-25. Even now with most of us in ICC gear I doubt we could down any of the hard mode bosses in TOC and it points directly at people's attitudes toward raiding. They simply don't care enough to want to improve and to do their best. Too many are willing to take the free ride, doing just enough to move along or be carried. Too many are used to their tunnel vision and are too reliant on others to tell them what to do in all situations. Too many don't bother to learn anything about the fights before they show up to the raid and have to have the fights explained to them. Liken it to someone who is working at McDonald's flipping burgers and is perfectly happy doing so. Having no aspiration or drive to do better for themselves.

I'm sorry, I'm not a hardcore raider, but I want more than this.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guild raiding progression has hit the wall

I’ve mentioned in the past that my guild has had numerous progression problems in the year I’ve been with the guild. A bunch of us had left another guild a year ago and created our own, but that folded after a couple months. We merged with our current guild and I’ve genuinely come to like all the core players a great deal. As a matter of fact that feeling is why I remain in the guild despite the progression issues, but unfortunately one of my real world friends that came along with me and is one of the guilds two main tanks has had enough. He told me last Friday that he’s leaving the guild and will be joining another guild as DPS. He’s not leaving the server, so I’m not really losing my friend, but at the same time it’s a bummer knowing you won’t be raiding together on any normal basis again for the foreseeable future. Throw in the fact that his absence isn’t something the guild will be able to fix at the moment, as there are no other tanks available to replace him. You can imagine the entire episode has lead to some frustrating discussions inside the guild among the officers and select others.

I’ve pushed the officers to use the opportunity to replace those who are under performing or causing problems with an inability to adapt to the situation at hand. Read that as those who are always dying in fires/poison/etc. I pushed my point home that it was simply unfair to the core of the raid team who are performing at or above the level they need to be, and are being held back by those who aren’t. As we are a casual raiding guild we have a lot of people that essentially raid when they want to and are little prepared for raids either in the way of gearing themselves up independently of the raid, or by learning anything about the boss fights before they arrive on the scene. If we were progressing at a reasonable rate it wouldn’t be an issue to be honest, but we’ve hit a wall with Festergut and Rotface and have been stuck there for seven weeks now. And I have no expectation that we will move forward any time soon.

As my friend said, the guild has run into this issue at several points over the past year and in his mind is indicative that the guild is not willing to see the problem for what it is and address it. We’ve gone through periods of limited or extended recruiting in the past but few, if any of those recruits were any better than what they were replacing. As they were mainly recruited to replace people that simply disappeared for whatever reason the opportunity wasn’t taken at those times to assess what was really needed to improve the quality of the raid and we ended up simply recruiting a ranged or melee player that was available. I certainly can’t fault my friend who just wants to progress and see the Lich King and has put in the time, he believes, to be treated to something different than he has been treated to recently. I can’t fault him at all.

We’ve recruited a few new people to the guild since Friday as the guild is, I believe, taking the situation seriously. But only time will tell the real success of the matter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blizzard hotfixes love

Yes friends, the free ride is over. Blizzard introduced a hot fix this morning that disabled the ability to acquire bracelet tokens from vehicle combat, meaning you could no longer get them by running around inside Ulduar in a siege engine or by doing the bombing missions in Icecrown or doing any of the Threat before the Citadel missions there either. I can certainly see Blizzard's point as they were reacting to the tirade of displeasure by healers who were getting the shaft by not being able to get any in dungeon groups, where as everyone else was. And Blizzard didn't want the world event to be totally trivial, which the vehicle combat certainly made it. All the same, I'm glad I ran Ulduar for two days and got more Bracelets than I needed. I'd get 30 or so in 15 minutes and would have to leave the instance in order to clear my inventory.

