Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 INC!!!

It's literally 2 seconds before the ball drops for all of us here on the west coast, officially ringing in the new year. I'm off to celebrate with the fam, but before I do, I wanted to wish you all an amazing 2008 and thank you once again for making this blog a part of your browsing.

Here's to a hawt-'locking year to come!

Best Wishes, and Happy New Year!

Blue: Pet Names ≠ Arena Partner Names

You know that popular "exploit" where Hunters name their pets the same as their Arena partners? The one that makes it very difficult for their opponents to target them effectively? Well, after a little bit of misinformation and confusion about where the big B stands on the matter, the issue has finally been put to rest.

In one of the first CM posts of 2008, Blizzard Blue Vrakthris states that for situations where unfair targeting issues would apply, pet names would indeed be changed. Truly a heavy-handed approach, but due to an apparent hiccup in the /target mechanism, it may be the only way to immediately remedy the issue.

When using target macros in an environment where a toon and a pet share the same name, priority is given to whichever is closer to the individual doing the targeting. In many situations, it is possible to take advantage of this mechanic to ensure that the pet is targeted and not the Hunter's complimenting toon. So as a short-term solution, forcing the Hunter to change the pet's name is really all that can be done. Kudos to Bliz for acting accordingly.

No word yet on how Bliz plans to enforce these changes, but if you're a Hunter and you're guilty of using this exploit, it wouldn't be a bad idea to preempt the justice and change your pet's name asap, lest you end up like our friend Dog the Bounty Hunter and pwned by the law. And I know this is a sad moment for you guys and all, but seriously, with all the buffs you've received lately, it's not like you need any extra help anyway! ;)

Today's LOL: Ad Placement FTW

Saw this on the blog a bit ago and, well, yeah...


Suddenly, the fries seem a little less appetizing, am I right? Hehe.

Anyway, when the wife and I got home last night, she saw the pictures on the blog and had a very interesting reaction. I expected her to be repulsed by the images, being that she's pregnant and most foods are incredibly unappealing to her at the moment. Instead, her eyes widened and her jaw dropped slightly as she said "OMG those look so good. I want some!"

She loves them as well. =)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Improve Your Wi-Fi Connection

Back in October, the great crew over at Lifehacker put together a list of ten things you can do to boost your Wi-Fi connection's performance. Having glossed over the list and performed a few tweaks myself, I definitely recommend giving their advice a go. Not only was my connection's range improved, but my latency decreased noticeably as well.

If you're heavy into hardcore PvE or PvP content and are strictly limited to wireless connectivity, these recommendations could prove very useful, minimizing your lag and therefore improving your performance. Heck, even if you simply want to enjoy some casual gaming or browsing from your couch, these tweaks would definitely make the experience much easier to enjoy.

Very worth it in any case, if you ask me. =)

Trying Something New

Being that it's the holidays and a time of giving and selflessness, I decided to give away a BoE epic to some lucky player on my home server. The prize is the healing-based Lifegiving Cloak, and all people have to do to have a shot at winning it is reply to a post I made on the realm's forum. I'm not exactly sure how the quasi-raffle will go, but I figure that since my account expires on the 11th of January, it'd be a fun way to get the cloak some use. =)

Good luck to those participating, and Happy Holidays!

Eyonix Speaks on "The Point" of Things

Almost two weeks ago on the General Forums, a question was asked about "the point" of playing WoW. The basic argument was that the game is an endless cycle, with all progress and epic gear wiped clean with every expansion, and all invested effort being pointless as a result. The thread was quickly deleted by a forum moderator, but Blizzard Blue Eyonix felt it necessary to address the issue and created a thread of his own to do so.

In it, Eyonix responds:


These are the same concerns (only x100) we saw before Burning Crusade launched. Once the expansion released though, these concerns were almost completely non-existent due to the excitement of getting an upgrade, regardless of item quality. Beyond this, here are some points to keep in mind:

Getting better gear now will give players an edge when leveling in Wrath of the Lich King, which in-turn will give them an edge in gearing up at end-game.
Having end-game epic quality gear (especially depending upon the item level), gives players an edge now.
Not all players are in epics.
Epics of high item level, i.e Black Temple epics vs. Heroic dungeon epics will last much longer.
It would be unhealthy for the game, and players if an MMO remained static and didn't evolve on all fronts.

As usual, Sir Eyonix makes a few strong points, especially related to gear longevity. I remember when I was leveling my Warlock from Level 60 to 70, much of my High Warlord raiment was intact when I hit the big 7-0, and performed beautifully even in Karazhan. It took a good while for me to replace my excellent Level 60 epics, because much of the gear I came across while leveling to 70 didn't even come close to what I already had. I'm sure the same will be said of very high-end Level 70 gear as people lucky enough to sport them work their way to Level 80 in the WotLK.

With that in mind, it's easy to understand why putting much effort into the game now and gaining access to the highest level epic gear isn't all for not just because an expansion rolls around. Much of the stuff may indeed be around at Level 80. Sure, it may only be for a short time, but the point is that it'll still be there, and will be very useful along the way.

Warlock Food: Animal Fries

Growing up in Southern California, I've had the privilege of eating at IN-N-OUT Burger, one of the best burger joints around. They have amazing burgers and fries, and even some interesting stuff on a semi-secret (but not-so-secret) menu, which includes an "Animal Style" burger that is smothered in cheese, grilled onions, dressing, and a mustard zing that is totally ummmph. Only recently was I made aware that you can order their fries Animal Style as well, and I just picked up my first order...



Now, I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that's a heart attack right there.

But as unhealthy as the fries look, they are just as tasty, and yet, probably shouldn't be enjoyed too often lest you end up like that dude in the WoW South Park episode. If you live in California or wherever else an IN-N-OUT is available, I definitely recommend trying them at least once. Hella good. ;)

Bon appetit!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New England Warlocks?

The Patriots are 16-0; the first team to go undefeated in the modern football era. As a result, they are being called OP, and by nature and definition, that pretty much means that they understand the Warlock plight. No one I know was rooting for them, and pretty much everyone I know wanted to see them lose. People hate them, and why wouldn't they? Those fear-kiting, deathcoiling, drain-tanking Patriots seem unbeatable, afterall, and totally need a nerf. Hate and jealousy often come with that kind of territory.

Even though we are at the end of the regular season, the true test is only just beginning, as all other teams buff their ranks in order to take the Warlocks Patriots down. Will it be the Indianapolis Warriors or the Dallas Rogues? Only time will tell...

Congrats to New England and their great team. 'Lock on.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chinese WoW Player Burns Classmate IRL

There are a lot of socially-inept individuals that play World of Warcraft. Like many other MMORPGs, it harbors semi-extreme, "weird" behaviors quite well, mainly due to the safe house one experiences behind their computer screen. There, people can be social without being social. This provides those individuals with problem behaviors with an opportunity to interact with others, often unsatisfactorily. Just ask any girl that has ever played the game, and I'm sure they can recount several instances of awkward conversation with others, and even a bit of clingy-ness, obsessiveness, borderline stalking and other predatory behaviors. Also widespread is the unhealthy kind of competitiveness WoW seems to nurture. You've seen them... people with a RL sense of immunity and "rock star complexes" because they have a strong sense of character in a video game. Weird, right?

The latter of these two types of players, while much more frequent and taken more lightly than the stalking types, present a far more serious issue, imho. The potential for dangerous behavior is far greater, and often unexpected, which heightens the risk these individuals present. For example, a recent occurrence of "immune ego gone wild" was outlined in an article on WIRED, where a Chinese WoW Player burned a fellow classmate he had an issue with. The aggressor cited World of Warcraft as his partner in crime, self-motived to turn himself into a Fire Mage. Sure, instances like these are few and far between, but when they happen, they're truly explosive...

...pardon the pun...

