Fishing – Don’t Mess With It

I’ve proclaimed my love of fishing on many an occasion.  To me, you’re not an MMO if you don’t have fishing.  UO got me hooked (bad pun) and I’ve needed it since.  I think you can clearly see that the games I stick around with for the longest all have fishing.

Today’s post is about WoW’s fishing system.  And how the devs don’t seem to understand what to do with this bastard stepchild of a profession.

History

Vanilla fishing was 100% useless, outside of flavor and pastime.  I maxed it anyways.  BC had nothing to do with it until later in the expansion and the funtacular Mr Pinchy grind.  Daily quests started here. WotLK was a bit better, fish gave some rather decent food buffs.  I wouldn’t say mandatory but pretty darn useful – including a new fishing tourney.  Cooking as a whole was pretty neat here.  Cataclysm… let’s not talk about that ok?  MoP brought about a fishing faction.  Hell of a grind but you could become best friends with Pat Nagle, with some pets and vehicles

Today

WoD.  WoD changed fishing and didn’t at the same time.  Where before you needed to fish in pools to get a certain kind of fish, now you could also fish in any water in a zone provided you had bait.  You could only carry 1 bait for a type of fish at a time mind you, but it was common enough to keep you going.  3 types of size of fish, each giving different amounts of flesh for cooking (and first aid and alchemy for some reason).  For an expansion that broke dependencies between the professions, fishing was suddenly super important.

A few interesting notes.  Daily quests in the garrison gave you +1 fishing.  This required you to fillet a fish to get eggs.  Which is fairly reasonable, compared to the progress we’ve had in the past.  It’s a long slosh but that’s ok.  Fishing folk have time right?  Well, given that it was such an integral part of the grind, the devs bumped that to +15 per turn in.  +15 in normal casts is somewhere near the 200 mark.  Each is about 10s or so… do the math on that.  And a level 3 fishing shack took 700 specific fish, so somewhere of 2000 casts at max level fishing.  Not kidding a long slog.

6.1 first pass

So the first patch notes for 6.1 came out and said the following:

  • Fishing Shack
  • You no longer catch bait in your Garrison. However, Nat Pagle (Level 3 Fishing Shack) will give you any of the standard baits if you ask nicely.
  • Lunkers can now be caught from fishing pools and have an improved catch rate with higher fishing skill.
  • Summoned Cavedwellers now drops random fish flesh and drops less Worm Supreme.
  • Fish Eggs used as turn-in for the Fishing Shack Daily quest are now bind on pickup and no longer have a sell value.
  • Fishing
    • Fish caught in Draenor are now automatically filleted.
    • Different sizes of Savage Piranha have been consolidated into Savage Piranha and can be consumed directly for the transformation effect.
    • Players can now always catch enormous fish from pools, regardless of skill.
    • Fish that have already been caught can be converted to the appropriate amount of flesh.
    • Draenor fishing bait now lasts for 10 minutes (up from 5 minutes) and needs to be used within 15 minutes of being caught or it’ll spoil.

When I read this, I thought to myself – the person who wrote these notes doesn’t fish.  

One Day Later

So to give you an idea of how bad this was received by the fishing community, 1 whole day later we get the following:

Thank you all for your feedback regarding the auto-fillet change that was set for Patch 6.1. Based on your sentiment, we’ve gone ahead and made a change we hope will be beneficial for all anglers.

In 6.1, rather than have fish auto-fillet as you catch them, we’re adding a new consumable item called the Bladebone Hook which when used, will enable auto-filleting for one hour. This new item can be purchased from fishing vendors in Draenor.

Just a couple notes: Despite the tooltip, you won’t need a fishing pole to use this item, and it won’t overwrite your lure, bait, fishing line, or anything else.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us!

I have a few more updates for you guys regarding bait which I’m sure you’ll appreciate. These are also slated to be in Patch 6.1 so please be sure to test them out on the PTR and give us your feedback.

  • We’re reverting the change where bait would spoil.

  • Reverting the change where bait could not be caught in your garrison; Nat Pagle will still grant you the bait of your choice (because Nat Pagle).

