Out Of Continues Episode 95 – Guild Wars 2: One Year Later

Finally after a decent hiatus (May to September if that counts ¬†:-P) I’ve returned to Out Of Continues to discuss the one-year anniversary of Guild Wars 2. ¬†This was easily one of our best shows ever. ¬†My new broadband modem probably had something to do with that, since my previous modem pre-dated the whole Skype era and whatnot, but for the most part as far as ISP issues our ISPs did much better than in many previous recordings, though I still wonder why it needs to be a challenge at all to do audio over the Internet like this. ¬†ūüėõ

http://www.outofcontinues.com/?p=1017

No YouTube link unfortunately, but if Stafa wanted to can the YouTube uploads of the podcast I can see why. ¬†YouTube is such a feast or famine website these days that if a channel isn’t being explicitly promoted, it’s usually being explicitly buried. ¬†Plus with Stafa’s podcast lengths approaching that of a radio show (like we did here), and the fact that he didn’t do like me with RadioStyle and cut the “video” quality all the way down to save on bandwidth, ultimately I can see where he might think that continuing to post the show on YouTube would be a waste of bandwidth, especially when the last one he posted has gotten a grand total of 9 views in three months. ¬†ūüėõ

Yeah. ¬†Podcasting blows away YouTubing these days. ¬†Click the link above and enjoy the show. ¬†ūüôā

Blizzard Needs To Be Cut Down To Size

Again. ¬†AGAIN!!! ¬†I end another night of attempting to run CATACLYSM content with a Dungeon Deserter debuff because of morons!!! ¬†This isn’t even the latest expansion for crying out loud! ¬†Is this how it’s going to be post-Wrath on all content? ¬†Are Mists dungeons treated this way too where the majority of groups are morons who can’t play?

My latest lolfailgroup consisted of a bunch of DPS that couldn’t down trash and one of those tanks who thinks his job is to make the romp in the dungeon as fast as humanly possible so he can insta-queue into his next dungeon. ¬†Never mind the fact that the tank has an actual role to play – and did I mention limits? ¬†This of course is why people don’t play healers and why there are shortages of support characters in these games. ¬†As I type this, I’m downloading the latest updates for Guild Wars 2 so I can finish with a game that’s actually intelligent where the people playing it are actually decent people, and no MMO Trinity. ¬†Imagine that. ¬†ūüėõ ¬†Anyhoo, this latest waste of time in WoW ended with the tank running away and pulling everything in sight – except two mobs that took my healer monk out in a few hits. ¬†By the way, the DPS were back at the start of the instance picking up quests ¬†which might explain the lack of DPS on the loltank’s first pull. ¬†All I saw was just idiots who couldn’t handle trash. ¬†I wasn’t about to find out how these meatheads would’ve handled an actual boss fight – again, on REGULAR difficulty in a LEVELING dungeon!!!

I’m reminded of course that this kind of crap is why Guild Wars 2 was the Skyrim-esque “game to get” for 2012 for me and Mists Of Pandaria was just a la-la curiosity on the side that I waited until a half price sale to pick up. ¬†I’ve had lots of fun with WoW’s take on monks, but apparently Cataclysm’s notably harder content is too much to ask most of the idiots playing WoW to actually be able to handle, so maybe my curiosity about Mists will be short-lived.

I was thinking about this crap on the way in to work last night and it occurred to me that Blizzard really brought this all upon themself with their game design. ¬†The MMO Trinity as we know it is entirely artificial and entirely brought on by WoW’s game design compared to other RPGs that have existed over the years. ¬†Let’s take tanks and healers for example. ¬†The concept of a tank or healer used to be a bonus in RPGs where if you had someone who was good at keeping enemies occupied or a dedicated healer who could negate the need for other forms of self-healing it was a nice bonus rather than something mandatory. ¬†Tanks, and especially Healers, are entirely completely artificial constructs created by flawed game mechanics. ¬†Healers, for example, and all the crap associated with playing them (like bad players blaming the healer for everything) are the way they are because WoW’s self-healing system is woefully inadequate. ¬†In other RPGs if you weren’t a healer, you could simply spend a decent amount of money on potions, but WoW’s potion and bandaging system is notoriously weak, creating the need for dedicated healers, and all the excuses in the world for bad players to not even try to keep themselves alive and just blame the healer if anything goes wrong at all.