So anyway, it's always sad to see behaviors like this come to a head. And while there are many questions that surround the details of the matter, it's unfortunate that it could have probably been prevented, and wasn't. If people understood the risk factors involved (kinda like a Chinese farmer rolling a Fire Mage... HELLO?!), we would see less of this kind of thing happening.

Here's to hoping for that kind of clarity some day, and every day thereafter.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another SotW

In celebration of gaming, Guitar Hero III, and epic tunes, here's a second SotW this week that is sure to get your head spinning. If the crazy guitar licks don't do it, the band's amazing hair will. Here's Dragonforce, with Fire and Flame. Enjoy. =)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

WTB Global Cooldown for Guitar Hero III

It's Christmas 2007, I'm a gamer, and the fingers on my left hand are about to fall off. That could only mean one thing: I received Guitar Hero III for my Wii, and am absolutely loving it! I've spent a couple of hours rocking away already, and am having an amazing amount of fun. It totally beats farming or grinding honor, let me tell ya. =P

I beat the game on Medium difficulty during my first sitting, which was great, but omg how things immediately changed after that. Let me just say, holy crap @ the higher difficulties! They are totally on an epic, insanely more difficult level of play than I thought they would be. And I know I should expect "Hard" to be more difficult than "Medium," but trust me, those words don't do the difference in difficulty any amount of justice. They should be renamed to "You can do this" for Medium, "Bend over and lets get this over with" for Hard, and "You might as well not even try" for Expert. That'd be more accurate imho.

The crazy-hard thing about the higher difficulties, and even some tracks at Medium, is the insane speed with which you gotta hit the buttons. No global cooldowns here (as nice as that would be). The fingers are always moving lightning-quick, and if you flinch for even a second, it can throw you off for the rest of the song, which would doom you to failure.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day of relaxing vacation time. I'll be trying more Hard and Expert tracks to see how far I can get. And hopefully, I won't lose any fingers in the process.

Merry Christmas. =)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Song of the Week

Just because I'm done playing WoW doesn't mean I'm done listening to good music. And what kind of person would I be if I didn't pass sweet tunes along to you, eh? Not a very nice one, to say the least, and since it's the Eve of Christmas and all, that'd just be unacceptable behavior.

I first heard this week's SotW in a vid of a great Kael'Thas encounter, recorded by the Illidan-killing guild Invictus, of Alexstrasza. It's also a track on a an arcade version of DDR Groove 2 (I believe), and has quite a following as a result. It is KaW's Esperanza, a fantastic and booming piece of electronica. Click the link below to download or stream it, and let me know what you think. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas Eve!

KaW - Esperanza

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Banned: What to Expect from Account Admins

The carousel. The merry-go-round. The teacup ride. Blizzard's Account Administration. What do all of these things have in common? They all spin you around in circles, getting you no where fast, and maybe even a little queazy in the process. Since my recent ban that occurred a little over a week ago, I've been in contact with a few Blizzard Account Administrators trying to get to the bottom of my suspension. I was accused of using third party programs to give me an unfair advantage in my play. I disputed the claims, hoping to clear things up and prevent a similar event from occurring in the future. However, I now find myself in a cyclic pinwheel of corporate banter that is making things rather difficult. Not only are the Admin responses ignorant and lacking of any detail, but they are also quite stubborn and even a bit insulting as well -- hardly the response I was hoping for.

Here are the emails I have received from Blizzard's Account Admins up to now. I can only assume that the hollow tone is common among all letters of this type. So, if you do find yourself banned, these responses are probably similar to those you should be expecting if you decided to dispute any would-be claims against you.

Response 1
Greetings,

Thank you for your follow up e-mail regarding the account action on *~*. This account has been issued a 48 hour suspension as a result of using unapproved third party software that gave the player an unfair advantage over other World of Warcraft players. Therefore, we regret to inform you that we are unable to reverse the account action previously issued.

Any further recorded deviations of character behavior in violation of
the Terms of Use may result in repercussions up to and including account closure as outlined in the World of Warcraft Terms of Use ( http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/legal/termsofuse.html) and/or the World of Warcraft Exploitation Policy (http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowgm/?id=agm01716p).

Please note that due to security concerns we will be unable to disclose any further details of this investigation.

Any disputes or questions concerning this account issue can only be addressed by Account Administration. To learn more about how Account Administration is able to assist you, please visit us at http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowaa/.

Thank you for your prompt attention and cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you may have.


Sincerely,

*~*
Account Administration
Blizzard Entertainment
http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowaa/

Response 2
Greetings,

Thank you for your follow-up email. The information regarding the account *~* has been reviewed once again and determined that the suspension was indeed warranted. As such, we regret to inform you that the account action decision is final and will not be reversed. Also all information regarding the action has been disclosed in our previous emails.

Any disputes or questions concerning this account action can only be addressed by Account Administration. To learn more about how Account Administration is able to assist you, please visit us at http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowaa/.



Sincerely,

*~*
Account Administration
Blizzard Entertainment
http://us.blizzard.com/support/article/21505

Response 3

Greetings,



Thank you for contacting us regarding the recent action of your account. I understand that your account is important to you, and have conducted another investigation with that fact in mind. Unfortunately, however, I was only able to verify that the action of the account in question was justified. Please understand that these actions are only taken when absolutely necessary.

I apologize for any confusion these actions have caused, but you may wish to review our Terms of Use (http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/legal/termsofuse.html) and our game policies (http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowgm/?id=agm01712p). Upon installation, all players agree that the accounts they are creating may be closed for any reason, and at any time.

Thank you for your time and understanding of our position in this matter. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a different issue.


*~*
Account Administration
Blizzard Entertainment
http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowaa

As you can see from the lack of detail and empty, hollow statements in these emails, disputing your suspension can ultimately lead to absolutely no gain. Indeed, for me, trying to right the wrong has felt like a complete waste of time. I must carefully dictate my arguments while all Blizzard has to do is tell me my suspension was "justified" and call it a day. It is insulting and frustrating to say the least, and I hope none of you ever have to deal a similar situation.

I am currently awaiting another response and will update you all accordingly... once my head stops spinning, that is.

Here's to enjoying the ride.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Transmutation Specialty Not WAI

In it's current form, the Transmutation specialty for Alchemy is a terrible joke. I specced Transmutation when TBC was first released, and I can literally count the procs I have experienced on my own two hands. Countless threads have been posted on the WoW Professions Forum since the specialty's conception, complaining of dismally-low proc rates. They are so few and far between, infact, that I can't even remember the last time I actually experienced one. What is it that makes them so rare? The poor math Blizzard used to dictate a "chance" proc occurance together with the Philosopher Stone, which is limited by it's own set of internal cooldowns. These limitations are inherent to any Alchemist performing transmutes, specialized or not. But it is the Transmute Master that is affected most, far beyond even what the quality of transmuted items should require. Thankfully, after all this time, Blizzard is finally fessing up to the matter, and is looking into making things right... sort of.

Blizzard Blue Pavonum has admitted that Transmutations are experiencing proc issues, but qualifies them as only occurring since the implementation of Patch 2.3. Personally, I have yet to experience even a single proc since Patch 2.3 landed, but I had no expectation of seeing one for quite some time, since they were so rare to begin with. Being that is the case, I find it hard to believe that this is a new-patch issue and think that Bliz being a little less than honest about the matter. But hey, at least they're finally getting around to acknowledging it and working on a fix. And no matter when it becomes available, at least we Alchemists can immediately find comfort in the fact that new there was something wrong, and that we weren't going mad after all. =)

Tip of the Week: Warlock Suicide

Hellfire is a rarely-used Warlock ability, and with good reason. It produces a very large amount of damage, and for every tick, it also inflicts damage to the casting 'lock. Obviously not ideal in most situations. But then there are those instances where Hellfire simply shines, and that is what this week's TotW is all about.