All this means is that you will have to exercise some patience in completing the world event. You can get 50+ tokens of love a day for turning in four bracelets and completing the daily quests. And the world event lasts two full weeks, meaning you can get at least 650 tokens of love. I think we'll all be fine.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Love is in the air 2010

I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging about the WoW world events, but the Love is in the Air world event is one that deserves additional comment after I criticized Blizzard last year for allowing what I believed to be a shoddy assortment of achievements and tasks to go forward for the world event as it did last year. This year Blizzard completely redesigned the world event, adding in an “event boss” to Shadowfang Keep, a quest chain, and removing the hourly need to seek out a guard in one of the major cities. Instead, the world event now has us collecting pieces off random creatures and creating charm bracelets that you turn into the faction bosses daily. Each bracelet gets you five love tokens (valentine cards) that you use as currency to purchase all the items you need for the various achievements. Except the flowers, which are drops off various bosses in dungeons.

All in all I am extremely pleased with the redesign. All RNG has been removed, except for the flowers, which you can “farm” for with a group of friends. Anyone over level 70 can simply run UK on normal mode and get the flowers off the Prince. Farming for the bracelet pieces doesn’t really qualify as farming, since you can get them off anything you kill doing daily quests, or off creatures and NPCs you kill in dungeon runs or even in raids. I’ve been running Ulduar 10 killing the dwarves at the beginning in a siege tank for most of mine. If you are patient, and do not wish to complete the entire world event in a day, there is no need to do that as you can already get 50 love tokens a day just turning in four bracelets and doing the daily quest. On the other hand, I had two characters I am doing the world event on and desired to get as much done as I can in the first couple days, so I have been doing the daily turn-ins/quests as well as using my extra bracelets to acquire extra love tokens. The event lasts two weeks, so there really isn’t a reason to do it that way other than impatience.

The new “event boss” is actually a trio of bosses that you need to kill inside Shadowfang Keep. Any decently geared group can simply burst them down, but using the inoculation potions that you are given at the outset makes the fight much easier. Especially on the healer. If you are melee, just make sure you are always at the current bosses back, and stay out of the poison. If you are ranged, all you need to do is remain apart of the scrum and stay out of the poison. As with all other event bosses, each individual in the group can summon them once per day, and they drop loot. In this case, they drop ilevel 226 neck pieces, a pet oozeling, and a couple other novelty pieces.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ensidia finally gets whacked with the "temp" ban hammer

I've commented on Ensidia (and) a couple times in the past, as they have widely been regarded as "pushing" the envelop when it suited them. But they have always seemingly skated by on questionable kills whereas other guilds were not seemingly treated in like manner. That sort of treatment always rankled me, but no longer. Every Ensidia member that participated in their world first Lich King kill received a 3-day temporary suspension. As one can imagine, the Ensidia guild leader is none to pleased.

Hello friends,

I got suspended today for supposedly and blatantly exploiting the Lich King encounter in 25-man mode. Here's the mail:

Date of Violation: 03/02/2010

Character Name Involved: Muqq
Type of violation: Exploitation ā€“ Abuse of in-game mechanics or glitches with intent to exploit or cheat in World of Warcraft.
Details: Use of Saronite Bombs to bypass The Lich King fight mechanics Consequences for Account: Account suspended for 72 hours, all items and achievements gained removed


We are writing to inform you that we have had to place a warning on your World of Warcraft account and temporarily suspend it. It is with regret that we take this type of action, but it is in the best interests of the World of Warcraft community as a whole, and for the integrity of the game. The use of these items bypassed a major portion of the encounter, significantly reducing the difficulty in a clear abuse of game mechanics. After your suspension has expired, you will be able to access the World of Warcraft servers again.

Please note that should any further violations of our Rules and Policies occur, this incident will be taken into consideration when determining the consequences to your account. This could include further warnings, account suspension or account termination.

We strongly suggest you review our current Rules and Policies to avoid further action in the future, they can be found at:

You can also find further information on the different levels of account penalty we can apply at:

If you have any further enquiries regarding your account status, please use the webform at the following address:

Please do not reply to this email as you will receive an automated response.