  • Bait duration is now 10 minutes (up from 5) to mirror the duration of lures.

So can you say 180?

What’s Going On?

On the plus side, it’s nice that the devs are paying attention to the fishing community.  These are the people who spend hours just casting a line in the game.  The amount of effort a dev has to put in for the return is the smallest I can possibly think of.  I mean, I’m sure my Monk has more time spent fishing than leveling.

On the downside, when a dev attempts to put out a change and they have to revert it within 24 hours, it really makes you wonder what the thought process is within their shop.  That the feedback is so unanimously negative in a game of WoW’s size says a lot about the type of changes that can get through to the public.  At some point, you’re hoping that they look at their metrics, their design plan and say “this makes sense, players will understand”.  Then they put it out there and defend it.

Because the alternative, just throwing stuff against a wall and hoping it works out, just isn’t something I want to consider.

Paying for Beta

I responded to Azuriel’s post about the recent updates in the online gaming world, taking issue with the paid beta aspect.  Actually, I’ve posted on a few spots about it.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to beta test nearly every large online game since UO.  I had a “beta tester resume” for a long time.  For the longest time, it really was like being a beta tester.  You’d log in, do what you needed to do and send reports in.  There’d be a log on the forums about all the bugs and their status.  The reason they invited other people was that not everyone is practical and straightforward.  This was before “meta gaming” was a thing mind you, so internal test cases usually only focused on the “happy path”.  Beta testers were there to test everything else.  Like, what if I try levitating and walking across the ocean to fish.  Or finding a unique corner in a house where you could loot the neighbor.

Suffice to say, it was actual testing and there was noticeable progress until release of the game.  So when you actually were at launch, the majority of the issues were due to scaling, and only a few core bugs remained.

I remember beta testing WoW vanilla.  Even 3 months before launch, the game underwent a fair chunk of changes but nearly all of it was related to bug reports.  I filed a TON of reports on that game and only a couple remained at launch.  For those who were there, the game was highly polished but the servers took a break for 3 months.

It’s also important to note that it was at this point that I wrote guide for games, for profit.  I had written a lot before hand, FFXI in particular, but this was a turning point.

The Shift

I did the beta for most major MMOs from that point forward but the turning point for me is Star Trek Online.  Fall of 2009 I was in the beta group as I’m a fan of the IP and space battles are cool.  Earth and Beyond was a while back, so I was looking forward to it.  The content for beta only covered the first 2 zones up until December.  There was a kitchen sink patch that put in the rest of the game and they shut down the beta the week following, so that only early access folk could see it.  I was in EA as the guide company paid for it.

All through beta I had logged dozens of bug reports.  There were some core issues with the game, places where you just could not progress.  I think 2 of the bugs were fixed, everything else was still there.  Even during the EA portion the bugs were still present.  History has enough tracks as to what happened to the game.  After about a year, the practically rebuilt the game, outside of the art assets.

It was here where I realized that beta tests were obviously providing little benefit when the marketing folk wanted to get paid.

The Nail

The last beta I did was for SWTOR in 2011, or at least the last one where I consider it a beta.  The devs took feedback and chatted, they understood the issues.  I had mathcrafted DPS sheets for 2 classes, clearly showing issues with balance.  The community had provided a ton of feedback on needed changes.

I think Alacrity(haste) is going to be my stickler here.  Math is hard to argue against and math was clearly pointing out that it was a bad stat for almost everyone (knights and warriors were the exception).  And it’s not like this was raised just before launch, it was obvious months and months before.  Didn’t get fixed until patch 2.0!

The upper tier however had a different approach.  Every 2 weeks there’d be a full wipe and new content added.  You had to slosh through the early part again and again.  Imagine a day 1 launch happening every 2 weeks, that’s what beta testing was about.  Their PTR after launch didn’t have a character transfer or a boost to 50 and had wipes as well.  So you can guess how useful that thing was.  Top level content was seriously broken at launch and well… you know what happened next.