Ever find yourself in a Battleground, knee-deep in combat and frustrated at the fact that your pet just died for the 15th time? Well, don't waste a Shard summoning another, and don't go giving the opposing team a free kill either. All you have to do is commit Warlock Suicide: Life Tap as much as possible, and top it off with a Hellfire. Bam, you're dead, standing at the graveyard, and about to res with a "free" pet at your side, and at no cost to your durability or death toll. Not bad, right?

How about when you're deep into a raid instance, and your guildies are calling for another to help summon at the Meeting Stone outside? Sick of running your responsible butt all the way back to help out? Well, don't do it then! Instead, Life Tap, Hellfire, and bam. You're dead, outside, and all you need to do is run back through the instance portal and out again. And there you are, ready to summon at the Meeting Stone in a flash.

Oh, and I can't go without mentioning the all-important "wipe" application. When you see your MT die, and you look over at KTM or Omen and see your name creeping up that aggro list, don't run around with your arms flailing. Simply Life Tap, Hellfire, and you're done. You're dead, and you've taken no durability damage in the process whatsoever. Suddenly, wipes aren't that bad anymore, are they? =P

So there you have it -- a rarely-used Warlock spell that actually has many useful applications. Check it out, get a little creative with it, and let me know what you think.

Happy Hellfiring. =)

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Gift Suggestion

Sorry about the lack of updates this week -- it's been quite hectic around here with the holidays and school and all. But to make it up for you, I'll let you in on a little secret: The Shawshank Redemption is the best movie ever made. Seriously! It's not even an opinion. It's a downright fact. And if you've seen the movie, you already know this to be true. If you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, however, you need to pick up a copy of this film as soon as possible and watch it! Lucky for you Amazon has the Two-Disc Special Edition for only $8.99.

Here is my suggestion. Buy it as a gift. Wrap it up and give it to someone in your family or a close friend and immediately tell them to open it. When they do, grab it from them say "Lets watch it now!" Pop it into your DVD player, and by the time it is finished, your family or friends will be so overwhelmed with the greatness that is this movie that everyone won't notice you sneaking it out of the DVD player to keep for yourself.

Congratulations. You now own a copy of the greatest movie of all time to enjoy as often as you would like. In all seriousness, though, this movie is amazing. Give it look; you won't regret it. =)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter Clothes: A Fantastic Money-Maker

Looking for a quick and easy way to make some gold this holiday season? Well look no further than the tailoring profession and cross-faction Auction Houses! Since the introduction of Winter Veil, Ally and Horde tailors have been receiving the patterns for Red and Green Winter Clothes, respectively, and the AHs have been teeming with activity as a result.

Because only Ally tailors can make the Red Winter Clothes, each piece has been selling for 20-30g Horde-side, and the same can be said of the Green Winter Clothes on Ally-side as well. Considering the cheap price and relative ease of farming that it takes to acquire the mats for these items, it's easy to see how astute tailors can make quite a killing while making them available to the masses. And indeed, a fellow guild member has pulled in an impressive 200g per day while selling just a few of them daily.

Not a bad deal, no matter how you look at it. So get to it, tailors. And happy weaving! =)

Fun with Snowballs

During this week's Karazhan run, one of our rambunctious raiders decided to apply some Christmas Spirit to the Shade of Aran encounter. Instead of waiting for our tank to charge in, he immediately shot a snowball at Shade, hoping to start the encounter himself and have a good laugh at the chaos that would surely follow. But Shade didn't budge. And pretty soon, everyone was tossing snowballs in his direction...


Apparently, dungeon and raid bosses, and probably all NPCs alike, don't mind getting pelted with a little Holiday Cheer. And thank goodness for that! Because if they did, we'd be seeing many ruined raids these days.

Here's to a festive week for everyone. Pelt on.

Friday, December 14, 2007

PTR: Warlocks Absorb Bliz's Mistake, Costs 350g

It has definitely been an interesting 24-hours on the Public Test Realms, especially for us Warlocks. And it has all culminated into a very interesting outcome, at least at the present. If you plan on copying a pre-made 'lock to the PTR this evening, or even cloning one of your own to test your own gear, you better bring a hefty amount of gold with you. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with some very empty action bars, and an extremely dry spell book to match.

In "fixing" the Seed of Corruption issue that players discovered almost immediately after the PTRs came back online today, Blizzard decided it was best to blank all Warlock talents and abilities and require the class as a whole to re-train every single spell from scratch. The total cost? 350g. And that doesn't even take into account our pets, which were also wiped from our spell books and must be reacquired via their original quest lines - an unfortunate and unfair result to a problem Blizzard created.

So, unless you're a Warlock of incredible wealth, endless patience, and that only cares for Fel Guards, stay away from the PTRs. At the moment, for us, they are a complete waste of time.

PTR: Seed of Corruption Mistakenly, Hugely Buffed

Visited the PTRs recently? If you have, you undoubtedly noticed the bazillion Warlocks running around the place, LOL'ing at the top of their lungs in General and Trade chat and just about every other channel they can get their devilish little hands on. Why all the fresh hubbub and excitement? They've been bitten by a pretty serious and hilariously overpowered bug, that's why. Just check out these stats from AV to clue in on the matter:


How are numbers like that even possible? The word is that if you transfer a premade Warlock to the PTRs, you'll find two versions of our Seed of Corruption spell. One is the standard AoE/DoT hybrid that all Warlocks can eventually train, but the other is a special version that is instant cast, requires no mana, does about 2-3x more damage (overall damage done), and has a range of 60,000 yards. And if that weren't enough, it can also be cast while dead! On obvious mistake of course, and likely to be corrected soon, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun ruining the PTRs with it while it's available. =)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Anatomy of a 48-Hour Ban

Earlier tonight, I paid a visit to Dire Maul, as I so often do before heading to bed, to check for the rare, elite mobs that spawn in the Arena there. When I arrived, I found two of the three spawned waiting on the Maul floor; Skarr and Mushgog were disengaged, and ready to be solo'd by my Warlock DoTS. I didn't plan for anything to go differently than it usually has for the last year or so, since I began regularly farming the mobs for the Orb of Deception, which sells for a decently-hefty 400g on my server. Little did I know, however, that I would soon receive my first ban from the game, almost two years after starting my first toon.

For those of you that have seen these mobs engaged, you know how the mechanics work. Once in combat, if you remain out of reach of the mob's attacks for too long, your toon is ported to the center of the Maul. If you do not land a direct damage attack on the rares for some time, they will reset quickly, taking away any chance you may have at completing the encounter. Keeping these two mechanics in mind, it is easy for any Level 70 to solo these NPCs, making sure to regularly land a direct-damage attack while kiting, and using the ports to the center as shelter from the mob's high-damage attacks. Easy stuff, and known to just about everyone since the encounters have worked that way for as long as I can remember (which is at least since Summmer, '06).

Well, carefully keeping away from Mushgog so as to engage only one at a time, I drop Skarr after kiting him around one-half of the Maul and proceed to gather the herbs that spawn upon Mushgog's appearance. During a harvest of Dreamfoil, however, my connection suddenly drops. I try logging back in, but upon entering my login info, I find that I am unable to, and a message appears stating that my account has been temporarily suspended.

Double-You. Tee. Eff.

In the message was a link to Blizzard's Account Administration website, which then urged me to check my registered email address for any information regarding my ban. At first, there was nothing to be found. But then an email finally appears 5 to 10 minutes after the suspension, detailing the cause of my ban and it's duration.

Account Action: 48 Hour Suspension

Offense: Exploitation Policy - Unapproved Third Party Software

Player found moving in ways not possible by any means in-game in order to gain an advantage over other players.