English Game Master Team
Blizzard Europe

First of all, I took the time to log onto the account management page and discontinue my payment plan. It's been a long and good 5 years and 2 months since day 1 of the US release of World of Warcraft. Many good memories were made, and fun times were had. That's over now. My subscription runs out of February 21st, which marks the last day of World of Warcraft for me. One player out of 11 million is nothing, so don't give me the crap about can I have your stuff. This isn't about me or my guild. It's about Blizzard and the fucking shit they pull.

Looking back, moving from Final Fantasy X! to WoW was a big step, and there's times that I regret making that decision, while on occasion I was happy to have taken the step. World of Warcraft was different back then. It was new, challenging and interesting. undoubtedly though, it was nowhere near as feature-rich as it is today, but that didn't matter back then. The game was a continuation of EverQuest, a game most of the senior development staff of World of Warcraft are familiar with on firsthand basis. Many of them played the game for years, and I can see that it served as a major inspiration when I look at what World of Warcraft was when it was released. Being an avid EverQuest player myself during a time, It drew me in further into the game.

Things have changed since those days, changed a lot. The game stopped being that fun. Less challenges were present in the game, and as we got through TBC and more so in WotlK, homogenization started to rear its ugly face in World of Warcraft. Everyone running around with identical gear, looking the same, doing the exact same things. With arenas, changes were made on a monthly basis that affected the way classes were developed, and subsequently also lead to how PvE was being done in the game. It got stale, predictable and repetative. The whole notion of hybrids in the midst of all this was just a fucking slap in the face by Blizzard. If you're going to remove everything unique and interesting about the classes, at least make them equal in the roles that they are performing.

Their idea of hybrid was something taken from classes in EverQuest, where people played classes that were jack of all trades, master of none, or very specialuzed roles, such as a pure buffer (bards etc). Classes that existed for one purpose, and nothing else. They removed most of those in WotlK, but still stuck with the notion that hybrids somehow offer something special just because they have the ability to respec to a different role. Kind of a strange take on the whole thing, considering what they've already done to make it easy in leveling and gearing up characters on the same account, with more and more things being accountbound rather than characterbound. Two-faced by Blizzard in my opinion. Removing the boundary between account characters on one hand, and at the same time claim hybrids needs to be penalized because they have the option of respeccing to perform different roles that a simple log out/log in would have taken care of.

Let's face it. This game is boring for veterans. The only reason it's still being played is because there has never been good alternatives during these 5 years. Age of Conan, Warhammer Online and Aion fucking flopped like shit. Really developers, if you want to make an MMO, don't go and fucking try to copy WoW. If people wanted to play WoW, they'd play WoW, not your shitty gimp ass version of it. Let it be a lesson to all you developers out there.

Anyway, back to the subject. This was as good time as any to drop this game and move on. Had been considering it for a while, and I always said to Buzzkill and the gang that I was just waiting for the sign. A sign from heaven to guide me on my way. Today, I received it. I doubt we'll ever get a perm-ban, as the loss of PR from banning topguilds is going to hurt their subscription numbers much more than quelling angry cries of the fucking noobs in this game ever would. Really, if you don't know shit about this game, just shut the fuck up and do something else. You level 1 posters and the forums can honestly go fuck yourselves, since you're too shit to know even the basics of this game.

Finally dear Blizzard:

Fix your goddamn buggy bullshit half-assed encounters. The amount of time and effort we dedicated to get through Wrath of the Lich king and Icecrown to see this guy die and take a turn at Arthas is just sick. To finally see him die only to have the ENTIRE raid banned is simply an insult. It's cheap enough to make a bugged fucking encounter, but to ban people when they do not know what's causing the bugs is just a fucking joke. Whoever came up with this sheer *fisting* of an idea can go fuck themselves. If you spent hours observing us in GM-mode when we beta-test the encounters for you on live, at least make sure you ban us for the right reason. Handing out suspensions when players encounter a portion of the game that is bugged is very short-sighted and insulting. There's been hundreds of thousands of bugs in this game up til now, and most people don't get banned, when just playing their game through the bugged content you throw in their face.