Likewise with tanks. ¬†Defensive fighters who shielded weaker characters from monsters have existed in RPGs before, but were always a neat bonus if someone could do that. ¬†In this game though, it’s a mandatory thing, but again, because of this concentration of group defense on the tank, other characters (like bad DPS) have little incentive to even learn their own defensive abilities, much less actually use them. ¬†Basically, this MMO Trinity that we know today is an artificial construct that was initially created by Blizzard’s game mechanics (at least in WoW) but has been sustained by players exploiting these mechanics to absolve themselves of all responsibility if something’s “the other person’s job.”

Thus, we have what we have today. ¬†Irresponsible DPS make tanks and healers mad, so fewer people play them, which jacks up the DPS queues while shortening healer and tank queues – to the extent that sometimes healers and tanks use the shorter queues as their reason to not give a darn about the other players in the run. ¬†All of this, even the contributions by bad players, begins with Blizzard’s own game mechanics in this game. ¬†It’s like they say, yeah sure people abuse the system sometimes, but in order for that to happen there needs to be an abusable system in the first place.

On the other hand, we have Guild Wars 2. ¬†A game where there is no MMO Trinity and players take a very different approach rather than play badly and blame everyone else for their failures. ¬†People actually try to keep themselves alive. ¬†People actually use defensive cooldowns. ¬†Even in situations where you get a bad dungeon group, there is surprisingly little drama because people just keep poking away at the boss fights, etc., until they figure them out and the boss is defeated. ¬†Sometimes I’ve been mad at a group, then seen this complete lack of disappointment from them when we lose, and felt bad because I knew I was too used to WoW instead. ¬†Surprise surprise. ¬†When you have a system that encourages players to be more responsible, many people playing the game pick that up just by habit after playing the game long enough.

Another thing Blizzard needs to address is the massive number of casual players they’ve attracted since Lich King (coining terms like “wrath babies” for people who got their start during the Lich King days when everything was a little too easy). ¬†Because of WoW’s popularity there are a lot of players who play the game not because they like Warcraft, but because it’s simply the biggest MMO. ¬†This is why I’m hoping World Of Warcraft gets cut down to size and becomes simply AN MMO to play rather than THE MMO to play. ¬†Perhaps we might see better players overall when World of Warcraft stops being the go-to game for so many people who just want to try playing an online RPG. ¬†Or maybe Blizzard can cut their usual hubris and admit that their design is fundamentally flawed and contributes to these kinds of problems to begin with. ¬†Oh wait, this is Blizzard we’re talking about here, home of the ivory tower game developers like Ghostcrawler. ¬†Who am I kidding?

Either way, the MMO Trinity needs to go. ¬†I look forward to the day when it’s a sad relic of times gone by and people remember it having caused more problems than it addressed. ¬†(Wait a minute. ¬†The MMO Trinity addressed problems? ¬†Like what? ¬†:-P) ¬†Perhaps if Blizzard ends up getting served a big enough piece of humble pie they might do something. ¬†ūüėõ

The Slowly-Deteriorating Trinity – Blizzard Silently Nods To ArenaNet ;-)

One thing I’ve noticed with Blizzard’s continuous success with World of Warcraft is that every so often people bring up stuff they’ve seen in other games as sources of ideas for new stuff in WoW, but Blizzard devs in their usual egotistic response, much like some of the other finger-wagging condescending stuff I’ve seen them post, will pretend that the idea’s a bad idea and come up with a million excuses not to implement it and why the other game was bad for implementing it, then turn around and quietly and sheepishly implement it a little later on when people have stopped talking about it. ¬†ūüėČ

Although it wasn’t my must-have game for 2012 (that honor went to Guild Wars 2), I did end up picking up Mists Of Pandaria in December 2012 after Blizzard put it on sale for half price. ¬†I figured since the game would be a step down from GW2 going back to the bad old days of 2nd gen MMOs I should probably snag it pretty cheaply, and $20 put it into the range of Serious Sam and budget games I’ve bought over the years, so why not. ¬†With what I’ve been seeing so far, Blizzard appears to be nodding slightly to Guild Wars 2 in Mists with some toning down of the “Holy Trinity” of Tank/Healer/DPS. ¬†Some of what I’ve been seeing since coming back to the game after what became my longest break from it ever (over 6 months) has been quite to my liking lately, particularly as I’ve leveled my goody two-shoe healer monk via running dungeons ad nauseam. ¬†With some of these game changes, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed healing this much in many many years.