Excuse me? Exploiting? Third Party Software? "What the hell are they talking about?" was my initial and is my ongoing reaction to the claim. I have never exploited or hacked the game in any way, shape, or form. I play a Warlock. I don't need to exploit to own.

I immediately wrote an email to dispute the claim that I was "found moving in ways not possible by any means in-game in order to gain an advantage over other players." Upon reading that statement in the email I received, I could only assume that the porting mechanic in the DM Arena was involved in my suspension, and that somehow Bliz missed the fact that the ports occur without any help from external sources. They are a part of the encounter. They always have been. And they probably always will be.

Oh, and get a load of this nonsense:

"Though we are unable to discuss the outcomes of our investigations due to privacy concerns, rest assured that this incident has been looked into very thoroughly, and the appropriate actions have been taken on all involved accounts."

Translated out of it's corporate banter, it basically means that some ghosting GM saw a Warlock porting around in the DM Arena, couldn't explain what he or she was seeing, assumed hacks were involved, and hit the ban button. Thorough indeed.

What's ironic is that Blizzard, in executing the suspension in the fashion they did, broke their own methods of standardized procedure for handling ill behaviors. According to an Account Penalties article on the company's Support website, there is a "Penalty Volcano" that acts as a hierarchy of punishment, ranging from the simple warning to the most serious act of account closure. In describing the 48-hour suspension that I received, the support website states that:

"48 Hour suspensions are most often assigned when the player has repeated an action he or she has been previously warned for."

So, instead of receiving an outright and semi-serious 48-hour ban, I should have received a warning first, instead of an outright suspension, which would have actually given me the opportunity to dispute the claim without Bliz locking me out of my own account and account management page.

As it stands now, I could only email the account administrators for clarification and resolution of the issue at hand. But unfortunately, according to Blizzard's own email, "it may be several days" before the admins are able to respond, and my suspension will likely be long over by then. /sigh... you always hear about Blizzard's apparent trend in screwing over their loyal and rule-abiding customers, but you never think it's gonna happen to you. Little did I know...

I'll keep you all posted on the happenings of this frustrating event. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Arena Rating Requirements

In a closed thread posted late yesterday evening, Bliz Blue Tyren states that not only will certain Season 3 Arena pieces require a Personal Rating, but they will now also require a Team Rating as well. He goes on to say that while the in-game mechanic will be changed during today's maintenance, it will not display properly until an upcoming patch is applied.

So how does this short-notice adjustment to the rating system affect Arena players and teams? With this change, Blizzard is likely trying to curb a method of artificially inflating one's personal rating, where players would engage only in "easy" games around the 1500 bracket. These players would create a team consisting of mains and alts, winning with their mains and losing on purpose with their alts, to keep their team in a mid-level bracket. This would allow them to continuously play against low-to-mid-level teams while eventually seeing their Personal Ratings go through the roof. It was an ingenious work-around to the Personal Rating requirement, but B.S. none-the-less. Blizzard recognized this and acted accordingly.

No system is foolproof, but it's good to see Blizzard trying to make theirs work as best they can. Now, if only they gave other matters this kind of attention.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Je Suis le Mage

I just saw the French World of Warcraft commercial starring Guile Jean-Claude Van Damme, and I must say that I am totally confused and creeped out by it. And when I say "totally," I mean not really all that much, but enough to make me write about it. A little. Check out the video to see what I mean, kinda.



Creepy, right? He has a very sinister light about him in this video, especially at the beginning where he's walking towards the camera with his hands together at his face as he partially hides a devious smile. Yeah, totally creepy.

Transcript:

“My name is Jean-Claude Van Damme… and I am a mage.”
“Hand-to-hand combat for me: it's over!”
“Now I can cast powerful spells!”
“Just try messing with me… I’ll turn you into a sheep.”
“A sheep!”
“…Because we all are a bit like sheep, you know...”
“I am Jean-Claude Van Damme, I am a mage.
“And you?”
"What’s your game?"


=)

Season 2 Reward Frustration

By now, you've all heard about the problems Blizzard has been facing regarding their incorrect distribution of Season 2 titles and rewards. The issues have been an on-going topic since the start of the new Season, and on a world-wide scale as well, with players from every corner complaining of incorrect titles and disappearing Merciless Nether Drakes. It's quite disappointing that a company with the resources that Blizzard has didn't get things right the first time (a second time, if you count S1 issues), considering the grandeur of the end of a PvP season. But what's even more discomforting, however, is the amount of time it is taking to resolve these matters, and the apparent tone Blizzard is taking when dealing with their PvP elite.

Instead of taking an openly proactive approach at dealing with the disgruntled voices of affected players, Blizzard seems to be writing off many of the complaints, refusing to escalate tickets and even ignorantly ensuring that everything is working as intended. In some cases where a player transfer was involved, Bliz is even placing the blame on the players themselves, stating that losing titles is a result and known risk of moving a toon from one server to another. Many are taking issue with these responses, however, and rightfully so.

According to many posts in that same thread regarding player transfers and titles, the disappearance of Season 2 rewards didn't occur immediately after the transfer, but followed an "emergency maintenance" that was implemented shortly after the start of Season 3. As would-be Gladiator Baygul put it, if players transfered before the maintenance, their titles were lost. But had they transfered after this surprise maintenance, their titles would be intact. Frustrating indeed, especially considering all of the misinformation that Blizzard's own employees were stating as fact.

Many of Blizzard's posts relaying incorrect or incomplete information are still available to read on the forums (including the ones posted above), and many players are still awaiting answers from tickets that were escalated weeks ago. So what happens now? Well, good companies make good video games. Great companies support them and treat their customers with respect and priority. Taking a note from their own commercials, maybe it's time to ask Bliz what their game is.

Keep up the pressure. Hopefully then, we'll see some answers.

Friday, December 7, 2007

On the Warlock Forums: Class Feedback Requested

Looks like Christmas has come early for us Warlocks! It's Class Feedback time on the official forums, and while many Warlocks are putting Green Fire and a Warlock Epic Flying Mount on their wish lists, I'm thinking there are more important gifts Santa Bliz can put under the tree for our class. Here are a few items that need some much needed holiday love, in no particular order:

Pet Scaling. Warlock pets do not scale well at level 70 and as a result, lack sufficient stamina, mana, damage, and resistances.

Spell Haste and DoTS. Spell Haste should have a positive effect on DoTS, making them tick faster without gimping their dmg output.

Spell Pushback. With the advantage melee has been seeing over cloth wearing classes, and the introduction of Ignore Armor, the spell push back mechanic needs some tweaking to favor successful casting.

Talentless Insta-cast Corruption. Given the limitations placed on the spell's dmg coefficient, how easily the DoT is removed, and that global cooldowns already act as a limiting "cast" buffer, making it available to all Warlocks as an instant-cast "on the run" spell isn't too much to ask.

A True Unstable Affliction
. It's a 41-pt talent. It's negative effects should proc every time the DoT is removed, no matter the process used.

Consolidate curse buffs into one Malediction. Since we can only have one curse on a target at a time, we shouldn't have 3 separate talents improving our curses.

Contagion vs. Unstable Affliction. These two talents seem to compete with one another. What makes UA great is it's negative proc upon being dispelled, but Contagion, the talent that leads to it, reduces the chance it will be dispelled. An obvious logistical error that needs a fix.

Improved Shadow Bolt and Incinerate. As things are currently, Fire 'locks do more damage spamming Shadow Bolts than they do spamming Incinerates. The Improved Shadow Bolt talent should also apply to Incinerate to help fix that inconsistency.

Affliction Tree Crit to Dmg Conversion Talent. DoTS are totally gimped when it comes to stats, and the updated effect of Resilience makes them even more so. To help balance out the new, almost universal defense players have to DoTS (everyone has access to 300+ Resil now) and to help Affliction's viability in high-end raiding (where gear is more Crit and Haste-heavy), introduce a talent deep into the Affliction tree that converts a percentage of +crit to +spell dmg.