Shoving PTR down our throats every patch is one thing, it's fine that we fucking beta-test shit for you, but then you go and suspend players when they do content that was never tested on PTR, and happened to be bugged. Content which you don't bother quality-assuring more than sticking a fucking godmode GM and 5 test dummies into the encounter and blasting past the phases without using abilities. Give me a break. You know more than us that we kept using our normal rotations and didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Why would we bother trying to kill valkyrs every attempt, and have the bug happen on only about half of them before wiping? You think we wanted to waste attempts if we knew how to exploit this clusterfuck of an encounter of yours?

Do me a favor so I don't waste my guild's time on this kind of jackass fuck-fest again, send me an email at when you decide to A) Implement an encounter that wasn't designed by a retarded chimp chained to a cubicle B) Get a Quality Assuarance Department C) Actually beta test the !**#ing thing and D) Patch it live. And please for god's sake -- do it in the order I laid out for you. Don't worry, I won't charge you a consulting fee on that one. And for good luck you might as well E) Pull your heads out of your asses. While you're at it rename the game to World of Betacraft.

Rethink your fucking bullshit. Fix all the buggy motherfucking ICC encounters (I suggest you let whoever made the Blood Queen one do this since that dude apparently laid off the crack the rest of you were smoking). Fix fucking arenas, or better yet, remove that shit. Fix heroic modes (just guessing it's fucked up considering your track record). Don't have the resources to fix this stuff? Move the ENTIRE Cataclysm team over to fixing Icecrown Citadel AND DO IT NOW. If you don't fix this shit, you jackassess together with the 2 month-subscribers will be the only ones playing Cataclysm.

You got 1 week.

Thank you Blizzard, for these 5 years, but also, fuck you Blizzard, for these 5 years.

I just got banned, and I liked it.

Can't say I disagree with the bugginess, but I have zero sympathy for them as they have gotten away with cheese like this in the past. Sorry to say "Muqq" but you are no better than anyone else.


Eclipse is broken as most moonkin believe, but not in the way that most of them think. Randomness is not the problem. All classes have to deal with randomness to some extent. They all have random procs or crits, and in the long run bad luck will balance out with good luck.

The problems with Eclipse are much more structural. First, Eclipse is way too powerful and dominates the moonkin DPS calculation. Second, the buffs are so large that they limit a moonkin's ability to scale with gear. Third, moonkin are unable to control when Eclipse procs, and are likely to lose a significant portion of the buff to movement or another fight mechanic. Finally, the cooldown on Eclipse limits a moonkin's ability to proc Eclipse, and makes moonkin DPS more variable then that of other classes.
So says Chris Dinwiddie at WoWInsider today. And I'm inclined to agree with him, though I have to take some small measure with his concluding statement above. When Balance players complain about the randomness I think they aren't actually talking about the randomness solely, but are expecting the impact it has on DPS overall. Especially during movement. At least that has been my impression from conversations I've seen on the matter. But other than that small point I'd say Chris is dead on. Raiding as Balance on my own Druid I see this every day and it is annoying. More so when you have to add in the re-application of Moonfire, Insect Storm, and perhaps Fairy Fire on top of it all. I waste three global cooldowns at the very outset of every boss fight before I can even begin to DPS. If I'm lucky I'll get an Eclipse right away and see my numbers jump as I start bombing with Starfire, but most often that isn't the case as I have to interrupt my Wrath casts again to reapply Moonfire and Insect Swarm. Any movement during any of this completely swamps my DPS, and especially if it's during an Eclipse of either variety.