The Coffin

Betas today are not betas.  They are PR events and technical stress tests.  It allows companies to ensure that their network architecture works and to get some positive news before launch.  Where before you had to apply to get into beta, that overhead is gone now.  Instead there’s a paywall, which makes it easier for the dev to manage.  Since they are going to ignore everyone of your bug requests before launch anyhow, you aren’t of any actual value outside of stress testing and telling your friends about it.

What beta does provide is an easy out for the developer when things go bad.  “It’s just beta” used to be common on forums in the day and it was accurate too.  Since betas today have nothing to do except have the same name, it’s just an excuse to ignore you.

And that’s the kicker really.  Betas are just paid early access at a higher price point.  Like, you’re really eager to get into the door so you pay more.  If I wait a few months, I can get it for free (outside of box costs). So Heroes of the Storm is charging people for this and I’m ok with the process.  Just don’t call it beta.

Alphas…well let’s just be honest about that for a second.  You’re paying the developer on a promise of delivering something later.  Whether they listen to you or not.  You have no assurances that they will deliver on spec, or on time.  I personally think it’s more akin to venture capital than anything to do with gaming, except you have no voice in the matter.  The company already has your money and isn’t going to refund it.

“A fool and his money are soon parted.”

More Board Games

So, Star Wars: Imperial Assault hit every single geek button I have.  Board game: check.  Star Wars: check.  Miniatures: check.  Takes less time than Risk: check.   I remember being in the game store, staring at the box for what must have been 5 minutes.  My wife had to shake me from the daze.  The downside was the price, nearly $120 smackers.  Which is odd, because I had spent more earlier in the week on a single family dinner at a restaurant and this board game could be seen as an investment.  So I did some research.

You will be mine!

Turns out, it’s more or less a skin-job on Descent 2nd edition, which I already own.  Now, Descent is awesome but it’s competitive.  Like the old Hero’s Quest games, or D&D, someone has to take the mantle of the bad guy.  I don’t mind this aspect but for 2 players, with only myself as having any experience in this sort of stuff, it’s not terribly practical.  A co-operative game means I can help the other team mates learn about the game and the meta strategies.  So for now, SW:IA is on the backburner.

So I kept looking around and 2 games were recommended, and both were Kickstarters.  Shadows of Brimstone and Galaxy Defenders.  Both were similar to Descent but were cooperative, so I bought both.  Galaxy Defenders arrived rather quickly and my daughters and I set it up for a round.

First off, having a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old help you remove punch-out cardboard items is a hoot.  It’s like Christmas, when you get a couple packages with bubble wrap and kids go nuts.  They were going crazy punching out these little tags (and not paying attention to where they landed) and were sad when there were none left.  There were many pieces.

So many pieces!

It took about 20 minutes to sort it all out.  Then another 20 to set up the first mission and quickly read the rules of engagement.  My 2 yr old was done by this point, a little late in the night but my 4yr old was super keen to get playing.  It was a “are we there yet?” night.

Board is all set, I have the basic rules and we get going.  I drastically simplified the strategic rules (there are like 8 major steps per turn, I went down to 2) and my daughter and I went full in.  We each selected a random hero and started moving around the board.  Aliens (always aliens) have a neat AI system dictated by the distance from players.  Each side has some interesting quirks, related to dice rolls.  There’s a basic hit, a crit, a gun jam, a reroll, defense and lost ammo to consider.  Bonuses and penalties based on the rolls.  Sometimes you get really lucky, sometimes things go really bad.

We traded blows for about 30 minutes, allowing me to learn the flow of combat and her to practice her arithmetic.  When you combine a dice roll, boosts, penalties, armor and subtract from hit points, I think that’s grade 10 math right there.  We only stopped because she started nodding off between die rolls and she’s been talking about playing again ever since.

Once the squirts were asleep and my wife was away doing some work, I decided to play the first mission solo, and play it proper.  I took an hour or so to read all the manuals, line by line.  I ran through a round in my head, then I decided to give it a shot.

Sure enough, I missed a couple steps in the first few rounds but I eventually got the hand of it.  I selected a tank character and a glass cannon to get through.  The enemy scales based on player group size, so I wanted to keep it manageable.  Things went well enough to start as there are goals to attempt to complete.  The AI is there as a hurdle but not so much as punishment, so it isn’t like staving off failure rather than trying to succeed (which apparently is a fault with the X-COM boardgame).