Soul Shard Mechanics
. Soul Shards have such potential, but currently are very basic and almost completely unnecessary. If they are to remain as generally applicable as they are, either introduce an ability to conjure them at the cost of the Warlock's own health (maybe make that the effect of Imp Drain Soul), or make them purchasable reagents. However, I think it'd be better to introduce mob-specific Soul Shards that when drained and created, add special effects to the Warlock's abilities that require shards. For example, creating a Soul Shard from a fire-based mob could add spell damage to a Soul Fire, and when cast, the Soul Fire would give priority to the fire-based Soul Shard for consumption. Similar mechanics could be applied to Shadowburn as well. And how about boss-specific Soul Shards that are made to be useful during other boss encounters? For example, a spell cast using a shard gathered from Onyxia could be programmed to be incredibly effective against Nef.

Cataclysm and Aftermath. Replace with more useful, Warlock-centric talents, or improve them by increasing their proc or return rates. Perhaps introduce a Suppression-type talent for Destruction spells, or one that increases spell crit rating.

Demon Armor. Allow it's health regen to scale, and increase the armor it provides. Adding Resilience to it wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Curse of Weakness. Buff it, and allow it to stack with other AP reducing abilities.

Utility Curse Mechanics. Allow them to be stacked atop one another, but with diminishing effects. For example, 3 Warlocks cast Curse of Shadow on a single mob -- the first increases Shadow dmg by 10%, the second by 5%, and the third by 2%, etc.

Demonology Talents. There are far too many weak talents in the Demonology tree. Master Conjurer, Imp Enslave Demon, Imp Health Funnel, and even Imp Succubus and Voidwalker all need to be reworked or replaced altogether.

Firestone. Revamp to add a stackable scorch effect to fire spells instead of melee procs. That way, it'll actually be an attractive prospect for Fire 'locks.

Conflagrate. Needs to be reworked to scale better with the 'lock and his/her gear.

Amplify Curse. Make applicable to ALL curses, as well as making the casted curse immune to all dispelling effects.

Shadowfury. Make it instant cast, as was originally intended. It's a 41-pt talent, and should be worthy of that title.

Drain Soul. Rework to make using ranks other than Rank 1 worthwhile. Increase dmg or make it tick more often, or include a paralyzing or slowing effect similar to Mind Flay.

Here's hoping for a Warlock Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

MaxDPS

Tearing around the internet earlier tonight, compiling info for an upcoming post, I came across a little gem in the form of a fantastically-designed DPS calculator. It's called MaxDPS, and after tinkering with it for a little while and watching the numbers dance around the UA vs. Ruin argument, I'm pretty impressed by it's presentation. It's fairly easy to use and quite customizable, and definitely worth a look. Give it a shot. Hopefully it'll do your DPS good.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tip of the Week

This week's TotW may seem like a rather obvious and novice tip, but it's something that I don't see many Warlocks doing all that often, if even at all. Yet it's so basic and potentially useful, that it's worth mentioning at least once. Afterall, this is Warlock Therapy.

So what is this tip I'm talking about? Simply Soul Stone yourself when logging out of the game for more than 30 minutes. That way, upon logging in, you'll be able to conjure a SS for a healer or tank in your raid or party or for your healbot in the battlegrounds, all while having an active SS on yourself. So obvious, right? And it only costs a shard, so it's not like you've got much to lose getting into the habit of doing it.

=)

Meet Majinn

This game is amazingly designed and the content is simply brilliant, but lets face it, it's the people that make this game worth playing.

With that in mind, meet Majinn, a Ret Pally, and one of the funniest people I've met within WoW. He recently made a PvP video, of sorts as you'll see, which literally had me crying I was laughing so hard. It may be that it's truly and ingeniously funny, or hilarious only because I know the man behind the toon. But whatever be the case, I think it's a vid worth seeing. So watch him as he lays down his Retribution goodness, and very characteristic sense of humor that makes him such a riot. The video especially picks up his persona about 30 seconds in. Epic music and a little ADHD ftw. =) Enjoy!


LOL @ the guy that looks like Alex Trebek.

GG Majinn. GG.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Song of the Week

I was speaking with a group of students this past week about Biology and evolution when I brought up Pearl Jam's music video "Do The Evolution." To my dismay, none of the students had ever seen theit, or heard of Pearl Jam for that matter (so sad!). It got me thinking about how many people out there haven't seen this brilliant yet controversial animated video, and so it comes to you now as this week's SotW. Lots of hidden messages abound, so pay attention. Enjoy!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Season 3: Different, Yet Similar

There isn't much going on these days in Azeroth. Everyone seems to be moving at a snail's pace. I've been sitting idle at my computer lately, starring at the blog composition screen in utter disarray and having no idea what to write about. And I imagine that the bloggers over at WoW Insider are dealing with a similar kind of writer's block, being that a huge majority of their posts have been about the same topic - the start of Season 3. And while the event is definitely worthy of a good deal of coverage, I just can't help but feel completely unexcited about the current state of WoW. With Bliz bringing everyone up to speed with "Welfare Epics" and what not, the game has just been more of the same all over again, and after over 180 days played on my Warlock, having to separate ourselves from the pack, for a third or fourth time, doesn't seem all that engaging.

With the introduction of Season 3 and availability of Tier 4-level epics to just about anyone at Level 70, the pace of play on my server has slowed to a crawl. The LFG tool is even less active than it was before S3, and Trade Chat consists of mainly, and get this, items advertised for sale. I don't think I've seen a "Need tank and healer than GTG" in Trade since S3's release, actually.

The point I think that I'm trying to make is this: Season 3 is as much a speed bump as it is platform for progress. Yes, you have definite improvements in gear and nice items that are only available through Heroic/Raid badges and what not, but the focus of play itself just seems different overall. And on a server with a relatively low population faction, that's potentially devastating in terms of activity. I mean, why would anyone want to run instances and chance a drop versus PvP'ing for a sure thing? Why would any guild need to recruit more players for 25-mans when as individuals, they can be responsible for their own raid-level epic gear? And indeed, from what I've seen, the meeting stones at Auchindoun and all over are gathering a bit of dust.

Pretty much everyone is PvP'ing. And as of right now, the game has mainly become another grind for honor; sitting in the same battlegrounds all day long for items that will satisfy for now while putting everything else on hold. And then, once we're through with this grind, 2.4 will come along and make all of our current individual efforts for not. Then Wrath of the Lich King will show up and we'll all be back to where we began - waiting for the new Season of PvP to start so we can get more easy-mode epics that we'll hardly ever use outside of a battleground.

The same thing, at a different time, all over again.

So what do we do to break this ridiculous and repetitive cycle of nothingness? We don't let events like the introduction of Season 3 fully dictate what we do. We take part in and enjoy them, sure, but we shouldn't allow ourselves to lose track of what is important on a grander scale because of them. I think this is where many people have gone wrong -- focusing too much on instant gratification instead of planning for the long term. And just like it did after the Rank 14 items were made available to the masses, it has the potential to cripple.

Hopefully this won't be an issue for too much longer. Hopefully people will get their gear and refocus on the bigger picture that is all of WoW's content. Hopefully the snail's pace will pick up. Hopefully this speed bump won't turn into a traffic jam for everyone, hardcore or casual. Hopefully we can all move on to something better. Hopefully, soon.

Italics for the win.

Have an amazing weekend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Week's LOL

Epic guild/trade/etc chat much? WoW Bash has you covered. Their material should keep you laughing for a while. And Lord knows some of us really need a good laugh every now and then. =)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Well-Hidden Nerf?