I do not mind the Eclipse mechanic, though I do mind such a big portion of my DPS being tied to it. I understand that movement affects all casters to one degree or another, but no other caster that I am aware of is as affected by movement during critical times in a DPS cycle as Eclipse represents to a Balance Druid. I noted a few weeks back when Blizzard acknowledged this problem but didn't get the sense then, nor do I have it now that a fix to this problem was forthcoming any time soon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Star Wars Galaxies

I did it. Despite saying I would never do it, I created a new account and actually played SWG for several hours yesterday.

The client is much the same now as it was in 2003 when I was playing, except a launcher has been wrapped into the mix, though not actually part of the client. Logging in for the first time I of course had to choose a server to play on and it struck me immediately that there are vastly fewer servers now than there was when I was playing. Originally I played on Bria, though I did also have a character on Eclipse. For my trial I chose to make my character on Eclipse since it appears to be among the nearest to me on the East coast. Perhaps I just didn’t notice as I never really intended to stay informed on the comings and goings of SWG, but I simply don’t recall reading about server closures. I wonder how many people are actually playing now, as there were at most about 300k playing back in 2003 pre-CU. Even though it was prime-time every server, with the exception of one, indicated either light with the last indicating high population and was locked to new characters. I saw that and immediately wondered what the economies were like on all of those light population servers. In 2003 the game relied almost exclusively on the player created economy, though I don’t know if that is still the case.

I created my Jedi character, as my desire to play a Jedi character is the driving force behind the trial. The new character experience now is vastly different than it was in 2003, and I am happy to note was needed. In the initial stages of SWG you created a character and then selected from a few “starter” planets. Then you spawned in the medical facility on that planet and found yourself completely on your own. There were never any quests to steer you in the right direction, Ralph and team created an MMO completely devoid of most developer content. It's strange looking back on it now, but Sony seems to have gotten the point along the way somewhere that they actually need to do some work. The experience now is much more akin to what you usually see in an MMO, with plenty of quests to give you XP, cash, and to guide you from one location to another. Logging in for the first time now you are quickly introduced to Han Solo who flys you to the new "start zone", which is a space station out in the middle of no where and where you can happily level, earn some credits, and learn the basics of the system. Unfortunately there isn't much in the way of tutorials so you will have to learn the quasi-twitch based combat system on your own. Once you do though as far as I can tell you can stay on the station until you decide to leave. I myself stayed there until level 7 when I decided there wasn't any further point.

Once you decide to leave you are again sent to Han Solo who will take you to Mos Eisley, where you will earn a land speeder as your first quest reward. From that point on you are shepherded around Mos Eisley performing missions in and about the city for various NPCs. But you do eventually get to a quest where you are "encouraged" to make your way forth from the city and assist either the Rebellion, or the Empire. I have to say, it's a vast improvement over what I remember back in 2003 and I'm happy to see the changes. But that combat system just isn't sitting right with me. In my mind FPS combat and MMOs don't mesh well together and I don't like having to keep my reticule pasted over whatever it is I'm attacking. To me combat in an MMO should be about the abilities, not about your hand-eye coordination. I did eventually get my jedi to level 22 and had a great deal of fun with force lightning, but hadn't yet gotten to the point where I could make or use a light saber. As a matter of fact I'm not even sure when I'll be able to get one of those.

Jedi or not, you need to be somewhat careful as you roam around on your missions. In WoW for instance, any creature you come across in a zone falls within a narrow level range. Not so in SWG. Roaming around as a level 22 Jedi outside Bestine I ran into creatures that were 20+ levels higher than me, and were fairly close to the quest locations I was being sent. I ended up getting killed twice by getting too close to these creatures and since the tab/target system is really not up to speed, it's difficult to see what it what around you initially. I did end up finding a setting in my UI interface settings that allowed me to append colored circles around the dots on the mini-map that would roughly correlate to difficulty levels. Anything circled in bright red was something to steer well clear of. But I would have liked to have something better than that, like I have in WoW.