I hit the mid stride and then the RNG gods started laughing at me.  I was rolling 4-6 die to attack and missing every single one, while the enemy was rolling aces.  I went through at least 3 rounds of no progress on my side and the enemy finding more reinforcements.  Things were looking grim.  A couple of lucky rolls though, and some good timing of skill use and I was able to take out some threats to move forward.

On my last turn, where I thought I had completed everything and was waiting for the clock to tick down, I drew a card that summoned 4 enemies.  The way the game works is that enemies only attack after you activate, so even though they were on the board, they were just staring at me on my way to victory.

Even with so many pieces, the game itself is pretty straightforward. It’s a little math heavy with the die rolls but the rest is pretty obvious to play through.  This weekend I hope to have a solid session with my wife.  She’s pretty good at picking things up on the fly and as long as I have the tough questions answered in my head, it should go smoothly.  And of course, another few games with the eldest child are due.  Seems my New Year’s resolution is working out.

WoW – Rogue at 100

So my Rogue hit 100 and in an interesting path too.  I skipped Talador completely and opted to run the Spires instead.  The gear was better, I like the zone better and it unlocks the Salvage Yard and Leroajh as a follower.  That’s the bodyguard who gives you access to garrison missions.

Side note: I really think that rewards for Talador and Spires should be swapped, in particular the level 2 barracks which gives a bodyguard.  The sheer number of kills required (20,000) makes it near impossible to complete without farming.  Salvage yard is also incredibly useful, stupidly so.  Waiting until the mid-point of Spires seems…odd.

The first few missions were kind of tough as I was a solid 40-50ilevels below where I should have been.  I think I went from 530 daggers to 580/590 within short order, for example.  Along the process I had naturally burned through all my rested experience so I opted to try a slightly different strategy.

Once you get the level 2 garrison, for 100 resources you can buy a 1hr buff that boosts exp gains by 20%.  I used this once I left Shadowmoon.  Math-wise, that’s 2 levels I bypassed, at the least.  And the actual leveling experience was very focused.  I selected the same outposts as before (lumber mill, artillery, trading post and the ranch) so those quests and leveling path were easy.  I knew where the named enemies were and picked them up if I got a notification.  I raced through the “area quests” as they give rather good experience for the time spent.   It’s near a quarter of the time I took on the Monk, overall.

Rogues in WoD

I have a dislike for lockpicking now.  Lockboxes were originally a nice form of gambling for rogues, a perk if you will.  It took a lot to get anything decent out of it and it was a very bad money generator.  Now lockpicking gives you some cash (very small) and a non-tradeable item.  This item is swapped for coins which gives a bag of gold (~200 if I recall).  I leveled from 90-100 with pickpocket on every target with pockets.  I am 75% of the way to that bag.  In contrast, my level 2 jewelcrafting building gives me 200g per day to turn in 20 ore (or some dinky jewelry).  So yeah, pretty disappointing.

Leeching poison, Shadow Reflection and Vendetta make quick work of everything but an elite level 100 enemy.  This means that Barn farming is out for now but my ilevel isn’t even above 100 yet.  I’ve only just unlocked Telari in Nagrand, so quite a bit more to get.

I do like the pace of combat, at least as an assassination rogue.  There’s a significant critical hit breakpoint so that Seal Fate keeps me going forward.  The rotation is simple enough and energy pooling is close to what I follow on my monk.  I’ll have to give a few dungeons and LFR a pass once I get better gear.  I’d expect the pace of combat to pick up.

Garrison

This is a bit different than before because I opted not to build a lumber yard and I used the 20% experience potions @ 100 resources per shot.  When I hit 100 the level 3 garrison option opened and I was very short on resources.  My followers were also rather weak, since I didn’t send them on missions – further burning resources.  I wasn’t exactly brimming with options here.