I'm tired as hell and work early tomorrow morn, so I'll keep this short. =)

Season 3 is upon us, and faster than you can say "wtf @ Personal Ratings," all of Azeroth is enjoying their new, easy-mode epics. But while everyone, including Warlocks, welcome Gladiator gear with open arms, I can't help but frown upon the indirect impact handing out 300+ Resilience will have on DoT-dependent classes such as ours.

The math isn't difficult to understand: greater numbers with greater Resilience equates to a lesser impact DoTS will have in PvP and especially low-end Arena play. In AB earlier tonight, I had already noticed a significant difference. I can't imagine what it'll be like in the Arena.

Did Bliz plan things this way? Was this change and the change before it planned together and intentional? Perhaps. Too much to overcome? Absolutely not. But significant and noteworthy none-the-less.

/food-for-thought

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rewarding Dedication

Gladiator. High Warlord. Grand Marshal. These are titles that are or were once bestowed upon those who exhibit the greatest amount of dedication to the craft that is WoW. Very few have achieved these statuses, and these titles are exceptionally rare as a result, which begs the question:


WHERE ARE OUR SILVER DRAGONS!

Get to it Bliz. Kthx. =)

Btw, lol at how it's tail owns my pet's portrait.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Song of the Week

I'm one of those guys that puts a lot of stock into choosing good PvP anthems. There's just something about a song that can get your blood boiling and up your game a bit. But this week's SotW isn't about that. It's about the flip side; the winding down and relaxing that occurs AFTER a hard night of honor grinding or arena play. And there are few songs better to kick back to than the Sneaker Pimps "6 Underground."

Now I know you'll be spending time trying to figure out if the lead singer is hawt or not (flood lighting for the lose imho), but trust me when I say you should just forget the visuals and take in the audio and lyrics. Stellar stuff, so enjoy. =)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Loliday Login Issues

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you got your fill of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and everything else that makes the anniversary of a European invasion of the Americas worth celebrating. Personally, I'm totally and completely stuffed and am enjoying an incoming stomach ache worth of post-Thanksgiving proportions. I'm sure the 4 rounds of Pumpkin Martinis didn't help either, but I digress.

Sitting here, unable to move for fear of busting a seam, I tried to login to WoW for some PvP but to no avail. On each login attempt, I receive a "Unable to Connect" message, which is usually indicative of a dropped internet connection, but I've been able to browse the net just fine. I double-checked my firewall and port settings and everything is as should be. Odd, right?

Turns out the issue is probably not on my end to begin with, and after visiting the WoW Support Forums and seeing MANY threads on poor connectivity, I'm pretty sure Bliz is with dealing with a few post-Thanksgiving Meal hiccups of their own. Too many Pumpkin Martinis me thinks -- never a good thing!

No Blue response on the matter just yet, but hopefully they'll get things up and running again for those affected soon enough.

UPDATE: Authentication system has been fixed!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

2.3.2 Warlock Change... /sigh

Patch 2.3.2 is just around the corner, and with it comes some serious buffage! Shamans are getting buffed. Mages are getting hugely buffed. Hunters are getting buffed... again. And Warlocks? Well...

Warlock
* The health cost taken from the Warlock after using Health Funnel will now remain consistent between uses.

Yup. That's it! While other classes are getting some major adjustments implemented, the Warlock has seen their Soul Well cast time "buffed" and a minor change to Health Funnel incoming. Serious business!

In my opinion, we can look at this from one of either two ways. First, Bliz considers the Warlock class very balanced and perfected in the current context of the game, and therefore, needing very little adjustment whatsoever. Or second, that Bliz views Warlocks as an overpowered, unbalanced class, and they are just trying to bring every other class up to speed. Both viewpoints would explain the little activity Warlocks have seen in recent Patch Notes well.

Is that a trend that will continue? I hope not, but I'm definitely not holding my breath until our class sees it's next buff.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is It Real? Warlock Solos Hydross the Unstable

I had heard rumors about this going down but assumed it was done on a private server or something. A guildie that showed me this video, however, swears up and down it's for real. Take a look, and decide for yourself.


Hydross.wmv
If this is legit, us 'locks better get in on that action before it's patched up. ;)

Btw, the song is Waterflame by Thunderzone. Follow this link to Newgrounds to take a listen and download. =)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Naming Your Toon, Part 1

Have you ever decided to start a new toon, got all of the features exactly how you wanted them, the colors just right, and were totally happy with the looks, only to get stuck on the character's name? I've had to deal with that a few times, to the point where the server would disconnect me for prolonged thought and subsequent inactivity. I'd have to start character creation from the start, just to have the same thing happen all over again a short time later! /sigh. The naming obsession may be a little extreme, sure, but your character's I.D. is a very important piece of the overall package that is you. And it doesn't matter if your toon is decked out in Tier 6 gear and looks sexy as hell -- if his or her name is "MWAHAHAHAHAHA" or "Wownightelf," you'll likely get a little bit of flak, and deservedly so. It's no wonder then that many players take great care in choosing names for their in-game counterparts, often investing much time in finding the one that's just right for them. Some methods lead to more effective name-picking than others, however, and being that I'm an expectant father and newly seasoned at the naming game, having named our child 6 months before he or she even shows up, I'll share some of my secrets with you. ;)

First, you have to start with the obvious question of gender. Are you choosing to create a male or female toon? Names are VERY gender-specific, generally speaking, and specific letter placements usually indicate one gender or another. For example, placing the letter "a" at the end of a name is usually characteristic of a female name, as a Warlock on my server named "Darcla" understands well after about the millionth person assumed he was a she. So yeah, understanding the specificity of names is a very important if not the most important variable you can consider. After all, most baby-naming books are organized by gender first and foremost for a reason.

Second, you must consider the "feel" of your race and class. Just as many names are specific to certain groups IRL (hippies, etc), your toon's name should be indicative of his or her own background. What kind of message do you want to send with your name? Think about the roughness of the race (or lack thereof), the finesse and approach of the class (melee vs. magic), etc, and start thinking of words associated with those characteristics. This will sift through a lot of potential issues, preventing an Orc Rogue from being named "Sylfirestorm," for example. And as you've probably already noticed, this automatically takes care of the "lore" issue, and even if that's not a priority of yours, that will improve the overall "HUZZAH" feeling that your toon's name generates.

Finally, if you're having trouble coming up with words, think about meanings and emotions that you want your toon to inflinct, and then look up words associated with them. This takes a little bit of research and effort, but in all reality, it's not that difficult, and I find that it helps to make for a decently complicated name that is probably available on whatever server you're playing on. A few good sources to start with would be a medical dictionary (my favorite), astronomy journals, or even something as simple as a thesaurus will get the job done. And you can end up with a very interesting and significant name to say the least.

There are many other things to consider when naming your toon, but I'll leave those for a second post. At this point, just remember to have fun with it and not sell yourself short. A funny name that takes very little effort to come up with may be creative and get the job done, but it'll never be as fulfilling as one with UMPH. So take your time, think about it, and do your research. If you do, that's one less name change you'll ever have to worry about. ;)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Guitar Hero III Gets OWNED

I just saw this video over at Big Bear Butt and just had to post it here in case any of you have missed it. Haven't heard of Guitar Hero? Now is your chance to get acquainted (and fall in love) with it. Familiar with the game? Then get ready to pick your jaw up from off the floor. Enjoy. ;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Battleground "Preparation" Bugged for Warlocks

Shortly after logging in for the first time today, I jumped into Arathi Basin for some honor grinding, and like a nub, I hadn't filled up on Soul Shards after my previous Shadowburning session. I had only 1 to work with, so there I stood, at the gate in AB thinking "Man, should I even summon a Soul Well for everyone?" But wait! I spotted the new Preparation buff that allows for "free" casting of spells before the start of the BG. /cast Soul Well. Everyone cheered, grabbed a Healthstone, and disappeared... just like my one and only Soul Shard.