The UI is very much behind the times, and the control systems are very touch. For instance, if you are roaming around in your speeder you have to be very careful with your mouse. If you are zooming by something and you want to mouse over it to see what it is, you had take care not to let the mouse over-run your speeder because it has a tendency to dismount you. Left clicking your speeder mounts and dismounts you, and I ended up accidentally dismounting myself numerous times throughout the day. There is also a need to manually detarget your speeder after you dismount by hitting esc, because if you dismount next to something you are trying to attack you can easy remount, or not be able to attack at all because while you hit tab to target whatever it is you want to attack, it doesn't actually target the creature. You look up and see you still have your speeder targeted. It's a bit inconvenient and annoying, but as long as you specifically hit esc when you dismount also easily worked around.

I think SWG is one of those MMOs where you want to make sure you are located on the highest pop server, because I sure didn't notice a great many people in my limited travels. It did say the server was lightly populated, and by all my observations that was certainly the case. Makes me wonder what the prospects for global civil war are in addition to the economy. Eclipse might be good enough to learn my way, but in a game that is as much about PVP as anything else you really want and need as many people as possible. I wonder if the lock stays on the high pop server 24x7 or whether that's only during prime-time. I'll have to check.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Wowinsider/MMO-Champion is reporting something we had come to suspect in recent months. Massive Spoiler alert.

Head Start - day 4

I've now played Star Trek Online for about 20-25 hours, and have played a Federation and a Klingon character into Tier 2. However I'm sad to say that I don't think I'll be playing much longer. Certainly not past my free month of playtime. Having nothing to do with the somewhat rocky launch, and having everything to do with the state of the MMO I have simply come to the realization that Cryptic fumbled this development horribly. I have no way of knowing what internal pressures there were to get this game out the door in it's current condition, let alone what drove the developers to make the decisions about the game-style and game-play that they did. The end effect is that an extremely rich intellectual property is wasted and it will be many years before if can be re-used in another MMO effort, if at all.

What I had anticipated was a true MMO that not only offered in-depth character development, but also encouraged group play but didn't out-right require it. In short, I had anticipated a theme-park style MMO that was grand in size and style featuring a series of worlds through which your character could progress. These worlds would have served as quest hubs, with dozens, if not more, space and ground based missions to complete -- call them story-arcs. Perhaps even being able to reenact episodes from the various shows along the way.

I had envisioned a game that allowed a player to choose a meaningful career path and made a difference having made that choice. I think the decision to limit career paths to Tactical, Engineering, and Science was a sound decision, but I would have liked to have seen more differentiation between the career fields, and most especially specialization. Star Trek is as much about technology, and the creation of the new, as much as it is about exploration and I would very much have liked to have seen a exploration be a real focal point in the game as well as gathering of knowledge and technological specimens through that exploration. I would have liked that knowledge to have then been able to be utilized in a scientific innovation/invention system.

I envisioned the game being steered by the developers over time, with the initial launch focusing on creating the foundational alpha quadrant stories behind the the original Star Trek factions -- Federation/Vulcans, Klingons, and Romulans. Add in additional important alpha quadrant factions over time such as the Cardassians, Bajorans, and Ferengi to flush out the overall story and to introduce additional elements to the game. The original Star Trek was dominated by the wars between the Klingon and Romulan empires, and the strife that was almost continuously occurring along the neutral zones and I think the game would have been served better by adhering more closely to the direction the original series, and TNG took.

The "meaning" of Star Trek is a topic that is open for great debate, but to many the best part about Star Trek are the iconic space battles that have occurred at various points in the shows and the movies. I have to admit, I fall in that camp, so the allure of real PVP between the factions was a strong draw for me. I'd envisioned integrated PVP system that consisted of open "world" pvp in the neutral zones that gave strong incentives for continued participation and a Battleground system. I'd also envisioned space battles being strategic with plenty of offensive and defensive capabilities to ensure that battles were not over in moments and that what individuals did in battle in concert with others, as well as by themselves truly mattered in the long run. I envisioned a PVP system that encouraged thought being put into group makeup, but that also didn't out-right require you to group in order to participate.