Everyone Can Tank At Least A Little

First, on lower difficulty levels, if your tank quits a group it’s more than feasible for classes with tank modes to switch into tank mode until another tank comes along. ¬†I’ve had warriors and paladins switch to Defensive stance or turn on Righteous Fury, even if they didn’t bother busting out a shield, druids switch to bear form, and at least the smart death knights would switch to Blood Presence (there are a lot of morons playing DKs these days, and for a class whose time in the spotlight was two expansions ago I’m having trouble figuring out why. ¬†:-P). ¬†Hunters can also switch their pet to Tenacity or bust out their tank pet and I’ve even seen a warlock send in their Voidwalker while we were waiting for our next tank to join the group after ours left. ¬†Sadly, monks need some QoL work to join this party, like allowing all our stances in all specs similar to druids, warriors, or death knights with our spec simply determining what we’re the best at, though I’ve had my monk spec-switch when tanks quit or in either spec simply use Tiger Stance for DPS. ¬†Monks are way too clunky right now. ¬†They need to be polished up – a lot – before they approach the other hybrids in terms of on-the-fly flexibility – especially Mistweaver healers and the need to change from Intellect gear to Agility gear so much while druids have a conversion that creates Agility from Intellect in Cat Form or Bear Form.

Still though, it’s nice to see that Blizzard is trying to help the tank shortage on lower difficulty levels. ¬†I still don’t get why people don’t level as tanks. ¬†It’s not like tanks don’t do any damage. ¬†Matter of fact thanks to Vengeance I often see good tanks top the damage meters in instances. ¬†We’ve come a long way from the bad old days where Blizzard deliberately made tanks do significantly less damage and generate threat largely from “high threat moves” so outside of tanking playing a tank was downright painful. ¬†Nowadays, forget it. ¬†It’s easier to level as a tank than a DPS with the added toughness, especially beginning in Cataclysm content when the outdoor mobs start hitting harder (to prevent at-level players from mowing them down of course). ¬†I really think Blizzard should give Warlocks their wish and allow Demon Form to be more viable for offtanking. ¬†The more tanks the merrier. ¬†Tanking still has much of its meatshield-that-can’t-do-anything-else stigma from earlier years in WoW, and the more Blizzard can do to finally end that mythos among WoW players the merrier. ¬†ūüôā

Everyone Can At Least Heal A Little

This is making the more snobbier healers rather mad these days, but the old thing of everyone having a least a minor self heal from GW2 is showing up in WoW these days. ¬†Even classes that don’t heal are at least getting some bluh ability that let’s them not be dependent on a healer at least a little. ¬†This doesn’t mean healers are out of a job though, but this does add a little bit of self-maintenance to the toolkits of everyone so the healers’ former monopoly on all the best healing in the game because of this game’s crappy potion system has been diluted at least a little. ¬†It’s still better to be a secondary healer than something like a rogue using Recuperate but it’s good that in situations where people die the blame doesn’t have to immediately go to the healer. ¬†Healers have been treated like crap for nearly the entirety of this game’s existence because of how easy it is for morons to scapegoat the healer when anything at all goes wrong in a group. ¬†Maybe after these quietly-introduced new mechanics stick around for a bit some of this nonsense can finally go away and healers can get a little more respect for a change.

This self-healing boost though is really making healers mad because tanks after a certain gear level can be completely self-sufficient, which has healers mad because now they have to do something besides stand around waiting for someone to take damage. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Ahhhh snobby healers. ¬†Enjoy your slice of humble pie. ¬†ūüėõ ¬†Indeed, I’ve already run with some well-geared tanks who recklessly pulled everything and used their self-heals for all their needed healing so I never had to do a thing. ¬†If my monk’s Agility gear wasn’t so far behind the Intellect set in terms of power I’d just Tiger Presence everything and use base level heals in Agility gear to do whatever crappy healing was needed (probably an unintended side effect of fixed mana pools ¬†now that gear no longer affects how much mana you have:-P). ¬†I suppose it’s good though in terms of finally breaking up the old rule that said for many years, “If the tank dies, it’s the healer’s fault. ¬†If the healer dies, it’s the tank’s fault. ¬†If the DPS dies, it’s their own damn fault.” ¬†ūüėõ ¬†Let’s let everyone take care of themselves at least a little and end this healer-bashing once and for all. ¬†ūüėõ