Turns out that the Preparation time isn't "free" afterall, at least not for Warlocks. We are still being charged Soul Shards, which is odd since that is not the case during Arena game prep time. So, either Bliz is being really inconsistent or this is a little bug Bliz will hotfix shortly. My guess is the latter. But until Bliz actually does so, watch that Shard count of yours, unlike what I did today. =)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Song of the Week

I play a Warlock, and word on the street is that we're all emo by nature, and absolutely love it. So it makes sense that my pick for this week's SotW celebrates the Warlock in all of us that "smiles in the dark." And with all of the buffs other classes are getting lately, it's definitely a bit cloudy outside... just like we like it. >=)

Here's an oldie of sorts, but an awesome song none-the-less, Garbage's "Only Happy When It Rains."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Azure Whelpling Drop Rate

I'm an optimist. So when I had two Azure Whelplings drop for me yesterday, I was ecstatic and assumed a relatively high drop rate for the little bits of blue goodness. Oh how my classes in statistics and knowledge of randomness completely failed me.

Today, I spent some time in Azshara farming what I was hoping would be a good number of the whelps. Unfortunately, after a few very long hours of nothingness and over a THOUSAND mobs killed, it turns out that the drop rate for these little guys is much lower than I initially thought. Shocking? No. But still disappointing to those hoping to catch one of their own.


Mob info shows a drop rate of about 1% for the 3 that I picked up over the past two days. However, the data doesn't consider the mobs I was killing that didn't drop a whelpling. In total, the figure is about 1300 dragons, and with only 3 drops, that puts the drop rate at about 0.02%. Does that mean the Azure Whelpling is the rarest of the Tiny Whelpling family? Potentially, but given that 2.3 has only been live for 2 days, only more time will tell.

Happy hunting. =)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Azure Whelpling


Earlier today, I picked up this little guy off one of the elite dragonkin in Azshara. I was helping a buddy grind one for one of his friends and he let me take the first one. The drop rate doesn't seem too bad. Mobinfo2 puts it at about a 2% drop off of Draconic Mageweavers. I killed the other types as well; over a hundred in all in about an hour or so. Not too shabby if you ask me.

I'll be heading back there later tonight to help grind another. I'll update the drop rates accordingly.

Happy 2.3!

Blizzard is Evil

I think Blizzard does this on purpose. "This" being that they give us a set time frame for the servers to be brought back online, and then announce a delay only 30 minutes before the scheduled go time. I call shenanigans! If it were an honest mistake, you'd think the company would have learned by now to stop giving a schedule for servers to be brought back online. But these delays keep happening, and have occurred constantly and consistently for as long as I can remember. Why on earth wouldn't Bliz take a different approach to their announcements that would help remedy the situation? Because they want you checking, rechecking, and re-rechecking for the servers to be back online, to build an uber reinforcing response, that's why.

There are undoubtedly some smart behaviorists over at Blizzard Entertainment. They know how to push buttons, both literally and figuratively, to get you to come back for more. Whether it be checking for the servers to be online, or trying week after week after week to get a specific item to drop off a boss in Karazhan, they have you exactly where they want you - addicted to WoW.

In general, addictive behaviors all pretty much work in the same way. You have a behavior that gets paired with a desired stimulus, and the response is that the behavior is more likely to occur. It's basic learning principles; reward, punishment, etc. They key factor in getting someone to perform a behavior over and over again, however, isn't just in the reward they get, but WHEN the reward is given. And when that reward is variable in nature (as in, it doesn't occur all the time and it's presentation cannot be predicted), it elicits the greatest behavioral response.

Imagine a gambler sitting in front of a slot machine. He feeds it with bills and coins and pulls the lever mechanically, not knowing when or even if it will give anything in return. Yet, there he remains. Why? The knowledge that the stimulus he's looking for, as unpredictable as it is, CAN happen. That unknown variable servers almost as a type of motivating factor, keeping the gambler hooked until it does happen (even though it never may).

Blizzard implements the same type of reinforcement schedule in WoW. Drops in instances or off any mob for that matter, the magnitude of stimulant variety that can occur, and even server schedules - they all reinforce our almost ritualistic, compulsive behavior to check and recheck, try and retry. It keeps us hooked, and Blizzard knows this.

Makes ya see server delays in a different light, doesn't it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Warlock or Mage?" The Answer, part 73,228,417

I was chatting it up recently with a Swedish Paladin buddy of mine that is looking to put together a competitive 3v3 Arena team. After talking about potential class composition and the changes being introduced in Patch 2.3, we digressed to the very irrelevant but oh so important topics of Euro Dance and Swedes being hottest people on the planet (sorry Brazil). But once back on track, we narrowed the team down to his Pally, a Warrior, and a clothie, kinda. Here's how the rest of the conversation went:

Pally: More DPS would be good. What about a Warlock or Mage?

Me: I dunno man. I guess it depends on your style. Warlocks have longevity, so that'd take a bit of healing pressure off of you. But Mages generally have greater burst damage.

Pally: Yeah, but a Fire Mage is also easy to kill.

Me: You're the one that'd be healing. You don't think you could keep one up?

Pally: It's not that. It'd just be nice to have both DPS and longevity. You think a Mage would be a better fit than an SL/SL Warlock?

Me: For DPS, big time. SL/SL 'locks don't rely on Shadow Bolts, don't have Shadowburn, and rely on DoTs or their channeled Drain Life to do dmg. That's hardly bursting damage, which you'll definitely notice when you need it fast.

Pally: But the mage, I mean, once he burns everything, he's pretty much a paper weight.

Me: Yeah, but stick a Mage and your Warrior on one target, and that'll probably be one less to worry about right quick.

Pally: Unless it's a Pally healing. He can just bubble and heal our target through the damage. Ugh, I guess it comes down to whether I want to try and out-DPS the other team's heals or outlast them.

Me: A Warlock for out-lasting, for sure. Better long-term mana efficiency and the other healers get to blow their mana on removing DoTS all match long. And don't forget that 'locks can drain mana. Might come in handy. But if you want to try and DPS a target down asap and try to catch healers off guard, a Mage would work better me thinks.

Pally: Bah. Maybe I should just grab a Hunter.

Me: lol, well, they don't wear cloth. And they are getting buffed big time in 2.3.

Pally: That, and people in my battle group fall for feign death all the time.

Me: lol!

Pally: And cloth for the lose come Ignore Armor.

Me: Cloth definitely for the lose.

Pally: So it's settled then. Pally, Warrior, and Hunter.

Me: Grats man.

So there you have it! When trying to choose between a Warlock and a Mage post Patch 2.3, go with the Hunter. We can now finally put this issue to rest. Thank you, Blizzard. So very much.

-_-

Al'ar the Phoenix God - My First Time

Last night was a pretty interesting night for me. I log in expecting to be in a Karazhan raid as usual, but am put on stand by since I pretty much have all the Kara gear I need. Not a bad deal since the guild gets to spread the wealth and I got to take care of things around the house, so I didn't mind one bit. Towards the end of the raid, I received a whisper from one of my first acquaintances in WoW and my first real Guild Master. He is currently the raid leader for a much more active guild than I am in, and he was hoping to make use of my 'lock's DPS on Tempest Keep, in instances I have never ventured into. I figured that since my guild's raid was almost over (which it ended up not being, but that's a story for another time), I would jump in and help out. If nothing else, I could learn something useful.

Now like I said, I had never been in TK before last night, so I had no idea what to expect, how my spec would match-up against their TK-seasoned Warlocks, or even where I should be standing at any given moment. Thankfully, the trash had already been cleared and before I knew it, I was standing beneath Al'ar the Phoenix God herself. After a quick run through of what to expect, she was pulled. I peed a little.