I envisioned a game where the "end-game" was truly about the ultimate aims of the faction you played. Which of course all amounts to the same thing, just in different words. I could very easily see "raiding" being a part of Star Trek, with space and ground "raids" being delivered over time. A central, "shared" raid could have been a Borg scenario in which the faction intercepts and beats back a Borg raiding party above a planet (phase 1), but not before a group of them beam or shuttle down to the planet to assimilate some key piece of technology or race. You, of course, must beam down and stop them.

Another raid scenario I can envision involves the neutral zones and would involve "skinning". In other words, same scenario, just different factions involved depending on who is running it. From the Federation perspective it could be the Klingon or the Romulans breaking out into their neutral zone and bent on stream into Federation territory. From the Klingon side it of course would be the Federation acting provocatively in the neutral zone. Likewise with the Romulans.

Additional raid scenarios could be added over time and could very easily react famous battles in any one of the series. Wolf 359? Later on the first encounter with Species 8472? And of course there would have to be ground only raid scenarios. Or boarding parties to take back a ship that was boarded by Klingons, or a what have you.

What we got was something all together different. While there are some story elements in the current game on the Federation side, there is virtually none on the Klingon side of things. And of course the game was launched with only two factions, though Crytic has announced plans to add in other factions over time. Unfortunately they won't matter in the grand scheme of things because Star Trek Online is a game without a real reason. There is no centralized theme or plot that I can deduce. The game has every evidence of having been thrown together haphazardly and released a great deal of time before it was truly ready for a flooded market. Other than the name, there is nothing in STO that should draw and keep hundreds of thousands of players, let along the millions that it would take to make this an MMO never to be forgotten.

Cryptic was not the company to develop this IP. It's only other developmental history was with City of Heroes/City of Villains and Champions Online, which is to say it has more experience than say Bioware (now developing Star Wars the Old Republic), yet it's never shown any true innovation. It never established itself as a company that pursued polish over "good enough". And Star Trek is not an IP that you simply waste on "good enough". And good enough is what I think we see right now. It'll keep the rabid fan base pleased, though I have no idea why. But it won't attract many MMO players from other games for very long. It'll be yet another game in a pile of MMOs that have been released in the past three years that limp along into obscurity.

Most disappointing in STO is that it really isn't an MMO. Not in any sense of what an MMO has come to mean in the market place today. It's more akin to an RPG with coop, though a poor one at that as there are few elements of typical RPGs to be found. The gist of the game is to run completely randomized missions over and over again and allocate talent points that increase various capabilities. Some of which are only pertinent to the ground system and some that are only pertinent to the space system. There isn't even a strong reason to interact with, group with, or participate with anyone else at any point that I have yet seen. You can just as easily solo the game as you could group up with some random stranger on whatever it is you are doing at the moment. And that brings up another point. There is no linear progression. At all. You can be running a random mission one moment, participating in a PVP match another, or.. well, one of the other two again the next moment. There is simply nothing that takes you from one zone to another in any scheme of progression we've come to see in numerous MMOs up to this point. There is no reason to even run missions as you can level completely through PVP in the random battlegrounds where you don't even need, much less have a reason, to group with others. For an IP that stressed "community" that is a far cry from it.

PVP. What can be said about it? It's random pew pew. No strategy, no coordination. Nothing but mashing buttons as they come off cool down and no rhyme or reason to push any of them except that he who deals more damage most often wins. The aspect of the game that was the biggest draw for me is completely devoid of any reason or value.

All in all, if you are looking for an immersing experience this is not the game for you. If you are looking for mindless and meaningless play for a while give STO a try. At $14.99 a month it's probably not something you'd want to try much longer than the free month of play, but it might be worth the purchase price of the box if you just want quick space or ground combat. And if you truly love Star Trek you might just want to steer clear of this all together.