You can generate resources in a few ways

  • Daily allocation ~150 in the garrison
  • Kill a rare mob for 15-30
  • Find resources in the wild 25-100
  • Complete specific 1 time quests, including garrison campaigns (25-100)
  • Complete follower missions (20-500, depending on the follower assigned)

It’s funny really because my monk has every follower at ilvl 545, every building maxed and is still sitting on ~10,000 resources with nothing useful to do with them.  And here’s my rogue, short about 5K in resources to get over the hump.  Maybe the 6.1 will help with that…

Anyways, the only way to get over this for now is to scour every single rare and treasure on the map.  Spires, Talador and Gorgrond are done.  SMV is next (I skipped a lot surprisingly) and then Nagrand.  At least I have a bunker for Nagrand, which should boost my gear rewards there.  The downside is that I already collected the major resource treasures around Oshu’gun, so I think I’m in a bit of trouble.

Not that there’s any terrible pressure for resources mind you.  If I only use the daily allocation I should have enough for a solid set of missions for every follower, eventually being able to complete the resource missions on my own.

H1Z1 – Hate to Say I Told You So

So, H1Z1 has “launched” in “early access”.  Or more specifically, SoE has had people pay to get into open beta.  Enough relating to the previous post it’s actually painful.

Anyways, onto the fun part of SoE simply being SoE.  H1Z1 was originally sold as a zombie sandbox in a F2P market that would avoid many of the pure P2Win issues.  Specifically, in a survival game, the material/weapons you get are the way you define and continue to progress.

So first this.

Then this.

Then this from Smed himself.

I don’t really have a whole lot to add to this debacle, other than the title of this post.  Curious as to what Keen will have to say about this, given he’s been the largest blogger proponent I’ve come across for the game while also the biggest hater of F2P/P2W games.  Maybe another Allods post is incoming?

Pre-Orders Need to Stop

They’re the devil I tell you, the devil!

I won’t lie, I used to like pre-orders.  They made sense in a physical world, where limited copies were a problem.  I want the game on that day dammit, what do you mean you’re out?

Then the interwebs came around, Steam made digital distribution the norm and pre-orders morphed.  It has absolutely zero to do with reserving a copy.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Some might say “well I can pre-install and get to play at midnight”.  Then pre-order the night before if that actually means something to you.

And exclusives for pre-orders have to stop.  This is horribad as they are often exclusive to a separate platform.  Best Buy gives you this, Steam gives you that, GMG gives another thing.  None of it is available after launch.  Blargh.

Paying for Beta

And let’s get something else straight.  Anyone who is paying a company to beta (hell, alpha) test their product is an idiot and part of the problem.  I’m not talking about Kickstarter, where these are small companies looking for capital.  I’m talking about SoE charging people for Landmark and doing nothing with it.  I’m talking about Steam Early Access.  I’m talking about Blizzard taking your money during Alpha for HotS.

I know a lot of bloggers opted into Landmark.  I know of none that still play.  I also know the game hasn’t launched.

Incomplete Games

This is in part due to the “get it out the door to make money” problem that’s always existed but it’s compounded with pre-orders.  See, when you buy a pre-order it’s a contract with the developer to release on a specific date.  If they miss that date, you’re eligible for a refund, without question.  Even if the pre-order says they can slip a date, by law in most countries, they have to give you a return.  This is why kickstarters can delay, you’re not paying for the product, you’re giving money to the company, and as a bonus, getting access to the game.

We wouldn’t have had Sims4, Diablo3, SimCity, CoD4, Dragon Age, Halo Collection and AC:Unity if people stopped pre-ordering.  Well maybe they still would have shipped as shit but they wouldn’t have been paid for it.  It seems like most games today have a day 1 patch that fixes a mile-long list of bugs.

Just Wait a Bit

Seriously people, just wait a couple weeks after release.  Sure, you might miss out on some of the leveling experience but here’s what you gain.

  • Less bugs than launch, likely 2 patches in
  • A more stable network
  • A downstream economy (things cost less)
  • A better community review
  • In today’s world, a sale

With online games, often times they will undergo drastic changes in just a few short patches.  Granted, sometimes it takes longer.  Diablo 3 today is nearly unrecognizable to what was launched, aside from the art and story.  SimCity is offline.  Unity has faces.  DA:I has hair.