/cast Curse of Recklessness. Normally I would put up an Agony or maybe even a Doom if I'm feeling a little devious, but since all of us Warlocks had our Curse duties set, and since this was not my guild, I figured I should abide by their rules and not my own. How rude of me if I were to do otherwise, right? Besides, being my first experience with Al'ar, I was more concerned with taking in the encounter than with my DPS... lol, okay, maybe not, but I WAS learning.

During Phase 1, it's apparently all about DPS'ing her down to 0%, and we did that just fine. I was 2nd in damage done at that point via DoT'ing with Corruption, Siphon Life, and Shadow Bolt nuking, making sure to Dark Pact or Life Tap while running between platforms (while Al'ar is out of range). Throughout the first 20-25% or so, I was casting Immolate until I finally realized that hey, it's a Phoenix, there's a reason my Immolates aren't landing. GG on my part. =)

Phase 2 was bit more complicated than your average nukefest, with Al'ar casting Meteor spells and summoning Phoenix adds to the floor. Being fairly spry as an Affliction 'lock, I kept everything DoT'ed as best I could, cycling between Al'ar and her adds and Shadow Bolt spamming the adds at every opportunity (when they die, they drain 3% of her current health, so initially, they take priority). Everything was going rather smoothly through the first 50% of Phase 2, but eventually the off-tank was unable to keep the adds off the rest of the raid and we wiped. That's pretty much what happened during all 3 attempts.

It was a seemingly simple encounter that is very sensitive to simple mistakes. I believe the only reason the raid did not down her was because after our 3rd attempt, people had to log for RL reasons. Had that not been the case, another couple of attempts would have probably seen her fall for sure. But as should always be the case, RL takes priority, and everyone was happy with the progress they had made as a guild.

From a Warlock'ing standpoint, it should be no problem for our class to get top DPS in this encounter, especially if you're Affliction spec. Just being aware of your DoT cycles (on Al'ar and all adds) and SB nuking when you can should do it. With that approach, I had the highest Damage Done for all attempts combined, and having never seen the encounter before and while being overly careful, I was very happy about that.

Now if I can just remember to keep from casting Immolate next time. See you then. =)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Today's LOL: Patch 2.3 Eye of "Kill"rogg Buff

This video speaks for itself. Enjoy!

EDIT: Okay, so maybe the vid doesn't speak for itself. Here's the deal: a Warlock doing some testing on the Public Test Realm noticed that his Eye of Kilrogg could do melee damage. Whether this is working as intended or not, we have no idea, but it makes for a very fun time at the opposing faction's popular dueling areas.


Second Eye Film

Thursday, November 8, 2007

WoW Figure Packaging; Unboxing Not Required

So I got my hands on one of these highly-sought-after WoW Figurines that DC Comics recently released. I wasn't really sure what to expect from them, being that they are "toys" and all, but to my surprise, and relief, they are really quite impressive! The figures themselves look great, and are fairly accurate representations of in-game characters. They are also decently large in size, with the "Meryl Felstorm" Warlock figure I purchased standing nearly 8 inches tall - a nice change compared with most "action figures" you see today, not that I'd know. The figurines carry quite a presence indeed, even while still packaged in their clear, plastic packaging. Here are a few images of the Warlock in it's original packaging, just to get you drooling a little.




I personally would have preferred a package more like the The Burning Crusade: Collector's Edition box, but the nerds guys at the comic shop tell me that the clear plastic allows you to enjoy the figure without actually removing it from it's box, which could diminish it's potential worth in the future. Sure. Okay.

In terms of the figure's actual looks, you probably noticed that while it does look pretty sick, it's not an exact replica of what is seen in game. Last time I checked, the Corruptor's raiment wasn't purple, for example, and the chain-link was on the helm, not the shoulders. But even with slight inconsistencies such as these, it is still a very nice piece to look at imho, and pulls off the game-to-figurine translation very well. GG DC.

If you want to grab one of your own, check this website for local resellers. Move quickly though -- they're selling out fast.

PTR: First Real Experience in Zul'Aman

I just finished my first run in the new Zul'Aman instance, which goes live next Tuesday. And I don't want to spoil any surprises for you, but I do have to say that the instance is most definitely a gear check. Our group of players was getting slammed all over the place, tanks nearly one-shotted, DPS seemed to be running out of steam, and healers just barely kept up, and all on the first boss!

Given, the raid group was a PuG on the PTR, and that created some communication roadblocks and other difficulties that probably made things more complicated than they needed to be. Still, the instance does seem to up the difficulty level for 10-mans, even if just a bit for those that are properly geared. The under-geared in our group definitely had a very difficult time, however, and our overall performance suffered as a result. The impression I had (and do keep in mind that this is only my first) is that pre-Karazhan blues just won't cut it in Zul'Aman. And casters, an excellent Spell Hit rating is a must.

All in all, the run was an enjoyable introduction to what we all be will seeing quite regularly come next week. Oh, and when you do eventually venture into Zul'Aman, bring two tanks. I know, I know, I said I wouldn't spoil anything. But trust me. You'll thank me later. ;)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tip of the Week: Hitchhike a Battleground

If you're like me, you often find yourself in Shatt with Hearthstone on cooldown, but needing to visit the AH for some auction goodness. If you then portal to Org or the UC to take care of business, you'd have to make your way back to Outland via the Dark Portal, which is a bit further than around the block. Of course, you could always summon the help of a Mage to tag along and port you from one place to another, but willing Cloth-wearing Vending Machines are a little hard to come by. And since waiting for your Hearth's CD is definitely out of the question, what do you do?

The answer is actually pretty simple. Que up for the PvP Battlegrounds before you port away from Shatt. Once you've done so, you can head over to Org or UC, deal with your AH duties, enter a Battleground, "/afk," and viola, you're back in Shatt. In order for this to work, however, you'll have to move rather fast, hope that the BGs don't pop too soon, and not allow the invitations for them to expire. If you can do all of this, you've essentially created another Hearthstone.

Instant gratification for the win.

Thank You

Pie for everyone! To all of those who whispered, emailed, and cheered at the blog's recent mention in WoW Insider, a heart-felt thanks. And I gotta thank the wonderful cast over at WI as well, who took the time to read my message, the blog post, and for their efforts in keeping all of us WoWers informed. Many thanks. =)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

PvP: Season 3 Start Date, Bye-Bye Season 1 Titles

Take note, ladies and gentlemen. On this day, Blizzard kept their word. You may want to pay attention to today's date as well, not only because it is indeed a rare and momentous occasion, but also because two weeks from today, Season 3 of Arena PvP begins. That's November the 20th - the morning after a weekly scheduled maintenance. And what does all of this mean, exactly? Well, outside the realm of the team-rating resets and the introduction of Season 3 gear, it would probably be a good idea to SAVE YOUR ARENA POINTS at this point. S3 gear will cost just as much as S2 gear does now, and even if you have your eye on a current piece (like I do), it'll be marked down come the 20th, so hang on to those points either way.

Also, if you haven't already, now might be a good time to start hording your 75k in standard BG Honor Points and Tokens, to spend on the refreshed Veteran's gear and even S1 gear if you need it. Not only does that gear offer a great starting point for those who lack Resilience, it's also sexy as hell. Consult Drysc's handy Q&A resource for further information.

Speaking of that post, did anyone else notice the bit that mentioned Season 1 Titles being reset? Apparently, titles are only offered as a reward for the previous season's performance. If a player does not participate in the following season or does not perform as well, they will either lose their title or it will change based upon their new standing, respectively. In other words, S1 Gladiators would have to perform their PvP feat all over again during S2 in order to keep their title. Otherwise, POOF, the title is gone. Pretty harsh imho, even if just a little.

Suddenly, having a permanent High Warlord title seems like a much greater thing than it did a minute ago...

See you next season. =)