Everyone Can At Least DPS A Little

We saw this with tanks earlier when Blizzard dropped high-threat moves and just let tanks do a moderate amount of damage for threat generation that was closer to what DPS characters do than before (basically the way bear druids worked in the old days got rolled out to everyone), then even more with Vengeance where the more things beat on a tank the harder the tank hits back, but now healers are getting in on the fun with the removal of the old 1.5x crit multiplier unless you were a DPS. ¬†Everything does double damage on a crit now if not more, plus healers have more tools at their disposal these days to contribute token damage to runs to speed them up. ¬†Basically, if anyone remembers the days of statue priests in WoW Classic where priests – the premier healing class back then – would literally stand around waiting for someone to take enough damage to warrant casting a heal, those days are long over. ¬†Nowadays if you have 4 bars on a damage meter after a dungeon run, your healer was lazy, and healers are crying about it on the forums too “wahhhh don’t make me DPS!!!”

Ha. ¬†So terribly sorry that the “healer free ride” of just standing there not doing anything until someone needed healing has come to an end, but that’s the way it is these days. ¬†Every healer in the game has some way of contributing token damage without sucking their mana to death, and there’s a point where speeding up fights via a “5th damage dealer” makes the extra mana usage worth it. ¬†Plus it’s fun to watch bad DPS cry when they can’t keep up with the healer on the meters (my monk’s doing this quite a bit these days ¬†:o) ). ¬†Indeed though, healers can finally actually do something besides wait for someone to get hurt. ¬†Caster healers have some extra hit for at least one of their spells (like Lightning Bolt for shamans) and/or some way of cutting the mana costs of doing token damage (Holy Priests have the best version of this with the Chakra smite mode that makes Holy Fire and Smite all-but-mana-free). ¬†Melee healers have ways of pulling it off too. ¬†Healer Monks are practically what Holy Paladins should have been in the melee department, and Resto Druids can actually use their new Intellect to Agility conversion to switch to Cat Form if they don’t want to use mana for token damage casting Wrath and Moonfire.

In any event, this represents the final hammer in Warhammer Online’s coffin if anyone remembers this little source of the “And I Heal And I Heal And I Heal” WoW meme back in the mid-2000s. ¬†ūüėõ

“EVERYBODY FIGHTS!!!!” ¬†Yup. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Wonder when the lazy healers who don’t contribute to fights are going to get the memo. ¬†ūüėÄ

Hybrid Conversions Could Be Next

Perhaps my favorite passive skill in the game with the Mists launch is Killer Instinct, the caster druid ability that gives boomkins and resto druids Agility from Intellect in Bear Form or Cat Form meaning they don’t have to swap gear to swap forms. ¬†Healer monks should get something like that for Tiger Stance (and Ox Stance if all specs ever end up with all three stances in the first place), and quite frankly everyone should eventually be able to not have to switch gear to switch roles unless they really want to. ¬†It’s not like the existing restrictions are really stopping people too much since a second set of gear chewing up space in one’s bags can take care of that quite nicely. ¬†I know Blizzard is usually all about “concentrated coolness” to avoid situations like in the early days of Everquest II when offensive and defensive fighters were separate classes and people were guffawing at the need to create two characters to have a fighter that could tank or deal damage, but in this case, people who carry multiple gearsets are already playing this way so why not streamline things further? ¬†ūüėõ ¬†Plus there’s enough style differences between the various types of healers, tanks and DPS that it comes down to player preference more than anything these days.

Conclusion

The “Holy Trinity” of Tank/Healer/DPS shouldn’t have existed in the first place. ¬†If Blizzard wants to wind it down a little to make things more interesting I’ll definitely applaud the effort. ¬†Quite frankly, the amount of metagaming that World Of Warcraft has introduced to the gaming world these days is nothing short of absurd. ¬†Anything that can undo the damage and bring back people simply PLAYING these so-called GAMES and actually being immersed in them again can’t be anything but good for this hobby. ¬†ūüôā