Vote With Your Wallet

It really isn’t complex.  Companies do things if people pay them to do it.  They will continue to do it and try to charge more for less work.  They need to make money to survive and that’s part of the deal.  Selling you a promise is what snake oil is for; selling you a product is a separate matter.

You work hard for your money, so should the person trying selling you something.

WoW – Rogue’s Up

Before WoD launched, I had a bit of fun running old dungeons and raids to try and finish off some collections – pets and mounts.  I didn’t get lucky so much as simply following the odds.  Now that I have 2 characters at 100 (monk and druid) and a level 3 fishing hut (which took ~1000 fish to reach) I figured I’d try for them again.

In particular, Raiding with Leashes 1 & 2, which require kills in MC, BWL, AQ and SSC, Kara and TK.  I was running them pre-WoD with the monk, druid, rogue, hunter and shaman.  5 shots a week was decent enough, though my DK was sitting at 86 and a mage at 81.  Never really tried pushing those guys through.  I finished the 2nd set of combat pets last week and was lucky on an Anzu drop as well (horror stories on that one if you read the webs).  Still no A’lar but that will come in time.

Running them post-squish made some of the fights interesting at 90, SSC in particular.  No big deal really, 10 seconds or so a fight (Broodlord and Twins are a PITA mind you…) but now with decently geared 100s (ilvl 630+), I was 1-shotting them.  That was certainly different.  I figured, why not try to get another to 100 to make it all a bunch easier (and fatten the coffers a bit more while I’m at it)?

I want a farmer for quick and easy runs.  Hunter, DK, Mage and Shaman aren’t there so much compared to a Rogue’s stealth.  Doing Baron runs with the rogue, I was in and out in ~ 4 minutes.  Even my cat druid wasn’t able to meet those times.  Asmiroth, probably the oldest character on the entire server (I made him 5 minutes after the servers went live 10 years ago) was back in the fold!

Starting Off

After the monk and druid experiences, I knew what I was up against.  Less people to compete with but I was aware of the travel path and linkages, where to collect followers and so on.  I opted not to build a Lumber Mill this time, and rather focus my resources on something other than missions.  Collecting treasures on each map and killing rares, so far, has kept me fairly well topped up.  I’ll worry about missions later.

Shadowmoon went by in a flash.  I think the quest flow (and the zone layout) is the best of the entire expansion here.  There are minimal walls and tunnels, so movement works pretty well.  Gorgrond came after and I have to say, I really do not like this zone.  I headed south (as I took the lumber yard) to run through all the quests and followers (Tormorkk and Blook are south).  It’s a pain to move around this zone, but it’s over with.  Interestingly, I’m now 96 due to rested experience and those area-mission-quests that I decided to pay attention to – enough that I’ve unlocked Spires and Talador at the same time.

Hurdles

That said, the actual leveling process hasn’t been uneventful.  The start of Tanaan and SMV was harder than previous.  Even though my Rogue wears leather like my monk and druid, his ilvl was quite a bit lower.  I think I died more in the first hour than I did TOTAL with my druid.  I changed a few things, in particular glyphs, to make the process easier.  Recuperate continues after a kill, S&D auto-refreshes as well.  I also started to focus on stuns a bit more, like in the old days.  That made things easier.  Upgrades through SMV were enough to get me back on track for decent damage and Gorgrond went by with little fuss.

I really like the rogue.  The playstyle is very aggressive and it always feels like you’re doing something, rather than waiting for something to do.  Druid cats feel like molasses.  Monks feel like slow bears due to the way their Energy works.  Rogues have been close to GCD locked for years and it’s a lot of fun.  My main issue with them remains though.  They have very little self-healing (it’s a weak HoT that drastically reduces DPS) though a few survivability options to counter known damage.  To contrast, the monk self-heal is part of the DPS rotation and druids are pretty similar.  This makes soloing at level quite challenging.  The lack of additional roles is also a bugger.  I mean, I understand that it’s hard to heal with poisoned daggers but every other game has a rogue tank.

Every expansion my rogue gets leveled up and then parked.  I’m sure it’ll be the same thing here but when he does get off the bench, he’s quite fast at getting the job done.  Works for me.